Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vegan Wedding!

Trimazing! is excited to announce that we've updated our website and the Trimazing! blog is now integrated into that site!

The post you're looking for is now located at:

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Thank you for all of your support over the years and I look forward to seeing you at!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vegas Post-Race Recovery!

A little post-race recovery!
So I'm settling in to post-race season recovery better than I thought I would! I've been having a blast!

Knee Update
I've been to physical therapy twice now, and this seems to be helping a lot. The physical therapist seems to think that my knee issue is probably a flareup of my IT band due to systemic inflammation. She believes that my post-Vineman immune system just wasn't able to deal with the inflammation from my sinus infection and   strep throat and allowed my little "tweak" of an injury to my IT band to become inflamed during my convalescence. The knee is not unstable at all, but the area around the distal end of the IT band had fluid in it. She's been using ultrasound and Graston® (just like the treatment I had for my ulnar neuropathy last year, see post), and it's getting much better. I'm also using the foam roller and doing some exercises to work the IT band. The swelling is down, pain has decreased and sometimes disappeared, and I've not had the "squeaky rub" condition for several days now. I do have a referral to a sports-medicine orthopedist in October, and I'm going to keep that appointment to see what things I can do to prevent future injuries to this area as I start up my full Ironman training this fall.

I'm slowly adding workouts in. I did a 1.5 mile swim last week and my knee was great for the first half; it got a little achy, not painful, so I just pulled the last half. I did a five minute stationary bike warmup at PT this morning with no pain at all, which is the first cycling I've had pain-free for a month. Tomorrow I'll do a 2-3 mile treadmill run and see how that feels. I'm really looking forward to getting back into training.

Vegan Vegas!
I went to Vegas last week for the first time in years. Believe it or not, it was soooo relaxing! I've never gone anywhere and just vegged at the pool...but that's exactly what I did and turns out, exactly what I needed! We spent four days at the pool, lounging, swimming, relaxing, enjoying drinks with little umbrellas in them, of course...ahhhhhh!

We stayed at the Wynn, which was beautiful, and, turns out, has outstanding vegan food at all of their restaurants and room service! The Wynn brought in vegan chef, Tal Ronnen, to develop wonderful vegan fare, and he hit it out of the park! Check out their menus.

The first night we ate at La Cave outside on the patio overlooking the pools. It was a beautiful setting. La Cave is a wine bar/restaurant that serves small plates in tapas style, although it's not Spanish cuisine. There was a whole section of vegan selections...and we ordered them all! Our favorite, which we ordered a total of three plates worth, was the Creamy Mushroom Tortellini, made with cashew cream. OMG! So fantastic! I'm going to have to figure out how to recreate that dish!

Room and poolside service was terrific too. Over the four days, for breakfast, we had the fruit plate with vegan soy vanilla yogurt, granola and soy yogurt parfait, and tofu scramble. It was all excellent! At the pool we had salads and a terrific roasted red pepper and avocado hummus.

The second night we ventured to the Bellagio to Sensi. While not a vegan restaurant nor one with a vegan menu, I had read in the Vegas Vegan blog about the amazing food they had there, and as it was one of my friend's favorite restaurants in Vegas, we were very intrigued to see what they had along the vegan lines. We had the BEST waiter--he was English and so much fun! We asked about a vegan menu and he got all excited and said he was go talk to the chefs to see what they would come up with, because "they really do love to create new exciting things!" He came back with a list of wonderful menu items...and we ordered them all! We had a fantastic Veggie Sushi Platter with a Ponzu Yuzu dipping sauce and a wonderful risotto for appetizers, followed by Tofu Scallops with stir-fried vegetables that were outstanding and a dish of seasonal vegetables that included a variety of summer squashes, carrots, green beans, etc. And a bowl of fresh berries with the most amazing lemoncello sorbet I've ever had in my entire life!

The last night we went to the Mix Lounge at the top of The Hotel at Mandalay Bay. Stunning! We ended up having drinks and dinner outside on the veranda on the 64th floor; it was a beautiful night with an orange harvest moon. The lounge is dark, sleek, and sexy...the restaurant is etheral and light, making for an amazing evening. Note...if you ever go here, you HAVE to check out the bathoom! Sexiest bathrooms on earth!

