Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Barb's Race 2014 - Race Report

I don't even know where to start with this race report. I have so many thoughts and so many emotions...first off, I want to start off with my "thank you's"

First and foremost, I would like to thank God for giving me the desire and the ability to compete in endurance events. Sometimes I think that racing seems frivolous in light of all the things going on in the world but then I remember this quote and figure I must have been given this "longing" for a reason...

"The Creator has not given you a longing to do that which you have no ability to do."
Orison Swett Marden

Next, of course, I would like to thank the love of my life, or as everyone has come to know him...Hot Stuff. If it wasn't for him, I don't know that I would be racing. From sitting with me through my very first triathlon class almost two years ago, to waiting around hour after hour for me to finish a race, he has been there every step of the way. On top of that, he has survived my race week "crazies" (although I think I was much better this year) and my never ending list of triathlon "needs". Thank you, honey!!

I love this guy!

I would also like to thank all of my teammates and my coach at Lodi Masters Triathletes. You have no idea how much all of you mean to me and how much I get from having such a team of people to work out with. The positive attitudes in the pool keep me coming back even though I would rather be doing anything other than swimming. The words of encouragement are priceless. I would like to give a special thank you to my riding partners over the last year. If I didn't have the "fast guys" to chase every weekend, I know I wouldn't be as strong on the bike.

I love these crazy people!

Last but not least, I want to thank everyone that made a donation in my name so I could compete in Barb's Race...Kim & Chris, Dawn, Trisha, Lindsey & Max, Mike, and Paul (I apologize if I forgot anyone, but I was going off the Barb's Race list). It means more than I can say. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!


The plan for Friday was to get up, pack the rest of the stuff I needed for the weekend, take the dogs to the kennel, come home and pick up the bikes and gear, leave town by 10am and make it to Windsor High School in time for the 12:30 mandatory pre-race meeting. The wheels came off the cart on the way to the kennel.

Apparently I was not the only one who was a little nervous about the weekend. On the way to the kennel, Buster got a little too worked up and had an accident (No. 2) in the back seat of the truck. The two dogs, in their attempt to get away from the crime scene, trampled it and drug their leashes through it...over and over until I realized the disaster right behind my back. HS was pissed. I grabbed the leashes (a clean part) and tried to hold the dogs off to the side of the mess until we got to the kennel.

After we dropped off the dogs and returned home, I had to steam clean the carpet in the back of the truck. I made quick work of the task and we still managed to hit the road around 10am. A quick stop at KFC for HS (not me) and we were on I-5. 

Traffic over to Windsor was horrible! Once we exited 80 for 12 west, things just seemed to crawl. My hopes of making 12:30 were starting to seem doubtful. I then got a text from BFF saying that they were stuck in traffic in Oakland and weren't going to make it for the 12:30 meeting. Ugh. As we neared Windsor, HS remarked that he didn't think I was going to make it. I said "Just drop me off in front of the school and I will go to the meeting and meet you afterwards". 

After a run around the fenced off transition area, I made it to the meeting. Three women in front of me were debating whether or not to go in when the guy at the door announced, if you don't go in by the time the video starts, you have to wait until the next meeting. I charged ahead. I'm pretty sure it was the same video from last year but it wasn't nearly as scary. HS met me outside afterwards and we walked over to registration with Nancy.

After I got my race packet, I set up my transition area. This year I remembered a towel. I folded it so it was narrow but took up my entire section of the bike rack. Some ladies to the right of me seemed confused by the "only 8 bikes per rack" rule and were setting their stuff directly behind people that had already set up their stuff.

"You can't do that", I informed one woman. She just looked at me and said "But we will do our bikes going opposite ways." I then added "There are only supposed to be 8 per rack. The athlete guide says only 8 pairs of shoes per rack." After she finished counting the shoes, she picked up her stuff, said something to her friend (who was setting up next to her, also directly behind someone else) and left.

I staked my claim next to somebody's frog
I became concerned that someone was going to try and squeeze into my area. I told HS I wanted to hang around and see BFF and Jordan after they got done with Jordan's mandatory meeting. I then explained that I wanted to go back and check my stuff...again. I know he thought I was nuts, but I'm glad I did. My teammate Nancy ended up having her stuff moved by some inconsiderate person and as a result she spent 10 minutes in transition trying to find it!

Anyway, I waited for Jordan to get her race packet and helped her get set up next to Lindsey's stuff. We gave our stuff one last look and left.

I just want to mention how impressed I am with my daughter, Lindsey. I thought I had a tough day, but it was nothing in comparison to hers. Friday was her first day at a new job...teaching 3rd grade no less. I think we all know how stressful ANY first day of work can be but can you imagine, starting a job, having your husband pick you up and drive you (over 2 hours) through increasingly worsening traffic over to a mandatory meeting (the last one of the day) for a race that is intimidating for seasoned athletes? Nope, neither can I. Very impressive Lindsey! Good job!
Race Day Morning

After a fairly restless night's sleep, I got up at 5am to Eminem's "Lose Yourself". I fixed eggs on toast (actually it was a bagel) with lots of butter, and chia seeds sprinkled on top (trying to add some calories). I also had a cup of coffee and some water to wash down my first dose of Sport Legs. Unfortunately, my nerves had my stomach wrapped up in knots, so getting the food in proved to be difficult and I only managed to eat about 2/3 of it. I figured I got in about 300 calories.

FUEL NOTE: A full Noah's sesame bagel is 270 calories so I probably got about 120 calories from what I ate. Two eggs would have been 140, but I probably only got 100. My saving grace was probably the butter and chia seeds. One tbsp of butter is 100 calories.

Those are chia seeds, not pepper

Beautiful surroundings
I decided to fill the Fuelselage on my bike with the Gatorade "Endurance" that came in our goody bag. I poured it in, and it seemed OK, but I thought it should have filled faster. I grabbed the drinking tube and drank about 20 oz. of Gatorade and pulled out the bladder. I then reset the bladder and filled it up again. Something still didn't seem right, but I couldn't drink anymore Gatorade, so I started drinking it and spitting it back into the bottle.

HS came into the room and said "I wouldn't do that if I were you." "Do what?" I asked. "Fill your bottle up with stuff you just spit out" he replied. GROSS! I informed him that I wasn't planning on doing that and that I was just going to use water and Hammer tablets instead.

