September 27, 2008
Friday ended up being a rest day, which was probably a good thing. I had my first physical therapy session in the morning and it went well. My range of motion isn't terrible, but apparently I've trashed my posture from favoring my shoulder for the past 6 weeks. The evaluation hurt pretty badly since my therapist moved my arm into some pretty uncomfortable positions. Then after some heat, I did a series of stretching and strengthening exercises. The most painful part was the massage. There are huge knots in my shoulder that are clearly going to take some time to work out. We finished with electro stim and ice, my favorite part of physical therapy. My back was sore for the rest of the day, but it felt good by morning.
I ran 2 quick miles on the treadmill today to test out my leg. At first it was pain-free and I was thinking the day of rest did the trick. But after 1.75 miles the pain started again so I did the rest of my workout on the elliptical. I'm not sure how my 18-miler will go tomorrow, but I'm hoping for the best.
Distance - 2 miles
Time - 17:31
Distance - 4.28 miles
Time - 40:00
September 25, 2008
Since coming back from Wisconsin I have been moving non-stop. In some ways this is probably a good thing. It got me to stop obsessing about the Ironman, which is still an entire year away, and forced me to streamline my focus to be more about running and the impending NYC Marathon. But in many ways, it's been a challenge. I haven't slept much collectively in the past month and it's definitely taking a toll. I'm so exhausted some days that I'm not sure how I'll get through it all. I've also had to postpone a lot of training and condense multiple sessions into shorter periods of time, which is having an impact on my body. And some training has just been missed, which is clearly not ideal given the setbacks I've already experienced.
So to catch up on where I left off, here is what has been going on over the past four days:
I've been swimming twice this week - 1,800 yards Monday and 2,000 yards this morning. I forgot my sling on Monday so it was up to me to keep my arm stable. But the temptation of having it free was too much to resist. I swam a few laps with my left arm and it wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be. My range is severely limited, I can't fully extend and there was some pain, but it still felt amazing to swim like a normal person. Even with all the inefficiency and drag my bum arm was creating, I felt like I was flying through the water compared to one-arming it. But in the spirit of actually following doctor's orders (something I don't do well), I limited it to mostly one-arm and did the same today. Although I'd be lying if I said there weren't a few laps with both arms today as well.
My biking has suffered the most this month. With so many limitations and the need to get back into running, I chose to cut back significantly. I'm tired of being on the trainer and it was so painful to navigate around my shoulder that it just didn't seem worth it. Now that my shoulder is better, I got started again this week with small baby steps. My legs are definitely not feeling it so it's going to be a long road back and I wasn't that great before. Looks like my biking focus this winter will be well timed.
This has been and up and down week for sure. After Sunday's 15-miler, I took Monday off and ran 6 miles Tuesday that were easily the worst 6 miles I've run this entire year. My pace was off by almost a minute and just about every step was painful. I had a foot cramp in the warm up that never went away, a nagging stomach cramp that no amount of deep breathing resolved and my ITB was causing sharp knee pain. On top of the aches and pains, my legs were just tired and didn't want to move. I chalked it up to the 15-miler and overall fatigue.
I went back out last night and tried again, this time making it 8 miles. It was definitely a better run overall, but the ITB is going to be a problem. It was on my mind the entire time and I just kept thinking, "please, not this, not now." To be honest, I'm not sure I can handle another setback. I'm trying SO hard to keep a positive attitude and keep pushing forward, but given my experiences in the past two months, I don't know how much more HTFU I have left in me (note: to those not familiar, HTFU is a favorite saying in triathlon - harden the f**k up). Since I know hip weakness causes my ITB issues, at least I know what to do to battle it. That's one benefit of having already been through an injury.
I'm taking today off running and will either run tomorrow or get on the elliptical if the pain is still too much. I have an 18-mile race Sunday that I'd like to be less painful.
In overall updates, my shoulder is doing much better. I actually rolled onto my left side for the first time last night. Of course I had to promptly roll back over, but the fact that my body is finally feeling comfortable is a good sign. I start physical therapy tomorrow morning and can't wait to see how that helps.
I still haven't decided which Zipp wheels to buy, even after stirring up a rather heated clincher vs. tubular debate on BT. I just don't know enough about bikes to make a good decision. I'm waiting for my guy at Cadence to be back in so I can get his opinion, then I'm making the purchase. I'm also ready for my fitting, I just need to find the time, which is unfortunately in short supply these days.