Mix is not a vegan restaurant, but they were more than happy to come up with a list of items they would make for us. We'd had so much food the other nights that we simply kept ourselves to two entrees this night! We shared a Vegetable Hot Pot with Wild Mushrooms and Potato Gnocchi with Morels and Asparagus. We did enjoy fresh breads for starter, which included four varieties of bread accompanied by fresh chunky peanut butter they make on site--I thought this was very original!

For dessert, we had a variety of sorbets which were amazing, and a warm madeleine, all served up on a beautiful platter scripted with "Happy Birthday" in chocolate and a candle!

My next blog will cover the adventure that followed Vegas...a Vegan Wedding (no, not me!!)! Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

You Like to Think that you're Immune to the Stuff...

Me and Chrissie Wellington...WOW!

Oh yeah!

I was driving home this morning from work and Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" came on Pandora and it seems so fitting right now, in the context of triathlon for me.

And believe it or not, the line that caught my attention was "You like to think that you're immune to the stuff" not the addicted to love [tri]...

Let me explain...

Sadly, race season 2012 is done for me...and I'm having a really hard time about it! Mostly because I wasn't mentally ready to be done, but my body has different plans. I'm actually registered for a long course tri at Black Diamond in Enumclaw, Washington, the Portland Olympic Tri, and the Portland Marathon, and been registered for them for months, but I'm not going to be able to compete.

First it's been a full frontal attack by strep... The day after the Wahine relay I did as part of "The Afters" team I developed a sinus infection. Miserable. I really didn't think it was going to be a big deal, figured it was a little swamp water effect from Blue Lake, but it really knocked me on my butt. I couldn't sleep, worked my firefighter shifts and I know my crew made voodoo dolls in my likeness and tore them to pieces for keeping THEM up all night tossing and turning and coughing. But I took one shift off, got back on my feet and figured I was fine. Then...full on strep throat. The nurse told me, "No one gets strep in summer, after this test comes back negative I'll tell you how to deal with a sore throat." Well, I proved her wrong! I was in bed for a whole week, penicillin and the works. This was all four weeks post-Vineman.

Finally, when strep was clearing up, my left knee decided it really didn't like what I did during Vineman, riding on a flat for all that distance. Now I have developed pain in that knee with walking and especially up and down stairs or when carrying heavy objects. It comes and goes, sometimes feels so sharp that the knee feels unstable. I can feel a rub through the skin when holding my hand over the lateral knee and out of curiosity, auscultated it with a stethoscope and I have a pleuritic-like rub sound when I articulate that knee. It's like I'm the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz and I need an oil port in my knee.

I saw my primary care who was certain I had a lateral epicondyle stress fracture, but this did not show up on x-ray. He gave me a knee sleeve to wear, but that increases the pain significantly, more than without a brace, so I’m not wearing it. I have a PT appointment tomorrow. He does not think it is from my IT band, does not think it’s meniscal, but doesn’t know what it is. So now I'm in an email debate with him over whether or not he will refer me to an orthopedic physician who specializes in endurance athletes.

I'm pretty devastated about having to quit my season. I realized it when I got the strep throat diagnosis. And I started GRIEVING! Seriously, that day was awful. I felt miserable, I got into a hot bubble bath and cried my eyes out. Friends and family helped a lot, but I'm still sad about it, although I've accepted it now. But, as I told a tri friend the other night at a reception for Chrissie Wellington, it's taking a lot to keep my spirits up at the moment, especially with this fight with my health provider over my knee. And really, I just want to be ready to start training for Ironman Tahoe. I know it's over a year away, but my mind is ready to start.

The thing is, even though I'd heard about athletes getting really sick after long endurance races, I really "felt immune to the stuff" and that it wouldn't happen to me. And that's really ridiculous as pretty much all of my triathlon friends who have done half and full Ironman races have gotten strep, bronchitis, and other infections the weeks following their events--and we've talked about it at length. Here is an article I found about this:

Why do I have to learn so much the hard way? My friend, Wyatt, said, "I think it doesn't stick otherwise." And then I also forget I'm new at this. This is only my second season, and I don't know what to expect. So I'm taking the rest of my season off, resting, healing, recuperating, enjoying time with friends and family and doing some traveling, things I wouldn't have time for otherwise. In my lowest of lows when I lamented to one friend, "I don't have any races to look forward to now.." he reminded me that we have an upcoming trip to Vegas..."You have THAT to look forward to now."

