Friday, September 28, 2012

So How's It Going?

Friday afternoon! I should probably be cleaning up my kitchen (its a mess) or finishing up laundry (it's piling up) but it's FRIDAY afternoon and I don't want to do any of that and I have not updated this blog in what seems like forever but I've gotten a couple of emails asking how the new training is going... so here you go!

Bullet point style today just b/c I feel like there are a lot of things I could say but none really worthy of  a whole post. :)

~Fwiw, taking ~3 weeks off doing next to nothing (except eating and drinking... I did that!) after an Ironman leaves you with a pretty empty fitness account. Sometimes I think of my aerobic fitness like a bank account... and all those boring aerobic workouts I do are like making deposits into my account. Anyway, feels like I'm completely broke right now but I made a 10 mile deposit this morning. So that's a start! It took forever b/c my HR is sky high so I had to do this tedious walk/jog thing that sucked (self-imposed), BUT, I've been through this before and I'm pretty sure that if I want to cash some checks on that fitness account later, I better make sure there's something in there so they don't bounce. Even knowing this, it sucks to see avg pace so slow. I just try not to look. Do the work and move on, Michelle.

~Lesson of the week: When you haven't been running consistently and it's the day before your period is gong to start, do not attempt an AT run test. No matter what your coach says. #fail #demoralizing

~So ya, not surprisingly, my new coach is a big fan of higher intensity training. Less is More. So it appears I'll be going about things a bit differently this next year. It's hard for me to let go of some core concepts that I've seen work both with myself and with my athletes and therefore I find myself questioning things a bit... I've always thought I thrived on higher volume. Could I also thrive on less? I don't know... But different is what I wanted. What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results? Hey, at least I won't go insane. ;)

~In good news, the swim workouts I'm getting now are awesome. Love 'em. Bike too! It's all 2 minutes of this and 4 minutes of that... she uses words like HARD and MAX a lot. EXPLODE is apparently a favorite as well. So that is different! I have more top end power on the bike than I thought.

~The Blue Angels are here this week/weekend. We'll go watch their show tomorrow. Right now they are (again) practicing and buzzing right over our condo. It pretty much sounds like they're going to blow our roof right off as they zip by. Our dog is shaking in the closet, which is where she's been most of the time since the jets arrived. Despite the noise, it's super cool to watch those jets flying around in such cool formations. Yesterday I was riding/running and they were right up over my head. Shocking that I managed to stay upright actually!

~I have not washed my hair in 3 days. That might be a new record. But I swear every night I shower and think why bother? I'm training first thing tomorrow morning... In good news, we actually do have family plans tonight SO... I am indeed going to shower and wash my hair right now. Aren't you so glad you read all the way to the end of this blog post? That was important stuff. Lol.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

On The Female Cycle and Endurance Training/Racing

I've been meaning to write this post for a while but just haven't had the time to sit down and give it the attention I think it deserves to do it justice. This has been an important and recurring topic of thought in my world for several years and I've done quite a bit of not only specific logging/observation of my personal experiences, but have also done some research to find out what others have experienced or observed about it as well. What am I even talking about?? The female hormonal cycle. Lovely. But it's a real issue that is important to understand and address if you happen to not be on hormonal birth control (which would make all the observations coming up irrelevant).

So here's what I've personally noticed over the last few years... Almost immediately after my period comes, I'm on FIRE and feel awesome in training. I can handle just about any load... especially the long stuff... pile it on! I'll kill it and smile the whole time. And then do it again tomorrow. My heart rate is low, my power is high, my paces feel easy. My recovery is quick. It's awesome!

That freakish awesome phase tends to last ~2 weeks... then it starts going downhill for me. HR goes up, power goes down, effort feels extraordinary, negative thoughts creep in. I feel heavy and lethargic and pissy. WTF?!? I have definitely noticed this most on the longer workouts- 20 mile runs or Ironmans are about the worst thing I can do in the days before my period comes because I just feel like garbage and beat myself up mentally/emotionally... it's pretty much the only time I think to myself I suck at this! Then my period comes and tah-dah! I'm a superhero again. Interesting cycle, that one.

