Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday

I've been thinking that I want to start updating this blog more frequently again. I think blogging is easier when you do it a lot b/c then you're less overwhelmed at all the stuff you could potentially write about. :)

It's Black Friday. I'm not much of a shopper, but I did buy some new bathing suits and a new espresso machine that were on sale. Our espresso machine died the other day and it was really sad. I would have bought a new machine immediately but I had a feeling if I just waited a few days I'd save some money. Indeed, waiting 3 days saved me $45. Worth it to miss my morning espresso? Debatable.

Yesterday I ran our local Turkey Trot. It's super fun- 10 Mile "Guess Your Time" run and many in our local running community turn up. It's $7 and they give you a popsicle stick where you write your estimated finish time. No watches allowed. I've done this one a bunch of times over the years but haven't really 'raced' it since 2011. The night before I went back through my training logs to see what I ran the last few years (to give me an idea what I should guess)... I found 1:29:10 and 1:32:30. I've been running a fair amount recently but almost all relaxed/aerobic (read: walking up hills to keep HR low). I figured I could run at least as fast as last year, where I noted that I jogged easy for ~6 miles then felt good and ran strong the last ~4. So yesterday I guessed 1:32:00 which made me comfortable to the point where I didn't feel any pressure. I jogged super easy to start for the first maybe 2 miles, then as I started to feel better I picked up the effort. I had a feeling I was below 1:32 pace but since my legs felt good and my breathing was 100% controlled I opted to go for the long tempo effort and finished in 1:30:06. It was fun and a stronger workout than I would have done on my own. Had I guessed 1:30 flat I might have won a pie. Live and learn!

The rest of the day was social and centered around eating and drinking. All summer/fall I didn't drink much alcohol at all but recently I've been pretty liberal with the wine. I woke up this morning and my first thought was that I needed to cut back on my alcohol consumption, but then I remembered that tonight is another party with friends. Maybe tomorrow I'll go dry.

This morning we swam (as is standard M-W-F mornings). Good group this morning- Once again I was the weak link which is fine by me most of the time. We did a main set of 5x400's pull @6:20 (lcm), descend 1-5. Funny- you tell a set like that to non-swimmers and they're like um, no thank you. Tell it to lifelong swimmers and they just want clarification about whether or not the descend is within the 400 or across the set. I was in the mix for the first 1-2 as no one was going that hard yet (6:07/6:03) then the effort picked up. I hit 5:53 on the 3rd one and wasn't in the same zip code as Lectie, Mark, or Hudson. Then the trash talk started (this is the best part of swimming with swimmers). The 4th rep in a set of descend 1-5 is tricky bc it's going to be hard but you have to save another gear for the last one... I hit 5:49 which I was quite happy with but again was no where near my compadres. I joked with them about the racing they were doing and Hudson said no the racing hadn't started yet (ha!). Lectie took the boys to school on the last one I don't know what she swam but I finished in 5:42 (happy with that!) and I'd guess she had at least 25" on me, maybe more. I was gaining on Mark who'd spent all his pennies on the 4th one trying to keep up. In fairness, we had paddles and Mark did not. He reminds us about this (cheaters!) when he starts getting tired. Afterward we hung out and ate left over coffee cake and it was delicious.

I have to say, I'm really enjoying training at the moment. It feels fun. A lot of it I am sort of making up as I go along (What feels like the right thing to do today? What is fun?) and I've been running a lot with Maia which is also super cool. Having her has added ~15 miles/week to my running mileage (bonus!). She's pretty fast for the first 2 miles or so then tends to get tired and runs beside me instead of in front of me. Our new favorite loop is 3.25 miles and I'm going to take her on it right now.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Who Rescued Who?

You know how once you start to get an idea in your head, the thoughts grow and grow until you just figure out how to make it happen? That's pretty much how we ended up with Maia.
I haven't been riding my bike much (ok, at all) for the last few weeks and that has left me with some extra time on my hands. I tried filling that time with extra running, but there's only so much running I can do without sending my calves on strike. I just had this persistent thought that I would make a good dog mom… and every day I woke up with the desire to have one that much stronger. Every time I saw someone post a picture of their dog, or saw a dog playing at the beach, or running with his/her owner, I just kept thinking I WANT ONE OF THOSE.

Long story short, I had my eyes and ears open looking for a dog that needed a good home. While puppies are adorable, I knew I didn't need a puppy. In fact, I sort of figured an adult dog might be better b/c of the whole potty training thing. I mean, I could have done that of course, but not having to was pretty appealing.

Anyway, I found a post on Craigslist for this Rhodesian Ridgeback dog that had been found on the side of the road… The folks who found her had been fostering her but she needed a forever home. I did some research on Ridgebacks and basically this is what I found: Great runners. Don't shed much. Don't bark much. Really smart. Like to eat. :) All of the pictures I found of Ridgebacks showed them as being brownish/red so I figured this dog was a mix of some sort which was 100% fine with me. A friendly loyal dog who wanted to run was really what I was looking for!

So I answered the ad on Craigslist expressing my desire for this dog and then couldn't sleep that night. The next morning I got a reply back saying that of all the people who responded, it sounded like our home would be the best. We arranged to go meet the dog that night and I was beside myself with anticipation! I went straight to PetSmart and walked around in a daze at all the options of things to buy for a dog… I didn't go crazy and just bought the basics… food/water bowls, collar, leash, food, dog bed, a toy and some treats. Scott came home that evening and was like You bought a dog bed?? We haven't even met the dog!? Ok so maybe I was a bit impulsive but I just wanted to be prepared. The thing was, Scott wasn't as mentally prepared to have a new dog yet. His dog, Hoku, who he had from a puppy for 14 years, passed away last year and emotionally that was quite hard on him and he wasn't sure he was ready to do it again yet. I knew though that he could love another dog again. 

We drove to the other side of the island to meet this dog… She came running out and immediately came right to my feet and rolled over on her back! It was pretty much the sweetest thing ever, love at first sight, and 30' later she jumped right in our car no questions asked and we were driving her home. She slept on my lap the whole time.

The adjustment has been about as easy as I could have possibly imagined. I think I figured that I would have to earn the trust of this dog, but I didn't have to at all. She bonded with me instantly. She is so friendly, loves people, and wags her tail all the time! Just a dog full of joy. She does cower at times, which makes me so sad to see… I think it's clear that she was not treated well at some point in her life because she has some real fears (she is quite afraid of dog toys, especially ones that squeak- simply the sight of one makes her attempt to get out of the room). That makes me so sad and I can't imagine for a second how anyone could ever be mean to a dog like this. 