Comfy bed
Anyway, the third time was a charm and the bladder slid in and filled quickly. I stuffed a GU packet in the FuelCell and finished getting myself ready. This year we had rented a "cabin" in Guerneville, so we had a very short drive to the race start. After everyone was ready, we loaded the bikes in the back of the truck and headed to the river around 7am.

HS and Max dropped us off as close as they could get us to the start of the race. Lindsey and I started walking our bikes down the hill to the river when a volunteer instructed us to move over into the "athletes" lane. We crossed under some flags and proceeded down the hill. At the bottom, we walked over the timing mats (didn't have any choice as they went across the entire path) and the mats beeped as we crossed. The volunteer by the mats became upset and said we weren't supposed to be walking in that area.

We told her that the guy at the top of the hill told us to come this way and she looked up and saw several more athletes headed her way. We asked if there was a problem now that we had crossed the mat and she replied (actually she sort of barked at us) "Just go"...alrighty then...out of the hundreds of volunteers we found the grumpiest LOL

Happy, happy, happy!

Lindsey and I set up our T1 gear, got our race markings and located the rest of our group. It was all smiles! This was the last time today that we were together as a group. After a few photos, we wandered down to the river's edge to watch some of the full (or is it fool? BFF) Vineman competitors. I drank a chia fresca hoping to get another 150 calories in (I forgot my agave so it wasn't as good as normal). We returned to our T1 setups and started putting on our swim gear.


Let me start off by admitting that last year's swim time was faster. In my defense, I had decided to do things a little different this year. Last year, if the water was shallow, I ran. And when I say I ran, I mean high knee football player style...like the Heisman trophy. I ran enough to make my legs tired and the bottoms of my feet sore. This year, I knew that I would be pushing the pace on the bike and that I was facing high temps for the run. I needed to conserve my energy on the swim.

I think I'm the second from the left
I decided that I was going to take it easy and use the swim as a warm-up for the rest of the day. Since I finished 5th in my age group for the swim last year, I figured I may as well get up in the front. After the buzzer sounded, I started swimming at a nice easy pace. I stayed to the right near the trees hanging in the water. I figure I swam a good 10 minutes completely unmolested. To my left, I could see a group of purple caps swimming all over each other trying to stay near the buoys lined up down the center of the river.

The way I see it, if you are swimming in a straight line, it doesn't matter if you are near the middle or near the side...there is at least half a mile to go before the turn. I ignored the chaos and stuck to my plan. I really enjoyed the peace of just swimming along and not worrying about someone bumping me, touching my feet, or getting in my way. I guess the downside was that there was no one to draft, but honestly, there's so much starting and stopping every time someone runs into another swimmer that I don't think there's a whole lot of benefit from trying to draft in this race.

Within a few minutes I caught up with some of the swimmers in pink caps and eventually I started seeing yellow caps from the first wave. At this point, things were getting a little congested and I had moved to the center as we neared the turn buoy. The water got extremely shallow at this point, so I stood up. Although I had practiced doing the "porpoise", I didn't use it as much as I had planned. Instead, I just walked along taking in the sights and watching the competition going on around me.

Luckily, I didn't stay in "la-la" land too long. Once the water got deep enough to swim in, I dove in and started down the river towards T1.


This year, T1 went much better. Before the race (actually, before I even left Stockton), I placed each foot specific sock in the correct shoe...not going to make that mistake again :-)

Unless I was changing gear, most of my photos show me making
some sort of forward progress
Anyway, I ran out of the water to the wetsuit strippers. Within seconds I was freed from my neoprene and on my way to my bike.

Wetsuit in hand...running like I stole it ;-)

I had a pre-opened Clif Coconut Chocolate bar in my helmet waiting for me. I put it in my helmet because it forces me to deal with the food before I put my helmet on. I stuffed the Clif bar in my mouth and went about the business of switching from swimmer to cyclist.

Trying to get another 240 calories in
I crammed all of my swim gear into the transport bag and handed it over the fence to HS. Time to hit the road.

Love this pic of my bike, would have been better if I didn't
have a Clif bar hanging out of my mouth.
I ran out of transition over to the bike mount line. Once again I opted to walk my bike up the hill. Do I think I could ride up the hill out of transition? Yes. However, I have read quite a few race reports of people getting taken out by someone that decided to ride up the hill who fell. I'm not willing to take the chance of getting hurt on the bike before I'm even out on the road.

Ok, maybe it was more of a run than a
walk up the hill

I have grown to love the bike portion of triathlons. Like I said, I spent the last year chasing the "fast guys" on the team. Actually, I wasn't chasing as much as I was just trying to hang on. I hated the feeling that I was causing them to ride slower than they wanted to go, so I always did my best to keep up. I think that is why I like racing on the bike. When you are in a race, you aren't worried about slowing fast people down or feeling like a jerk because you dropped slower people. On the bike I can ride as fast as I please and I don't have to worry about anybody but myself. It's wonderful!

Did I mention that I messed up my Garmin coming out of the swim? I forgot to press the "lap" button coming out of the water. Instead, I pressed it at my bike...which made my swim distance considerably longer. Anyway, I then forgot to press the "lap" button leaving T1. I think I got down the road a mile or two until I realized my second mistake. Ugh! I pressed the button and scrolled to the screen that gave me instant speed. This would have to do.

FUEL NOTE: I couldn't finish my Clif bar, so I slipped it back into the wrapper and stuck it in my pocket...I would just eat it later.Unfortunately, when later occurred, I only got a few bites of the Clif bar before a bump in the road caused it to pop out of my grip...luckily I had another one in my bike bag. As I rode the first 18 miles, I drank almost 20 oz. of water with two Hammer Endurolytes Fizz tablets added (only 20 calories, but I will take any I can get).  I also had my GU Roctane Island Nectars. 

I passed quite a few people on the first part of the course? Was I going too fast? It didn't feel like it...so I just kept going. About 10 miles or so into the ride I opened up my Dark Speedpack mounted on my top tube and tried to dig out some Skittles and gummy bears. I failed at my first attempt and instead grabbed my next does of Sport Legs. OK, I'll take those instead.

