Tag Archives: 70.3

Honu 70.3 Finisher!

I crossed the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii (AKA Honu 70.3) finish line! Since then I have had and continue to have so many different thoughts and emotions about this race. I imagine I’ll post at least few times about it. For now I’ll share my race results and sort of recap each leg of the race.

The results:

Swim (1.2 miles) — 50:56

Bike (56 miles) — 3:20:04

Run (13.1 miles) — 1:58:35

Overall (70.3 miles) — 6:20:21

Swim

I definitely struggled with the swim. I have a hard time sighting the buoys and swimming in a straight line. I’m sure I swam more than the necessary 1.2 miles because of these shortcomings. (I don’t know my actual distance because I don’t use my Garmin in the water.) I was pretty late coming out of the water. Oh but the water, the water was absolutely beautiful! I could see the bottom of the ocean! The sky was blue and the temperature was practically perfect.

Bike

The bike was extremely challenging. The place where we mounted was on a very steep incline so I (along with lots of others) had a hard time with the start. In fact for a couple of seconds I thought something was wrong with my bike because I couldn’t seem to pedal! Then at some point way too soon — I can’t remember when exactly — I began dealing with the notorious crosswinds. I do know I felt them as soon as I made it to the famous Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway — we actually ride part of the Ironman World Championship course — but I seem to recall encountering them almost as soon as I got past the steep incline. Whatever actually happened, these crosswinds are a big reason why this course is one of the hardest in the world. The winds are so strong bikes will slant over to one side while going straight. There were a few times when I truly felt like the wind was going to blow me off the road. (Seriously, picture scenes from “The Wizard of Oz!”) And they don’t seem to give any warning when they’ll blow. At times right when I think it’s relatively calm enough and I’m stable enough to grab my water bottle or a Clif shot, they hit me, and wham or even double or triple wham I’m holding on tight! Proper hydration and nutrition are so important while racing. The heat and humidity make these components even more critical for Honu 70.3. I’m not the most coordinated person either so trying to:

  • drink,
  • down an energy gel or
  • actually eat a Clif bar

while:

  • balancing myself on my bike,
  • bracing for winds,
  • navigating among other cyclists (without breaking any rules)
  • maintaining somewhat good form,

and oh yes shifting gears and pushing myself as hard as possible is “somewhat” challenging for me.

And WOW! I actually saw Lance Armstrong! I like to say, “I passed Lance on the bike!” Granted he was riding in the other direction well beyond the halfway point, and I was at something like mile 15. The cyclist right next to me yelled, “he makes it look so easy.” I completely agree. To see him in action was very, very cool. He’s truly impressive!

Run

The run was hard but not for the reasons I imagined while training. I thought once I put on my running shoes, consume a Clif shot and head out of transition I would feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to run 13.1 miles. The distance didn’t bother me though. I told myself, “I’ve got this run down. Just tick off the miles.” And the miles didn’t seem long until I was around mile 10.5, that is. That’s when my mind and heart wanted to go faster to finish strong and hard but my legs didn’t cooperate. I was able to pick it up but not nearly as much as I’d like. What made the run hard was the brutal wind and sun. My hat blew off at least once, and I had to hold it down with my hands a few times — not the best form for running. I felt the sun beating down on my arms and its intensity seemed to increase over time.

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What a Difference a Week Makes!

With my six mile run today I completed my first training week using Pete’s online coaching plan.  It may sound a little funny but already I feel very different.  I’ll go ahead and acknowledge the placebo effect is probably at play.   Something along the lines of “oh wow I’m now doing something different so I must experience a change.”  Placebo effect or not, I’m not sure it matters.  The fact that I feel different is good enough for me.

I wrote in my last post that I rarely did a full cardio segment and a complete strength training session back-to-back.  Well a few days after writing that post I pulled out my training plan for Nation’s (which I created myself).  I have a correction to make:  I did in fact do such workouts (also known as two-a-days) early in my training and quite often. I can blame bad memory for thinking two-a-days are new to me but I think there’s something more to it.  For some reason I felt my two-a-days this past week were…well different.  They were much longer and more intense than what I did for Nation’s.  Also, I’m sure since Pete planned them they’re better structured than what I put together.  And there’s the placebo effect.

During this past week’s training sessions I felt solid.  I did struggle some on the bike, specifically with keeping my RPMs and heart rate at the desired levels.  Also the last five miles of my 30 mile ride yesterday was by no means easy.  (And as mentioned before I did have to push it a bit with the weights.)  However I felt pretty good right to the end.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely worked hard this week but I never felt like I couldn’t finish.  I do realize Pete’s current focus is on base building so I anticipate my workouts becoming much more difficult very soon.