And, somehow, people come into your life at the right time to help you through rough patches. Chrissie Wellington came to Portland this week and I had the great opportunity to see her at Athlete's Lounge. She showed up in a walking cast on her left leg due to stress fractures. She's not racing Kona this year. And she's not sure what she'll do for next season, not sure she's racing even. What is she doing? She's spending time with family and friends, traveling. I think she was sent just when I needed her.

So in tribute to my Addiction to Tri...a little celebration of where I've come in these two seasons! Sing along!

Addicted to Tri

Your lights are on, but you're not home

Your mind is not your own

Your heart sweats, your body shakes

Another kiss is what it takes

You can't sleep, you can't eat

There's no doubt, you're in deep

Your throat is tight, you can't breathe

Another kiss is all you need

Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh yeah

It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough

You know you're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to tri...

You see the signs, but you can't read

You're runnin' at a different speed

Your heart beats in double time

Another kiss and you'll be mine, a one track mind

You can't be saved

Oblivion is all you crave

If there's some left for you

You don't mind if you do

Might as well face it you're addicted to tri!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Afters! Wahine Sprint Relay Tri Race Report

"The Afters" Pam Johnson, Cindy Thompson, and Cindi Morrow

This is a very special race report! I'm so excited to share this story!

Isn't racing great? I mean, don't you just meet the most amazing, inspiring people? I'm constantly blown away with people's stories, how they started, what they've endured, obstacles they've overcome, achievements they've made, how racing and this community has impacted their lives. My friends, Cindi and Pam, are two of those people.

The After's team was born from my friendship with these two remarkable women. Pam and I met during my first triathlon season, when we kept bumping into each other on the podium and decided we needed to get to know one another. We've become great friends and training partners, and had teased each other that we should do a relay together some day and be on the same podium step! I met Cindi, a runner, a couple of years ago and really developed a friendship after unexpectedly bumping into each other at a vegan potluck put on by NW Veg. Cindi has been a great supporter and inspiration, coming to races, sharing race reports, and I've been threatening to take her over to the "dark side" of triathlon! While getting to know these ladies, we discovered that we had each undergone transformations of fitness and weight loss, and often talked about this in the context of "before" and "after." During a dinner last winter, one of us called ourselves "The Afters" and a fantastic idea emerged...we should form a triathlon relay team and celebrate our "After" selves! We chose the Wahine all-women's triathlon as our event.

Below are our stories.

Cindi Morrow

Cindi "After"
On June 1, 2009 I weighed 312 pounds. In five months I would turn forty. I'd tried scores of times to lose weight. Some of those attempts lasted a few days some for months but none of them took. This time though instead of one more failed attempt to lose weight I succeeded in gaining my health. 

There's a big difference between not wanting to be fat and wanting to be healthy.  More than losing 141 pounds I've grown as a person and as a citizen. I've learned that my food choices impact not just myself but my community, the environment, and animals that in the past I saw not as sentient beings but as food.  I've gone from being someone who took the shortest path between to points to a recreational athlete who has run three marathons, six half marathons, and countless races of shorter distances.   

Cindi "Before"
Between June 2009 and early October of that year I was a dedicated walker. I walked to shed weight. One night when I was out exercising after work it began to rain. I was tired after working a twelve hour shift. It was dark. I was a mile from home. And, now it was raining. Instead of walking, I figured, I'd run home. I'd be home that much quicker. Well, my first attempt at running lasted about a minute and left me grasping for breath, my heart pounding, my legs burning, but my spirit determined. How was it that I couldn't run? How was it that I'd allowed myself to become so incapable? I tried again the next day. It was no better. Same for the day after that one, too. I stuck with it and a month later I was able to run that mile without stopping.  It was a 14 minute mile but it was running! 

