Thursday, November 26, 2015

In Search of 5 Seconds

In 2013, I ran my first California International Marathon and missed a Boston qualifying time by 4 seconds (race report).  F-O-U-R freakin' seconds!!! I was crushed.

I went back in 2014, after following a marathon training plan and cutting out all of my usual triathlon cross training, and I managed to ADD a few minutes to my time. (race report) ARGH!!

Had a great time in 2014 with my tri buddies
I recently re-read my race reports from those years.  At the end of last year's report, I had noted the following goals:

Goals for 2015 
  • Learn to listen to myself
  • Enjoy the marathon during Vineman
  • Convince HS , LindseyMax, and Ashley to run CIM with me!

Ok, I'm running CIM by myself, so I definitely missed Goal #3. As for enjoying the marathon during Vineman, well...I don't know about that goal either LOL!!! Now, as for my first goal about learning to listen to myself, I think I have been much better than previous years.

Going Back to What Works

This year I decided to go back to more of what I did in 2013 and less of what I did in 2014. In 2013, I enjoyed my training a lot more than all the running I did in 2014. I also didn't have the cramping issues.

Here's how my training in November matches up for the past 3 years:

Orange = swim
Blue = run
Red = cycling
Green = strength training

November 2013

Almost as much swimming as there was running with a little bit of cycling on Saturdays. Seems like a lot of "rest" days too.

November 2014

Almost entirely all running except for the Salmon Duathlon.

November 2015

Less swimming than 2013 and a lot more cycling and strength training.

Race Plans

I've decided that I won't be running with a pace group this year. 2013 = no pace group / 2014 = 3:55:00 pace group.  Apparently the pace group tries to keep an even pace for the entire race. However, that is not how I run. I need to start out a little slower and then pick up the pace later in the race.

26.2 miles is a long run and a lot can happen. That being said, I really hope that somewhere in all those miles I can manage to squeak out at least 5 seconds!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Last Long Run

Today was my last long, slow run before CIM. I usually don't write much about my running...there's not much to's long and it's slow and it's boring. Knowing that you have a 20 mile run is not always something you want to think about when you roll out of bed...especially if it's raining. I checked the weather report and according to Yahoo! Weather the rain would be over by the time I got home from church! Yay! I was not looking forward to running 20 miles in the rain.

Our street was still wet from the morning rain, but the weather report said it was over
Yeah but...

Unless your cable and internet service has been down for a few days, you are aware of the terrible events that occurred in France on Friday. It is truly a tragedy. When I got to church and looked at the handout I saw that the topic was "Yeah but...Why do bad things happen to good people?" This wasn't a sermon that the pastor cooked up at the last minute because of the events in France. It was the planned sermon in a series called "Yeah but..." which is meant to address the questions that we all may ask about God, life and faith... the "Yeah but's" in life.

Although the sermon wasn't intended to be about France, the pastor did open with a prayer for the people of France and everyone affected. After the prayer, I couldn't help but think about all the tragedies and heartache in the world. You can't turn on the TV or look at the internet without learning about some new horrible event. My mind then drifted to my big worry...was it going to rain on my long run. Immediately I felt horribly shallow and stupid. Really Tracy? That's your big worry? Boy you sure do have it rough.

Is it Worth It?

When I think about the time and money involved in training for the events I choose, I often wonder "Is it worth it?" I mean honestly, what am I doing here...planning my Sundays around insanely long distances that I really don't even like to do. In a few months I will be preparing to have another go at Vineman. What if terrorists decide to do something horrible in the US again? It could all be over tomorrow and then what? Are there triathlons in heaven? Does everybody win at a triathlon in heaven?

I then remind myself that my time spent training is my way of staying grounded. For the few hours that I am out riding or running, I am in control. I'm not concerned with terrorists, bombings, mass shootings or anything like that (although the car alarms and sirens in Stockton can be a little worrisome). During my training, it's just me and the road. In a world where I feel incredibly out of control and helpless, my training gives me a glimmer of hope. I decide where I want to run, how far, and how fast? Nobody is making me train, it is my decision and I am incredibly grateful to be able to decide what I want to do.