Anyway back to this difference – or really differences.  What are these differences, you ask?  I feel like I’ve taken my training up a level already and I feel more confident.  I think I was a little anxious about not being able to follow Pete’s plan.  Well I did and while I experienced some challenging moments, I completed each session strongly.   I feel more focused.  A lot of this has to do with the need to keep track of my drills during each workout.  But also I’m zeroing in on my very specific goals which are to successfully complete Hawaii 70.3 and improve my splits at Nationals.  With each successful workout my body moves closer to being ready to compete.

I do feel one other major difference but I don’t think Pete’s plan has anything to do with it; I think it’s just a coincidence…or perhaps not.

Over the past week my connection with Noah became much deeper and different.  Outside of training, I think of Noah a lot. Sometimes he’s in-and-out of my mind very quickly and other times I spend quite a bit of time thinking and recalling vivid images of him in my head.  When I train though I believe how I think of him is different from this.

Last May I began feeling a very deep connection with Noah as I became much more aware and grateful that my heart could easily handle my endurance training and I could process the oxygen needed during these workouts.   When I feel or see (on my heart rate monitor) my heart rate climbing and hitting 60-85% effort, it’s almost as if I’m raising it for him.  When I feel my breathing becoming labored, I think of the ventilators he was on and I feel as though I’m breathing extra hard for him.  And it’s the stark and unfair contrast between what I and any other healthy body can do seamlessly with what Noah struggled with all of the time.  It’s this appreciation combined with sadness and a little bit of bitterness (yes still) that helps me dig deeper to find that determination and power to push myself harder, faster and longer.

During my workouts this past week though I’ve started feeling a different kind of deep connection to my son.  I now feel his presence almost constantly and this feeling is definitely different than my “non-training day-to-day” thoughts of him.  During my training, talking to or thinking of Noah is like second nature now.  It’s like at some other level I’m having a constant dialog with him as I swim, run and bike.  I’d like to think he and I’ve gotten used to training together, and our routine has him with me all of the time.  I’ve been thinking about how best to describe this and I’ve come up with “endurance consciousness.”

I continue to push myself to achieve 60-85% of my maximum heart rate (depending on the drill) and reach that labored breathing because there’s that connection I still have with him.  But now I have another one.  I’m so grateful for both.

————–

On a somewhat separate note, please pause for a moment to pray for or send positive thoughts to the parents of a little Heterotaxy boy named William.  After fighting super hard, he became an angel last Thursday.

It’s probably no surprise to you that I spent my first mile on my run today thinking of William and his parents.  I found myself welling up a bit when I thought about what his parents are experiencing right now.  Nobody should have to deal with losing a child.

Noah now has another friend in heaven.  God bless you, William.

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The Coach

Now that I’m racing a Half Ironman and Nationals I need to take my training up several levels. I’ve never raced 70.3 miles which is the distance of a Half Ironman, and for Nationals I need to focus on speed which is a new type of goal for me. Also, I need to create a more comprehensive nutrition plan. I’m comfortable consuming the right number of calories and mix of nutrients for sprint or olympic distances. Racing 70.3 miles over several hours is a different story. To address all of these new aspects I’ve decided to work with a coach.

I’m relatively new to the world of coaching. So far I’ve had only one coach, Lori, who coached me in a group setting when I lived in LA. She specializes in helping women train for their first triathlons. She makes women comfortable with each discipline and each transition. She’s very good.

I’ve also had a few trainers through my gym. After completing Lori’s newbie program, I moved on to Sara-the-Triathlete to focus on strength training and help with my running and swimming. Although I stopped racing once I learned I was pregnant, I continued to work with Sara-the-Triathlete to maintain a solid level of fitness. And when we learned about Noah’s diagnosis, I felt an even stronger desire to be in top shape. I believed — and still do — Noah was healthiest while in utero because for the most part he didn’t need to rely on his own body to live. He needed what my body gave him. While always adhering to my OB’s guidelines of course and even checking in with her about specific yoga positions and whatnot I exercised religiously so my body was strong enough and healthy enough to give Noah everything he required; so it could protect Noah as much as possible.