My biggest concern about bringing a dog into our family was that we have three chickens and a cat (and 2 guinea pigs, but they are in cages so no worries there)… But even that part has been a non-issue. Ozzie (our cat) and Maia did have a surprise confrontation at 3AM the first night Maia was home- she was sleeping (in her new bed!) when Ozzie came in… Maia barked and tried to get Ozzie, Ozzie used his claws on Maia's nose, Maia yelped then chased Ozzie up the stairs and straight out his cat door, and my adrenaline shot through the roof… I had some fears that Ozzie wouldn't want to come home anymore, but those were unfounded. As I type this, Ozzie is in my lap and Maia is at my feet, both sleeping peacefully. Ozzie is clearly the dominant animal in this house, Maia seems fine with that, and everyone is happy. (Maia hasn't seen our chickens yet, but she has seen wild chickens on the side of the road as she isn't interested in them.)

Anyway, it feels like Maia has brought so much joy into our house. She's only been here for like 4 days but she is already completely part of the family. She's a stud runner- I've taken her 3x now on the same 2.2 mile loop and she pulls me along the whole way! I'm guessing she hasn't done a lot of leashed running so I don't want to overwhelm her with too much too soon, but I'm sure I'll get a bonus 10-15 miles a week running with her simply because it's such a fun thing to do to take this dog running. Most of the time she does a great job staying focused and running straight, but it's pretty clear that she was used as a hunter in her previous life because sometimes she insists on taking breaks to stop and smell the feral cats along the way.

It's been interesting to get some comments on my Facebook posts about her… Friends thanking me for rescuing this dog… I totally get what they mean but you know what? As good as it feels to give this dog the home she deserves, the joy we get back is so real that it doesn't feel like it's any 'sacrifice' at all. That phrase 'Who Rescued Who?' is legit. Bringing Maia into our family has been one of the best decisions I've made in a long time!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

On Searching for Peace… And Not Finding It. (Ironman Louisville 2015)

I feel like I need to preface this post with a comment about how it comes from the perspective of an athlete who has been racing Ironman for 18+ years. Sometimes I read blogposts written by athletes newer to the sport and it makes me a bit jealous at how they define and feel success… Like when you're newer to the sport, improvement somehow comes more readily… vs 18 years later, finding improvement can be like trying to squeeze blood from a rock. Anyway, here's the perspective 18 years later. I hope it doesn't come across as me being too jaded. I do tend to be quite hard on myself. 

I have a vivid memory from the finish line of Ironman Cozumel in 2013. Nalani had a good/satisfying race there and she said, "I'm at peace." I didn't feel the same way. While I'd gotten myself to the finish line, I didn't do so in a way that felt like I'd had "a good day". That was frustrating to me because I felt like I'd earned the right via hard training to have a good day... One of the reasons I feel attracted to Ironman is that, for the most part, you get out what you put in. But then again, not always.

I waited almost 2 years before going after Ironman again. I think I needed a whole year (2014) to get over the disappointment of my race results in 2013. This year, I felt hungry again. I felt ready to train and I was motivated and all year I did the work. I dotted my i's and crossed my t's and with Marilyn's help, got myself to the start line of this race feeling fit and healthy and rested and ready. I really had no excuses which left me feeling quietly confident that I was set up to have a stellar day out there on that Louisville course. Deep down what I wanted was to finally feel like I could be at peace with the Ironman distance. I'd done this Ironman thing 14x before and while some of those races had been decent, none left me with the feeling of YES! I DID IT! That was the feeling I was seeking. 
Because of the concern about the possibility of toxins and bacteria in the Ohio River, I didn't do the practice swim the day before the race. It just didn't make sense to risk getting sick when I was feeling totally healthy. While I knew I would feel better on race day if I had the opportunity to get familiar with that water first, I opted to play it safe which meant winging it on race morning. And while I would guess that *most* would be like Wow great swim! (57:40), I definitely expected more from myself (my swimmer friends understand!). I felt sloppy while I was swimming (having not swam in my long sleeve wetsuit for who knows how long!?! Years. My fault, yes, but in my defense it was freaking HOT this summer!). I thought lining up middle/back of that time trial start would be fine and swimming around people who started ahead would be fine, but in reality I felt like I did the whole swim head up tarzan style b/c the brown water didn't allow me to see anyone without lifting my head.  Excuses excuses it is what it is and I got out of the water not knowing my time but thinking that it wasn't great… but whatever. It was fine and I wasn't tired and that's all I felt like I needed from my Ironman swim. If I could go back and change anything about my execution of this race, I would have done the practice swim the day before and lined myself up more toward the front. While I can't say I really enjoyed swimming in the Ohio river, it was fine and the 'nastiness' of the water was really over-hyped. ("Fine" seems to be the appropriate description of that swim.)

In T1 I opted to put on my vest b/c I felt cold. Looking back I think I probably could have gotten away with no vest, but again, fine. I did stop briefly on the bike at ~mile 35 and donated that vest to some spectators. :)

Onto the bike I remember thinking that I really felt no sense of 'urgency'. First 10 miles were fairly flat and I was just riding. Not super easy but not hard at all and people were FLYING by me like I was riding backwards and all I could think was have you people not ever heard about how important it is to pace yourself in an Ironman?!? I was definitely holding myself back there but it felt like the right thing to do and I kept reminding myself that this is a LONG day and that being patient early on was important. Did I hold back too much?? Maybe. I don't know. I race by feel so I don't have any concrete data to look back on and tell me if I was doing the right thing or if I was just being a pussy. I did feel like I was getting stronger as the ride went on. I fueled and hydrated well (~1800 cal & ~7x bottles of Osmo & water), peed 3x. I felt better on the 2nd loop than I did on the first, and in the last 20-30 miles when we had a decent headwind I was still happy enough, thinking that the end of most of my training rides I have a headwind stronger than what we had there. In the last 10 miles I caught back up to a couple of gals in my age group who had passed me in the first 10 miles so that was reassuring that my pacing strategy had been good. I had been glancing at my watch when I saw mile markers but wasn't micro-managing it… the running time on my watch though seemed loooong to me b/c it was saying it was almost 7 hours into the race by the time I got off the bike… to be completely honest I was expecting to be off the bike more like 6.5 hours into the race but I've been around long enough to know that some days are slower than others so I really tried to let it go and kept convincing myself I was doing well. Physically I'd say I felt ok at the end of the bike, except for the fact that my eyes weren't focusing anymore. I was seeing double and it was weird and I had a feeling it was due to being in that aero position for so long… like maybe an optic nerve was impaired or something? That was disconcerting and it made me want to be done riding for sure. Otherwise, I really had no problems on the bike. My Cervelo worked flawlessly and as I rolled into T2 I was grateful for my mechanical luck!
I have to say, that Louisville bike course was pretty awesome. Much of it had recently been repaved so for the most part we were riding on super smooth roads… Fun hills like roller coasters going up/down for the bulk of it. This course is advertised as 'rolling' but that's a bit deceiving. There are some legit hills on this course and a few that were short but very punchy and required some WATTS to get up/over. Because of the nature of the course, riders had to go out of their way to draft. That didn't stop some from trying- I didn't see any big pelotons like you see on flatter courses, but there were a bunch of little groups of 3-4 riders- including some women in my AG- working together (cheating!) and that was frustrating- if unfortunately standard- at times. On the plus side, I think I did about the best job I've ever done of not giving any of my energy away to that (Look Mom! No swearing!). Toward the end of the ride when I was sort of trying to calculate splits, I knew mine wasn't anywhere near my fastest (at 5:51 it was actually my slowest in probably 10 years?) but I did feel a sense of pride that it was 100% mine with no draft assistance from any other riders.

