Friday, December 23, 2016

Central Valley Triathlon Club News

Central Valley Triathlon Club has some exciting things happening in 2017. 
  • New sponsor
  • New quarterly training programs for new athletes
  • Annual dues (ok, maybe this isn’t what you would call exciting)
  • New kits
  • New website
  • Special deals with local vendors

But First...A Little More About Triathlons

New Sponsor

If you’ve done any kind of running races around Stockton or Modesto, or if you’ve shopped at either of his Fleet Feet stores, you know Tony Vice. What you may not know about Tony is that he is more than just a runner, he is also a triathlete. 2016 marked his return to triathlons and a renewed interest in promoting the sport.

What this mean for Central Valley Triathlon Club is we now have a major sponsor for the team and it is going to open a lot of doors for us in terms of organization, training and racing. While many in our club attend the Tuesday night runs at Fleet Feet in Stockton , these runs will now be a designated club workout. Our club is all about the social aspect and this gives us one more opportunity to get together.

Tuesday night runs

Central Valley Triathlon Club is extremely fortunate to have Fleet Feet Stockton/Modesto as a sponsor and to have Tony as an active club member.

New Quarterly Training Program

In the past, we called our training program “Triathlon 101”. In 2017 the name is changing to “Tri Fit” and will be offered through Twin Arbors Athletic Club in Lodi. Not a member of the club, no worries, you don’t have to be. “Tri Fit” will be a fixed price that will give new athletes access to coached swim practices (on designated days/times), group workouts including running and cycling sessions, and triathlon specific lessons including open water swimming, navigating transition, and what to wear.

WARNING! Coach James likes to swim!

Annual Dues & Monthly Fee Structure

In the past, Coach James paid the club’s administrative fees (ie insurance) out of his own pocket. We had talked about collecting an annual membership fee last year, but that idea never got off the ground. This year, we have our banking lined up and are also looking into accepting payments through PayPal.

In a nut shell, the annual dues are going to be $40 a year. If you are a new athlete and sign up for “Tri Fit”, your dues are waived for the first year. The annual membership dues will allow you to join the club on group rides and running activities. If you want access to a pool and structured swim workouts, you can do this through James Cotta for $40 a month. 

New Kits

With our new major sponsor as well as a number of new local sponsors, the club kit needs to be redesigned. A new professional logo is in the works and there will be a new color scheme that will set us apart from other clubs.

Don't order any more of our existing stuff is on the way!

New Website

The new website is currently under construction.

Special Deals 

Tony Vice has been working his contacts to line up special deals for our club members. I don't have a complete list of deals yet, but I can give you a taste of things to special offer is a $499 starter road bike offered through a local bike shop. If you've ever wanted to do a triathlon but were letting the lack of a bike stop you, you now can buy an affordable solution (warning...bikes are a slippery slope and upgrades come quickly once you are hooked).


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Baby It's Cold Outside (but I'm Not)

The forecast was clear for Saturday. Not a drop of rain in sight. The only caveat was chilly temps. On Tuesday an email started circulating the office seeing who wanted to ride. The message included a suggestion to “dress warm”. When I got the invite, I sent HS a text to see if he wanted to ride. His response was “It is your birthday, if that’s what you want to do.” Yes, that’s what I want to do! The past few months of marathon training had left me longing for my bike. I was thrilled that the group decided to ride. I told HS that I really wanted to ride and added that I had ordered some new Pearl Izumi gear that I wanted to try out. “Then we’ll go for a ride” he answered.

The group finalized our plans. We were going to do the “Clements Loop” as we call it. It is roughly a 40 mile route with a coffee stop about half way through and some nice rolling hills. We would meet at the boss’s house and head out at 8:30am. Only a few of our group’s normal riders opted out due to existing plans. Nobody opted out due to the weather.

On Thursday, HS, who must have been checking the weather forecast, sent me a text that read “Are you wanting to ride in freezing weather Saturday?” According to him it was going to be around 28 degrees. I got online and checked for myself. My forecast showed a low of 35 with a high of 50. That doesn’t sound too bad. Besides, my cold weather gear was scheduled to be delivered that day and I really, really wanted to try it out...

My Order

Thursday afternoon I was thrilled to see the familiar black and white packaging sitting on the kitchen counter. I tore into the bag and started pull stuff out…wool socks, thermal shoe covers, wool long sleeve shirt, and thermal tights. HS walked over and looked at my pile of gear. I proudly held up each piece and told him what is was.

Lots of good stuff!