I was a new person. I was becoming the person I always wanted to be. Confident instead of unapologetic. Making things happen instead of making do. Controlling my body instead of my out of control body controlling me. I'm was a runner. I am a runner! Not a gifted one but a dedicated one. I'm slow (32:22 5K PR) but I finish. Sometimes I race against the clock, sometimes I race against my personal best, sometimes I race just to cover the distance. Each day I run I'm a healthier and happier person. Each step is a joy. Even the steps that are ugly and difficult on an uphill course on tired legs. Sometimes my standard four mile run on my home course starts like a punishment and ends with me wishing I had miles still to run. Running changed somewhere along the way from exercise to a passion . . . it influences what I eat and when I sleep . . . it's earned me health, friendship, and pride . . . running makes EVERYTHING else in my life easier.

Pam Johnson

Pam "After"
I'm one of those people that should "know better." I've done active things all my life (skiing, snowboarding, swimming, triathlon, mountain biking, etc.), but I've also had issues with my weight all my life. I seemed to always go through phases of all or nothing when if came to my weight and fitness level. I was either super fit and training for an Ironman or being overrun by stress at work with no outlet of physical activity and eating totally unhealthy. As I was approaching my 40th birthday though, I knew something had to change. I realized that I needed to get healthy in both body and mind...and for good this time. After all the turmoil of the down economy, I decided that no job was worth dying for. I wouldn't let my drive to excel at work cause me to lose drive in other parts of my life. I decided that as a gift to myself for my big birthday, I would finally take responsibility for my own health and happiness. 

Pam "Before"
So I made a plan. I set a realistic goal of one year to lose 90 pounds (with a provisional 80 pound stopping point if I felt good). I started exercising daily, which was difficult at first. And I decided to use's calorie tracker to keep track of all my food intake and calorie burn. I started running on my lunch break, since we have showers at work, and went to the gym near the office after work. Running at lunch was a super stress reliever. I'd come back from a run ready to tackle the world. Going to the gym near work served 2 purposes. One: I had no excuses. I had to go to the gym. None of the getting home and losing motivation stuff. Two: I avoided the rush hour traffic on the highway. By the time I headed home, there was no traffic. This also served to ease my stress levels. Bonus!

After a very tough year with lots of ups and downs, I had lost 65 of the 90 pounds I had planned on. Ironically I wasn't disappointed in myself. In the past I would have been bummed that I failed at my goal. It took another 6 months to lose the last 15 pounds for a total of 80. Finally, I realized during all that hard work how to find balance. Balance at work. Balance in my fitness. Balance in my relationship with food. Balance in my personal life. I figured out that taking some time to better myself made me better at my job. I found that I dealt better with the pressures and things followed suit at work. I figured out that you really do have time to fit exercise into your life….even when you're busy. And you notice it more when you don't make time. I found that eating healthy makes me happy. I feel good when I eat the good stuff, but also figured out that an occasional ice cream cone isn't going to kill me either. I also started to like myself again. I wasn't doubting myself anymore and I stopped putting myself down. I like who I am, which means that my heart is open. Open to limitless possibilities. Open to love?

Me, Cindy Thompson

Me "After"
You may not remember February 2010, but it really was a pivotal time for me. I was the heaviest I had ever been in my whole life (I actually didn’t even know what I weighed, was afraid of the scale!) and other than just starting to change my diet, was very complacent about my fitness. I wasn’t really happy about my situation, but was pretty resigned to it. 

My Fire Department had received an Assistance to Firefighters Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop a fitness program along the guidelines of the Firefighter Wellness Fitness Initiative developed by the International Association of Firefighters and International Association of Fire Chiefs. This program was not mandatory. The first step involved an initial fitness assessment, including lipid panel labs, body fat composition testing, and a physical fitness evaluation, and  I was very uncomfortable about this! I knew I was not in the best shape, but it was very important that I be a role model as a Captain in my department, and step up and participate in this voluntary program.

Me "Before"
I had my fitness assessment and it really encouraged me to make some changes. I started doing P90X  (on- and off-duty) that showed up at the station and participated in a firefighter-specific health program called PHLAME (Promoting Healthy Living; Assessing More Effects) with my crew. 