Windy, Windy Weather

So, I lucked out in the rain department, but unfortunately the wind picked up. In fact there was even a possible tornado a little further south and that is pretty rare in California. My Garmin says the wind was 10 mph, but as anyone with a Garmin knows...that's at the time you start your activity. Weather Underground reported maximum wind speeds in Stockton of 31 mph with gusts up to 38 mph. I definitely felt some of those gusts. The run back home along the Calaveras bike path was miserable. All I could do was put my head down and hang onto my much for my Chi Running form ;-)

HS kept me company throughout the run. I know it wasn't easy for him to try and stay upright on his bike as he rode at a stupid slow pace, but he did it. I can't thank him enough. As I made my way back over the bridge on Feather River Dr, a gust of wind blew along the water way and pushed me enough to make me side step a bit. I was so over trying to fight the wind. I should have just ran in the hills if I wanted this kind of workout! I dug a bit deeper and made my way home (only 2 miles at that point LOL).

After loading my Garmin data, I then checked my calendar. 10 miles next Sunday!!! AWESOME ;-)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Salmon Duathlon 2015 - Race Report

My goal for today was to beat Tracy with a "Y"...myself (my friends know what I'm talking about). This would be my fourth time doing the Salmon Duathlon. The Salmon Duathlon was my second multi-sport race following the Golden State Triathlon in 2012 (my very first triathlon). I had so much fun at Golden State I wanted to do another one, but Golden State was one of the last local triathlons for the season, so I settled for two sports instead of three and found this fun, low key event.

My first year's time was OK, but of course I wanted to beat that time the second year. I did beat my 2012 time in 2013, so of course, I believed that I would continue to improve and get even faster in 2014. Unfortunately, I added several seconds in 2014. I wasn't devastated, but I did question whether or not I had reached my limit. What if 2013 was as fast as I would ever be?

Actually, I had a second goal for this race...not to mess up my Garmin! For whatever reason, I have been unsuccessful at capturing my race data. One year I turned on my Garmin and didn't let the satellites sync. Another year I recorded the entire race as a cycling event. So this year, the pressure was on to get it right. I am happy to report that I recorded the race accurately and was within a couple of seconds of my official time.

Finally got it right!


Started the day with a breakfast of eggs on toast (Double Fiber english muffin). Thirty minutes before race start I had Beachbody's new Performance "Energize" pre-workout drink. It is similar to C4 but doesn't make you feel like your skin is crackling! LOL

Just what I needed :-)

Overheard at the Registration Desk

HS  fills out his registration paper work which included information like his name and age (63) and the following conversation ensues...
Registration Lady: It's 65
HS: No, I'm only 63
Registration Lady: No, it's 65 dollars. Mike, you've raced here before.
HS: Derp!!!

More Pre-Race Antics

As we stood along the side of Sonora Rd listening to final instructions from Mark , a fellow racer took the mike and gave everyone a little pep talk and chant to help get up the hill (all three times). I don't remember all of it, but it was a military 4 count chant that included the following lines...

...I don't know but I've been told, Mark Aiton is fat and old.
If he tried to run this race, he would fall flat on his face...

Smiles before and after the race today! Great race by On Your Mark Events
It was a great chant and got everyone fired up and ready to race.

Run - Part 1

For the first run, I wanted to try running by I fought the urge to check my Garmin. I also wanted to test out some of the things that I learned at the #ChiRunning clinic. The first loop felt good (it always helps to start a race off going down hill). Even the first run up the hill wasn't so bad.

Running through the Knights Ferry covered bridge 

Actually, the second loop felt pretty good too. Hmmm...What's up with that?


In and out without any problems. It really makes a difference not having a wetsuit to peel off ;-)


Last year, things got a bit windy on the way back. This year, however, there was no headwind to contend with...although there did seem to be a bit of a cross wind the entire ride.