Monday - 9/22:
Distance - 1800 yards
Time - 40:48
Distance - 11.14 miles
Time - 45:00
Tuesday - 9/23:
Distance - 6 miles
Time - 55:37
Wednesday - 9/24:
Distance - 8 miles
Time - 1:11:06
Thursday - 9/25:
Distance - 2000 yards
Time - 46:21
Distance - 8.17
Time - 35:00
September 21, 2008
But as all fun nights go, time went by, many drinks were had and I ended up being out until 2 a.m. I had started with beer at the local bar and switched to my favorite - Maker's Mark on the rocks - at the second bar. There was also a mystery shot involved. We had such a great time. The cab dropped us off back at our local and I resisted the urge to join them there for a last drink or two. I still hoped I might be able to get up for the race and my long run. But I was not quite ready for bed and ended up taking a long walk home and staying up until 4:30 a.m. I set my alarm for noon and let go of thoughts of the race.
It took a couple hours to get hydrated and ready for my long run. I was kind of dreading it, not knowing how it would go given my night. But I headed out at 3:00 and ran north along the river. It was a little hot outside, about 78 degrees, but still a beautiful day. The miles were going by fairly quickly and I felt surprisingly good. I cut across 88th Street and hit Central Park around the 5.5 mile mark. This was where my troubles began. I had sharp knee and hip pain, which can only mean my ITB is inflamed. I finally had to stop and stretch since every step was excruciating. After I got to the bridle path and started running on dirt, it got a little better. I alternated the bridle path with the reservoir to keep from boring myself to death. My pace was pretty consistent, although I had some pretty slow miles during the knee pain episode.
I finished strong and didn't feel nearly as bad as expected. I walked to Starbucks and got a chocolate milk and water, then went back to the park to stretch. It was 6:00 by the time I left and everyone was at the local bar so I decided to stop by. We all usually meet up there on Sunday afternoons and I hated to miss it. Some of the girls I went out with last night were there as well so we traded hangover stories. Apparently everyone was feeling it. I had one beer, a lot of water and then went home for my first ice bath of the season. I only had 10 pounds so it melted fairly quickly, but it felt great. This will be a weekly ritual now until the race.
I feel slightly bad about missing the Fifth Avenue Mile, but the trade off was worth it. Once I start Ironman training I won't get to stay out late on a Saturday night for a very long time. I made the right choice.
Distance - 15 miles
Time - 2:14:07
September 20, 2008
I finally got some sleep last night after an exhausting week. I slept as late as possible, but still had to get up early enough to make it to the pool. I did a one-armed mile (1800 yards) broken into three sets. I started with 450 yards to get warmed up and find my rhythm. The first 200 or so is always the hardest. My heart pounds, I have a hard time breathing and it takes a few laps to settle into a somewhat smooth stroke. I rested about 1.5 minutes after the 450 and then did another much more comfortably. I was running a little tight on time so I rested for 1 minute and did the final 900 continuous. Given the severe limitations, I'm really happy with what I'm able to do. After the prognosis of no real swimming for at least another 2-4 weeks, I'm going to just keep doing what I'm doing. After my left arm heals I may need to do one-armed drills on that side to balance everything back out. I think I'll need to work with my coach again to assess the damage I've done as well.
After finishing the swim, I headed out for a quick run to prepare my legs for tomorrow's long run. I'm planning 15 miles and will be running it around a 1 mile race. I'll run to the race as a warm-up, do the race, then finish the run after. I did just over 4 miles today and it was another good one. I keep waiting for something to go wrong, but it keeps going well. Increasing my mileage will be the test so I don't want to get too comfortable just yet.
My ITB has been acting up a bit so I went straight to the gym after my run to work on my legs. I'm going to need to get back to doing this a few days a week during my final training. When I was in PT for this injury, I had to do the strength routine every day. Since it's been under control for awhile, I think a few days a week will do.
I spent the rest of my day shopping, something I used to love to do, but now I'd rather spend the time training. But it was necessary. With fall weather arriving, I desperately needed to buy jeans. Shopping for jeans ranks about as highly as shopping for swim suits and generally isn't very fun. But today it was. I was able to buy jeans 4 sizes smaller than I wore this winter, all thanks to my training over the past few months. I feel better than ever before and it's great motivation to get through this recovery and keep it up.
Distance - 1800 yards
Time - 41:42
Distance - 4.29
Time - 36:52
September 19, 2008
They posted the photos of the Queens Misery Fest that was the half marathon. I laughed when I saw the pictures. They epitomized the misery of my day beautifully. Here, in the first shot, I was about 5 miles into the race and still running in no man's land. I had just gone through a water stop and had a huge mouthful of water to swallow when I saw the photographer kneeled down in the road. Seriously - you couldn't find a better place to be? I was in such a foul mood and so irritated by the location choice that I felt like chucking my paper cup of water at him.
This second photo might rank right up there in my worst race photos of all time. But I post it in the spirit of sharing even those moments that are truly unflattering. This was somewhere between 9 and 13 because the guy in the right of the frame is the triathlete that ran the end of the race with me. I was in a miserable state of hell during that entire time so I'm surprised I actually don't look worse. Every step was agony at that point.