Since February 2010, I dropped 60 pounds, 7 uniform pants sizes, 3 uniform shirt sizes, and dropped my cholesterol and blood pressure readings. Beyond looking better, my fitness level soared, and gave me new athletic outlets I never even dreamed of:  the Seattle to Portland bike ride, Portland Marathon in 2011, a two-day team adventure race this summer in Central Oregon called the Wild Canyon Games, 2012 Open Water Swim National Championships, and an addiction to triathlons.

In March, my department asked me to head our Wellness Fitness program! What a turn of events! I'm now a certified Peer Fitness Trainer through the American Council on Exercise and excited to share my story and experiences with others to help them succeed and be inspired myself by their success.

Wahine Sprint Relay Triathlon, July 28, 2012, Blue Lake Park, Fairview, Oregon

In all, "The Afters" team was 281 pounds lighter than the Befores! It was a thrilling day, celebrating our health and watching Cindi participate in her very first triathlon!

Pam and Cindi setting up transition with Race Monkey!

Me finishing the swim
Pam returning from the bike to set Cindi in motion for the run
Cindi bringing "The Afters" home!
So how'd we do? Third place! And we had such a great time doing it too!

"The Afters" after!

But, the amazing thing was sharing the story of "The Afters" when people asked us about our team name. And you know what? We heard more inspirational stories from amazing women who are Afters too! I knew Kelly from the tri club, but I didn't learn her story until after the race while we were waiting for awards, when she shared with us her "Before" picture that she was carrying with her. Here is Kelly's story!

Kelly Johnson 

Kelly "After"
I don’t know where to start my story. I got married July 31, 1988 and I was at that time very fit from running and eating good portions and making good choices.  Then I got pregnant a year later and was told to hold off on my extreme exercise.  I then at that point started eating more and more. I gained 85lbs; let’s say baby fat.  

After my daughter was born, I was a yo-yo. I couldn’t lose the weight, added running then I figured I was in the best shape in the world and I could do anything ~ without proper training. I entered in the Hagg Lake Run. It was a 10.2 mile hilly race and I didn’t even think twice. After a mile and running uphill, I saw my daughter and husband I stopped and said take me home.  It was the first race that I did that I didn’t finish. 

Kelly "Before"
This was the start to my weight gain that up me over 270 lbs. I was so depressed that I let my family and mostly myself down. I started to have the job I had and I did what every person did, right? I went to the kitchen and ate everything in my path. I was angry and very sad at the same time. I kept turning to food and what a way to live. 

 I finally decided one day to stop and make changes in my life. It took me over 18 years to make that decision.  I started to walk a short distance, then longer then started to jog/run again. Having such a great support from my husband, I closed my business and returned to College. I was getting better with my weight loss but it has taken over 2 years to totally drop the 110 pounds and I still have 30 pounds to go. I am a work in process, really. I love to eat food; good and bad but it’s really a state of mind now.  I have goals and I still have to learn about portion control. 

In 2011, I started to do triathlons and I currently am working to be an Ironman. My goal is to do the Ironman Wisconsin 2013 and finish standing upright and fit.  

Are you an "After"? 
Doing this race, sharing our stories, was just an incredible experience! I know there are others. Would you like to share your story and join "The Afters"? Please, male or female, send me your story and photos and we'll share them on our new "Afters" Team Page I'm developing on the blog and on the website. Let's celebrate our success and fitness together!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Wheel-ly Happened!

Vindication is mine!

This morning I headed in to Athlete's Lounge (AL) to have them check my rear wheel. As I noted in my last blog (Ironman Vineman 70.3 Race Report: Going Flat Out!), I suffered two flats in my rear tube during my half Ironman and these were the 4th and 5th flats I'd had in 2 weeks in this wheel. The last couple of flats I changed, I noticed that the rim tape inside the wheel had folded over and Maddie Oldfield, the Australian pro triathlete who stayed at my house during Rev3 Portland, had been really concerned that this was causing my flats; in fact, she sent me an email about this after reading about my Vineman race on Facebook. Since I hadn't been able to find anything in my tires, I was pretty sure I was having some sort of malfunction with the wheel itself.