It took me a while to really dial this in... I started suspecting about a year ago (when I got my period 2 days after my disappointing race in Kona last year) that my cycle had something to do with how I was performing and feeling in training and racing... so I started making notes in my TP calendar and then I'd pay very close attention... and sure enough, it happened every month. Pretty much like clockwork. So the thing that really sucked about this was that my last 3 Ironmans (yes, all three of them... CdA, Kona, and Canada) landed 1-2 days before my period started... CdA and Kona I actually didn't make the connection until afterward but this time around at Canada I knew the timing. And I was super bummed. And I spent the two weeks prior to the race trying to figure out if there was any way to naturally make my period start like 3 days early. (Parsley tea, anyone? That was Google's suggestion.)

In the end I actually did not drink any parsley tea... instead opting to just do the best I could managing my mind and any other factor I could control... I lowered my expectations a bit... I mentally prepped myself to not feel awesome all day but fight through that crap anyway... and I will tell you, I found some interesting articles online that supported what I had been feeling. Some of what I found was contradictory but a lot of what I found fit well into what I thought I already knew.

This was the most interesting article I found via Running Times (they always have good smart articles!) It validates what I'd figured out- that performance is indeed compromised during the luteal phase- primarily due to metabolism and thermoregulation. Specifically, during the luteal phase we need to take in more carbs/hour than we do during follicular phase... this was such an AH-HA! to me b/c when I looked back, a lot of those crappy feelings I had in training and racing were eerily similar to the way you feel when you're bonking... pissy, irritable, heavy, lethargic. I had always ruled out bonking as an issue b/c I'm like a machine fueling my training and always am careful to fuel well. But in Canada, knowing that I was dealing with this luteal phase shit, I ate more for breakfast and more on the bike than I ever have before and that went a long way toward keeping me in a way better place both mentally and physically. I also did as this article suggested and sodium loaded more than normal pre-race. I think it also really helped that Canada was not hot at all- normally I handle heat fairly well since I train in it all the time but last year in Kona I did a piss poor job of handling the heat... which didn't make sense until I read that article explaining the thermoregulation thing. I remember not understanding WHY my heart rate and breathing felt so labored while I was jogging 10' pace but that article put some of it into perspective for me.

Anyway, I'm posting this here just so some of you (who are not on hormonal birth control) might be able to change the way you fuel yourselves or manage yourselves mentally/emotionally throughout your monthly cycle. Overall I'd say that the couple of changes I made for Canada were good ones and while that was not a magical day where I was on fire, it wasn't as bad as it could have been had I not understood where I was in my cycle and adjusted my plan accordingly. One of these days maybe an Ironman will happen during my follicular phase (Boulder this year was an example of that! Yay for actually feeling good for once this year in a race!) and I'll have the race I know is in me... but until then, we just have to collect the information and do the best we can with what we have on the day! Hope this helps.

I'd also be curious to hear if any of you out there have paid attention and have had similar experiences?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Look At Power Files...

Last week I saw a Training Peaks blog post by Joe Friel about Jordan Rapp's bike split at IM NYC. If you're into riding with power it's well worth the read. Of course, Jordan is a pro so as age groupers we don't necessarily want to try to copy exactly the way he rides, but there are some good lessons there for sure! Anyway, here's a graph looking at his power distribution throughout the race. the thing to note here is how (for the most part) it is really steady- no big spikes but no big lulls. It appears to be going down in the latter half of the ride but also note that the course is an overall down in the second half and if you ride with power you know that you can still go pretty darn fast without having to produce the same power on a downhill so that easily explains the slight downward slope you see.

The purpose of this post is just to point out something I see very commonly from power files from some of my athletes... and it's something we work on correcting over time... notice this file below. I've eliminated everything except power (pink) and the elevation profile. I look at this and see immediately that this athlete is wasting a lot of energy with power spikes and lulls... there's a lot of coasting going on here (as noted each time the power line drops to zero) followed by big spikes which is costly in terms of energy output. Ok if you're a cyclist training for cycling races and you need to be trained to go from zero to sixty in short order to cover a break or something, but the name of the game in triathlon is to ride as fast as you can while conserving as much energy as you can and a ride like this one is not meeting that purpose.