I went to the orthopedist today and the verdict was fairly neutral. My X-ray showed signs of healing, but my shoulder is still very fractured. I'm ready for physical therapy and I have about 70% range of motion. I got a little ahead of myself and asked if I could start swimming. He had me try to put resistance against his hand and I couldn't. I'm completely weak in my left arm and even if I could get my arm through the stroke cycle, I wouldn't have the strength to really swim. He suggested 3-4 weeks of PT before trying, but then must have seen the horrified look on my face and relented to a try after 2.5 more weeks - 8 weeks post-crash.
But now that I'm 70% I am going to see about getting my bike fitted. I might be recovered enough to get it done and bring my new bike home. I'd so much rather be riding the Cervelo on the trainer than my sad road bike. Plus I scored an incredible deal on a set of Zipp 404 race wheels so I'm even more eager to get my bike. I want to see it race-ready, even though it will be several months before I actually race on it. I can't wait. I'm going to have a pretty phenomenal set up. It's nice to have something to look forward to.
Distance - 5 miles
Time - 41:45
September 17, 2008
To top it all off, I'm feeling pretty run down these past couple days. I was tired going into the weekend and the half-marathon really took it out of me. My body feels physically fine, in the injury sense at least, but I'm exhausted. It has nothing to do with my training levels considering they've been so incredibly low. I think it has more to do with my chronic lack of sleep lately. It's finally catching up with me.
I'm now going to have to run Friday, Saturday and Sunday to salvage the week with Sunday as my long run. I'm sure it will all be fine in the end, it's just frustrating to lose complete control of the schedule. I've been pretty lucky in maintaining a balance up to this point so I really can't complain. As long as I don't get too beat up and end up sick and out of even more training, I think I'll be fine.
Distance - 5 miles
Time - 44:06
September 15, 2008
Not surprisingly, my legs were sore today from yesterday's half marathon so I went to the pool for the first time in weeks. I tried out the new TYR Nest Pro goggles I bought at the Ironman expo. They were ok, but I need to swim in them a few more times to know for sure. They fit better than my Kaimans but leaked a little, which drives me crazy. I swam as far as the lap swim time would allow and after a rusty start, did pretty well. I was dying to try a lap with my left arm, but I resisted and will wait until I see my orthopedist on Friday. I'm hoping I can start swimming with it soon.
I booked a trip to Chicago for the marathon in October. This will be my third year there for the race, but my first time as a spectator. I have a few friends running, nothing better to do for the weekend and a friend to stay with so I decided to go. I have a feeling it will be a fun weekend.
Distance - 1650 yards
Time - 40:00
September 14, 2008
The train ride was long, all the way to the end of the 7 line in Flushing. Queens is by far one of the lesser visited boroughs for me so I was completely unfamiliar with the area. The last bus was supposed to be at 6:15 for a 7:00 race start, but at 6:15, the bus was full so they sent it on. We were told there would be a couple more, no big deal. There were runners lined up all the way down the block and still no bus. I think it finally showed up around 6:45, which still seemed like plenty of time.
But then the bus dropped us off and it was clear there was a bit of a walk to the start. We walked and walked and walked with no end (or start) in sight. Then suddenly there were thousands of runners heading our way. The race had started. We figured we must be close at this point, so we kept walking. To our dismay, we walked for over two miles before reaching the start. Almost the entire race had gone by at this point and they threatened to pack up the chip mats if we didn't hurry. Give me a break! They couldn't get the logistics straight and then gave us a hard time? I didn't particularly care if I had an official time since this was purely a training run for me, but it was still unpleasant to be screamed at by race officials after their big screw up.
When I finally started, I was in the last 20 people or so. The race had started over 20 minutes earlier. I resisted the urge to catch up and kept to an easy pace, which was incredibly disappointing since I did the race to have the benefit of others pacing me. It is a completely different experience to run a race in the very back of the pack. There were points where there were no other runners and I could hear every breath I took and every foot strike. If I had known I would be running alone for so long, I could have just slept in and ran in Central Park.
To add to the fun, it was pretty hot - 78 degrees at the start - and humid - 86% - so that created challenges as well. And I was surprised that the course was as hilly as it was. But I felt great for 8-9 miles before the pain hit. It started with the usual nagging side stitch, which has been a permanent fixture this season. I tried to breathe it out but it hung on. Then came the rib pain from my bike crash. It started in the front and radiated to the back. Next up, my shoulder. I had sharp pain from my shoulder across my collarbone. Good times.
