Saturday, July 27, 2013

If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away...

I'd pack up my bike and go for the day :) Losing them wouldn't be so hard to take...

Two years ago, today, my life changed as drastically as one's life can change in an instant.  Not to much earlier in the summer I had been talking to my dad about triathlon.  My first 1/2 Ironman was on the horizon at the end of September, my first marathon at the end of October, I was getting ready for a big training weekend with DC Tri up at Deep Creek Lake, and I was considering upgrading to a triathlon bike.  He was
my biggest supporter, my guru if you will, enjoying his retirement and having time to do some bike and racing recon for me.  When I brought up Ironman and the crazy people I'd met that were going to do an Ironman and how I don't think I'd ever do one he patiently hindsight he probably knew all along I'd end up doing one.  A couple weeks later when I started realizing some of the training I was doing was near Ironman distance and I could possibly complete an Ironman he was completely supportive with positive encouragement, even tossing around the idea of spending Thanksgiving in Cozumel, so I could race Ironman Cozumel.

Holli Finneren, You are an Ironman.
As I was out for a long weekday ride of my own in DC my dad cycled home in Lake Orion, MI when a distracted driver struck him from behind.  I missed the training weekend as I spent time at home with family, friends, and loved ones grieving, remembering, painting a ghost bike, and trying to put the pieces together.  2 weeks later I spent a great weekend in Luray, VA with my brother - camping, racing, and getting back on the bike.  After winning my age group for the 1st time in Luray, I bought a tri-bike once back in DC, and signed up for the distance my dad knew I'd do all along...Ironman Louisville.  I spent the next year planning, training, and preparing for Ironman.  I met awesome people in Georgia and DC on the same journey, spending long hours on the bike and run, sharing the ups and downs, the pain and excitement.  Remembering along the way, thanks to Mary, to celebrate life.

I'm now in Lake Placid for my 2nd Ironman experience, this time as a sherpa for Adam.  The energy is awesome, the views and course are absolutely gorgeous and I couldn't think of a better group of people to be surrounded by then DC Tri or a better person to sherpa for.  So thank you, dad, for always believing in me, never having an ounce of doubt, and encouraging me to chase my dreams.  Without you, I wouldn't be here today, enjoying a perfect bike ride through Lake Placid, NY to celebrate life, fun, and crazy dreams.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Eagleman 70.3 Race Report

This race report is a bit delayed -- for no good reason.  This was my first Eagleman - notoriously hot and humid - but I kept the faith that the weather would be great, despite at the naysayers.  We left for Cambridge on Friday afternoon, in a torrential downpour.  We got to town without much issue and after settling into the rental house we decided to go on over to Packet Pickup and the Race Expo.


After fording a small lake in the parking lot and running through the rain we made it inside.  It was a relatively simple process, similar to any other Ironman branded event.  Once making it through the labyrinth of waivers, swag, and race numbers we grabbed some new speed laces and saw the sign...Mirinda Carfrae appearance 4:30....perfect for us, because it was 4:15.  We hung out and we were lucky enough to meet Rinny, snap a few photos, and wish each other good luck on Sunday.  This was pretty much the highlight of all pre-race festivities :)


Could also be called tri-geek day.  Practice swim, short bike, clean bike, affix all race numbers, pack transition bag, rack bike, walk through transition (mudpit), lay out clothes for morning, review race plan, etc.....The day ended with a great pasta dinner with our housemates and a few friends from the DC area that
were also racing.  We lucked out in that the rain seemed to hold off on Saturday evening while we checked our bikes.  Our house was about a 15 minute walk from race start/finish/transition.  We really lucked out with the rental house.


The biggest annoyance of Ironman 70.3 races is that my age group tends to be last or 2nd to last to start.  We had the honor of bringing up the rear this year at Eagleman.  That means I waited about 2 hours after the pros started.  I saw all my friends start, I had ample time to make multiple bathroom runs, lay down for a bit, and take my time getting the wetsuit on.  If I could have, I would have waited until most athletes started to seek out a port-o-potty.  I set off with a fellow athlete to stand in line, as we approached the ridiculously long lines we remembered seeing a lone potty farther up in the grassy field, as we walked that way we saw a 4 person line for the one potty--sweeeeet! we thought this will be quick - relatively speaking.  As we stood in line an older gentlemen exited and said, "It's pretty bad in there, it may not be suitable for you too"  (we were the only females in line).  A fellow housemate was the next in line he went in, and we soon began asking what had happened in there.  It turns out the port-o-potty had been tipped over and apparently flipped back upright.  You can imagine what it looked like on the inside.  When fellow housemate exited he said, "I would have rather $h!* myself!"   Wow, and with that I took off to stand in line to a decently clean potty.  That thing was gross! Who in the world flipped  it over and deemed it ok the use, oi.  The toilet paper was destroyed and every inch of the inside was covered, with you know what.