Circled area is rim tape bunched up against valve stem
Boy, did I ever have a problem! I hadn't messed with the tire at all after the second flat because I wanted AL to be able to see exactly what was happening. The tech removed my tire and started removing my tube until he reached the valve stem where the rim tape was all wrinkled and bunched up so badly against the valve stem that he couldn't pull the tube out--the valve stem was completely pinched between the tape and the pass hole through the rim! My rim tape was all dry rotted and cracked! He took the wheel to the shop so he could check the tube to confirm this is where they tube failure was and to cut the tube out of the wheel to remove it.

He returned from the shop again saying, "You never would have found this other problem!" The pressure on the tube pulled the nut threaded on the stem to pull through the top hole in the carbon section into the rim. So it was all kinds of screwed up! I'm very glad I made the decision not to take the wheel off and try to change out the tube with the second flat as I probably would've had trouble getting it back together and certainly wouldn't have gotten the old tube out.

Fortunately, none of these things caused any damage to my carbon wheel, which is still less than a year old. Riding the flat did not damage the wheel either and the tire was actually in great shape other than a little split on the sidewall that they superglued together.

To fix the issue, they removed the old rim tape and installed new cloth rim tape, which the tech said he automatically does when he gets new wheels himself as factory tape tends to have these kind of issues. I got a new tube with 60mm long valves so I won't have to use the thread nut on the valve stem in order to get my tire pump to fit on the stem--no more valve nuts for me! I will bring my front wheel in next time to have the rim tape replaced on it, as I didn't bring that with me and it certainly will have the same issue.

The best part of the whole trip was having Gary, the shop owner, say that he would've done the same thing in that situation--ride the flat the last 12 miles. It meant a lot to have someone with Gary's triathlon experience confirm that I made the right decision! And totally worth the razzing I got from him about "someone needs some lessons in changing flats!" when I walked in the door! :o)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ironman Vineman 70.3 Race Report: Going Flat Out!

Click to enlarge
I did it! I completed my first half-Ironman! What a day!

Mother Superior and I drove down from Vancouver to Sonoma County, California for this event and took two days to do it so I wouldn't wipe myself out driving down. We stayed in a great condo in Rohnert Park, California, about 15 miles from the finish, arriving late morning on the Friday before the Sunday race.

We drove to Guerneville to check out the starting point, Johnson's Beach on the Russian River. I'd made Mapquest maps for us before we left home and OMG, did Mapquest give us the curvy/twisty scenic route! We had lunch by the water and talked to people who were doing some practice swims. I walked into the water and wow was it warm! I decided that I didn't need to do a practice swim as the water was only 4-7 feet deep, fairly still as it was dammed up, and very warm (74 degrees at 1 PM after sun shining on it all morning). I've never done practice swims at any other previous event and have done fine in colder, deeper, swifter water without swimming them prior--I really wasn't worried about this swim.

After lunch we drove the 56 mile bike course to Windsor High School, the location of T2 and the finish line. Vineman 70.3 is a point-to-point event, something I've not done before, so it took some time to wrap my head around this! The bike course is gorgeous, goes right through the heart of wine country. The roads are in pretty good condition and mostly rollers, with a 385 foot climb near the end. There were Cindy-signs all along--an old barn with THOMPSON painted in huge letters on it, a Ford Aeromotor windmill just like the one from the family farm, and an old antique PINK fire engine in a field!! The last six miles are flat and straight, and really boring in comparison as they go through light industrial and the airport area. During this last part of the drive I told Mom, "This part is going to be the longest part of the whole bike route, so flat and straight." Boy, was THAT foreshadowing...

Waiting with fellow PTC'ers, Wyatt and Christine
Saturday was packet pickup. We headed back to the high school with Wyatt, another Portland Tri (PTC) member who was staying with his family with us at the condo, to meet PTC friend, Chris, to do all the obligatory pre-race things. Thank goodness we got there early. We were with the first 12 in line for the mandatory pre-race briefing and by the time they opened the doors at 9:30, we couldn't see the end of the line!  After the video we raced to the exit for our hand stamps and to packet pickup. I was glad to have spent the money in January for an annual USAT membership card so I didn't have to stand in yet another line to purchase a single day membership before being allowed to get my packet.