I was feeling pretty low when a guy ran up and said hello. We had met on the walk to the start because he was wearing a New York City Triathlon jersey. He was a lymphoma survivor running with Team in Training. He was in an incredibly chipper mood and I was suffering in misery. At first I hoped he would just move on because I couldn't talk and I was in my own private hell. Then he started a very long story, something about dogs wearing sweaters. I faded in and out of actually being able to listen and the story lasted about 1.5 miles so when it ended, we were already to 11.5 and heading into the home stretch. We talked as much as my body would allow and finished the race together. I thanked him at the end for pulling me through those last few miles. That's the great thing about races. You never know who you will meet.
After the race, I had some water and changed into dry clothes. I was feeling pretty good and then I noticed the water source. But when you're that thirsty, who cares.
Then on the way out, I saw something pretty funny. A guy had been to medical to get some ice for his knees, only instead of bags, they filled blue rubber gloves with ice and taped them to his legs. Now that's resourcefulness.
Distance - 13.1 miles
Time - 1:57:39
September 13, 2008
- Queens Half Marathon (tomorrow) - I'm not planning to run this at race pace since my longest run in 5 weeks was the 8 miles I ran a couple days ago. I'm just using this as my long run for the week. I imagine the first half or so will go very well, then I'll likely be hurting for the remainder. But as long as my stomach doesn't behave the way it did during the NYC Half, I'll be fine.
- Fifth Avenue Mile (9/21) - I love this race. It's a ridiculous amount of fun to run and watch. I did it in 7:08 last year so my goal is sub-7. I'm really looking forward to this one. Of course I'm not looking forward to running an additional 14 miles or so when it's over, but hey, I have a marathon coming up.
- NYC Marathon Tune-up 18-Miler (9/28) - I hate this race. Actually, I just hate the thought of the distance given my poor training. I've never actually done this entire race, but I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I did run 15 miles of the course once unregistered. I needed to get in a long run and didn't want to schlep my Gatorade and water so I joined about 1.5 miles in and cut out just before the finish. I know it's a tacky thing to do, but desperate measures and all...
After a long day on my feet and countless subway rides, I dragged myself out for a short run to keep my legs loose for tomorrow. The first mile was absolute misery. It was incredibly humid so it made it seem hotter than it really was. Plus I had dropped by my local bar for a visit and drank two beers so I was a little on the dehydrated side. But the second mile was over a minute faster and I kept up the pace for the rest of the run. Hopefully my legs will be ready for tomorrow. Now if I can just figure out how to get to the start of the race in Queens by 6:30 a.m. I'll be all set!
Distance - 4 miles
Time - 33:15
September 12, 2008
Important 2009 Ford Ironman Wisconsin Registration Information
You are receiving this email because you are an on-site registrant for the 2009 Ford Ironman Wisconsin event. Below are instructions on how to complete your online registration and secure your spot in the event.
I can now stop worrying that I left a letter out of my email address or that my handwriting was too sloppy. I was ready to rush home and complete the registration, but I have to wait until Monday. I am signing on at the first possible moment so I can make it official. I haven't had a second of doubt since deciding to do the race.
My weekend plans are changing a bit. I am truly exhausted and have not felt well the past few days. I've decided I will not volunteer at the Hamptons Triathlon on Sunday. It's not so much the volunteering, but the travel involved. I would need to leave tomorrow afternoon to stay at a friend's house, which is still about 45 minutes from the race site. I'd have another 4 a.m. start, a long day and the travel back. I feel like I'm pushing myself to the limit and I don't have much left.
I decided to stay here and catch up on a few things. And if I'm feeling well, I'll run in the Queens Half Marathon on Sunday. I'm not trained to race this distance so I'll just do it as a training run. It will be a good test to see if I'm ready to get back to the longer distances.
My sister is running her first half marathon on Sunday as well. I remember when I took up running, she once told me she would only run if she were being chased by a mugger. But here we are a few years later and she did the Army 10-Miler last year, we're doing it together this year and she's doing a half marathon on Sunday. I think the Marine Corps Marathon may be in our future, but she said no way. I guess I'll have to wait and see. But either way, I'm really proud of her.
September 11, 2008
The city looks incredibly different at night. And since today was the 7th anniversary of September 11, the annual Tribute of Light is in the sky over downtown Manhattan. I live almost exactly one mile north of the World Trade Center site and I run on the river path that leads right past it. I'm only 2 miles from the tip of Manhattan and wanted to do 8 so I ran north first and then made my way south. For the entire 5 miles or so I was running south, the Tribute of Light was straight ahead of me. I didn't even notice the miles.
This was a really great run for me. I didn't have any pain, labored breathing or stitches, all of which have plagued at least some of my recent runs. I was able to do the 8 miles comfortably and averaged an 8:30 pace. I'm planning to slow down to a 9:00 pace for my long runs so I'm starting to feel a little better about continuing with my training. I have no doubt it's going to hurt and I won't be as well trained as I could have been, but the race will be fine.