Finally after what felt like forever I got off my bike and as soon as I stood up I was able to see again, so that confirmed to me that the vision issue had more to do with being aero and wasn't about hydration or anything like that. (Phew!) T2 felt like it took forever but ~5' later I had taken care of business and was out on the run course. Right away I saw Scott and he ran with me for maybe a minute as I was chatting his ear off about how the bike felt (LONG!). Then he left me on my own and I settled in for the long run. I really tried to just turn my brain off and don' On purpose I held way back that first mile, just trying to get my legs under me and steel myself to the fact that I was going to run every damn step of that marathon. Somewhere in that first mile I saw Marilyn as well but I had turned my brain off by then and I did not recognize her! When you're wearing your name on your bib number a lot of people you don't know cheer for you by name and I felt like I couldn't acknowledge everyone who yelled GO MICHELLE!! but after I passed Marilyn I was like hmmm… I think that was my coach?!? Lol. When I saw her a few miles later though I perked up and was able to smile and tell her I was all good.

The first 13 miles went by just like that and before I knew it I was back near the finish and smiling like crazy b/c so many people were around and I saw Moana and Scott and my mom and Moana made sure to point out my name she'd proudly drawn on the road in chalk… 
It was all super fun at that point and I was stoked thinking YES I AM DOING IT and while I knew maybe my swim+bike weren't exactly stellar today, I had the thought that I was going to salvage this race with a decent run at least! I still hadn't walked at all- not even through aid stations- and I really felt about as okay as one could feel at mile 13 of an Ironman marathon. It made me think that maybe my relatively "slow" bike was a good thing...
After that it started to get harder but my self talk was (mostly) still quite positive… telling myself stuff like yep this gets hard which is why it feels like such a great accomplishment at the end… I could feel myself slowing a bit but was still running every step so it was fine. I had my watch on but I never looked at it b/c I genuinely like to run these long races by feel, just constantly assessing the pace/effort by feel… Is this a pace/effort I can keep up all day? Yes. Can/should I go faster? No. That's all I really needed to know. When the negative thoughts started coming in stronger around mile 15-16 (This is stupid. Ironman is stupid.) I combatted them by taking in more sugar… then the negative thoughts would subside (at least briefly). Somewhere around mile 18 I really had to go to the bathroom. TMI probably on this but one of my worries before the race was that I was not on my regular bathroom schedule (6 hour time change from HI to OH meant I was pooping in the afternoon vs morning each day)… So when I saw the porta-potty I knew I needed to use it and was trying to figure out if it would count that I still "ran every step" if I stopped and used the bathroom? I decided that if I started running again right away after that yes it would still count. I wasn't having a problem in the bathroom, it was just normal business in there (my stomach was fine all day), but it prob took ~2minutes. I don't know I didn't time it. But resuming running again after was VERY hard b/c my legs were hurting pretty badly by that point.

It was about a mile later that I got the first twinges of cramping, and not long at all after that when my adductor just completely seized up. If you've experienced an adductor seize like this you know what I mean- it's not possible to run through. Shoot- it wasn't possible to walk through! GAH! It just sucked. I was almost at the far turn-around but I couldn't even make forward progress b/c I was just stopped there bent over stretching and waiting for this thing to relax. This is not the first time I've had this happen in races, in fact it happens with a fair amount of regularity. 19 miles is actually the furthest along I've gotten before it has happened so if there's one positive to take away its that… but still… UGH. Again I don't know how long I was stopped- several minutes I think before I could walk, and while I was bummed to be walking, it felt like a better option than standing or sitting, and those were essentially my other options at that point (Quitting was never an option- it honestly never crossed my mind). A couple times I tried jogging but immediately I could feel the seizing coming back on, and then I was pissed. And then I was sad because there it went I couldn't even salvage this race with a decent marathon… And then I was pissed again. It all sort of spiraled out of control at that point and then I started thinking my swim was not great, my bike was slow (for me), and even without extending myself too far swim/bike I still couldn't pull off running 26 miles. I suck at this. Ironman is not for me. I am done even trying.  All that training and I still can't do it. Those were the super fun thoughts going through my brain from mile 20-22ish. 

Then I saw Marilyn. She yelled at me to RUN and at that point I just burst out into tears. For sure that was the low point in my day because it felt like not only am I letting myself down, I am letting her down as well. I sort of remember telling her "I can't". It really didn't feel like lack of will at that point- it felt like mechanical malfunction. I was watching all these other athletes run by me and their legs were working (so jealous!) and I was just like WHY WON'T *MY* LEGS WORK?? I think somewhere around mile 23 Marilyn came back and told me to jog 5 steps walk 5 steps. Jog 5 steps walk 5 steps. I tried that and was somewhat capable so then she said jog 10 steps walk 5 steps… Ok not capable of that. It was like I could jog 6-8 steps then felt cramping coming on so 6-8 steps at a time was my max. I think I settled on a 6/6 pattern that went jog 6 steps walk 6 steps jog 6 steps walk 6 steps and I did that the rest of the way in. I think having that task to focus on at least kept my brain from spiraling out of control about how much I was sucking at this.

To be honest I was worried about the finish line b/c with all those people surrounding you... How does one not RUN on that red carpet with all that loud spunky music and so many people cheering for you? I knew if I tried to jog more than ~8 steps my legs would just give out on me, so I didn't really have a plan for how I was going to tackle that finish line. 

Somewhere around mile 26 was actually the highlight of my day… One of my really good friends from high school (Scott P, not to be confused with my husband Scott) had told me that was going to come out for my finish (He lives in Louisville and was the one who planted the seed in my brain years ago to do this race one day) and as I was approaching the turn before the finish line, there he was, smiling with his arms stretched out ready to give me a big hug and that was so exactly what I needed at that point. I had long been done "racing" or even caring at all what the clock said (11:49, it turns out, over an hour slower than I was hoping to go), so when I saw Scott I just stopped and stood there and I let him hug me and we just talked… and he laughed with me and agreed that Ironmans are long and stupid and at the time that was funny and then eventually he was like you need to go to the finish line! Oh ya… so I can't remember if I resumed my walk/jog thing or not, but Scott told me where my family was on the right hand side near the finish so I stopped again when I saw them and hugged all of them and then I think I attempted to trot across the line but I stumbled and almost fell flat on my face. In all honesty that would have been a classic ending to this Ironman. My legs hadn't been functioning for the last 7 miles so its not surprising to me that they didn't function at the finish line either.