After packet pickup, it was time to set up my T2 area...but first, wait in another line; they didn't have T2 open yet, but I was 5th in line. I tell you what, it is so weird to set up a transition area with ONLY your running stuff. I kept going over and over my list to make sure I had everything because it just didn't look right without the bike stuff! T1 would be set up at the beach in the morning before the start. I got some prime real estate though!

So that was all done. We wandered though the expo and I got to meet another triathlon legend, six-time Ironman Triathon World Champion Mark Allen! Mark was there promoting his online triathlon training programs, Mark Allen Online, and his new book, Fit Soul Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You. I hadn't read his book yet, so I picked up a copy, chatted with him for a moment and got a signature in the book for an addition to the Trimazing Cindy library of signed books of amazing athletes! We followed this all up with a lovely drive of the run course...then it was time to chill, resting up for the next day's race.

Saturday, July 15, 2012

We left the condo at 4AM and got parked a little before 5:00! Boy was I glad we did though, because they were letting athletes set up their T1 before the listed 5:30 time. Again, I got prime real estate, on the end of the row. A headlamp would've been nice! T1 filled up fast and by the time I was heading down to watch the few waves before mine go, there were literally people fighting for spots to set up--T1 was tight! Christine was the row in front of me. We headed back to her room after setting up and finished our nutrition.

The Swim - 0:41:03 - 1.2 mi  

I wore my Garmin on my wrist again, thus the choppy route line. Click to enlarge.

Water temp was 71 degrees on race morning, so I opted to go sleeveless--it was like swimming pool water. There were 150 women in my wave, so this was a big swim start for me. There's no place for warm up swimming in this event, other than the 8 minutes between the wave before and your wave start, so the first part of my swim was my warmup swim. The race started before I knew it!

I tried to line up in the back right, but women kept coming into the water and I ended up smack dab in the middle. It turned out to be ok though. The start was slow and I spent time manuevering around slower swimmers, avoiding getting kicked and hit. I noticed fairly early on that no one was swimming at the buoys, so I made my way there--a great decision. The Russian River is extremely shallow here and the buoys were in the deepest part, a whole 7 feet deep. Being in this channel, I was able to swim the entire course, and often saw swimmers stand up and have to walk shallow sections next to me (it's way faster to swim than walk in the water).

I felt terrific the whole time and am happy with my swim time, which was just slightly faster than the pace I did at the Foster Lake 1 Mile Cable Swim, even with the maneuvering around lots of swimmers.

T1 - 0:05:27

I swam all the way to the swim exit, swimming past all the other swimmers who were walking and wading the last 100 feet. I remembered to kick harder the last 300 feet and had no problem standing up and running up into T1 to my bike. No dizziness at all.

Being point-to-point, I had to put all of my swim stuff away in my transition bag that I'd carefully put into a marked plastic bag specifically given to us for Vineman Volunteers to pick up after we left T1 for transport up to the finish line where we'd collect after the race. Anything left out of that bag would be lost. This slowed my T1 time a bit as I had to roll up my wetsuit and get it into my bag with my goggles, towels, etc., and then tie up the plastic bag. I took some gel and washed it down with water, applied sun screen spray, grabbed OJ and we were off. It was crowded, so I ended up having to walk my bike halfway until it was clear enough to run it and I ran it past the bike mount area which was at the bottom of a steep driveway, up to the top, so I didn't have to worry about getting started on a hill or having bikers stop in front of me on that hill and crash.

The Bike - 03:53:47 - 56 mi  

I felt great! My speeds were faster than I expected at the start, 17-19 mph, which is a great clip for me (this year will be the year of bike work to improve). I was comfortable with the course, having driven it, and knew there was a sharp 90-degree corner with a big drop at mile 5. I did fine with that but soon after crossing under the highway and gearing down to climb up Westside Road, I dumped my chain! So halfway up the hill (only about 100 feet) I had to stop, restore my chain, ride back down to get my momentum back to climb up again. Rookie move!

The ride is beautiful and I was really enjoying this. Nothing felt bad. I was taking Margarita with Salt Shot Blocks every 15-20 minutes, as planned, and water. I took Gatorade through the aid stations and followed with water. Funny, I missed seeing the Thompson barn and the pink fire engine!