Contrast that with this file below. See how nice and steady this is? NO big spikes, very little coasting, steady throughout the 4 hours. Even on the climbs you don't see big spikes at all. Beautiful! This is great race day specific training. Fwiw, this athlete is going to Kona and it's not confusing as to why he is capable of running well after a bike ride like this- he has taught himself to ride with very steady effort, so he can ride quickly while simultaneously not wasting excess energy.

So if you have a power meter, look at your files and note how many spikes and lulls you see... and over time, on your long/specific steady state rides, try to make your pink line look a little more like the one you see above. Even if you don't have a power meter, you can still focus on keeping steady pressure on your pedals while you train... try to avoid coasting whenever possible, and avoid the feeling of spiking effort on every little uphill. You'll save yourself a lot of energy!

And in case you're curious, here's a graph of my ride today. Obviously the goal of every ride is not simply to ride steady steady steady... Can you guess what workout my new coach told me to do? ;)

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Longest Week

OK so I am on day 7 (SEVEN) of no training. This has been the longest week of my life and I am glad the temporary break is almost over. I know breaks are important at times and since it's been ~4 years since I've taken a whole week off (since I gave birth to Moana) it was probably necessary though all it really did was confirm to me that I train a lot b/c I simply enjoy training. Swim/bike/run is my outlet and without it I can get a little grumpy (just a little). I think I did a decent job this week of not being a complete bitch though I did note my temper was shorter than normal. The fact that there are now workouts in my TP calendar for the rest of the week gives me a huge sense of relief. So is that addiction? I suppose it is. I'm okay with that though.

All I really learned this past week was that a) I can be the master at wasting time when I don't have enough urgent stuff to do, b) if I wasn't a triathlete I would be obese, c) I hate being hungry. I tried to do a little juicing "detox" experiment but turns out I would suck at being anorexic.

I would guess that my husband will also be glad when I'm back to training because it probably means I'll stop forcing home cleaning/organization projects on him on the weekends. Yesterday we spent much of the afternoon cleaning out a big storage closet we have on our patio. I have never cleaned that closet in the 8 years I've lived here yet we keep stuffing crap in there until no more crap would fit so then the crap just piled up on the perimeter of the patio which drove me NUTS. So I am not even exaggerating when I say I took *everything* out of that storage closet, swept it out, then carefully vetted the things allowed back in... This mandated help from Scott because he knew that left to my own devices I would have just thrown it ALL away (mostly his tools that I don't understand the use for). I know he was thinking that he wished I would just go ride my bike so he could sit on the couch and drink beer and watch soccer... but... now that closet is totally organized and we threw out tons of junk, gave some away to Good Will, and have some stuff to sell (anyone want a set of rollers?? or a bamboo room divider? I'll give it away cheap!). We also have a cleaner perimeter on the patio. So that feels good!

Funny story too- on Saturday we took Moana to the beach and she had a ball on her new surfboard. The waves were small where we went but they were steady and breaking white water that probably seemed big to a 3 year old. She was such a champ though and just took beating after beating in that water but jumped right back in every time. There's a short video (if you didn't see it already) on Facebook. It's awesome. Anyway, as we were leaving she said to me "I EARNED IT!" When I inquired about what she earned, she informed me that she had earned a trophy. I actually agreed, though I had no idea where I would find a trophy to give her. Call it serendipity or whatever, but wouldn't you know it... as I was cleaning out an old trunk from that storage closet yesterday, I found a trophy from my old high school days! So I dusted it off and presented it to Moana, who was THRILLED with it. So now she's the MVP of Hudson High School Swimming/Diving from 1992 and she is still beaming about it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

On Choosing A New Coach...

So I just saw this video on FB from Macca about his advice on choosing a coach and it reminded me that I was going to write out some of my own thoughts... I received some emails over the last couple of days asking about my new coach so here's a bit of the background if you're interested!