I spent some time after the race feeling really sad and frustrated but mostly confused. I feel like I know what it takes to prepare for and execute a good Ironman race. Shoot- I have taught tons of athletes how to do it over the years! But when its my turn to give it a shot, my legs fail me. Cramping on the run aside, why the hell did I ride so slow?? It didn't feel like I was soft-pedaling, my brakes weren't rubbing (I checked!), execution of the ride felt strong/solid… At least on the swim I could say ya I felt sloppy so when the split shows that it makes sense (that makes it easy to let go!). On the bike I felt like I was working as hard as I should have but the split being 15-20' slower than I think it should have been is just flat out baffling… Until I consider that actually, every race I've done the last few years I've felt like effort on the bike was good/solid but my split was slower than what I would have expected for the effort. The problem is that I have this memory of being quite strong/fast on the bike (because I used to be!) and I still think of myself as that strong cyclist but my race results these last few years tell a different story, so I don't know. I thought my training on the bike had been good but apparently not good enough to meet my own expectations of myself on race day. Coach keeps encouraging me to not compare myself to other athletes (or even to the athlete I used to be) but I find that to be nearly impossible to do… The bike used to be a place where I could gain time on people and I still think of it like that but the reality is that recently it's been a place where not only am I not gaining time but I am actually losing time and yikes that just does not sit well with me. Do I need to change my mindset and expectations to meet my new reality? Do I just accept this situation that I'm just not the cyclist I used to be? Am I too old now? (I don't think so!!) Coach also continually encourages me to race with a power meter but interestingly I find myself resistant to that. I know it would make analyzing the race afterward easier, but I've never raced with power (I train with an old/heavy power tap) and I've had some really solid bike splits in the past (there I go again living in the past!) so I know it's possible to put together a good ride by feel. Plus, getting a new power meter would require a hefty investment $$$ and at this stage in the game for me I'm not sure it's a viable option. Maybe I'm just an old dog in this regard. 

The reality is that the way I felt on that ride last week makes me think that what I did was actually the best I could have done that day… so how can I be upset if I did the best I could? Well, I guess I'm just not satisfied with the fact that 5:51 is my best effort. It's all relative I know. But in my head I am a 5:30 IM biker (4x I've ridden 5:3x so I don't think I'm delusional in this regard). I don't know if that makes sense but therein lies my frustration with my recent riding.

So what now? I'm not sure yet. Its tough b/c I have been feeling like I am nearing the end of my Ironman days. I'd really just like to wrap up this ironman phase (the 18 year "phase" I've been in since 1997) and my hope was that this day in Louisville would wrap things up for me in a way that would leave me feeling satisfied. The reality is that Ironman takes a toll on my family (I don't half ass Ironman training). It's also super expensive b/c racing one requires not only a ridiculous entry fee but also a long trip to the mainland (or to another country)… I'm trying to figure out if I can be happy putting Ironman to bed knowing that I have not reached my potential at the distance? I want to be at peace with it, but I am not at peace with it. So shit, do I really have to go through all this again? And if I do, what do I need to change to get myself physically to a place where I could execute a super long day and finish feeling like I DID IT!!? I truly thought I had it right this time… Trained long/hard but not so long/hard that I felt like I was in any deep holes… I felt rested for the race. I was consistent with ZERO injuries this year, hardly ever got sick, ate appropriately clean, etc. I don't have the answers to these questions. I don't know if I am going to try it again. I'm experienced enough to know that I should never say never (though of course I said NEVER AGAIN at the finish line on Sunday- my family wanted it on record!)… I do enjoy training so I can see myself training and staying in reasonable shape and doing shorter races even if I don't do another Ironman… I don't know. 

I'd say that finding 'peace' with ironman might be too elusive but Nalani got her peace so I know it is actually possible. So the question becomes, What do I need to do to be at peace with Ironman? Are my expectations of myself too high? Have I already hit my peak so will be unable to be the athlete I once was? My gut says I still have a good Ironman in me. It's just a matter of figuring out if/when/how/where/why to pull it out.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Prepping For The Mainland...

Just like that, race week is here!

I entered Ironman Louisville last year right when it opened, like, on the first day I think. I've never been to Kentucky before, but I grew up in Ohio and my parents are still there and I haven't been there for like 4 years so I figured this might be a good time to kill two birds with one stone. Plus, I have a friend who lives near the course and he said Scott and Moana and I could stay with him… Seemed like a no brainer choice of a race for me, but that was over a year ago and for the last year the race has just been this thing that was always WAAAAAY out in the future- like it was never going to actually happen- but turns out, it's happening very soon!

So what this means is that WE ARE GOING TO THE MAINLAND. It's not really all that often that we go to the mainland, and I think the last time we took a trip together as a family was ~2 years ago. Funny though, last week Scott was like "WE are going on vacation next week!!" I haven't really been looking at it as a vacation, per say, though I suppose in a way that's what it is? Regardless, mainland trips are a big deal for us. I've been prepping in the following ways:

~I bought a pair of jeans. I realized before my Tucson trip last February that I didn't actually own a pair of jeans (or long pants of any kind). My neighbor let me borrow a pair of hers for that trip, which worked out great and I loved them, but I felt sort of silly asking her to borrow them again. I didn't go out of my way to buy a pair though... Really I just grabbed a pair at Costco, which is a bigger ask than seems like it should be because for the most part Costco only stocks sizes 8-16 for most of their clothing. I did find ONE STYLE of 'denim' pants in size 4 and they were sort of stretchy material… Only like $20 so what the heck I threw them in my cart and turns out they fit just fine.

~I've studied (online) maps of Kentucky. I've always loved maps and I tend to like having an understanding of where I am on this planet. And while I know it's probably a good idea to study course maps earlier than 7 days out from a race, well, let's just say I finally feel like I've got a grasp on the general area of the course now too.