The road conditions were a bit improved too. It looked like several of the really bad potholes had been filled and I didn't see a single rider sidelined due to a flat tire. As I neared the turn around point, I reminded myself that my bike is perfectly capable of during around and that I didn't need as big of a turning radius that I thought I did. It's a bike not a big rig. Anyway, as I neared the turn around point, I got a little nervous because the street seemed too narrow and I unclipped my inside foot. The volunteer kept saying "It's OK, you've got this" but I don't think I believed him.

My speed slowed to a wobbly crawl and when I eventually got around the cone I tried to clip back in but was unsuccessful on my first few attempts. The only thing I could think was that +James Cotta would have been soooo embarrassed. He probably wouldn't tell anyone ever again that he taught me how to ride! LOL


Same as T1 and unlike the first time I did this race, I didn't run out of T2 with my helmet still on my head! LOL

Run 2

I'm not sure what it is, but this run course reveals itself to you bit by bit, so it never really seems that long. That is... until you come to that hill...for the third time! As I exited the covered bridge and gazed up the hill, my thoughts went dark and I told myself just to walk. Why run and make yourself miserable.

James is still smiling before his third go at the hill!

I then sternly reminded myself that the little bit of discomfort I feel running up the hill would be nothing compared to how I would feel after the race if I walked. Nothing is worse than the "shoulda-coulda-woulda" after a race. So I kept running...slowly! Eventually I made it to the top and rounded the corner, a short flat distance and then it was basically all down hill to the finish! Yay!

As I rounded the final bend I looked in amazement at the clock. I had hoped to shave :30 seconds off of last year's time. That would have been a major triumph for me. It would have proved to me that I wasn't done, that my best years weren't behind me, that I could still manage to eek out improvements.

The clock showed 1:36 and change! That couldn't be right. I wanted to shave off seconds, not minutes. I almost started to cry...but I ran instead... I ran with everything I had left. I finished at 1:37:19. Just a hair under 7 minutes better than my best time! I was thrilled!!! I couldn't wait for HS to finish so I could share this with him!!

Post Race

I finished the race and immediately drank my P90X Results and Recovery drink...the weekend wasn't over and I had more training to complete before Monday morning. After an orange slice and a little water, I walked over to the finish line to wait for HS.

Although HS had been plagued with a sore knee and other ailments, he also shaved a couple of minutes off of his best time! However, at the awards ceremony, Mark announced that HS had finished 2 hours behind me and that while he did win his age group, my trophy was going to have to hang a bit higher than his on the way home.

I love this handsome guy!

HS trying to hobble up to get his award like an "old man"
Love my #PearlIzumi kit 

HS hung my medal a bit higher than his on the way home ;-)

Next Year

My goal next year is to have our team show up in greater numbers than Stanford!!! #OYME #OnYourMarkEvents 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Vineman - Take 2

Last July at the Vineman award ceremony, my daughters and I made plans to come back in 2016 and do the Vineman relay. I was excited for the opportunity to just go out and ride my bike and not worry about having to run that course afterwards. It would be a training ride for me as I still had plans of doing a “real” IRONMAN event some time during the year.

Last month, our relay plans were scratched. The Vineman site announced that the full distance Vineman race had been acquired by World Triathlon Corporation and would now be a “branded” IRONMAN race. With this change came the elimination of the aqua bike events, Barb’s Race, and the relays. I was bummed. I was really looking forward to racing with my girls.

This change also threw a new wrinkle into my 2016 race plans. I had discussed possible IRONMAN races with Coach K and was noodling over some of my choices. A flat course with a non-wetsuit legal swim? A scenic but somewhat hilly course? A race in another country? I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Now I had the option of going back and doing Vineman again.