First off... I know everyone has different reasons for hiring a coach, and really, they're all valid! My #1 reason really is so I just can stop over-thinking everything for myself. Having finished 12 Ironmans and having coached a lot of athletes through theirs over the years, I've got a pretty good idea of the type of training that needs to be done to finish one to your best ability. I've learned this partly through trial and error but mostly via some good coaches I've worked with in the past. So with that, I don't feel like I need a basic education in how to train for an Ironman, which actually makes choosing a coach more tricky I think... And since I'm a coach myself (and think I do a pretty good job!) my expectations are high! In order for me to turn over complete 100% trust to a coach, I need to  believe that he/she knows more than me. There are other important qualities of course... because what good is it if your coach knows more than you if he/she isn't good at communicating with you?

So I made a list of what I was really looking for:

~Someone with lots of experience personally racing long and short course. I wanted someone who's been there and done that and has experienced both success and failure- someone who succeeds all the time will not understand the psyche of the athlete who fails sometimes...

~Someone with lots of experience coaching both long and short course athletes. I do believe that the more athletes you coach, the better you'll understand different 'types' and therefore will be able to work with them more effectively. That said, I didn't really want to hire a coach who works with a lot of professional athletes because my gut just tells me that I would fall to the bottom of the totem pole in a group like that.

~Someone who is truly passionate about coaching. I really wanted someone who coaches pretty much full time and my thinking here was that the coach would be most 'available' and able to pay attention to how their athletes are doing/progressing vs having their attention split between multiple jobs and their own racing, etc. That said, and for whatever reason, I wasn't particularly interested in being a part of a large 'group' where there are multiple coaches and a system in place, etc. I don't want to be plugged into a 'system'. I want a coach to listen to ME and get a feel for who I am and what my individual strengths and weaknesses are and take it from there.

~Someone who enjoys communicating and does so regularly/freely. Anytime I saw a website that listed tiers of coaching packages and limited emails (like 1 per week??) I moved on immediately. I'm sorry but effective communication between coach and athlete requires more than one email per week.

~Someone who made me feel like they genuinely wanted to work with me. I think this is important and maybe overlooked by some athletes... it's not just if you want to work with a particular coach... but does he/she WANT to work with you? If they do, I think they'll pay more attention and do a better job. And for better or worse, the athlete makes this call based on the initial communication response from the coach after an inquiry- if the coach takes 3 days to respond to your initial inquiry, what is that saying? If he/she writes back one sentence that is quick and tells you pretty much nothing, what is that saying?

~My gut was telling me to go with a woman if I could find one but this was not hardline... just a preference mostly based on the fact that stereotypically, women are better at communicating than men. (Yes, I know that is a generalization and that's why this was not hardline.)

So now how to find this person?!? Damie and I actually had some good communication about some different coaches we were possibly interested in and honestly, she's the one who first added Sam Warriner to the list. And as I started researching her more and more I found what I thought might be a good match for me... Here's a woman who appears to have unwavering confidence in herself (which helps me to have confidence in her! Important!) I could go through the list but let me just summarize here and say that right away it seemed like she fit everything I was looking for and the response I got from her initially was awesome. My gut just said YEP go with her so I stopped thinking and just did it. Because that was my goal, right? To stop thinking??

Anyway, we haven't really officially started working together yet because (after looking at my TP account) she told me that the only way she'd work with me is if I took a full 7 days completely and totally OFF. Um, what???? Ok I might die. Not really, but that's definitely what I thought when I first read that email. But she asked if I trusted her and I said that I did so I'm doing as she's telling me. I'm not sure if she's trying to break my addiction to training or just make sure that I'm completely salivating when she actually starts writing workouts for me? Either way, it's working I'm like drooling pleeeeease let me go running...

So there you go. That's how it went down.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Nothing major going on around here right now but thought I'd update in a more random type way. More and more I find I like random posts- both to read and to write! :)

~That wine I brought home from Naramata is really good! I was a little worried that maybe I'd simply gotten caught up in the experience of the wine tasting and that when I got home I'd find that the wine was not as good as I'd remembered... but in good news that is not the case! In fact it seems even better than I remember? So far we've gone through three of the seven bottles I brought home and I'm 3 for 3 in the WOW this is good wine department. Two of the bottles are champagne (Pink Elephant!) and for sure I'm saving one of those to bring down to drink with Nalani after we finish the Honolulu Marathon... So really I only have 2 bottles of wine and 1 bottle of champagne left and there's a part of me that's thinking just drink 'em already so they're not tempting me when I actually get back to training. Lol.