Pain, pain, go away
Speaking of legs, my ankles started to ache early into the ride. I expected them to feel stiff because of the Achilles issues I had been dealing with, but this pain was on the outside of my ankle going up to my calf...something completely different than what I had been nursing all summer. According to the diagram, it was my Fibularis longus muscle. I don't know what it was, but it hurt. I began to consider my options in terms of the run. Would I try and soldier through the pain? Would I play it safe and pull out? At that point, I did the only thing I could think of that would help and I started praying. And every time a twinge of pain would strike, I would pray again.

Skittles Take Two

I made a second attempt at getting at my special Skittles/Gummy Bear mix. This time I managed to dig out a couple of Skittles, but that was it. It shouldn't be this hard I thought to myself. As I poked my finger in the bag again, I realized what the problem was. I had packed this bike bag before we left Stockton on Friday. The bike then sat in the truck in temps nearing 100 (I'm sure it was even hotter in the truck than it was outside). The gummy bears had melted and then cooled into a large Skittle studded mess...WAH!!! I was really looking forward to eating this!!!

Race Nutrition Aftermath:
Skittle/Gummy Bear meltdown, a clump of Kind bars and
a GU Roctane wrapper
Back to the Ride

Ok, enough about that...back to the ride. As I neared the first aid station, I emptied my SmartWater into the Fuelselage and tossed the empty bottle into the bin. I called out for a Gatorade (because I figured it would fit better in my bottle cage) and grabbed it as I went by. I made a couple of attempts to get it into my rear cage, but I just couldn't seem to do it, so I stopped the bike, loaded the bottle and took off again. No sense in crashing...and it only cost me a few seconds.

By the second aid station, the Fuelselage was nearing empty. This time I called out for a water, grabbed it, emptied as much as I could into the bike, took a swig and then tossed it in the bin by the exit. That definitely worked much better than the first aid station. In fact, the Gatorade from the first aid station remained in my back bottle cage untouched.

I nibbled on Kind bar and almonds (which was also melted together but not completely unmanageable) as I made my way through the course. Every once in a while I would look down at my Garmin to check my speed. My pace had dropped a bit and I wasn't sure if it was me or the terrain. I picked up the pace but remained conservative as I knew that Chalk Hill was coming up. Actually, Chalk Hill really isn't that bad. I think it just seems bad because it's towards the end of the bike.

I went through the third and final aid station without taking anything. I still had water in the Fuelselage and Gatorade in the bottle cage. Eventually I came to Chalk Hill and started the climb. I opened my last Clif bar and started to eat it on the way up. I finished about half of it and then put it back in the bag. I made quick work of the climb...spinning up the hill and passing competitors along the way. It felt great.

The rest of the ride was good. I saw an injured bird laying on East Shiloh road and started crying. You know you're getting tired when emotions boil over. I said a prayer for the birdie and kept going...I need to get off the bike ;-)

As I rode down Skylane Blvd. I was passed by a CHP officer on a motorcycle and then a course official. "What's up with that?" I wondered to myself. I was then passed by John Dahlz...the leader of the full Vineman race. This brought a smile to my face. Why? Because last year he passed me somewhere on Highway 128. This year he didn't pass me until I was almost done! Woo Hoo! Although I wasn't sure of my overall pace, I knew I was faster than last year. Either that or Dahlz was going really, really slow and I highly doubted that...not if he was winning :-)


I have no recollection of dismounting my bike last year and heading into T2. When I looked at the setup up this year I commented that it had changed, but everyone assured me that it was the same as last year. All I know is I ran through transition last year, so I was going to run this year.After I dismounted my bike I grabbed my now hot Gatorade, started drinking, and ran.

Nothing like a nice hot bottle of Gatorade
Still running...

I love my #BettyDesigns kit
OK, here is where things slowed down a bit. I had left a stash of Skittles & gummy bears in my bag. Guess what? This had melted even worse than the stash on my bike. Boo hoo :-( I then rummaged around a bit for my final dose of Sport Legs. It took me a bit of time to find it, but I did, and I washed it down with more hot Gatorade.

Take your time....
I slipped on my shoes, put on my hat and snapped on my race belt (not exactly sure if that is the order things actually happened, but you get the idea). This time I was correct in thinking that the course had change. The run exit seemed a bit longer as it wrapped around one of the school buildings before hitting the starting point. This time I remembered to press the "lap" button on my Garmin.


I'm not sure what time I hit the run course, but it was hot. I had felt the temps climbing on the bike, but it was considerably warmer now.

Temps maxed out at 91 around 2:25pm

I think my heat training paid off. Although it was uncomfortable, I never felt like the heat was making me sick. I checked my Garmin early on and realized I was going out much too fast for the heat, so I slowed down. At every aid station I asked for a cup of ice, sometimes I asked for two. I would dump it down my top and keep going. Actually, I walked through the aid stations, but I didn't dilly dally...I merely slowed down enough to get some fluids in (I ate two slices of peach along the way too). Before the mile one aid station, I ate a GU I was carrying on my race belt and washed it down with some cold water handed to me by a friendly volunteer.

The miles ticked by and before I knew it, I was at the first turn around. I headed back to get my lap bracelet and started looking for my teammates. As I headed down Reiman Rd. I finally saw Lindsey. Not far behind I saw Jordan. Yay! Finally seeing some familiar faces!

The trek into the school seemed to take forever. I was starting to worry that I went the wrong way and that they were going to make me go back and do it over. However, the cheers from my family and friends (that were toughing it out in the sweltering heat) assured me that I was headed in the right direction. Eventually I saw the turn around point and grabbed my purple lap bracelet...the most prized possession of the day ;-)

Purple lap bracelet for sale...one B-I-L-L-I-O-N dollars!

Back out on the course, I continued my quest to see how much ice I could put down my top. Actually, the ice served two purposes. 1) It helped keep my core temp down 2) It provided hydration between aid stations. The great thing about ice over water is that it can be more of a gradual process. Instead of trying to gulp something down every mile, I just nibble along the way. Plus, because of all the sweat its a little on the salty side...can you say "electrolytes"?  LOL

My plan for the run this year was simple. RUN! That meant no walking up the hills...and I did just that. It may have been slow, and it may eventually cost me my big toe nail, but I ran up and down every stupid hill on that course! I read that the Barb's Race run course is actually more difficult than the Vineman 70.3 course because we do a double loop over the hills where the Vineman 70.3 goes out on a relatively flatter, single loop. Anyway, the main thing is that I did what I had planned. No matter what happened, I wouldn't have any regrets this year.