While I was still seriously considering one of the other races, a little voice in me got louder and louder. It kept telling me that this was a great opportunity. I would get to do a real IRONMAN event, it was on a course I had raced on 3 times before, and it was close to home…no travel worries, no worries about where I wanted to stay, or where I should eat. It also meant that family and friends could come and cheer me on (if they were so inclined). Deep in my heart, I knew that this was going to be my “A” race for 2016. I completed the last unbranded Vineman and I would have the opportunity to complete the first official Vineman IRONMAN.

First Weird Dream

One of the things I liked to do during my training last year was to record my dreams about the race. Last night I had my first race related dream. I’m not sure where HS and I were at, but we were at someone’s house and they were having a party or watching the big game or something. At one point I realized that it was time to register for the race but that I didn’t have my computer with me. HS asked if I could borrow a laptop and one of the guys there handed me one. It was dirty and gross looking and most of the keys stuck because of the beer that had been spilled on it (don’t ask me how I knew that).

Anyway, I got on the website and filled out the info and pressed enter. I was fully expecting the next screen to be the screen for my payment information but instead I got a message that said “Thank you, you are now registered.” That was weird. I wondered why I didn’t have to pay anything. I then started worrying that I really wasn’t registered and told HS that we had to leave because I needed to go home and check my registration. As we were walking down the driveway, I told him what had happened and he explained that the guy probably had all his credit card info saved on his computer, so he was probably charged for the race. HS told me not to worry about it because the guy probably wouldn’t even notice the charge on his bill (NOTE: HS is not like this in real life, he is very, very honest and would not scam someone out of an IRONMAN registration fee LOL).

Registration Day

Last year when I signed up for Vineman, Mike and I pushed the [Enter] button together to complete the registration and then we drank my Barb’s Race prize wine. It was a great moment that signified our commitment to each other during training and the race.

Last year's registration

This year, as we kissed goodbye on our way out the door I casually mentioned “Today is registration day for Vineman.” HS replied, “Are you going to do it again?” “If I get in” was my answer. And that was it. No fanfare, no cute little pic of us pushing the button together, no celebratory toast. Just another day, just another 140.6 mile race.

I got in my car and started the engine. I had the satellite radio tuned to “The Message” and as soon as the music came over the speakers I heard Toby Mac singing…
...I feel it in my heart
I feel it in my soul
That's how I know...
That’s exactly what I had been thinking in the moments before I told HS I was going to register. I started to tear up a bit…oh jeez…I haven’t even started training and I’ve already got Vineman tears going. I couldn’t help it. I had been debating for the last couple of weeks whether or not to do this race again. However, deep down something kept telling me that this was the smart choice, the best choice for me, the choice that would elicit fewer tears than my other options (I could only imagine the tears and freak-out moments if I had to ship my bike, board an airplane, or tweak my routine too much).

I anxiously waited for the clock to strike 9:00am. I had my USAT number and credit card ready. 8:58am... Would the registration fill up like some of the other IRONMAN races? Would all my worry be for nothing?  8:59am... What if it fills up as fast as Vineman 70.3? There is no way I'm paying extra for this race. 9:00am...Time to register!!! I made the few initial clicks and found myself on the registration page. After a few minutes and several key strokes, I was officially registered to do IRONMAN Vineman. Now all I have to do is complete the 140.6 mile race and I will finally get to hear the words I've read about over and over... "Tracy Pengilly, You..Are...An...IRONMAN!"

Thank You, HS

I just want to thank HS for all of his continued support. I know that racing isn’t really his thing, but he sticks by me and occasionally put his name down on a registration form. Having his acceptance, understanding, and companionship during the training months means more to me than I can ever say. I know that there are plenty of days that he would rather be doing anything else besides riding a bike, or waiting for me to finish a long run, or driving to swim practice. Heck, there are plenty of days that I would rather be doing anything else besides riding a bike, finishing a long run, or swimming.

Through the good days and the tougher days of training, he sticks by me and encourages me when I want to quit. The picture below is a beautiful summary to Vineman 2015, I hope to have another one just like this on July 30, 2016.

I couldn't have done this without him.
I love you, Honey!!