HS: “No wonder you don’t care that it’s going to be freezing on Saturday! What am I going to wear?” 
IN MY MIND: Uh, oh. 
ME: “You have stuff.” (Lame) 
HS: “Not like this” (referring to my pile of cold weather gear) 
ME: “We could go shopping” (Weak)
HS didn’t want to go shopping and said that he would find something. 

I followed him into our room and into the closet as he started looking for something warm to wear. Thankfully, we had both picked up a pair of  Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights (good for temps between 30-45) a couple of seasons ago at REI during their end of season clearance. The tights were a steal and normally a bit too warm for our rides. I decided that I was going to wear these tights on Saturday and save my new pair for warmer weather.

Once HS was able to cobble together a warm enough outfit, I felt a bit better. The only problem was his gloves. I thought he had bought a pair at last year’s REI clearance sale, but he didn’t. I guess I was the only one lucky enough to find decent pair at that sale. I had been itching to try out my gloves for a while, but it just never seem cold enough. The gloves have a temp rating of  0-40 degrees. Usually, if it dips below 40 I stay home and ride the trainer.


Lets Ride!

Saturday finally rolled around and I was up early airing tires, filling water bottles, and laying out my new gear. My only disappointment was the fact that the striking, screaming pink and yellow jersey that I ordered was shipped from the east coast and would not be arriving for several more days. Meh! I put on my long sleeve wool base layer shirt, my cycling shorts and my wool socks and went to study the thermal jerseys hanging in my closet. 

I considered a white Louis Garneau jersey with pink and black piping that is cute but not very warm. Next up was a vintage Skittles jersey that is warm but fits sort of weird. My last option was a red Performance Bike store brand’s warm, but not very interesting. I decided to play it safe and picked the warmer jersey. I then decided that although I was feeling nice and toasty in the house, things would change quickly once we started riding. I decided to wear my Women's ELITE WxB Jacket over the red jersey. This would keep the wind out and hide the red. Problem solved.

Everyone was on time and ready to go. Once we were all out of our vehicles and getting into our cycling gear the question started circulating the group… ”Who’s idea was it to start riding at 8:30???” It was definitely cold. I popped the tag off of my shoe covers and placed them over my shoes. I made quick work of the transition from street shoes to riding shoes. I then zipped up my jacket and snapped on my helmet. Last but not least were my gloves. They may not have matched my outfit, but they were definitely warm. I had a bit of a chill as I waited for everyone else to get ready, but it didn’t seem unbearable.

Ready to go!

HS Bundled Up

The boss's wife came out to see us off. She was on her way to a nice warm yoga class and clearly thought we were crazy. We hit the road and within minutes the pace picked up. I quickly found myself playing "catch up" and wondered if my legs would hold out for an entire ride at this pace. Luckily, I think it was just the guys' attempt to warm up because about a mile or so into the ride the pace settled down and everyone started chatting. Whew!

Nice and Warm

It was a beautiful, clear winter day. To make things ever better was the fact that I was not cold! As we rode along I would hear comments from the guys about cold feet, not being able to feel fingers, and freezing faces. Iced over mud puddles along the road reminded me that we were riding in very, very cold weather (at least for us). I decided to not mention that I was feeling quite comfortable.

Views like this make it hard to ride on the trainer
Having the right gear made all the difference for me on this ride. I've done cold rides before and have been absolutely miserable. That was not the case today. Today I was prepared!

This scarf (from my IRONMAN Vineman goody bag) kept my face warm

My first pair of thermal shoe covers. Why didn't I buy these sooner?

Warmest gloves I have ever used
After completing my first cold weather ride with appropriate gear, I can honestly say I would do it again and again and again. Being outside, riding with friends is so much nicer than being on the trainer!

Post ride beer.
The guys left it outside to chill while we rode :-)

#endureandenjoy365 #ride365 #pearlizumi #REI

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

CIM 2016 - Race Report

Sunday’s California International Marathon marked the unfortunate end to my 2016 racing season. Going into the race I had every hope of finally getting a Boston Qualifying time. I had done everything right leading up to the race. I followed my training plan as closely as possible. Tried eating right and getting as much sleep as I could. I trained with the nutrition I planned on using during the race. Before my long runs I would try out different pre-race breakfasts to see what worked the best. I had even made it through an IRONMAN training season and a marathon training season injury free. I was on top of the world. All I needed to do was run the race.

Easier said than done...

I even limited my time at the expo to packet pick-up and a quick picture

Race Start

Once we were a few minutes away from the start of the race, I gave HS a kiss and made my way towards the start line. I wanted to be a little closer to the pace group for my goal. I also wanted to hang my Mylar blanket on the fence so no one would trip over it.