I'm hoping to have time to buy my fall pool membership tomorrow morning so I can get back to swimming on Saturday. I also have a long run planned before I head out to the Hamptons to volunteer for the triathlon. I'll be at the race site on Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m. armed with a sharpie and ready for body marking. After that, I'm working at the finish line. At least I can watch the race and I know a few people doing it. It will likely be my last trip to the water this year as well. If only I could swim in it.
Distance - 8 miles
Time - 1:07:51
September 10, 2008
I repeated yesterday morning, only this time my flight was on time. I arrived at LaGuardia around 11 and was in the office by 1 and prepared for a very busy day. I had a lot of catching up to do and was running on a little more than 4 hours of sleep. I still had high hopes that I would be able to wrap up work and maybe get in a run, but as the day went on, I knew it wasn't going to happen. I feel like I might be coming down with something, maybe a cold. After the immense amount of bodily fluids I was exposed to on Sunday I wouldn't be surprised. I'm also testing my body's limits with repeated lack of sleep. I'll try to start catching up tomorrow, although it will be short lived.
I am registered to race in the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon in Sag Harbor this weekend. Since my crash is keeping me from racing, I volunteered to work at the event. This was back when I was feeling really low and disconnected from the sport and it felt like a great idea. Now I'm exhausted and wondering why the heck I'm driving out to the Hamptons and then getting up at 4 a.m. yet again. I'm sure I'll be glad I went, but for now the thought just makes me tired. I'm body marking and working the swim to bike transition so I should be done by 7:30 or so and can watch the race. I know a few people racing so I can cheer them on.
My fingers are crossed that I won't wake up sick tomorrow and that I can at least get back into running.
September 9, 2008
I finally gave up and had them re-book me for tomorrow. I had work deadlines and would miss the entire day if I waited for this flight to finally get out of Madison. So I went back downtown and worked the rest of the afternoon. When I finished, I finally had my chance to run outside along Lake Monona. It was a beautiful night, absolutely perfect for running. This was my first real, outdoor run since before my accident and it felt incredible. I had some breathing issues and a side stitch, but nothing that was too troublesome. I definitely felt a little slower, but on top of being untrained, I'm operating on major sleep deprivation. I ran in my new compression calf guards and really liked them. I look like an idiot in them so they better make a difference. I guess I'll have to wait and see if they help in the long run.
I got to have dinner with my parents, brother and little nephew as well. So all in all, it was a nice silver lining to an annoying travel delay and a great way to end my stay in Madison. I'll be back soon enough.
Distance - 5.7 miles
Time - 48:36
September 8, 2008
After watching and supporting yesterday, today was my turn. I got up early again and headed back to Monona Terrace to get my "golden ticket" guaranteeing me entry to the 2009 race. I didn't get there until 8:30 or so and there were at least 700 volunteers already in line. Of course the moment I got settled, it started to rain. It was a sprinkle at first and then it poured. And it was cold too. I guess it was the first test to be sure we really wanted it. I stood in line with a great group of people, 3 of them have done the race before and 2 had just done Lake Placid. The other guy was also signing up for his first. The regular line was about half as long as the volunteer line and it was so great that we got priority. Once registration opened at 9, our line moved quickly. As I entered the conference room, I passed by the first guy in the regular line. Rumor has it he showed up at 4 a.m. Uh, here's a tip: Next time, volunteer and save yourself the pain.
The sign-up process is incredibly simple. I had to show a photo ID and fill out a basic form. I was told I would receive an email sometime in the next two weeks with instructions on officially signing up online. Great. As if I'm not anxious enough, now I have to sit here waiting for this email to arrive, wondering if my sloppy handwriting will keep me out of the race! This piece of paper is the only proof I have that I was there so I'm hanging onto it for dear life.
I met up with Phil (1stTimeTri) at the volunteer dinner to say goodbye and wrap up my weekend. The rest of our group had to leave this morning to catch flights and get back to work. The terrace looked completely different with everything pretty much packed up and gone. By tomorrow, you'll never know the race was even here. I have no doubt everything will look different to me next year.
September 7, 2008
The start was crowded but we easily found a great spot to watch from. I felt nervous just watching and knowing how I feel at the start of a race. The mass start was pretty incredible to see, 2200 athletes in a small area in the water at once. For two people - one man, one woman - the race was over before it began. The woman swam back slowly with a lifeguard and the guy was brought back in a boat.
We watched all of the swimmers complete the first loop and waited for the pros and lead age groupers to exit before heading up to the top of Monona Terrace to watch the rest. After 1:30:00 it thinned out a lot and there were a couple people really far back that clearly weren't going to make it.