As I got to mile 9, I knew I should have my final GU but I really, really didn't want it...yuck, I just didn't think I could stomach anything at that point. I started to negotiate with myself and eventually reached an agreement. I decided that I would eat the GU at the final turn and wash it down with water from the aid station a 1/4 mile down the road. It took me the full quarter mile to get the GU down but I'm glad I did.

The final three miles were tough and my right hamstring was starting to tighten up. "Come on, Tracy!" I pleaded with myself. Three miles is only about 30 minutes at this pace. You can keep going for thirty minutes. From that point forward, my race was no longer measured in miles, it was measured in minutes. At the final mile I knew I had about 10 minutes to go. You can do anything for 10 minutes, so I ran.

The spectators lining Windsor Rd. were a mental and emotional boost. Just hearing a complete stranger tell me I was "looking strong" was enough to convince me that I was. LOL As I made the last turn into the high school, the finish line seemed miles away, but my legs felt suddenly energized and light...I began running faster. I thought I heard someone behind me, but I wasn't sure (it could have been my race bib flapping in the wind). I didn't care at that point...I just ran so the whole thing could be over.

As I crossed the finish line I grabbed the tape and held it above my head! Done! And I think the clock had a 5 in the hours column :-)

Post Race

The end of the race is a bit fuzzy. I was exhausted...I felt like I had left everything on the race course. I hugged HS and wandered (stumbled) over to the water station. I sat in the shade and shed some tears. The flood of exhaustion and emotions is hard to explain, but by the time I finally sat down, I was wiped out! HS and all of my friends and family were not allowed in the athlete area, so Coach James brought me a bottle of water. Eventually I got enough energy to get up and get something to eat.

Honestly, food was the last thing on my mind, but I knew I had to eat something. I skipped the hot food and headed straight to the fruit...it was better than nothing. I also grabbed an ice cold ginger ale in hopes that it would settle my stomach a bit. I sat at the table with James and my two aqua/bike teammates, Dianna and Kathryn. It felt great to be part of a team and to sit together and bask in our accomplishments.

Enjoying the shade and my teammates

We sat for a while resting and telling war stories. Eventually, outside the fence line, HS caught my eye. He was standing there holding up one finger. I looked at him, not immediately comprehending what he was saying...then I understood. He was telling me I got first place. OMG! This got the water works started all over again. That wasn't my goal. That wasn't something I even considered a possibility. I only wanted to improve my time.

I was at once congratulated by my teammates who were probably quicker at picking up what HS was saying than I was at that point.

What is even more amazing is that the lady in second place was only two seconds behind me. I am soooo glad the course wasn't longer ;-) HS swears I was screwing around as I ran toward the finish line and almost cost myself the race. However, as I mentioned earlier, I thought I was running fast....maybe I wasn't running as fast as I thought! LOL

This is what 2 seconds looks like!

Me and Barb

The day got even better when I found out that Lindsey and Jordan also made the podium...Wine for everyone!  LOL

Final Thoughts

I joked this weekend that the best cure for the idea of doing a full iron distance race is to do a 70.3. However, after a few days to regroup, I'm seriously considering the full Vineman next year. Is there something wrong with me? Maybe. LOL

Actually, I think it was my teammates and their incredible persistence during Barb's Race that has made be seriously consider the longer race. I almost felt guilty for being done before they were...like they were the true athletes because they suffered longer than I did. I'm not sure what this "longing" is, or if I will act on it, but I have a few months to kick this idea around.

My Gear

Wetsuit - TYR Category 5 sleeveless
Goggles - TYR Special Ops 2.0

Bike - Specialized Shiv Expert
Wheels - William Cycling
Helmet - Rudy Project Wingspan
Kit - Betty Designs
Shoes - Specialized TriVent

Shoes - Brooks Pure Cadence 3
Socks - Feetures

Lessons Learned

  • Gummy bears should be reserved for cooler weather. If its hot, stick to Skittles only.
  • Plenty of time to fill and toss at the aid stations, no need to stop (but you might want to figure out how to get a bottle back in the rear cage...just in case).
  • Maybe not so slow on the swim
  • Any supplements you plan on taking should be easy to find 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Calm Before the Storm

So, race week is finally here. The yardage has been swum… the miles have been covered either by bike or foot. The only thing left for me to do is eat, sleep, and focus on the race. Last week I was a mess. My anxiety level was through the roof. I could barely get out of the house in the morning without double and triple checking things (my OCD gets bad during times of stress LOL).

One is NOT enough!

This week I feel rather calm…weird!

Last year, all I had to do was think about the race and my heart rate would skyrocket…this time, not so much. All I’m trying to do now is focus on things I can control.

I’m sticking to my normal diet this week. On Thursday and Friday, I will add more carbs to the menu. I’ll probably start with oatmeal on both days and I am planning on making pesto Thursday night. Friday is still up in the air…gotta find out what Lindsey feels like eating.

Bedtime will remain 8pm even if it is still light outside. Last week I resorted to putting a ski cap on and pulling it down over my eyes.

I will try not to read too many race reports (other than my own LOL). It doesn't matter what other people did…I need to concentrate on my race and on my own experience.

The dining room table is starting to fill up with stuff. Every time I think of something, I go and add it to the pile.

My taper continues…
  • Sunday was my last sauna session with a 30 minute run later in the day. My Achilles started to get sore, so I cut the run short (planned on 45 minutes) and went home and did P90X X-Stretch.
  • Monday is a 1,500-1,800y swim. I’m going to work on my bi-lateral breathing as well as sighting.
  • Tuesday has a 30 minute run on the calendar, but I may swap it out for a short ride. I need to wash my bike and check everything out one last time, so this might be a good time.
  • Wednesday is my last official swim workout. 1,500-1,800y in my wetsuit.
  • Thursday is another round of P90X X-Stretch. I always feel great after this workout.
  • Friday is check-in for the race. Depending on when I get finished, I may go down to the river for an easy little swim or maybe a short ride ;-)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Magnesium Miracle???

In the last few days I have noticed a significant decrease in the pain in my Achilles and calves. Could it be that all of the things I have been doing for the last two months are FINALLY starting to work? I mean I have been applying Penetrex 2-3 times a day, massaging magnesium oil on my legs, doubling up on Aleve for about a week, stretching, foam rolling, using a EMS/TENS unit to “zap” my legs. I’m serious when I say that I have tried just about everything to make the pain go away. Now, all of a sudden, the pain is virtually gone and the knot in my calf has disappeared! What gives?