I should have stuck with these two
The gun went off and the slow march to the timing mat started. I was in no real hurry. Eventually I crossed the line and pressed “Start” on my Garmin. I saw the 3:58 pace group. That would be my time to beat if I wanted a Boston Qualifying time that would actually send me to Boston (4:00 is the listed qualifying time for my age group but you need to be about 2 minutes faster to go).

All three of my prior CIM times have been sub 3:58. However, I still wanted to beat 3:55:04…my time from my first CIM four years earlier. That time still stings because it was four seconds off of a BQ for that age group.

Karyn, one of the pace leaders for the 3:58 group, had asked if I was running with them. I said “No. I was shooting for 3:55.” Her response was “Tracy Pengilly don’t let me chase you down ;-)” That warning stuck in my head. I had every intention of sticking to the pace I had programmed into my Garmin. I was using the same pacing plan I had used for my first CIM. If that plan got me to 3:55:04 a few years ago, it could get me there again.

First 10K

The first mile is the best at CIM. It’s basically all down hill. I did my best to stick close to a 9 minute per mile pace but the quick descent and my adrenaline had me running a bit faster than I desired. The next few miles on Oak Ave were across rolling hills. I was feeling pretty awesome at this point and knew I was running way faster than I should be. It then crossed my mind that maybe this year would be my year and not only would I run a 3:55, but I would run faster than I ever dared believe. Although I didn’t realize at that moment, this is the point my race took a turn for the worst.

At the end of the first 10k I decided that I needed to reign in my speed a bit. If things worked out as I had planned, I was going to pick up the pace at the wall and run with everything I had left until the finish.


I had successfully slowed my pace but was starting to wonder if I had slowed because I was trying to slow down or because I couldn’t go any faster.  Each time I came to a hill, I could feel my quads burning just a bit more than the last hill. Eventually my Garmin started beeping at me to “Speed Up”. This was not a good sign. I tried to chalk it up to the 20-30 seconds I lost refilling my water bottle, but I knew it was more than that.

20 Miles (The Wall)

As I neared “the wall” I started to wonder if this was the year I was actually going to hit it. I wasn't feeling tired, I was just starting to hurt. My quads were burning and there was a pain in my right leg that seemed to radiate around my leg and into my hamstring. I wanted to stop, but I wanted to stay in front of Karyn even more. Unfortunately, I soon recognized the voice behind me and I knew she had finally ran me down. I kept up with the 3:58 group for a bit but it hurt too much to try and stay with them so I let them go. I wanted to start walking but convinced myself that a slow run was still better than walking.

At this point, I was pretty down. Not only was I not going to beat the elusive 3:55, but I wasn’t even going to finish below 3:58. I slowed down a bit more. I was losing my will to fight on. I reminded myself that technically a sub 4:00 finish would still be a BQ. All I needed to do was stay in front of the 4:00 pace group. Within a mile or so, I heard a group of runners coming up behind me. I then heard the cheers of “Go Sub 4 Group”. Crap! They were here and I was suffering. As the group ran past me, I slowed to a walk.

I thought of another Karen at this point. She had just gone through a similar situation at the Las Vegas Marathon. If I’m not qualifying and if I’m hurting on top of it, why keep pushing and run the risk of actually doing long term damage? While this was a very logical decision, it was still a very bitter pill to swallow. I had worked my butt off for the last four months and I can’t even run the last few miles. Ugh.

Every once in a while I would start running again but the running spurts starting getting shorter in distance and further apart.  I thought of the Pearl Izumi pact and the words printed on the back of my Ambador shirt (We take the “ass” out of ambassador) "I will endure. I will enjoy". Well, I was definitely enduring, I just needed to focus on the enjoying part.

I will endure. I will enjoy.

The Finish

The final stretch to the finish was familiar territory. Not only was this my fourth time doing CIM, but I had been running the virtual course on my ProForm “Boston Marathon” 4.0 treadmill.  I knew exactly where mile 25 was. I had imagined the portion of the race over and over in my head. When I hit that point, that last one mile, with less than 10 minutes of running left to do, I was going to sprint. I was going to finish in a blaze of glory. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case today.

A Word About Hot Stuff

Last year, while I was signing up for the $89 CIM Re-Run special, I mentioned something about the cheap price to HS. He was on his second glass of wine and cavalierly responded "Sign me up!" I continued typing away on my computer. A few minutes later he asks "Did you just sign me up for a marathon?" Yes I did!

He wasn't sure at that time what he had gotten himself into, but around September, he decided to commit to a training plan and he stuck with it. He was not fond of the 18 and 20 mile training runs as the race date neared, but he got through them and he knew he could finish the race. Ironically, I tried instilling in him the importance of pacing himself and not going out too fast.