I met up with the guy I met yesterday from Newton to watch the final bikers start the course and then take the only break I would have all day. I started my female changing tent volunteer post at 1:00 and was busy straight through to 5:30 when the bike course closed. I helped women that only spent a minute or two and some that took over 10. I put socks on their feet, tied their shoes, mixed their sports drinks and helped them change their clothes. I opened up letters from friends and family members that they brought for inspiration. There were a range of emotions, most being excitement, but some exhaustion and confusion. A few women were in tears and a few withdrew from the race. The strangest thing I had to do was peel a hard boiled egg. I thought of all the nasty things my hands had touched (you don't even want to know what a triathlete's clothes are like after 112 miles on the bike) and tried to peel it carefully and barely touch it.
I volunteered with Lisa, a girl from Beginner Triathlete. We went out to watch people finish after our shift, which was 11 hours into the race. She was meeting up with several other BTers and I was planning to take a break before starting my course marshal shift. However, we were standing right at my intersection and they closed it up around 6:00 when the final runner was on the course. I was scheduled from 7:45-midnight. I checked out the next corner and there were tons of volunteers. We met up with Tony, Laura and Chris from BT, and watched more of the race. Tony talked me into forgettting about my misplaced shift and joining them for dinner. I'm so glad I did. Not only was it fun, but I didn't realize how tired I was.
We spent a couple hours watching the later finishers. It poured rain for awhile and I felt sorry for the people who still had several miles to go. It was dark and it was pretty cold so the rain had to be a little defeating. But regardless of the conditions, everyone making their way to the finish looked incredibly happy. Some were barely able to run, some had crashed on their bikes and were bandaged and had road rash, and others looked like they could have run another 10 miles. It was amazing.
We met up with a few more BTers at a bar. Most of them are doing the race next year as well so it was nice to meet them. We're going to have a pretty big group. We went back to the finish at 11:45 to watch the last few come in. The second to last woman was the last woman I helped in transition. She was 62 years old. But nothing would beat the excitement of the final finisher. They said she was coming, but it wasn't certain she would make it. The clock hit 16:59:50 as she approached the finish chute. I have never seen a crowd cheer more for anyone and she had volunteers and course officials running along with her. She crossed the finish line with less than 5 seconds left.
While some people had time goals, others just wanted to finish and have a good race. I knew a lot of people racing and some of them had good days while others didn't. A couple were unable to finish and a few were violently ill but pushed on and made it. In the end, you've still finished the same race whether you cross the finish line in 10 hours or 16 hours. I have doubted myself and my abilities a lot and just a few months ago, I was sure I couldn't complete an Ironman. I thought I would barely be able to make the cutoffs and my biggest fear was starting the race only to DNF. But after seeing these athletes over the past three days, spending time with them in transition and then watching them finish, I am not only confident I can do it, but I'm confident I can do it well.
Congratulations to everyone who finished the race today. It's an incredible accomplishment and very inspiring. I can't wait for my chance in 2009.
I'll be posting some pictures in the next few days as well when I'm finally back in NY.
September 6, 2008
I am really looking forward to being in the transition area. I'll get a chance to spend a few minutes with the athletes at a critical time in their race. They warned us to be prepared for a variety of emotions. Some women will be having a dream race and others will be feeling defeated. I'm such a sap that I can't watch the Kona coverage without a few tears so I may need a stockpile of tissues to get through the day.
My run course marshall spot could not be better. I'm at MLK and Doty, about 200 yards from the finish line. I'll be directing the athletes on their final turn so I imagine my job will be simple. I'll be able to watch hundreds of athletes finish, albeit from behind. I'll be out there to watch the last athlete finish the race.
After the volunteer meeting, I ran into "1stTimeTri" from Beginner Triathlete and spent a couple hours chatting with him on his volunteer shift. He knew the whole Wisconsin crew plus others so I got to meet a lot of BT people. It was funny to be introduced all morning as the Lazy Marathoner.
I ended up spending another few hours around the expo area somewhat unintentionally. I left and went to the farmers market and Cafe Soleil (yet again) and finally read the information one of my volunteer leads handed out. She said we'd have to pay cash on Monday to register for 2009, something I've never heard of before. Since Phil (1stTimeTri) got to register this morning, I went back to find him and get the details. I got sidetracked by the Newton shoe tent (no, I didn't buy them... but likely will at the NYC Marathon expo) and spent at least an hour there talking to one of the sales guys. I've had a habit of absorbing hours of people's time over the past few days. I think I really need more triathlete friends.
I ended the day with a quick trip out for drinks even though I have to get up really early in the morning. It was worth it. I'll have plenty of time to sleep when I go home.