~I am the queen at procrastinating when I have too much time on my hands. It's amazing how I can get through a whole day and really not get much done at all. When I'm Ironman training somehow I manage to ride, run, email/text/talk with athletes, go to the grocery store, do laundry, cook dinner, clean the kitchen, pay the bills... and when I'm not ironman training I can barely get it together to pack Moana's lunch. Crazy.

~Moana is almost 4. Can you believe that?? I started this blog when I was pregnant just as a way to document how big my belly was getting for my family so I wouldn't have to send out a bunch of emails all the time. Amazing how it has morphed into what it is today. Anyway, back to Moana. She is already excited about her birthday even though it is still like 6-7 weeks away. Every day she changes her mind about what kind of birthday cake she wants and I tell her that it's ok to change her mind. So now that's her favorite thing to say... I changed my mind...

~Scott's been taking her 'surfing' the last few weekends. Every week she makes huge progress over what she was willing to do the week prior. On Sunday my friend Mark gave her a training-type surfboard- it's 5.5ft long and really thick and made of foam. It's super stable and floats really well and she LOVES it. Scott paddled out with her in Waikiki and I was shocked at how far she let him take her- all the way out to where little waves were breaking and sure enough they turned around and caught a couple waves boogie board style. Scott said she didn't even want to come in and the only reason they did was because he was hungry and wanted lunch. :)

~So yesterday I picked Moana up from school and she asked to go surfing. I told her that daddy had to take her surfing because mommy isn't very good at surfing... to which she responded "Oh mommy you can do it! You just need to be super strong like me!" Classic.

~Yesterday I spent some time getting my bikes all in order. I finally unpacked from Canada (yes it took two weeks shut up I was busy doing nothing). I think I mentioned on here before that my old P3 training bike had a significant crack in the frame so needed to be replaced... so I replaced it with a P2 frame b/c it was way cheaper... thought we could use most of the same components but apparently the only really usable parts from that bike were the saddle and the pedals and the wheels. Matt said he took the tape off my bars and one of the bolts just broke and it was all corroded, etc. He joked that he was going to report me for bike abuse but I don't think he was really joking. Anyway, that P2 is ready to go now with new tires and cassette and chain and shifters and brakes and bars and well, it's pretty much a brand new bike which makes me not want to ride it in the rain... which pretty much defeats the purpose of having a training bike, no? I'll have to get over that.

~Training for Cabo starts next week. Before you go off on me saying that I need a break, etc, know that I will have done next to nothing for 3 weeks and the fact is I'm not as happy when I'm not training for something. So relax! I took my break and now I'm ready and feeling motivated/inspired to get after it again. I've hired a new coach and the relief I feel knowing that I will not have to think I'll just get to do is huge. Sometimes I like thinking about my own training but I did that this whole past year and now I want to stop (over)thinking and just train. Believe it or not, I am a very coachable athlete and when a coach tells me to do something, I do it. Of course I always want to know why but really that's more of a desire to seek understanding than a questioning like should I be doing this... And when I coach myself, for whatever reason, I'm constantly questioning should I be doing this?? That is stressful! Interesting mental dynamic, that one.

~The process of finding and hiring a new coach deserves a whole blog of its own. That's a harder task than it seems! Maybe one of these days I'll go through my thinking process on that one and tell you more about how I approached it.

Ok well I suppose I should go do something productive. Like read your blogs. ;)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lessons From 10 Ironmen...

So this post has been floating around in my head for the last couple of weeks... probably would have been better if I would have gotten to it when the lessons were super fresh in my mind but I'll try to do it justice here today! Essentially I'm going to go through some of what Team BSC athletes learned (good and bad!!) from the Ironman racing we did in August. It's all pretty much race day execution kind of stuff so maybe some of it can be used by some folks racing in Wisconsin or Cedar Point this weekend. If you're doing Kona, you probably know all this already. :)

~Use the bike to fuel yourself well. Across the board, those who took in more on the bike ran closer to their potential. Those who, for whatever reason, consumed less on the bike had periods of very low energy both toward the end of the bike and at some point during the marathon. Specifically for the 10 of us, it appeared that 1800-2200 cal on the bike = solid marathon. 1200-1400 cal on the bike = bonk during marathon. Fueling correctly is a choice. Don't skimp here.