He watched his heart rate during the race and ended up running a negative split. In fact, he was closer to qualifying for Boston than I was! I missed the mark by 7 minutes and 3 seconds.  HS was only 4 minutes and 49 seconds away! I am truly impressed by his effort!

That's the face of a happy first time finisher!

Post Race

I am thankful that I decided to ease up and not hurt myself during the race.  I am in much better shape a couple of days out of the race than I have been in the past. The only pain that I have now is in my right shoulder/back area. HS thought that I may have slept funny or something, but it is more than that. There is a definite pinched nerve feeling and overall soreness. I wracked my brain trying to think of what I could have possibly done during the race to cause this much discomfort. At first I thought that I may have just been too tense in my shoulders and then it dawned on me. ..this was the first year I ran with a water bottle.

I've done other races with a hand-held bottle and I do my longer training runs (when I'm not on the treadmill) with a hand-held. However, when I carry a water bottle, I always make a conscious effort to change hands every other mile. I only switched hands once or twice during CIM. For the majority of the race, that 20oz water bottle was planted firmly in my right hand. If I carry the bottle again, I am going to make sure I change hands.

Did I just use the word "again"?

Yes, yes, I did. And before you ask, yes, I am registered for the 2017 California International Marathon. I missed the $89 Re-Run special, but I was quick enough to get the $99 Re-Run 2 special. I've already let Ms. Karyn know that if she's leading the 3:58 group again that I will be running with the group. I think I will go back and look at my training data from my first CIM and maybe stick with something similar to that. 5th time has to be a charm :-)

See ya next year CIM

#endureandenjoy #pearlizumirun #run365 #CIM #marathon

Friday, November 18, 2016

Meh-rathon Training

I realize I haven’t posted much in the last couple of weeks. Honestly, marathon training isn’t much to write home or blog about.  All I seem to do is run! LOL There aren't any horror stories of six hour bike rides, saddle sores, black toe nails, freezing water temps, or crying. I might bitch about the distance of a run, but nothing is really so bad that it reduces me to tears.

After I completed IRONMAN Vineman, my focus switched to the California International Marathon and my fourth attempt at running a Boston Marathon qualifying time. My first attempt was my fastest to date and every attempt after that has seen the clock move further away from a BQ time. I am hoping to reverse that trend next month.
  • Boston Qualifying time for 45-49 female = 3:55:00
  • Boston Qualifying time for 50-54 female = 4:00:00
GOOD NEWS! The qualifying times are based upon each athlete's age on the date of the 2018 Boston Marathon (April 16, 2018). That means I have an extra 5 minutes to qualify cuz I'll be 50!

Half way through my first CIM
I was actually excited to start my marathon training...that is until I realized the 18 week program (Hal Higdon's Advanced 1) that I picked out started two days after Vineman. I decided to take a few extra days off to recover and ended up starting my marathon training on Friday, August 5. My excitement started to wane after a few weeks. I missed my IRONMAN training! Thankfully, the runs were still short enough that I could do them in the mornings before work and still do a swim or bike workout in the afternoon.

Morning Runs

Since HS and I both start work at 6 am, I would get up at 4 am (or earlier) and then run around the block (.58 miles) as many times as I needed to meet my scheduled mileage. The nice thing about running around the block at 4 am is that all of the neighbors are still sleeping and are not witnesses to my craziness. The bad thing about running around the block at 4 am is that it is dark and there always seem to be a few shadowy figures out and about at that time of day. If you don't have a headlamp and a Garmin on, you must be up to no good. LOL

This is what "crazy" looks like at 3:50 am!
HS was not fond of my morning runs (too dark and dangerous for me to be outside). As a compromise, we ended up buying a treadmill for the house. I could still do my morning runs and he wouldn't have to worry about me.

Keeping Things Interesting

To keep my sanity during all of this running, I did manage to sneak in a couple of triathlons, a trail run, and a wine tasting/cycling event with friends. These events were a much needed mental and social break.
Tarantula Run - Half Marathon Trail Run
Amador Triathlon
As I mentioned, HS got me a treadmill. To most people, treadmills (and bike trainers) are not a means to "keeping things interesting". However, the treadmill we picked out has iFit. This allows you to program a running route anywhere in the world that appears on Google maps. My first programmed run was on the CIM course! The nice thing about iFit is that you see the Google street view of where you are running and the treadmill adjusts the incline based on the actual road. I run all over the world now :-)

I even do my hill repeats on my "crying hill". Crying hill? Yes. This is the name for the hill that usually seemed to make me cry during my 2015 Vineman brick workouts (maybe that's why I didn't run this hill during my 2016 Vineman training).