Around the beginning of my third trimester we moved to D.C. I worked with my last two trainers here. They weren’t very good. I’m sure part of the problem was me. I was probably not enjoyable to be around during the last few months before Noah’s birth and after Noah passed away. I was not in the mood to be social and share with these strangers the ongoings of my life which were mainly focused on Noah and preparing for his birth and medical care. After Noah died I didn’t want to talk to anybody really. Trainers are kind of like hair stylists in the sense that they want to engage in conversation with you; they want to get to know you. They must have been frustrated with me since I really didn’t talk during our sessions. I won’t take all of the blame, though. They weren’t professional, and it was pretty obvious they made up my workouts on the fly. So I stopped working with trainers last May.

Three weeks ago I started looking for a tri coach. In my research I found online coaching to be pretty popular. I don’t know if it’s popular everywhere, a recent phenomenon or more of a regional trend. Perhaps I’m just ignorant about all of this because I never really had to search for a coach before. It was pure luck that I came across Lori and even Sara-the-Triathlete. I learned about Lori through a clinic at a local tri store on the Westside of LA, and Sara-the-Triathlete was introduced to me by another trainer who knew about my interest in triathlons.

I still don’t like socializing with strangers. I dread meeting new people or talking to folks who don’t already know about Noah. I fear they, unintentionally of course, may say something that’s a trigger. Or even worse, they may ask if I have children. I hate that question. I still don’t know how to answer it. Do I say “yes?” What if they want to learn more about Noah? Do I say “he passed away” which creates an awkward moment when usually one of two things happens: 1. the person asking fumbles around to try say something comforting but ends up saying something that makes me feel worse, again unintentionally of course, or 2. the awkward silence puts the burden on me to immediately shift gears and say something to make the other person feel better. (How twisted is that? I’m the one who lost her child but I have to make the other person comfortable with this fact.) Or do I say “I don’t have children” to keep it simple? I HATE that answer because it’s a lie. The two times I’ve tried this response I literally felt a raw pain in my stomach. I know it’s guilt from not acknowledging Noah. I do have a child and although he is no longer alive, he is still my son and I am still very much his mother.

So online coaching may just work for me. I don’t have to talk to someone during my training sessions. My communication with the coach will be via email or phone which most likely will force the discussions to be brief and very focused. Because s/he won’t be with me I can focus on the assigned workout and my connection with Noah. My only concern is not getting help with form and technique. In person coaching is better for this. I have to prioritize my needs though. After all I know all too well that I can’t have it all.

I obtained a few coach recommendations from my tri club online forum, and a couple of friends gave me some names as well. I used the following general criteria to determine which one I’d use: extremely supportive and encouraging; highly professional; possesses a proven track record; in tune with his/her clients; and very responsive. After contacting most of them I decided to go with Pete who is based in the San Francisco Bay area. I’ll use his online program. What’s great about him is he also holds weekly group workouts. These additional services may sound odd given my current location. I already know, though, I’m going to be the Bay area a few times this year which will allow me to take advantage of these training opportunities. I think what really won me over is the fact that Pete and his team raced Hawaii 70.3 before.

I start training with Pete on January 23.

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December: My Most Intense Roller Coaster Ride Yet

About two weeks ago I began firming up my 2012 triathlon season.  My key races will be Ironman 70.3 Hawaii in June and USA Triathlon (USAT) Age Group (AG) Nationals in August.  (As a warm up for Hawaii I’ll compete in at least one other race earlier in the season.)  I’m really excited about both races.  Hawaii will be my first Half Ironman, and for the first time I qualified for AG Nationals.

I now have two concrete goals.  To achieve my goals I have to create a plan.  I’m so much more productive when I map out how I’ll achieve a goal.  For December I’m focused on building a strong base so I can really push myself when I officially begin my Half Ironman training.  (I’m also focused on creating the Half Ironman training program, itself.)  I’m now running 16 miles a week and spending 45 minutes in the spin studio a couple times a week.  I’m also doing strength training 3 times a week.  I’m feeling stronger every day.  That is until this past Sunday, December 25th, when I twisted my ankle.

A few weeks ago, MLH and I decided not to celebrate Christmas.  We spent our previous Christmas with Noah in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU).  We actually have relatively fond memories of that time because Noah was doing well then.  However, dealing with Noah’s first birthday, knowing we’d celebrate Christmas without him and feeling the date of his death quickly approaching, I became increasingly anxious, upset and sad as Christmas grew closer and closer.  So after obtaining advice from a grief support group, we made the decision to skip Christmas this year.  On December 25th, we went for a long run outside instead. Well right when MLH and I hit our turnaround point a couple cyclists caught me off guard by passing us and I fell and twisted my ankle.

Now I’m trying to stay off my feet so the ankle can heal.  I haven’t worked out in 3 days and probably won’t be able to do any training for the rest of the week.

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