Honesty, I think it has a lot to do with the magnesium supplement I started taking at the beginning of July to help me sleep better. Here’s why I think that…

The other night in bed, HS started getting a leg cramp. I remembered seeing something about the magnesium oil being good for cramps. It was dark, and the middle of the night, so I handed him a bottle and told him to spray it on his leg and rub it in. Unfortunately, I had handed him a bottle of the dog’s hot spot spray, so it didn't work. He pointed that out to me the next morning and we (I mean I) got a good chuckle out of that.
Anyway, I decided to do a little research about the magnesium oil so he would know that I wasn't entirely full of crap. 

Magnesium Deficiency

What I started reading about magnesium, not just the oil, got me to thinking. Did I have a magnesium deficiency, and did I unwittingly resolve that issue when I started taking the magnesium supplement to sleep better?

This is what I started taking at the beginning of July (found it at Raley's for $16.99)...

Lindsey turned me on to this product
From the Natural Calm website...
"Magnesium deficiency can be caused by a number of stresses on the body, including—but not limited to—lack of adequate dietary magnesium, emotional stress, some drugs (diuretics, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, insulin, cortisone), heavy exercise, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and too much calcium in the diet."
I clearly fall in the "heavy exercise" category. Could I have set myself up for injury by not getting enough magnesium?

Here is some info on the symptoms I found at the Herbal Encounter website:
"The first symptoms of magnesium deficiency can be subtle. Most magnesium is stored in the tissues, so leg cramps, foot pain or muscle ‘twitches’ are usually the first signs. Insomnia, migraine headaches are also very common magnesium deficiency symptoms. And if ignored, some of the other more serious symptoms of Magnesium deficiency (low energy, fatigue, weakness, hormonal imbalances, inability to sleep, weakening of the bones, muscle tension, spasms and cramps, abnormal heart rhythm, headaches, anxiousness, nervousness, irritability, kidney stones) can develop."
Hmmm...here's some more food for thought from the Natural Calm website...
"You experience the tensing (calcium) and relaxing (magnesium) interaction of these two elements each time your heart beats, when you feel your pulse, and every time you breathe. 
When we are under stress, our cells—which in their resting state contain magnesium—go through a change. Calcium, normally outside the cells, enters the cells and the calcium level becomes high. This is the action state in which a muscle cell, for example, will contract and tense the muscle. The magnesium then pushes the calcium out of the cell and the cell is again in its resting, relaxed state. Think of it as an on-off switch. The “off” is magnesium and the “on” is calcium. 
But what happens to a cell that is not in balance—where the magnesium level in the body is deficient? 
In simple terms, the “off” switch doesn’t fully turn off. That means calcium can continuously leak into the cells and stimulate cell activity (the “on” switch). The result is stress accompanied by one or more of the magnesium deficiency symptoms. 
Magnesium helps your muscles and nerves function properly; it keeps your heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and also assists in keeping your bones strong. This essential mineral helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure and is required for producing and storing energy. It’s easy to see why many researchers say that no single dietary factor is as critical as magnesium."
I'm not sure if the magnesium supplement was the cure for what ailed me, but at this point, I'm not going to stop taking it just in case it was. I am going to continue to use the Natural Calm magnesium supplement up until about 2 days prior to Barb's Race since magnesium at too high of a level can potentially have a laxative effect, and I don't want that during the race!  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Barb's Race 2014 - Race Plan

"Having the performance and race results you want in an A-priority race largely depends on having an effective strategy. A race strategy is nothing more than a plan that covers the race-day variables over which you have control. You don't for example, have control over the weather or how fit your competition is. You can, however, plan how you will deal with various weather conditions and how to pace yourself relative to other athletes. You should plan for all of the variables that are within your control" 
Joel Friel
"Triathletes Training Bible"
  • Pacing
  • Equipment
  • Transitions
  • Nutrition
  • Weather
  • The Sky is Falling

Race Week

My tapers continues...
  • Sunday - 30 minute sauna session w/ a 45 minute run after church
  • Monday - 1,500y swim (45 minutes)
  • Tuesday - Run (30 minutes)
  • Wednesday - 1,500y swim (45 minutes)
  • Thursday - P90X Stretch
  • Friday – Short run or maybe a swim in the Russian River

I will continue to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night and focus on eating nutrient dense food and taking my supplements. Thursday evening will probably be some sort of pasta meal, but I don’t want to over-do it.

Throughout the week I will be assembling all of my gear on the dining room table. This will allow me to check and double check to make sure I have everything I need. Normally I would be stressed out enough just worrying about my stuff, but this time I also have to remember to pack a few things for Lindsey like my road bike, Giro helmet and her new Betty Designs tri top.

I am going to practice my tire changing skills this week and will practice with a valve extender. I am also going to have HS work with me on filling the Fuselage quickly (I need to be able to empty 20 oz. of water while passing through the aid station). I will also work on grabbing food out of the Fuelcell. I may need to order an additional bento box to hold my food.

Friday morning I will drop the dogs off and then we will make our way over to Windsor. I’m hoping to get in to the first or second mandatory meeting so I can get a choice spot for my T2 set up. This year I will remember a towel for this transition area. I will attach my race bib to my belt, stick in a GU Roctane in the holder, stick my running hat in one of my shoes with a Zip-lock bag holding my Sport Leg supplement in my hat. I will then wrap my race belt around my shoes.

After we are done walking around the expo, we will leave and then stop at the grocery store on the way to our rental house. Lindsey and I still haven’t agreed on a pre-race dinner menu. I’m leaning towards something safe like brown rice pasta with a marinara sauce and one glass of wine…just to take the edge off.

When we get to the rental house, I will review what I need for the race and I will plug my Garmin in to make sure it is fully charged. Depending on how I feel, I may go for a quick run or I might go down to the river to check things out and get my feet wet. Afterwards, I will rub my legs down with Penetrex and magnesium oil.