Final Thoughts

Well, as I've heard so many times before...

Can't wait for race day!

#endureandenjoy #run365 #CIM2016 #trilife

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

5th Annual Amador Triathlon - Race Report

The 5th Annual Amador Triathlon was my fifth tri of 2016 and possibly my last tri as a member of the Pearl Izumi Tri ChamPIon team (unless I get selected again for 2017). I decided to do this race for a couple of reasons. First, it is very close to home. Second, since it was a USA Triathlon sanctioned event, I had the chance to better my ranking by replacing my super low score from the Auburn Triathlon (World’s Toughest Half).

NOTE: The Amador Triathlon bills itself as “California’s Toughest Triathlon”. The Amador Tri was tough, but nothing compared to Auburn. Don't let the name scare you away from giving this race a "tri" :-)


HS and I left the house about 5:45am. It wasn’t going to take that long to get to the lake. We arrived at Camanche around 6:30am. We stopped at the guard shack to pay our $12.50 for parking. The guard gave us a pass and said that we needed to pay at the trail head. Pay at the trail head? We had no idea where he was expecting us to pay, so we took the pass and headed to the parking lot.

The check in process went smoothly. As I waited my turn in line, a woman walked up and asked me “Are you in line?” Uh, yeah. LOL The volunteers at the check-in desk were organized and everything I needed for the race was in my goody bag.

NOTE: There were no instructions given as to which sticker goes where (not that I wasn't able to figure it out). It's just something that is nice to know...especially for people new to triathlons.

This event had chip timing. I’m not sure what company was providing the timing, but I would like to say that it was nice that their straps weren’t all stretched and worn out. I’ve done some bigger events where they hand you a strap that looks like its been through the zombie apocalypse. The strap I was given was relatively new and once on did not feel like it was going to come off. I hate swimming with a strap that feels like it’s barely hanging on. I’m always certain that some swimmer is going to rip it off my leg.


After setting up my transition area, I walked down the boat ramp to check out the lake. The water temp was somewhere around 72-75 degrees and extremely clear. I had read that the lake was at about 73% capacity. The boat ramp extended well into the water so there was no muck or weeds to contend with like at our normal Camanche swimming hole. 

I walked back up the hill to double check my transition area and to put on my wetsuit. The guy racked next to me was out on his bike warming up and another guy had just grabbed his bike to go out for a ride. It was around 7:10am at that time and the race was supposed to start at 7:30. I slipped on my wetsuit and grabbed my cap and goggles. Nobody seemed too worried about the start.

Beautiful morning at Lake Camanche


I walked back down the ramp and into the lake. The water felt a bit chilly as I splashed it on to my bare arms. There were plenty of people without wetsuits, however, that said the water felt great. I swam around a bit and then went to stand at the start with the rest of the competitors. Since this race is small, there was only one wave, men and women together. I worked my way back a bit so as not to be in the front. I had no desire to have a bunch of guys swimming over the top of me.

As we stood there waiting for the start, there was a lot of chatter about the distance of the buoys. The first buoy didn’t seem that far. The second buoy looked about the same distance as the start to the first buoy. The third buoy seemed like it was way, way far away from the second buoy. The lady standing next to me decide to tell the announcer that the course looked longer than 1,500m.  “It’s not” was his reply and then he added that it may even be a bit shorter.

"Look how far the buoys are!" ACRA Photo

I’m not sure if this lady was talking to someone she knew or if she was just thinking out loud but she then says “Doesn’t matter to me. I could swim all day.” Nervous swimmers continued to discuss the distance of the third buoy. The lady then says “Well, a longer swim is to my advantage.” Ok, we get it, you’re a good swimmer.

We were given final instructions to swim to the left of the buoys and then we were off. Although it was a small event, the start was quite chaotic for the first few minutes. I was pleased that I remained calm during all the initial bumping and slapping. Eventually things thinned out and I got into a nice easy rhythm.  (One of these days I plan on actually “racing” during the swim portion! LOL).

Swin course

In no time at all, I was at the first buoy. I made a slight right and kept swimming. As I was going along, I would see columns of tiny bubbles. My initial thought was that it was bubbles from the swimmer in front of me. No, not bubbles from the swimmer in front because there was no swimmer close enough. The next time I came across the bubbles I realized that they were coming the depths of the lake…and it wasn’t like it was a single column of bubbles, the columns were at least 6” in diameter. My next thought was “OMG! What is down there making those bubbles!”
Eventually I came to the second buoy and was no longer concerned with the mystery bubbles. After I turned at the second buoy, I looked up to site the third and could not see it. I put my down and swam a bit more. I could see a couple of competitors about 10 yards in front of me, but I could not see that darned third buoy. I continued to play “follow the leader” and hoped that they could see the buoy. Finally the third buoy came into site but I had a bad feeling that I wasn’t swimming towards it.