September 5, 2008
Today was a truly incredible day and it was only the beginning. I woke up at 5:30 so I could run before my volunteer shift. It was still drizzling and still dark so I hit the treadmill again. It was another good run. My volunteer shift started at 9:00 so my dad and I took a walk to Cafe Soleil to get croissants and coffee. I'm proud to share that I only had one this time! On my walk to Monona Terrace I got my first glimpse of the Ironman Village and immediately felt the excitement of the race.
Registration was at ground level with a great view of the lake. The swim course was marked and there were hundreds of athletes in the water. We spent an hour getting the goody bags, timing straps and other check-in stuff ready to go before the mad rush began. From the time we opened until noon it was a non-stop flood of people. It was great to have a moment to sit face to face with so many athletes and help them start their Ironman experiences. Some were visibly nervous while others seemed to have done it a hundred times before. 99.5% were friendly, energetic and thankful while .5% were indifferent. It's amazing to see the wide variety of people competing in an Ironman. They made me feel like anything is possible if you just have the courage to go after it.
I finished my shift and embarked on what would turn out to be a very productive shopping expedition at the Ironman expo. I love nothing more than a running or triathlon expo. It's like being in the most expensive candy store you've ever seen and for some reason, it feels more justifiable to buy boatloads of things you'd likely hold back on under normal circumstances. I was blown away by the wetsuits and swim skins, some more than $600. For that price, it better sprout tiny arms and do the swim for me.
I managed to make it out with some modest purchases:
- 1 pair 2XU compression calf guards
- 1 pair 2XU compression recovery socks
- 1 set of Yankz laces
- TYR Nest Pro smoke-colored goggles
- Zoot running hat - oddly, it says it's a men's hat, yet Zoot is in pinkish lettering and there's a little blue, girly palm-tree looking thing on it
- 1 package of Blist-O-Ban bandages
- 1 pair Wigwam Ironman Flash Pro socks - ok, these do not count as M-Dot merchandise as I've been running in the same Wigwam socks for awhile
- 1 packet PowerBar electrolyte mix
- 1 double chocolate chunk breakfast cookie
As I left with my bag of goodies, I was forced to walk by all the bike dealers and race wheels. They were offering an Ironman deal on the Zipp 404s I'm dreaming about, but even the magic of the experience couldn't make me lose enough sense and reason to make that purchase. Not yet at least.
All was looking good until I realized I had forgotten to buy a running jacket. I needed a few items for the higher level of cold-weather training I will be doing this year and the expo seemed like the perfect place to pick a few things up. So I headed back in and started round 2 of my shopping expedition. I settled into the Sugoi area and found everything I needed and then some. They had the perfect jacket, lightweight and breathable, but wind and water resistent. I can wear it on the bike and for running and it is unbelievably light. Just perfect. But then the fire-engine red "Firewall" jacket caught my eye. It was thicker and warmer, perfect for the colder winter months. Then I just HAD to get the Wallaroo Speedster, a pullover wool hoody also in my favorite red. It is soft as can be and has thumb holes in the cuffs and a "ponytail port" in the hood. I must be the sucker they have in mind when designing this stuff. I rounded it out with some fleece lined arm warmers. Now I have no excuse to stay indoors this winter.
After 7 hours and with a lighter wallet, I finally left the expo and headed home. I passed by the finish on the way and thought about what it will be like to make it there next year.
I wish all of the IMWI athletes the best of luck in their journeys to make it there on Sunday.
Distance - 4 miles
Time - 32:48
September 4, 2008
I did an extended warm-up and then started my run. I was surprised by the pace I was able to keep up comfortably and was even able to increase it gradually. After about 2 miles my shoulder ached a bit, but not in the bone. I was feeling pain in the muscles around my shoulder, mostly in the back, likely from holding it still for so long. I held it a little more tightly to my side to control movement. This threw my gait off slightly, but I didn't want to accidentally overextend it.
I've been really worried about what this time off has done to my running fitness and ultimately my marathon training. Being able to sustain a pace slightly faster than before my injury was a huge relief to me, but this was a fairly short run and I realize the long run may be more challenging. I've also lost significant time that would have had me building to my first 20 mile run this week and instead, I'm going to have to pick an intermediate distance and build up from there again.
I had a goal of under 4 hours for the marathon this year and I'm fairly sure that goal is unrealistic at this point. Even though my pace was still great today, I think I'm only going to have time for 4 long runs over 15 miles and the long runs are what get you through the marathon. But at this point, I'm so thankful to be healing and getting back into somewhat normal training that I'm ok with it. I'll do my best and then shift my focus back to triathlon for my Ironman training.
Speaking of Ironman, it took a lot of willpower to resist heading off to the expo today to check everything out and buy a bunch of stuff I don't need (but really, really want). The rainy weather was a good deterrant, I would have gotten soaked on the walk to Monona Terrace. So instead, I'll check out the expo tomorrow after my volunteer shift and buy a bunch of stuff I don't need then. My volunteer shift is from 9-1 and looks like it will be an adventure. I got an email tonight from the volunteer lead letting us know that only 800 of the 2400 registered athletes checked in today so they anticipate tomorrow will be "overwhelming." I'm looking forward to kicking off my Ironman weekend with a bang.