~I've tried to prep my husband on acceptable conversation topics when in the company of republicans. Lets just say that the only time we see information coming out of Fox News is when its filtered through the lens of The Daily Show, so granted, we might be a bit biased in our own political views and beliefs… But Scott tends to blurt out republican insults like he has turrets (if you are friends with him on Facebook you will understand this). My dad has already suggested that we steer clear of political conversations and I AGREED. My mom is too polite to suggest such a thing but I would guess she's made it a part of her daily prayers. So here's to hoping we can keep civil conversations while we are in Ohio (I think we can!). I love my family but we are not a family that tends to enjoy direct confrontation, and often not even good healthy agree-to-disagree-style-debate. Maybe we will just let Moana head up group conversations. :)

~I've arranged for Nalani to come by and take care of our little farm while we are away. She is a good friend and I appreciate her willingness to try to keep our cat and chickens and guinea pigs and fish alive. In all honesty, most of the animals won't miss us at all, but Ozzie will. I think this is the longest we will have all been away from him in years so hopefully he won't feel completely abandoned! He has access to outside as well so hopefully he won't go looking for a new home. I don't think he will. He's pretty attached to me.

~I practiced swimming with my eyes closed and my mouth shut. At this point I have no idea if we will be swimming or not (sounds like maybe not, which would suck). If we do swim though I expect the water to be brown. I'm *so spoiled* by swimming in clear water… sometimes I freak out a bit when I dive into water and start swimming and can't see.

~I did a load of laundry that included all my cold weather clothes because they smelled like moth balls. I haven't yet decided what I am going to wear on the bike during the race… Every time I check the weather forecast for Louisville for Sunday the low gets lower (48! OMG!) so clearly I should stop checking the weather forecast… I'm really trying to mentally prep to just be cold all the time but to shut up and not bitch about it.  We'll see how successful I am at that losing game. I did try to spend some extra time in the Costco freezer section each time I shopped there in the last few months. Funny- when it was blazing hot out (July>Sept) I could hang out in there and thought it felt GREAT. Now that it has cooled off and I don't spend my days feeling like I'm suffocating, being in that cold section was NOT OK.

~I've 'trained' Moana for the 1 mile Ironkids Run that takes place on Saturday. She was totally into it for a while, even running in the rain! Her interest has since petered out a bit (ahem, running is boring, mom) but I bet it'll peak again when she sees the finishers shirts and medals. Plus, Lectie gave her a special sparkling pink headband to wear for her race so that will give her magic powers I'm sure. Maybe I should wear that thing on Sunday?!?

~I'm still in the process of gathering things to keep Moana occupied during a whole lot of loooong hours of travel. I have two more days to work out the details on this one... Suggestions welcome! She is STOKED to see her grandparents though! She's going to get to see both sets on this mainland trip and will no doubt come home feeling spoiled and entitled, as it should be after spending time with grandparents! :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


About 5 weeks out from Ironman Louisville… If you've ever trained for an Ironman before you have an idea of what things are like at the moment. Sometimes it's fun to get a little glimpse into how it's going for others so here's a bit about how I'm coping at the moment.

In brief, I feel like I'm cooked.

Training has been pretty big, but not that so big that I feel like it's the reason for my current state. Mostly, it's the combination of the training and the stupid weather we have had this summer (count how many times I use the word stupid in this blog… Might be worth a drinking game).

This is my 10th summer here but I swear I do not remember previously being as HOT as much as I have felt this summer. There are a combination of factors I'm sure that come together and cause the misery… Mainly probably that it's El Nino + hurricane season + Ironman training at the same time. Plus I still never got the air-conditioning fixed in my car… I don't have an escape at an office that feels like an ice box, though sometimes I spend some extra time in the freezer section at Costco. That's probably my only real escape this summer. #sad

See our little state sandwiched there between those big red blobs? Those are some pretty big storms! I guess it was a first ever or something… 3x Category 4 hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific at the same time. So far the storms have either moved south or north as they travel west so we have not had a direct hit, but just having them around has impacted our weather in that our normal trade winds have been cut off most of the time the last few months, and those storms make the air more humid than normal. I'm 41 and just recently learned what 'dew point' means (when it's high like 74-76 it means it's miserable outside regardless of actual temperature). Got it.

I'd like to think that I'm an athlete who handles heat pretty well. I mean, it's pretty much all I ever get exposed to so I should be used to it, right? Unfortunately, it's been less than enjoyable trying to train long in the conditions we've had recently. And I'm coming up with a theory that being over-exposed to these conditions (like when you're training for an Ironman) actually results in being less able to handle them well. I'd guess some of that is mental b/c repeatedly you just always feel like shit and that gets old over time... And I have this weird aversion to the sun right now, often thinking (and saying out loud) I HATE THE SUN. I'll spare all the details, but some "highlights" of how things have recently gone down:

Before my swims, I have been packing a cooler full of 4x bottles full of ice water. I figured out I go through ~1 bottle every 1000m squirting it on my face and neck and arms trying to bring my body temp down. Then I take the ice and stuff it in my swim cap. It lasts 200-300m before it melts completely, but pushing off the wall after a flip turn feels great because as it's melting my whole head gets covered with really cold water. Then I go back to suffocating and thinking how stupid swimming is. I don't know how warm the water is… mid-eighties at least. It's a bummer b/c I've come to the realization that I hate swimming in water like that. I don't want to hate swimming, and I hate it that I hate swimming, but swimming in that water makes my whole body feel like it's been boiled and then I'm useless for the rest of the day. (This doesn't bode well for bike rides that come after swims…)

I've had some decent bike rides recently, but the pattern goes that biking after swimming has resulted in some pretty pathetic riding. Last week when I was supposed to ride after a longish swim I made it maybe 90 minutes before I just couldn't take it anymore and I bailed on the ride and went home and sat in front of a fan for the rest of the day. I just felt like I was suffocating and there was no part of me that wanted to do it anymore. This week (yesterday) I had a similar swim/bike day on tap and I tried my best to manage it by taking the swim intensity down a notch. That helped some but not really because I got on my bike and again just felt like ass. ARGH. The rest of the ride I spent battling in my head about how I did NOT want to be out there but yet I was NOT going to bail again. I solved the problem by turning my power meter off (nobody needs to see stupid numbers like that) and stopping more often for ice. I did make it through to the planned duration of the ride but couldn't hit the planned intensity pieces at all. I'm calling it a win though because hey, I didn't quit.

The worst thing about yesterday was that as I was riding- the whole time- I was just like this is stupid (drink!). I hated riding my bike. I even cried a little and I haven't cried on my bike in probably 15 years! The thing is though, I wasn't crying because I was biking poorly. I was crying because I was so sad that I hated it so much. Normally, I love riding my bike. I love Ironman training. Right??! I really didn't want to have those feelings of despising swim bike run, but I was having those feelings about despising swim bike run… And that made me really sad. Like you know what? Maybe this is it for me. Maybe this is my last Ironman and after this I'll give it up. I've always said that when I don't love it anymore I'll stop… but yikes that thought makes me cry.