A guy in a kayak was paddling several yards to my left (there was a lot of people providing water safety at this event which was nice). I decided that I would use him as a guide and as long as I kept the distance between us the same, I was headed in the right direction. In the back of my mind I was concerned that I had a kayak basically following me. Was I last? Did I appear to be struggling? Ugh…maybe I should have been swimming more than once or twice a week.

NOTE: It would have been helpful to have some additional buoys strictly for sighting. 

I made it to the third buoy and turned to go home. At this point, there was a slight chop in the water that seemed to be coming from my right. This was fine with me because I breathe to my left. Even though the chop was very slight, it still seemed to come around and smack me in the face. I would look up to site and wouldn’t see any kind of waves that would be doing this, but it persisted all the way back to the boat ramp. 

I came up to sight and did a little breast stroke. I could see the carpeted strip running up the ramp and tried to get my bearings. Another volunteer in a kayak encouraged me to "keep going straight, you’re almost there.” The exit point was between two docks, so all I needed to do was aim for the middle. It wasn’t until I got closer that I realized that I had over shot it a bit and had to make left turn to correct myself.

I got out of the water and HS was there to cheer for me. I started walking up the ramp and immediately felt the fatigue in my legs.  My CIM training miles have been significantly greater than last year at this same time, and I could definitely feel the miles at that moment. I saw a course photographer so I started to run (I don’t want any pics of me walking! LOL). Once I got past her, I started walking again.


As soon as I exited the water, I pressed a button on my Garmin. I had multisport set and I was prepared to capture all of my race data. Unfortunately, I pressed the Start/Stop button and not the Lap button. So instead of advancing my watch from swim to transition I just stopped the timing. I didn’t realize my mistake until after the race :-(

Ready to roll!

I made my way to my bike and was quickly into my cycling gear. I had brought a towel and some water to wash my feet, but it wasn’t necessary because the ramp and transition area were very clean. I grabbed a quick drink of water and was on my way out to the bike course.

Headed out on a familiar course.


As I left transition and started to pedal, the fatigue in my legs was even more apparent. My first thought was “You should have been riding more” followed by “This is what you get for running so much”. I reached down and grabbed my UCAN snack bar hoping that it would give me a little energy boost for the ride.

Since I am familiar with riding around Camanche, I was prepared for the short climb from the lake. My plan was to take it easy and spin my way up the hill. Almost immediately I was passed by a guy pedaling his bike like he was riding through sand. He must have had it in a very high gear. Just watching him was making me tired. With every pedal stroke he would push and pull against his handlebars. I could see him fight his way up the hill grinding and grinding away. As we neared the top, I started to catch him, but he retained his lead for a while longer.

Route data provided by event organizers.

Not too much further down the road, I caught and passed the struggler. He was still riding the same way and I couldn’t imagine trying to do the entire ride like that. If I had to put that much energy into riding I don't think I'd ever get back on my bike.

The first several miles through Camanche Village was the only part that I had never explored on two wheels. It was basically a meandering ride through a neighborhood with several rolling hills thrown in for good measure. After exiting Camanche Village, the route took a familiar turn. I knew every hill that was coming my way and I did the best to pace myself so I would have something left for the run.

There are a couple of good climbs on Camanche Parkway N and I was hoping I would have enough left to make it to the top. To my delight, I made it and didn't feel too bad. Thankfully, however, the ride ends with one long speedy (and smooth) descent down to transition so your legs get a couple of minutes to recover.


I came in to transition, racked my bike, and took off my cycling gear. I had placed my running socks in my shoes so I would have the right sock for the right foot. Since it was a trail run, I had opted to run in my Pearl Izumi trail socks. These are a favorite of mine, even when I’m not on a trail, and they are a must have if you want to keep out stickers, rocks and dirt. In fact, I had won this pair of socks at a Fleet Feet Crazy 8 race at Camanche several years ago so I thought it was appropriate to wear them at this race.

Unfortunately, my feet were a little sweaty from the ride. I went to slip on my right sock and it stuck to my foot and wouldn’t slide on. I tried again and it wasn’t getting better. “Screw it!” I’ll just run without socks. I clipped on my race belt, put my cap on my head and was ready to run. Now, which way do I go?