Distance - 4 miles
Time - 32:44
Distance - 3 miles
Time - 30:00
September 3, 2008
I've been in Wisconsin for 5 days now for what started out as a fun holiday weekend leading into a week of working remotely so I can volunteer at Ironman and sign up for 2009. I've tried to keep up some level of training while here, but it's definitely suffered a bit. My diet has suffered, too. I shared my Taste of Madison toll and while I've cleaned it up a bit, there are still a lot of things I'm allowing because even though I'm not on vacation, I'm away from home so my brain thinks I'm on vacation. I had two croissants and a cookie yesterday from the cafe at L'Etoile. Yes, two croissants. I skipped lunch, but still, one should have been enough (let's not talk about the cookie). Today was much healthier and I was feeling back on track, but then there were the fresh-baked cookies from the farmer's market. How could I resist? And then there's the beer...
I can sit here and beat myself up for falling off the wagon, or I can just enjoy myself and feel content with the fact that everything else I'm eating has been healthy and I've managed to stay pretty active. I'll go with the latter because I'm so thankful I get to be here. I don't get to spend tons of time with my family so this is a real treat. I had a busy work day that started early and ended late so I took a long lunch break and went for a quick swim with a woman I met through Beginner Triathlete. She was incredibly nice to offer to let me tag along so I happily joined. I was hoping to get in some elliptical miles, but by the time I finished work, I just wanted to enjoy dinner with my family and relax, so I did. I spent over an hour on the terrace having a drink with my mom and dad, enjoying a nice evening and just chatting. How often do I get to do that?
I have 5 more days to enjoy here before heading back to New York and I'm sure I'll make the most of it. I'll continue to find a balance between training and life and just do my best. After I sign up for Ironman on Monday, that balance will become even harder to maintain so I need to appreciate how simple my schedule and my life are at this moment.
This photo has nothing whatsoever to do with today's post, except that it captures some of the spirit of my time here. It also sums up my diet very nicely!
Distance - 856 yards
Time - 30:00
September 2, 2008
I was doing my usual elliptical grind and after 30 minutes, I decided to hop over to the treadmill just to test things out. I started it slow and gradually increased the pace to see how my legs, shoulder and breathing felt. Surprisingly, all were fine and it felt really great to be running. It was so tempting to keep going, to squeeze in just one more mile, but while contemplating this, I had a disgusting image in my mind of my shoulder bone cracking just a little more with every foot strike (even though I know this is not the case) and decided to stop.
My shoulder has been hurting a little more tonight, but it was from my post-workout shower, drying my hair and getting dressed, not the workout itself. I've been pain-free during training activity for the past week, but it's the regular life stuff that wears me out and causes pain. I still can't lift my arm and when I overextend it even just a tiny bit, intense pain shoots through my arm. I can't wait for that to be a thing of the past.
So now the big question on my mind is: Am I ready to start running? I was planning to start on Thursday anyway, so what difference is a day going to make? I'm thinking if I run tomorrow, I can go back to the elliptical on Thursday and run again Friday so it's not on consecutive days yet. I think I'll sleep on it, both literally and figuratively, and decide tomorrow. The 90-degree heat in Madison is going to break overnight and the cool front is moving in. It will be perfect running weather.
I finished my workout with 30 minutes on a stationary bike (the ONLY thing worse than the elliptical) , 10 more minutes on the elliptical and a quick round of stregth training for my legs. I want to be sure they are ready to jump back into marathon mileage as soon as possible!
Distance - 1 mile
Time - 9:26
Distance - 6.69 miles
Time - 30:00
Distance - 4 miles
Time - 40:00
September 1, 2008
We continued on and walked some more. I keep forgetting to take my Garmin along to see how much ground we're covering. Even though I haven't done much training-wise since I've gotten here, I've made sure to at least walk as much as possible to counteract some of the gluttony.
I've had Ironman on my mind almost constantly since arriving. The more I see the signs around town and the number of athletes growing each day, the more excited I get. I've definitely caught Ironman fever. Even though I've been here for the past two years a week before the race, I was never as aware of it as I am now so it's different. I decided to add another volunteer shift so I can extend my experience a bit further. I'll be doing athlete registration on Friday morning. It will be great to help them check in and begin their race weekends on a good note.
My shoulder felt really good today, by far the best it has yet. I think after 2-3 more days of elliptical I'll be ready for some real running. The cooler weather will have arrived by then and the energy of Ironman will be at an all-time high. I couldn't ask for better conditions.