You can only imagine how my recent runs have gone… If it's too hot to properly swim and bike, one should probably not even attempt running. And yet, I have been attempting running most days of the week. I downloaded a neat weather app on my phone that does a decent job of predicting if it might rain in the afternoon, so on those days where it shows clouds/rain building in the afternoon, I've procrastinated waited patiently all day before heading out to run. So on the days when it dumps rain, I get these glimpses of like Hey maybe my running doesn't totally suck, but then the rest of the time I'm left thinking Blah just forget it my running totally sucks.

So what does a cooked triathlete do when there's a 19 mile run on the schedule but the weather app shows high temps, no rain, and no wind? (She paces back and forth, calls everything stupid, and can't decide what to do!) Honestly, the thought of being out in the sun again all day was worse than the thought of running in place like a hamster for hours on end, especially if the hamster option was the one that included air-conditioning. It actually wasn't much of a decision because as much as I wasn't looking forward to spending the morning on a treadmill, attempting that run outside was simply not an option today. In good news, once I wrapped my head around the idea that I was going to be on that machine forever, it was fine. I downloaded a few new Undisclosed Podcasts (listened to Serial?! If so, listen to Undisclosed! Thanks to Lectie for the rec!), packed up a cooler bag full of iced Osmo (4x bottles!), packed some snackz, and drove off to the gym.

In good news, I didn't hate running today! That was such a giant relief! After yesterday, the last thing I needed was another day of an internal mental/emotional battle with myself. Today was none of that. It was very matter of fact get the job done kid of thinking, much more like how I remember myself as an athlete. The relief there was in the realization that I don't indeed hate swimming biking and running. I simply hate suffocating. So when I can take the suffocating out, it's all good. #phew

I'm not really sure when the weather that makes us suffocate will go away and we get back to having the best weather on the planet… Probably right about the time I'll be done Ironman training. Until then I'm going to try to remember how I felt today. And I'll sit here in front of my fan a lot.

Monday, August 17, 2015

On Not Giving Up... Kawela Triathlon 2015

Last weekend I jumped into a bike race. I'm not really sure why, maybe just for fun and because I thought it would be a good change of pace/effort for me... In reality it was very humbling. Those girls took me to school! Not only did I not have the top end fitness to hang with them, but I also didn't have the cornering on wet roads skill nor the ability to absolutely SMASH it on a downhill like they did. It was like pick an aspect of road cycling that is important (any one!) and that was an aspect of cycling that I would need to develop before trying something like that again. I wasn't very upset about how all that went down because I have a clear understanding about how and why my diesel engine (chug chug chug) works.

Fast forward to this weekend and I had a chance to put my diesel engine to work in a race more in my element. Kawela Tri is the only long distance race we have here on Oahu. It's mostly like a half ironman, except like most races here on Oahu, it disadvantages swimmers. I did it last year and had a decent race coming in 3rdOA. This year the gals who beat me last year weren't on the start list which gave me this little glimmer of hope, like hmmmm... Could I win it this year? I saw a name I recognized- younger gal who comes to visit in the summers. She and I raced once a few years ago in a shorter race and she ran by me like I was standing still so I knew she was a great runner, but we'd never raced long together so I really didn't know how it would go down against her in this kind of event. I have to say, racing on an island can feel a bit monotanous b/c we all know each other and often I can look at a start list and call the outcome before the gun goes off. But the element of this unknown young racer made the whole thing more exciting to me because it was like, can I hold her off? I really didn't know. But I figured we would find out!

The swim in this race isn't a real 70.3 swim because they make us run in the middle of it... At least this year it was longer than last year. It was like 1/2 mile swim, 1/2 mile run back up the beach, repeat 1/2 mile swim, then run back another tenth of a mile in deep sand to the end of 'swim' timing mat. For sure this takes away some of the advantage my swim might normally give me, but it was fine. My total time was about the same as it would have been in a legit 70.3 swim (28:xx) and while I didn't know it at the time, looking back at results I had almost 5' on the next woman. In good news, the Roka speed suit not only works to reduce drag while swimming, but is also comfortable enough to run in when necessary. :)

The bike at this race is point to point 57+ miles so just slightly long, but a lot of it with a tailwind so that sort of cancels out the extra mile+. It goes along the east and north coast roads up to the North Shore and manages to remind us that the City & County need to repave Oahu's roads so badly. I kept complimenting my Cervelo and my Enve wheels for holding up on a course that at times might have been better suited for a fat tire full suspension mountain bike.
My goal for the ride was to stay upright, ideally keep air in my tires, and get myself a decent cushion going into the run. I haven't felt great this past week so my mental goal was to not focus on how I was FEELING, but rather to focus on what I was DOING. I managed to check the box on each of those goals. I don't race with power or data and I think that usually works out ok for me. That ride was about staying aero, trying to not get pissed off at the bumpy roads, not bogging myself down with too big of a gear, eating and drinking appropriately, etc. I did get a bit frustrated when I was stopped at an area where there was road construction and it was a one-lane contra-flow situation. I pulled up at just the wrong time when they had just started letting the other lane go, which meant I was foot on the ground stopped for ~1:20. It was a total luck-of-the-draw type situation so some people might have been stopped longer while some were able to roll right through. I stayed frustrated about that for maybe 3 minutes and then I let it go and kept up with my focus on everything else. I did manage to use my 80 seconds to eat and drink so that was the bright side of that stop.

Not much else to say about the bike other than I felt like I did what I set out to do. I felt like I was riding pretty hard and stronger than last year but my split was about the same (actually it was ~1' slower but subtract for that stop and ride time was about the same 2:37). My biggest issue was that I started with 2 bottles of Osmo but sucked them both down before an hour had even gone by, and after that was stuck with just water, and even the water I picked up didn't last me until the next aid station (there were 3 total aid stations which should have been enough but for me yesterday it wasn't). I was often rationing out my hydration and I was dry for probably 10-15' before the last aid station. So if I could go back and do one thing different on the bike, it would have been to try to get 2x bottles at each aid station vs just 1. Otherwise there's not much I would change about how I executed the bike.

I was thrilled to get off my bike! I didn't rush through T2 like I probably should have, but sort of took my time getting everything sorted and then started off running, immediately noting that holy crap I felt like shit. Refocus Michelle don't focus on how you FEEL focus on what you are DOING so it was just one step in front of the other hands up cadence up chin down drink Osmo, etc. I was feeling twinges of cramping which I haven't felt in forever but I attribute that to the fact that I was drinking water vs Osmo for the last 90+ minutes... I had a bottle of powdered Osmo in T2 that I mixed up as I ran out, and we were allowed "outside assistance" at this race so I had Scott up there ready to give me 2 more bottles of Osmo (one on each lap) so I was looking forward to getting back on track drinking my magic solution that has saved me so many times when it's stupid hot and I'm dying.