Stuff to Pack
  • USAT card and photo ID
  • Sweat shirt and pants
  • Betty Design kit
  • Wetsuit
  • Goggles (plus back up pair)
  • Bike
  • Helmet
  • Cycling/Running glasses
  • Garmin watch & charger
  • Mike’s Garmin for the bike
  • 2 transition towels
  • Feetures socks
  • Cycling shoes
  • Running shoes
  • Running hat
  • Race belt
  • Hammer hydration tabs or Nuun tablets
  • 2 Clif coconut chocolate bars
  • 2 GU Roctane (Passion Fruit)
  • 2 Kind coconut almond bars
  • Smart Water
  • Sport Legs (3 doses)
  • Penetrex
  • Magnesium oil
  • Compression pants

Race Day

The house we are renting is about 7 miles from the race start, so there is no need to get up super early. I normally get up around 4am, so if I can stay in bed until 4:30 or 5:00, that would be good. Breakfast will consist of eggs on toast with grass fed butter, coffee and either FRS or a Red Bull. I will drink a chia fresca about an hour and a half before race start. One hour before the start of the race, I will take my first dose of Sports Legs. I will also massage Penetrex into my ankles and calves.

This year I will remember to wear something warm to the race start. Last year I was so cold because all I had was a t-shirt.  I will put my hair into a short pony tail and will liberally apply sunblock to all exposed parts.

It's a bit chilly in the morning
I hope to find an open spot nearest the spectator fence line to rack my bike. This will make my gear handoff with HS easier.

When I set up T1, I will spread out my towel and place my right sock in my right shoe and my left sock in my left shoe. Last year I put both socks in one shoe and then ended up putting the wrong sock on the wrong foot and had to start all over. It seems like a minor issue, but cost me some time since I had to clean my feet off again. I also plan on having a squirt bottle with water to clean my feet (something I didn't bring last year). 

I will open one Clif bar (leave it in the wrapper) and place it in my helmet along with my riding glasses.
I will use my new pair of goggles for the race. I will give a back-up pair of goggles to HS to hold for me just in case something happens to my new pair.

Prior to entering the water I will turn on my Garmin, set the multi-sport mode, and let the satellites sync with the watch. If for some reason my watch gets kicked or the lap button gets pressed, I will not fret over getting my splits. I plan on mounting Mike’s Garmin on my bike so I can see my pace (I have a hard time riding and reading the watch) so it will not be necessary for my watch to be capturing the data. If there is an issue with my watch, I will start a new session on the run so I can see what my pace is, other than that, the Garmin is just something nice to have…not a necessity.


My goal for the swim is to do what I did last year. I am not looking to make a big improvement in my time. I want to be relaxed and to use that time as a warm-up for the rest of the day. If I can make one improvement, it would be swimming straighter.

Not so straight last year

I plan on lining up to the right of the group near the bank/trees. I may line up on the starting line, I don’t think I want to be too far in the back as things get pretty congested.

When I come to a point in the river where it is too shallow to swim, I plan on doing the porpoise as opposed to just trying to run through the water. Last year I did more running than porpoise and I think it made my legs a little tired. It also made the bottom of my toes sore.


When I exit the water, I plan to run up to transition. I will unzip my wetsuit as I go and will once again I will utilize the services of the wetsuit strippers.

I will then run to my transition area, place my wetsuit, cap and goggles in my transportation bag. I will next squirt off one foot, put my sock and shoe on and then repeat with the other foot. I will then begin eating my Clif bar as I put on my helmet and riding glasses. Prior to leaving T1, I will place my towel and any garbage in the bag and toss it to HS as I run out to the bike course. I plan to have finished the Clif bar by the time I leave transition.

Once again I will run my bike to the top of the hill prior to mounting.

Running to the top of the hill

My goal for the bike is to average 18.6 mph (more or less). This will give me a bike split of approximately 3 hours. Last year I averaged 17.4 mph for a bike split of 3:13:14. Last year I had a couple of mechanical issues that I hope to avoid this year (my chain came off and I had to stop again to re-attach my bike bag that was hanging by a string). I have had my bike checked out by a mechanic and everything felt good at the Tri for Real #2.

If I encounter a mechanical issue or, God forbid, I get a flat, I will deal with it calmly and I will handle it. I know how to change a flat. I may not like it, but I know how to do it. It will not be the end of my race. I have one tube in my Shiv’s Fuelcell, but may place an additional tube in the back of my shirt.

Last year, my first test came on a little short climb not more than a few miles after leaving the swim. For whatever reason, my bike didn't change gears and I had to do this climb in my big chain ring. I made it to the top, but it left my legs a little shake-y. I will note the location of this hill and make sure I have the correct gearing prior to starting the climb.

When I come to a descent, I will stay off the brakes as much as I can. There is traffic control in place so I do not have to worry about a car cutting me off.

I will remember to eat and drink throughout the ride. I will probably need to refill the bladder on my bike at the first aid station using my Smart Water in the rear bottle cage. I will toss this bottle and replace it with a Gatorade from a volunteer.  At the aid station in Geyserville, I will take my second dose of Sports Legs and eat a Kind bar.

Chalk Hill will be a slow, steady climb. I will not concern myself with my pace during the climb. Once I start the descent I will stay aero as much as I can and I will watch for the rough patches that seem to plague this section of the course.


I will run to my transition area and remember to smile for the camera ;-) Once I rack my bike, I will take my third dose of Sports Legs. I will change shoes, put on my hat and race belt and take a drink of Gatorade or whatever I have. I will not concern myself with eating anything right now…there will be plenty of time for that at the aid stations.

Forgot a towel for T2 last year
Hi-fives will be in order for any of my family & friends waiting patiently for me to finish. As I leave T2, I hope that HS or someone will be able to tell me the current temp. This info will be crucial to how I approach my run.

How hot is it Hot Stuff?


My goal is to start my run at a nice, easy pace. If the temperature is in the 80s, I will start off at a 9:30 pace for the first 3 miles. If the temp is cooler, I will start at about 9:15 or 9:20. (Last year my first mile was at 8:34…much, much too fast).

 I will run up every hill this year. Last year I kicked myself for all of the walking I did. Last year my average pace was 9:45 for a run split of 2:07:37. My goal for this year is a 9:00 to 9:15 pace for the run. However, I understand that this goal is very dependent on the weather. As of today, the 10 day forecast only extends to next Thursday with a projected temperature of 88 degrees.  Last year the temperature was in the high 70s, high 80’s could potentially be a problem.

My hope is that all of my late afternoon training runs and passive heat training in the sauna will pay off. Last weekend the heat at Rancho Seco did not seem to affect me as much as it normally does. I will just keep reminding myself that the faster I run, the sooner I’m done…Just kidding! I plan on reminding myself how much it sucked last year after the race looking back and feeling like I didn't give it my all. This year I want to leave it all on the race course…no regrets.