~Don't look for a new magic pill or piece of magic equipment the day before the race. If you have not tried those race day formulations with taurine and other ingredients that are supposed to keep you motivated throughout the day, don't overdose on them during the race. This seems like a no-brainer but you'd be surprised.

~On race day, turn your machine on and press play. Those who had the best PR days were those who did the training, and then trusted themselves and just did what they were trained to do when the cannon fired. If you're well trained, effort across the board should be steady and solid, never panting breathing (even through T1 when you're feeling super hyper). The pacing goal through the day is to slow down as little as possible, so start each leg at a pace that you KNOW from training that you can sustain for the long haul. If you need a power meter or heart rate monitor or garmin to use as a leash in the beginning, use it. Going too hard early on and "banking time" will most likely backfire. Ironman is too long for that strategy.

~Make sure the equipment you choose to use on race day reflects the course and conditions you will be facing. If its super hilly, put the 25 cassette on your bike. If it's super hot and you're not adapted, skip the aero helmet. Make sure the shoes you choose are ones that will hold up and support your legs through 26 miles. If it's cold, dress yourself appropriately so you're comfortable.

~Ignore your swim split. You won't know if the course was a little long or a little short until after the race when you see everyone else's splits... and if your swim seemed 'slow' and you let that get to you and you get all negative down on yourself OR try to 'make up for it' in the first half of the bike, you're screwing yourself. Let me say it again- ignore your swim split. Just train appropriately and trust your training and swim strong/steady then ignore it and go ride your bike.

~Ironman is about strength, not speed. Don't try to go fast. Try to stay strong.

~If you're having a crappy day and not living up to your expectations, finish anyway. DO NOT DROP OUT. On Monday morning you'll be happier with a slower finish time than you would be with a DNF next to your name.

~Whether you're hurting or not, smile a lot and high five little kids. That positive energy will come right back to you! :)

Good luck if you're racing an Ironman in the coming months!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Weekend In Pictures...

Some photos from the weekend!

Pre-race with my teammates. All smiles because we did not know that Atomman (next to me) would be in emergency surgery that afternoon having pins placed in his hip.

Road race starts in the dark...

Does this look like fun? (Answer: hell no.)

So this is what I did instead... Always good to go help out at an aid station when you can! Maybe it'll be good karma for me next year. One of these years I really do want to win this race. I am not giving up on that goal.

So Monday was a little less stressful. We went down to the ocean and did a little pre-Roughwater swim. (Our desire to race was zero but fun nonetheless to go down and watch/support!) Nalani and Jennifer and I swam for like 45' and it was awesome. Well, the water was not very clear (out where we swam) but it was moooooving and that made it super fun. I have come to the conclusion that I actually genuinely prefer ocean swims in water that is not all calm and glassy. There was a decent current yesterday too and the Roughwater racers were going the wrong way into it (head current for them point to point swim!) One thing I find interesting about current is how it affects different swimmers... The strongest swimmers seem mostly unaffected by current- the winner yesterday was less than 1' off the course record set last year when there was more of a tail-current. But what you see as you go down the list though is that weaker swimmers are highly affected by current. Some people were 5-15' off what you'd expect them to do in an Ironman swim. Interesting too when you take a swim like IMNYC and see how tail current affects swimmers- the strongest swimmers were maybe 5-10' faster than what they would have otherwise done... but weaker swimmers were highly affected (positively) by the tail-current- some maybe 30-60' faster than they otherwise would have been? Note there were very few swim splits over an hour at that race... Leads me to conclude that current, either direction, affects strong swimmers WAY less than weaker swimmers. Weaker swimmers get screwed into a head current. And stronger swimmers get screwed (competitively) when there is a tail current. Anyway. Complete tangent there. Sorry!