My first glimpse of how I was actually doing as far as the overall race was concerned came when I was about a mile and a half into the run and I saw Carly coming at me headed to the first turn-around. At this race there are 5x u-turns so we would have adequate time to see each other and watch the gap shorten... Prior to the race starting I sort of guessed that maybe I'd need ~13' cushion in T2 and then I would need to run well in order to hold off anyone who's actually running. Carly is like this little whippet runner girl and when I saw her I sort of guessed my cushion was more like ~11' and I didn't truly think that would be enough. Especially given how I was feeling...
That first lap was really bad. Like, one of the worst feelings running I've had in quite some time. I battled with myself so much in my head like I can't do this. I've had that feeling so many times before and it sucks in a race when you talk yourself out of being able to perform up to your abilities. Honestly during that first lap of the run I was jogging like 4 minutes then walking for a bit then forcing myself back to slogging again and it all just felt so ugly and it was like here we go again another race where Michelle squanders away her lead because she can't run... This time though I did a (little) better job of keeping myself together and even though I was just in survival mode, I was really trying to get myself to NOT give up and NOT be a quitter. Focus on what you are DOING Michelle so it was just a matter of guzzling down as much Osmo as I could (4 bottles would have been better than the 3 I had but 3 was better than none!). I was trying desperately to keep myself cool (it was hot #understatement) grabbing ice at the aid station and dumping it in my top and in my shorts and holding it in my hands and chewing it and what else can I do with ice?!
Being able to take Osmo from Scott was a lifesaver.

So the run continued on it was this long out/back back and forth. Just straightforward suffering.
I could see Carly after every turn-around and she was getting closer but not nearly as quickly as I'd anticipated. So ok, she must be suffering too. By the time the second lap came around I was feeling a bit better- not great but I wasn't stopping as much and was able to get into a better groove (the Osmo was kicking in!) and after I turned around at mile 9.5ish I was shocked to see that I still had maybe 4' or so on Carly. I wasn't taking splits- I never looked at my watch during the run because I KNEW that what I would see would just piss me off and I didn't want to get pissed at myself I just wanted to keep moving forward best I could each moment... So I was never taking splits, but I could just see that while the gap was coming down, it was still a gap and it was at that point where I decided to RACE. I had the thought like Ok maybe she will catch me but it won't be because I gave it to her... I figured 4' with 4 miles to go and she's running like a minute/mile faster than me it's going to come down to the wire this is going to get ugly...

I've had so many past experiences where I was leading a race only to get caught in the last little bit. Ironman CdA 2011 I led my age group all day until mile 25 when I got passed. Boulder 70.3 in 2012 I led my AG until a gal sprinted by me in the last 100 meters. Lanikai tri a few years ago Sandy got me right at the line for 3rd OA... This story of me getting passed right at the end has been so common place. And it's not like getting 2nd at a big event is anything to be ashamed about but it's more like I just wanted to change that old story where I don't truly fight to hang on to my lead. If I get beat by someone who is faster than me, fine. But if I get beat because I didn't give it everything I had, that sucks.

So at the final turn around just after mile 12ish I was almost afraid to see what the gap was... Turns out, it was more than a minute and it was at that point where I was like ok I am NOT going to let this slip away now!!! Yet I ran that last mile so scared she was coming... and she was... but I got to the line with 40 seconds to spare. I will say, that last mile or so was one of the most painful miles I've ever run. But it was worth it!

Mostly this was about re-writing the story in my head about how I tend to give up when I feel like crap. This might have been the first time in my life where I hung as tough as I did when I felt that way. Yesterday wasn't a physical breakthrough but it might have been the biggest metal breakthrough I've ever had. I want to thank Carly for pushing me the way she did. It was awesome to really have a RACE and I'm trying to recruit her as a training partner for her remaining time here on Oahu. :)

After the race Krista wanted to know why I felt so bad running... my reply...

I have to say one of the best parts was texting Marilyn afterward and telling her that I didn't give up. She's tried so hard to pound it into my head that I need to COMMIT ALL THE WAY TO THE FINISH LINE at these races and her voice was in my head during that last mile for sure. I appreciate all the support coming from her and it's finally starting to click in.

One of the best parts about local races like this is that you know a ton of people at the aid stations and at the finish line and many of the athletes you're suffering with. That makes the finish area quite fun as well! Scott brought up a cooler full of Black Butte Porters and have to say WOW those really hit the spot after 5+ hours of hard hot racing. Then of course standing around and hearing everyone's stories after was really fun! Have to give a shout out to Coeur Sports for making such awesome custom kits for TeamBSC... Heidi and I got to be matchy matchy today! And here's a little fun fact... 3 of the top 6OA gals in the race were wearing Coeur Sports kits. #GetOne #BestKits

And of course I'm super proud of how my team performed on Saturday as well! Kevin won his AG and was 5thOA, Heidi won her AG and was 6thOA, Matthew (not pictured) placed 3rd in his AG in his first ever half ironman, and Zach finished saying he felt strongest at mile 11! (Who says that?!) TeamBSC in the house!!
Mahalo to Raul and Hina for taking on the challenge of putting on a race like this on Oahu! It's not an easy task but they pulled it off in a great way and it's appreciated by us all. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

2015 North Shore Swim Series!

Ok well I didn't manage to blog about each of the summer swims this year, but here's a little summary of all five of them together as a whole. :)
I totally look forward to these swims every summer. This was my 10th summer here on Oahu and my 10th time doing most of the swims. I've missed a few here and there over the years but I think only when I've been off island... For the most part, if there's an ocean swim race going on up at the North Shore, I'll be there!

Some people take these swims quite seriously and are really racing to WIN. Most us aren't that serious about them though. I'd say the vast majority of people who do these swims do them because it's a super fun thing to do every other Saturday morning during the summer. We swim as fast as we can on the day, of course, but we don't go up on the alternate weekends and recon the courses or anything. If you want to win, taking that extra step is a really good idea because a lot of the results can be affected by strategy. These aren't pool or lake swims! We're navigating point to point courses, sometimes without many (any?) buoys, usually either with or against a current, often also diving under head high white water breaking waves, always in awesome crystal clear water... This is like adventure swimming at its absolute best.

One little note- it always shocks me that more local triathletes don't take advantage of this opportunity to improve their open water swim skills. Here's an environment that is legitimately challenging yet with adequate safety measures given the 600-700+ other swimmers and lifeguards on duty. There are some triathletes who show up at these races but not nearly as many as one would think. I don't really get it? Here's an absolutely perfect chance to hone in on open water swim racing skills. I encourage all my local athletes to enter the whole series, because the more you put yourself out there in these types of scenarios, the more skilled and confident you'll become as a swimmer! All of these swims, maybe with the exception of #2, are more challenging than any triathlon swim... so if you can do these, triathlon swims become complete no-brainers. I just think it's interesting that more local triathletes do not take advantage of these opportunities.