Since the aid stations are about every mile, I will be a little more prudent about how much I eat and drink. Last year, I ate and drank at every station and ended up feeling a little water logged by the end of the race. I do plan on putting ice in my top at every aid station. This helps keep my core temp down (or at least it feels like it) and it gives me a nice, cold portable treat to tide me over until the next aid station.

Final Thoughts

Last year after Barb’s Race, HS and I reviewed my race performance and came up with a goal for this year.  Here is my “graded” goals for this race:

A – 5:45 finish time. I think this is possible if the stars align, I have no mechanical issues, the weather is mild, and I have no issues with my Achilles.

B – Sub-6 hour finish time. This was my A goal last year. Unfortunately, I missed it by a little more than two minutes. Shuda- cuda-wuda thoughts have haunted me since that race. If only my chain didn’t come off. If only I didn’t have to stop to re-attach my bike bag. If only I had ran up the hills instead of walking. Blah blah blah.

C- Same time as last year. I will not be a happy camper…don’t come up and congratulate me ;-)

D – Slower than last year. I realize that this is a possibility in any race, but I pray that all goes well and I won’t have to face this.

F – DNF. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Less Than Two Weeks To Go

Now that I've gotten the Tri for Real #2 out of the way I feel like I can finally settle down and focus on my taper and getting ready for Barb's Race. My schedule for today called for a 2,200-2,500y swim. I planned on taking it easy. Since Coach James had a family commitment, my two options for swimming were 5am at Tokay or after work at 24 Hour Fitness. Since I start work at 6am, I opted for the afternoon swim.

Bad Idea

HS was clearly against the idea of swimming at the gym, but he went along with me anyway. When we got to the pool at 24 Hour Fitness, two of the three lanes were clearly being used. The third lane had a kid in it that seemed to be late for something because he kept checking his watch. He then started playing on the steps and I made my move to my new lane. HS followed me and we started swimming.

Within about 10 minutes a lady came and sat down on the steps. HS had stopped at the opposite end of the pool and muttered something when I made my turn. The next thing I know, HS is out of the pool and three new people have joined my lane...WTH?? The far lane was open so I made my move.

I started swimming again and HS disappeared into the sauna. At that point, I was about 700y into my planned swim. The guy in the lane next to me kept me entertained. He would wait until I pushed off and then he would swim full blast across the pool. Good job, dummy! I'm not racing, I'm in the middle of a recovery swim...whatever...you win. LOL

Then my workout plan changed. As I rested on the wall, a man that can only be described as Jabba the Hutt in a stained tank top walked into the pool area. He could only be there for one reason...he planned on swimming. At that point, I was the only single in a lane, which meant I was odds on favorite to get a lane mate. The only thing I hate worse than sharing a lane with a stranger is sharing a lane with a big, sweaty stranger. I started swimming as fast as I could so I could get to a 1,000y and then get out.

The big stranger showered off (with his tank top on) and then sort of lingered on the deck. I'm sure my BRF (Bitchy Resting Face) was holding him off, but it wouldn't work forever.

Me , my sister, and both of my daughters are afflicted with this ;-)

Thankfully I finished my reduced yardage and I joined HS in the sauna. A little passive heat training is just what the doctor ordered...especially after seeing the temps at yesterday's Vineman 70.3. Yikes!

The sauna was hovering around 180 degrees today and I immediately started sweating. Since this was an unplanned sauna session, I didn't have any water with me. On top of that, my HR was a little elevated by my "get out" swim set. By 18 minutes, I felt like I had been in the sauna for half an hour. The last 12 minutes were brutal, but I stuck it out.

How Could You Swim in That?

When HS and I got in the truck to go home. He wondered how I could stay in that water. He asked "Didn't you see the tissue paper floating in the bottom?" "No" I replied (tissue paper = toilet paper... shudder).

"And then there was the bandage" he added. Ugh...this is starting to make me feel sick. "I was hoping that was chlorine on the bottom" I remarked and then added "I purposely wasn't de-fogging my goggles". The kicker was when he told me about the shoes.

"What about that lady soaking her feet?" he asked. "With her shoes on?"

Really? REALLY? What is wrong with people??? Putting your nasty, stinky gym shoes in the pool. Yuck! Yuck! YUCK!

"When I get home I'm taking a shower and using anti-bacterial soap!" I announced. I commented that I needed a shot of whiskey to kill anything I may have accidentally ingested.

No TCB today, this was medicinal!

Shocker, there was no whiskey in the house...not that I would have been able to tolerate it. Instead I opted for a shot of tequila. After my internal germicide, I hopped in the shower and scrubbed off.

I realize that this post is somewhat off topic...I mean, all I really did was complain about the poor pool conditions at 24 Hour Fitness, but my "musings" help me deal with the crazy feelings that start to build up as I get closer to the race ;-)


My plan for tomorrow is a 30 minute run, some stretching and foam rolling. I also intend to get my race plan out of my head and onto paper...or at least my computer.

2014 Tri for Real #2 - Race Report

Sunday's race was one of the few races in our marriage that HS was not going to be able to attend. He had been asked to be head usher at church and this had been on the calendar way before I decided whether or not I was going to do this race.

As a result, a few tears were shed as I drove away from the house on the way to Rancho Seco by myself. Luckily there was an awesome playlist on the "80's on 8" channel to distract me.

There may be no crying in baseball, but there's plenty of crying in triathlons... the water works will only get worse as I get closer to Barb's Race. I'm such a big baby!


Today's race was a dress rehearsal for Barb's Race. I wanted to try out a few new things, but mostly I just wanted to fine tune what I already knew worked for me. Once again, breakfast consisted of two fried eggs on a piece of toast liberally covered in unsalted, grass fed butter...and I mean liberally...I had a big ol' gob of butter on my toast. I also had a cup of coffee and some FRS.

I intended to drink a chia fresca on the way to Rancho Seco...just like I had done before previous races. Unfortunately, I forgot to buy limes. Instead, I made some beet and black grape juice. As I got ready to leave the house, I rethought drinking beet juice before the race. 1) My stomach was a little upset and 2) I was afraid that if I drank the beet juice and then peed in my wetsuit I would stain my new Betty Design kit. Yikes!!!