Fiddling with my Garmin


I remember the very first triathlon I ever did, the 2012 Golden State Super Sprint Triathlon. One of the pre-race things Coach +James did was to take us on a mock run out of transition and out on to the run course. It seemed silly at the time, the group of us running around the parking lot with James pointing out where we needed to go but I wish I would have done that today.

As I started to leave transition a volunteer had to point me in the right direction. The run exit was where the swim entrance was. However, I wasn’t in much better shape after I left the transition area. Somebody said to follow the arrows. I looked down and while the arrows clearly marked the course, it seemed like I was running in the wrong direction. The arrows took you out and around the transition and registration area and then out towards the China Gulch Trail.

Side Note...

As I mentioned before, I’m in the middle of training for the California International Marathon. My main focus has been running. HS even bought me a treadmill so I could run in the morning without having to run around the block in the dark...mile after mile. One of the features of my new treadmill is iFit. You can program routes using Google maps and the treadmill will adjust the incline as you run. I programmed the run portion of this triathlon so I would at least know what to expect. Let me just say that the inclines on the treadmill did not do the actual hills justice.

This is how the out and back course looks on my treadmill

One unstated goal of mine was to run up every hill. Unfortunately, I did not reach that goal today. All in all, I would say that this was one of my best trail runs but I did end up walking some of the steeper hills. I just didn’t have it in my legs.  

Back to the Run

The trail is mostly a gravel road. There is a short section of paved road as you make your way from transition to the actual trail, but that’s it. After I got past the parking lot there was a cattle gate across the road. At first glance, I couldn’t see a path around it and the gate appeared closed. As I got closer I saw a man gate with a sign that said to keep closed. It was open when I got to it, but I shut it behind me just in case...don't want any cattle escaping. 

I glanced at my watch and saw that I was less than two hours into the race. I was starting to feel a little parched and hoped that an aid station was close. Most of the trail is in the sun and the day was already starting to heat up. When I came to the first aid station I saw the chalk markings on the ground showing that this was the turn-around for the 5k of the sprint triathlon. I assumed this meant that I wouldn’t see another aid station until the 10k turn-around.

NOTE: Next time I do this race, I might bring along a handheld water bottle on the run.

I grabbed a glass of water and took a gulp. Bad move. The water was ICE cold (which is a good thing) but I wasn’t expecting it to be that cold. When the cold water hit my throat I coughed or choked or something but ended up with water going down the wrong pipe. I wanted to drink some more, but my coughing prevented it. I tossed my cup and started running again.

Throughout the run, I had to stop to tie my shoes three times. Now, I can accept stopping twice…once for each foot, but three times??? Come on Tracy. Learn to tie your shoes correctly or get some more bungee laces!

Eventually I started seeing Olympic distance racers headed in the opposite direction. I had to be getting close to the turn-around. As I got nearer, I started counting the number of females. One, two…there has to be more in front of me. Three. Ok, out of the top contenders. After the turn I noted another female not too far behind me. She seemed to be running strong. About a mile down the trail, she passed me. Her run appeared effortless to me. I wasn’t passed again the rest of the way.

I glanced at my Garmin and saw that I was roughly 2:57 into the race and the sound of the announcer’s voice told me I was close to the finish. If I hustled a bit, I might be able to slip in under three hours. I had no idea if I was going to have to circle the parking lot again or not, so I just ran. As I neared the parking lot that I had to circumvent about an hour ago, I realized that all I had to do was turned left and then run DOWNHILL (YAY!!!) all the way to the finish. As I started to make my descent down to the finish line I felt like I was screaming fast. It was the best way to finish a race and HS got some good pictures of me too!

Best sprint to the finish ever!!


HS came around to the finish line as they removed my chip. My watched was stopped at 3:00 flat. “I think I broke three hours”, I told him. HS went around to the clock and said it shows 3:04. Hmmm…how could that be? I looked down at my watch and it still showed the swimmer. O-M-G!!! This is when I realized what I did coming out of the swim. I stopped the watch and then restarted it coming out of transition on to my bike. I never advanced past the swim but I did manage to stop the watch for roughly 3 minutes in transition. Live and learn…AGAIN!

Post Race

As we waited for the awards, I decided I had enough time to clean up my transition area and load up my gear in the truck.