At mile 41 however, I heard my rear tire blow out. DANGIT! I pulled over into a winery driveway and pulled off my wheel--I could use a break anyway, right? I could not find anything in my tire, inside or out, or tube. I did notice that the rim tape inside the wheel was folded back again, exposing a manufacturing hole and wondered if that was the culprit--but how on earth does that keep folding up when there is an inflated tube against it?? Barring that, I figured I must have just hit something sharp in the road. I put in a new tube and then started up again.

Three miles later, in the middle of the 385 foot climb, I had another flat in that rear tube! I pulled off, didn't take the wheel off, and put air in it to see if it would hold a little air, but no. I stood there for a second and considered my options. Clearly, there is something wrong with the wheel--I've had 5 flats in 2 weeks in that wheel, new tubes, new tires. I could take another 10-15 minutes and put in a new tube and have it go flat again in 3 miles and be in the same position, this time out of tubes and air, and have to ride the flat in--or--I could walk the bike up to the top of this hill and ride the last 12 miles, which was all downhill and flat (so glad I drove the course and knew this), with the flat, not wasting the time to change the tube...

I rode the last 12 miles on a flat rear tire!!! Boy, what a racket that makes! It slowed me down a bit, especially after a near wipeout that almost took out police officers, spectators, other racers, and myself after trying to take a 90 degree turn at 23 mph on that flat. Bad idea--it took me nearly 1,000 feet to recover that swerve and wobble and I really don't know exactly how I did that now! At about mile 51, right in the middle of the part I'd told Mom would be the longest part of the bike, my left knee started to ache from jerking my leg recovering that swerve. I just kept pedaling through it, watching the miles count down on my Garmin, maintaining a 14-15 mph pace with the flat. My race plan had been to do an easy spin down the last mile of the bike, but I couldn't do this with the flat, and had to push really hard the last 12 miles.

T2 - 00:05:11

I've never been so glad to see T2 in my life! OJ got racked, pulled the spent tube out of the back of my tri kit where I shoved it down the back of my neck, grabbed another gel and some water, shoe change, sun screen, and off I went. I was thrilled though, because I knew I had won my race! I had battled the last 12 miles and gutted it out with that flat--it could've destroyed my race and it didn't--all I had to do was run 13.1 miles! I GOT THIS!!

The Run - 2:32:38 - 13.1 miles

The sun was out now, but it was only in the mid-70s, which was great, and there was a cold breeze, kinda great except when it was a head wind.

My race plan was to force myself to run slow 10:00 min pace for the first half, walking all uphills (this course is full of rollers, some of the hills are pretty sizable). I ran my plan, lesson learned from the Vancouver half-marathon! Water stations were every mile. I took a gel before every water station, followed it with Gatorade and two waters, walking through the aid station.

I felt really good! I felt a bit of hamstring tightening about mile 2.5 and just doubled up on the Gatorade the next water station and was fine. My left knee pain was gone when I started the run.

About mile 7, in the section of the run that goes off pavement into the loop through the La Crema Winery, my left knee pain returned. I decided that instead of just letting myself run whatever fast pace that felt good for the last half (my race plan), I would just stick with 10 minute mile pace and walk about 400m every 0.5-0.75 miles. I had a blast this part of the race, even though my knee was achy. I knew I had overworked my race plan for the last 12 miles of the bike, which was to do an easy spin. All of us were running the same plan, leap-frog running each other in intervals, cheering each other on! The miles ticked down.

I ran the last mile in, cheered by the crowd that lined the course, so awesome! Around the corner and there it was, the finish line!

7 hours, 18 minutes, 6 seconds! I did it! What an experience, what a challenge, what an AMAZING thing! I missed my goal time, but without the flats, I would have been right on target. I'm super proud of gutting it out on the bike and finishing--no way I was going to DNF! To me, that's a better win than time!

Other than the tweaked left knee, I felt great after the race. I wrapped, iced, and elevated the knee and by the following afternoon it was much better. I feel surprisingly better than I imagined I would have--I guess training works! :o)

A very special thank you to Mother Superior for driving down with me, helping me navigate all over Sonoma County, waiting all day in the sun, taking GREAT pictures, and being my number 1 fan! Love you Mom!