Instead of beet juice I opted for a concoction of water, chia seeds, and agave for my chia fresca. Let me just say that without the lime juice, chia fresca is not very fresca. In fact, it sort of tasted like sweet paste. Yuck! I drank as much of this potion as I could and then put the lid back on the bottle.

Once I got to the race and saw my sister, BFF, team mates and coach, I relaxed a bit and started to get ready for my race. I checked in and got my body markings. Once I had my transition set up, I took my Sport Legs supplement (got a sample in my goody bag for Avenue of the Vines). I used this before the last Tri for Real and I didn't want to change anything for this race.

Pre-race selfie

Lindsey suggested a super, short pony tail for my hair. I tried it and it held for the entire race, although I did get a sunburn on my hairline in the back...need to remember sunblock back there for Barb's Race.


If there is one thing I can say about this race is that I was wrong about everything I thought I was doing during the race except for the first leg of the swim. During the swim out to the first turn buoy, I knew I was swimming fairly straight. I was doing a good job at sighting and I didn't resort to breaststroke one time. After the turn though, I was convinced I was way off course.

The water was extremely clear at this race
When I looked to my right, all of my competitors seemed to be at least 30 to 40 feet away from me. How did I get that far off course? I looked up to try to see the sighting buoy, but even with my polarized TYR Special Ops goggles, the glare off the water was blinding. I resorted to breaststroke to get my bearing and kept swimming. I knew...without a doubt...that this was going to be my longest Olympic distance swim.

When I got home and looked at my Garmin data, I was shocked that I was pretty much on track the entire swim. My total distance was .96 which is not too bad, although it should be .93. Last time I did this race my distance was 1.02. So, even though I thought I was all over the place, I was actually swimming pretty straight.

NOTE: I lost focus after the first turn and stopped concentrating on my stroke. I also stopped kicking. I need to stay focused for the entire race at Barb's.


My first transition was uneventful. I ran from the water up to my bike. I should have taken an extra second or two and made sure my shoes were properly tightened because my left shoe felt loose for the entire ride.

Before the race, I opened my Coconut and Chocolate Chip Clif bar and placed it (still in the wrapper) in my helmet. When I came in to T1, I started eating the bar immediately. At this distance, I would rather eat during transition than try and eat on the bike. After reaching the mount line, I fumbled a bit trying to get clipped in, but it wasn't too bad.


The bike leg has become my favorite part of triathlon racing. I was especially looking forward to this ride because I got to try out my new helmet. However, with the new hot pink aero helmet came the added pressure of needing to take off some time from the last race in order to prove to HS that it was worth the money. LOL

It looked great with my new kit ;-)
During the ride, I was convinced I was going slower than the last race. I just didn't feel like I was pushing myself. At the Tri for Real in June, I rode my ass off! I pushed as hard as I could for the entire bike portion of that race because I wanted to average 20 mph. At this race, though, I just didn't feel the same effort level. On top of that, I caught myself zoning out and thinking about Barb's race and other stuff completely unrelated to what I was doing. Ugh. I was certain my split was going to be slower than last time.

As it turns out, I was wrong about the bike too. I finished in 1:11:38. Last month my time was 1:13:48. I was over 2 minutes faster this time and I didn't feel as if I was working at hard. Yay! I get to keep my helmet! 

NOTE: I was also at least 6 pounds lighter at this race than I was last month and I know that also contributed to my quicker time and my perceived effort level.


I came in, hit the button on my Garmin and ran over to my rack only to find that the a-hole guy that had set up next to me had racked his bike over the top of my stuff! WTH??? I racked my bike over his stuff and proceeded to put on my running gear. I popped 3 more Sport Leg capsules, grabbed my race belt and GU and took off for the run course. I put the belt on as I was moving and then ripped into the GU. My goal was to finish the GU before the first aid station on the grass so I could wash it down. Mission accomplished.


As I headed out on the run course, I looked down at my Garmin and something didn't seem right. I hit the lap button again thinking I had missed it leaving transition. To my dismay, the Garmin chirped and then showed the multi-sport recording had ended. UGH!!! I should have left it alone...now I wasn't going to know my pace :-/

A lot of people think I use my Garmin to make me run faster. Actually the opposite is true. I have a bad habit of going out too fast. I use (need) my Garmin to slow my stupid self down so I don't implode on the run course. I felt like I was doomed. 

I tried to run by feel, but I had no idea what I was doing. Every once in a while I would remember to focus on my stride and my breathing, but I found myself going into day dream land. I was convinced that HS was driving straight from church to surprise me at the finish line. When I neared the turn to the grass area / finish line, I found myself looking for his car...silly girl, he's not going to park where you can see him...this is going to be a surprise!

Unfortunately, HS wasn't there to surprise me and I was hug-less at the finish line. Crap. Don't cry...don't cry....just go pick up your stuff and don't start crying! Yes there is crying in triathlons, but not now...PLEASE, not now...hahahaha

Post Race

When I went into this race, my only goal was to shave off a minute from last month. I needed to take some time off my bike just to prove the value in my helmet, but I also wanted to shave some time off my run since last time I was was running with an injury. 

Last month my time was 2:40:28. I told myself that if I could finish in 2:39 then the race would be a success regardless of my finish. During portions of the race when I needed to re-focus, I just kept repeating 2:39, 2:39, 2:39. 

As I crossed the finish line I looked at the clock but had no idea what my time was. I had no idea how far after the first wave I started, so I didn't even attempt any finish line math. I was pretty sure I hit 2:39 though.

Always a bridesmaid ;-)

My time is what really mattered today (that and my
new, super-cute kit from Betty Designs)

To my surprise, my finish time was 2:34:58. I was 7th overall for the women, 2nd in my age group. My splits broke down to 7th overall in the swim, 4th overall in the bike, and 14th overall in the run. It is painfully clear to me that my running is still not 100% after my injury. This is something I am going to address through stretching and foam rolling in preparation for Barb's Race.

In fact, I came home from the race and did P90X - XStretch... 58 minutes of much needed stretching to speed up my recovery from the race.

Trying to take a selfie while doing a side bend
I will be using the rumble roller every night for the next two weeks!

Additional Thoughts

I loved having my sister competing in the Tri for Real relay and my nephew in the Kids Tri. It was an awesome day of racing and it was great having family there!

A family that races together, stays together :-)

Sister selfie