After figuring out the bathroom situation I sent off most of my friends and continued to wait another hour.  Luckily I had a couple friends started in the 2 waves before me, so I wasn't by myself in the waiting game.  I started getting my wetsuit on, staying hydrated, and getting some calories in before my race started.

THE SWIM - 47:43 - 1.2 miles

After what seemed like forever, or 2 hours, my wave was entering the water!  This is when it hit me...oh my goodness we are the VERY last people.  That means if I have a REALLY bad swim I'm going to be in last place.  Anxiety built and I was freaking out more than usual at the start of the swim.  I had had some great OWS leading up to this race and was confident in my ability to go right around 39:00 for the swim.  Well, it just wasn't my day or my wave's day in the water.  We working against the strongest tide of the day and I started out not following but "plan".  I had gotten caught up listening to someone talk about the swim the day before and starting out hard and settling in...this is not usually my MOI but I gave it a try...I won't be doing
that again anytime soon.  I drafted the entire swim, at a good pace, and was feeling good about my effort know that I was moving faster following the feet I was on than I would be if I was working this hard on my own.  That being said, as I exited the water I was extremely disappointed with my swim time on my watch.  Did I accidentally start it 10 minutes early?  What happened?  I passed people from 2 waves before me during the swim, how could I have swam so poorly and still passed people that started 10 minutes before me?  For a moment I thought about ending my race before I even got on the bike.

T1 - 2:30

As we ran towards transition there was water table with ice cold water which was much needed after that long swim.  The run into transition wasn't to muddy.  My bike was racked pretty close to swim in, so I quickly finished pulling my wetsuit off and getting into my bike shoes, helmet, and sunglasses.  Exiting transition wasn't so was a complete mud pit!  I carried Mr.  up about 13 rows and then down the exit isle which appeared to have snagged more than a couple bike shoes off some peoples feet.

THE BIKE - 2:37:20 - 56 miles

I headed out on the bike hoping to make up some time I had lost during the swim.  The bike course starts out with a few turns and then opens up a bit more onto pancake flat roads.  The wind had picked up a bit by the time I was on the bike compared to my counterparts who were on the bike 2 hours earlier than me.  The course didn't seem too crowded and I was passing people constantly, unfortunately the majority of them just slower cyclists from earlier waves.  About 12 miles into the bike I started passing some other athletes from my age group, finally I'm making ups some time and catching people.  I was eating, drinking, taking salt pills, and having a good time.  I saw the aftermath of a wreck (could have been Meredith Kessler and age grouper wreck), a dead snake, some turtles, and a couple bald eagles.  I continued to catch fellow age groupers the entire time on the bike course and I was feeling good about the upcoming run.  This was a 56 mile bike course PR for me, though my goal was about 3 minutes faster than this, I'm happy with the bike split, as the wind was at it's strongest as I was coming back in.  I saw Adam at about mile 8 on the run while I was about 4 miles from bike finish.  Yay, that was exciting, but also a little frustrating.  He was 5 miles from being done, and I wasn't even off the bike yet, let alone running 13.1 miles.

T2 - 1:57

Oi, mud pit again!  I tried to carry Mr. over it but I was tired so Mr. got a little dirty.  Once back at my racking spot I took got my run gear on and headed back out for a fun 13.1.  I put my visor and race belt on as I exited transition.

THE RUN - 1:53:35 - 13.1 miles

I saw Adam again - right near mile 1 - his mile 12.  Yay, he was doing awesome!  He reminded me to settle down and find a pace I could keep the entire time.  This was good, because I came out a little too fast.  I settled into a rhythm of gel, salt, pills, and water every so often.  I was passing more people than were passing me and fellow racers were full of encouragement.  I was looking forward to a slip and slide and snow-cones on this run course - neither of which were really there.  The slip and slide was definitely not there and the "snow cone" were sugary syrup atop ice cubes at the turn around point.  I took one sip and wanted to vomit.  Oi, not cool!  It was warming up and I saw about 3 or 4 athletes stop in the middle of the round and grab there quads or calves as they were cramping up.  I didn't look at my watch really at all while I was running.  As I neared the last mile I picked up the pace and was delighted to see a good friend snapping pics in the middle of the road!  Even though she yelled at me to smile.  The finish line wasn't as populated as I'm sure it had been 2 hours before hand but it was still lined with a few spectators and I was definitely relieved to be done for the day!

FINISH TIME: 5:23:05 (13th AG)

I had a great time at this race, I'm pretty sure I'll do it again.  It wasn't a PR for me, but that the swim been a bit more in my favor it could have been.  Once I was able to see the results I felt better about my swim, and after reading up on the tides - high tide, low tide, and slack tide - I realized what a difference they could make.  I was 6 minutes behind the winners of my age group in the swim, for me, that's not bad.  It's all about minimizing how far behind I fall in the swim ;)