So yes, it is September in Hawaii and I was wearing fleece. Brrrr.

After all the swimmers started racing, Moana got a surf lesson from her dad. She's a natural.

And now it's Tuesday. Back to work!

Sunday, September 2, 2012


So I'm sitting here Sunday afternoon icing my knee. Blah. This morning I fell off my bike for the first time in ~5 years. I don't like falling off my bike.

Yesterday I got a wild hair up my ass or something and decided that I could probably drag myself through DEMRR today... 112 mile road race around Oahu. I've done it 4x before and have placed 3rd and 2nd the last two times I entered so figured that I could likely manage to pull something decent out of myself today even with that Ironman in my legs from last week. I showed up to late registration for the race with ~5' to spare, joined a new cycling team (I'd been meaning to join this team for a while but had no real incentive until now). I figured I could ride the race unattached on my own, or I could join Tradewinds and instantly have A LOT of friends during that race. Given how windy it's been this whole year, I figured having some teammates to drag me around wouldn't hurt... :) Anyway.

This race starts at 5:30AM in the dark with the first 25-30 miles "neutral" where we're all jammed together with a police escort ahead and behind us as we go through town and all the traffic lights, etc. It's very nervous as most folks are fighting to be at the front. Leave 6" between you and the wheel in front of you and someone who is more aggressive will come in and take it from you... I was not feeling particularly aggressive this morning- partly b/c it's been forever since I've ridden in a big pack like that (so I was scared) and partly b/c it was raining which made the roads slippery like ice (so I was scared). Anyway, I found myself riding about in the middle of the pack through this neutral section and was consequently surrounded by riders who seemed a little less aggressive so that suited me just fine.

At one point I overheard a conversation between two riders next to me... one guy was saying that his goal was to just really enjoy himself out there today... riding your bike is supposed to be fun! he said. So I agree with that 100% yet all I could think was that my goal today was simply to stay upright. Unfortunately riding my bike jammed in the middle of this group of 130+ nervous riders in the rain didn't feel fun to me. It felt dangerous. Someone ends up in the hospital every year and I just really didn't want that person to be me this year.

And then it happened. I don't know what, really, but someone up front went down on the slippery roads and then like dominos we all started to fall. I saw my friend/teammate Atomman on the ground right in front of me and I tried to swerve around him and I braked and clipped out but the road was just too slippery and I fell and slid right into him. At some point before I got up I looked behind me and saw like 20 more people on the pavement. Just a massive pile up. I wasn't really hurt- landed on my knee and elbow (and am now feeling a sore wrist) but overall I got lucky and am not too bad off. What really sucked though was seeing Atomman on the ground biting his hand and moaning about the pain in his hip. He could not move. A couple other teammates tried to help him and I gently moved his bike out from underneath him and then we just kind of stood there trying to figure out what to do as most riders remounted their bikes and got moving. Someone called 911 and some others volunteered to stay with Atomman until the ambulance came and urged us to continue on. My desire to keep riding by this time was very low (um, at zero?) but I felt some obligation to the team to try to finish b/c there are points for top male/female finishers from each team at the finish...

So we (two teammates and I) started to continue on but by this point we were outside of that police envelope so we had to stop at every red light along Nimitz Hwy (every 1/4 mile or so) and I looked ahead and saw nothing but ominous looking grey clouds so it seemed obvious that the weather was not going to clear up before we hit Kunia... so many negative thoughts through my head at this point and all I was thinking was that this is not safe and there was no way I was interested in descending Pineapple Hill on roads made of (what felt like) ice. What to do?? I hated the thought of quitting. I have not DNF'd a race since IMAZ in 2005 when I had bronchitis. Was I being a wimp? Or was I being smart? I didn't really care about this race at all yet I didn't want to feel like a quitter. So I justified it on my mind. I erred on the side of caution today and turned around and rode home. And in my mind I called it not a DNF but a DPL (Decision to Preserve Longevity). I will live to fight another day and did not end up in the hospital with any broken bones.

So there you go. I feel kind of nauseous right now and I'm not sure exactly what from? Maybe that some people were brave enough to finish but I was not? Ugh. I hate that.