Anyway, swim #1 was about a mile point to point from Sunset to Pipeline. (2ndAG; 56thOA)

It's supposed to be a mile but finish times always make it seem like it's longer than that. This year there was some legit surf to contend with pretty much along the whole way. I quite like swimming through surf but on this day I was pretty convinced that the faster line would be to stay outside the surf and just swim head down hard. So that was my strategy... Head down flat out HARD swimming. And I got my ass kicked! Too funny. I really felt like I swam quite well at this race but I wasn't even on the same results page as some of my peers who I normally swim near... Turned out staying inside and getting pummeled was the faster route on that day and I missed the boat. Such is life. I had a blast though. Really it was one of the most FUN finishes I've ever had to any swim race because I just body surfed it in on this giant wave that I otherwise never would have been brave enough to take!

Two weeks later we all showed up again to race a much more straightforward course. Waimea Bay is a 1.2 mile triangle swim around the bay and usually there's not much surf or current to contend with in the bay. (1stAG; 46thOA)

The biggest challenge at this race could have been that the far turn is actually navigating between two giant black rocks... In reality the biggest challenge for the women was that we started 5' behind the men and that gap just wasn't enough at all for some of us who swam near the front of the women's pack. We asked for 10' gap but it was too late to change this year. Hopefully next year they will make that change and give us a full 10'. At this race I felt like I swam as well as I could have given the obstacle course of men I had to swim around/through. I was pretty stoked to come away with the AG win! I tend to get top 3 in my age group at most of these races but seems like there's almost always someone faster so in years past I have rarely gotten that top spot. To be fair, there are a ton of really fast swimmers who come out and do these races. In triathlon people think I'm a 'fast' swimmer but when I'm up against real swimmers, like in these races, it's humbling.

The best part about this race was that Scott and Moana came up and we all hung out at the beach for the rest of the morning. It was a gorgeous day and the water was super warm and nice and it really couldn't have been any better!

Race #3 is usually the wildest race of the series. It's a 1.6(ish) mile point to point course from Chun's Beach to Waimea Bay. (2ndAG; 25thOA)

This one is often against some current, against some wind chop, and just generally not the easiest to navigate. But it was a mass start which is super! It's for sure one of my favorites. Funny though this year we had some weird storm going on somewhere in the Pacific that was affecting our weather and it was a random light wind day with some drizzling rain. Light wind usually means calm ocean and I don't know, I think I just figured it would be flatter/calmer than normal. To be honest, I didn't give it much thought. I should have had a heads up though because even trying to swim out to the start line I was having a really hard time... ducking under wave after wave and hardly making any progress at all over some shallow reef. Eventually I made my way to the start line but without much time to think or strategize... Horn sounded and we were off and I just sort of swam hard and tried to stay around people near me. It was weird though I felt like I just wasn't swimming strong at all during this one... like I couldn't get a good grip on the water. I should have known it was against the current from the start. Then I ended up in some giant breaking waves and I'm sure I was uttering expletives out loud as over and over I was just getting pummeled by big waves! It felt like I couldn't make my way through them, but of course eventually after diving under like 6-7x I finally did. I remember thinking that I wish I had been more mentally prepared for psycho conditions like that because in all honesty these are the conditions where relatively I can gain an advantage on many others... I'm frustrated that I allowed myself to be caught off guard on this one and wasn't mentally prepped for full battle! That said, eventually I figured out that if I was having a hard time getting through this course, most others would be as well, so I turned my brain around and made myself BUCK UP. <Just Keep Swimming> Needless to say everyone's times on this day were WAY slower than most years and I heard later that there were a bunch of rescues which doesn't surprise me at all. Funny thing though, those of us who ended up getting pummeled on the inside (I ended up inside accidentally not on purpose!) ended up swimming relatively faster than those who took the calmer outside line, so this was sort of like making up for that first race where I did it wrong. Apparently the theme of this years races was that taking the white water beating on the inside is the faster line.

So on we go to race #4! Lani's to Haleiwa 1.9 mile point to point... (1stAG; 36thOA)

I took the lessons from the earlier races here and opted to stay the inside line on purpose, even though there were some decent waves breaking along our route. The good news about this one was that we were swimming west, and I breathe right, so I could see the waves before they were going to smash over my head! Perfect. I just watched for them to come and dove under before the waves had a chance to roll me over. In all honesty there weren't too many of those today just a few in a specific shallow reef area. I wish I could say I swam well at this one but I just felt off. I could blame Ironman training for leaving me with some excess fatigue, and that might be a valid excuse, but it's still an excuse. I don't know though, I was swimming in a big pack with several other gals who looked like they could have been in my age group and we all exited the water together and I didn't contest the run up the beach just jogged it up with no competitive grit. Looking back that always disappoints me but at the time I just didn't care. Turns out those gals weren't in my age group, so I ended up winning my age group, but knowing how I didn't fight at the finish left me with a bit of a hollow feeling. It did turn out to be quite a nice day though and I really have nothing to complain about- just my own rising level of fatigue setting in that's all.

So finally that leaves us with the 5th and final swim of the series... Pipeline to Waimea 2.3(ish) miles point to point. (1stAG; 14thOA)

This last race is always my favorite. Maybe because it's the longest one? My goal going into this one was to feel proud of my effort at the end... I wanted to avoid feeling like I did after the last swim where I felt like I didn't really give it a good RACE effort. Once again I opted for the inside line- so far inside in fact that at one point a lifeguard paddled up and directed me to go out so I wouldn't end up in water too shallow. #whoops The whole time though I kept checking in with myself and asking if my effort was one that would make me happy later and every time the answer was a resounding YES. I was really working on the upper limit of my ability right from the start and I never let up which was just great! In the last ~20' or so I merged with a guy and worked hard to stay on his feet all the way into the last bay. Then, remembering how I felt last time after I didn't fight for the finish, I just buried myself in the last 300M swimming beside this guy stroke for stroke feeling like I might just puke stay on it Michelle don't give this away... In the end he beat me up the beach BUT it wasn't for lack of trying on my part! Funny too after I got done panting, I realized it had been my friend Mike that I was racing, so we had a good laugh about the max effort there at the end. Without a doubt the effort and execution of this day was the best I'd done all summer so I was quite proud of myself for finally putting one together where I wouldn't change a thing if I could. That's probably the best feeling one could have at the end of any race! 
Men and Women 40-44 Podium

Big Mahalo to Chris (race director) as well as all of the sponsors who make this race series possible for us. Summer just wouldn't be summer without these swims!

Ocean racing isn't over for me yet though... There's a 5K up on the North Shore coming up next month then the Double Roughwater 7K this fall as well... Can't wait!