Done for the day and ready to go home

The award process went pretty quick...probably due to the fact that the awards were in ten year blocks instead of five year blocks like they are at other triathlon events. This made me a little nervous. I was 5th overall but what if all the other women were in the 40-49 group? I anxiously awaited the results. First and third overall were in the 20-29 age group. Whew! I ended up 3rd in the 40-49 group but took solace in the fact that first and second place were 41 and 42. As it turns out, I was the oldest woman in our age group :-)

Reflecting back on this race, it was truly enjoyable. I would definitely come back and do this race again and I am hoping that my Central Valley Triathlon Club teammates will join me :-) If I could do anything differently, I think I would actually train for this race and make it more of a priority. For those of us in the Stockton/Lodi area, this is probably the closest triathlon around and we have the unique opportunity to train on the course!


Swim - 32:07.5 At first I wasn't very happy with my swim time, but based on the distance I could extrapolate from my Garmin data, I swam about 1,800 yards. On top of that, the timing mat was at the top of the boat ramp, so there was a little bit of walking included in that

T1 - 1:03.9 Not bad.

Bike - 1:20:42.6 (18.3 mph) I was hoping to average 18.5 mph but am still very happy with my results. It gives me something to shoot for next time :-)

T2 - 1:13.2 

Run - 1:08:28.4 Ok, this is a bit slower than I would have liked, but since I didn't have any experience on this run course (beside my virtual run) any desired pace was just a wishful guess. As with the bike, I now have something to shoot for next time.

Overall - 3:03:35.6 As we drove to the race, HS asked how long I thought it would take me. I replied about three hours. I guess you can't get much closer than this. Although I wish it was three minutes under the three hour mark instead of three minutes over. Oh time ;-)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

19th Annual Granite Bay Triathlon - Race Report

This race report is the tale of two sisters. I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to do this race two weeks following IRONMAN Vineman. I was afraid of getting a cramp during the swim or being too tired on the ride or run. Ultimately, because my club was doing the race, I decided to sign up. I figured I would do my best and just try to relax and have fun with my Central Valley Triathlon Club teammates.

My younger sister woke up on race morning and thought “Yeah, I think I’ll go do that race today.” Mind you, she hasn’t even been doing any kind of triathlon training except for riding her bike to work and maybe some running. I don’t think she has been swimming at all, unless you count going to Wake Island Waterpark. Obviously, she is the daring one in the family.


I decided to start my day the same way I did before Vineman…avocado on toast with some coffee followed by chia fresca about an hour before race start. I got up before my alarm and fixed my breakfast and filled the bladder on my bike with ice water and a couple of Nuun tablets. Everything seemed ready to go, so I went back to my room to eat and watch TV. As I sat there eating, I couldn’t figure out why my breakfast tasted so weird. The only change I had made was to use an English muffin in lieu of sour dough bread.

I finished the muffin but decided I was still a little hungry, so I went back to the kitchen to toast another muffin. This time, I decided to just put strawberry jam on it because something must be up with the avocado. As I grabbed the package, I noticed a label on the right side that said “Oatmeal and Cinnamon Flavor”. Ugh! No wonder it tasted like crap! I grabbed the package because it said double protein or something like that, I didn’t see the flavor. Who make’s flavored English muffins? (You can tell I don’t buy these often LOL).


As my sister and I walked to the swim start, one of the race official let us know that there was a problem with the GPS when they set up the course, so they moved the start farther out. I swam over to the new start and my sis walked with her man on the shore. The start was delayed a few minutes but eventually the first wave of men took off.

Trisha’s man was in the next wave and she was a nervous wreck. She was worried that an injury her guy got at Wake Island was going to make it hard for him to swim. As the orange caps moved farther away from the shore, I told her not to worry because he was wearing a wetsuit and at the very least could float. She on the other had was not wearing a wetsuit.

Who is the crazy chick without a wet suit?

“Where is your wetsuit?” I asked her, quite perplexed because I could not imagine not having my neoprene safety blanket. “I couldn’t find it” was her answer. So, not only does she wake up and decide to do a triathlon she hadn’t trained for, but she was going to do the swim sans wetsuit! She is so much braver than I am! LOL

Finally it was our turn to line up. We opted for the second row because we didn’t want to get run over by faster swimmers. When the buzzer sounded, we dove in, and that was the last I saw of her until the bike course. I quickly found myself battling for position and having to fight my way through a group of swimmers. Eventually things calmed down and I found some open water. All in all, the swim felt good.

Crazy girl with no wetsuit done

Another swim done


All I can say is that it is a long way from the water to transition. I heard different distances tossed about, but I think it was at least a 1/4 mile. The good news it that they covered up the larger rocks that usually dotted the beach with patches of sand.

Swim - Run - Bike - Run

As I headed out of T1, I could feel the fatigue in my legs. Although I felt relatively good after finishing IRONMAN Vineman just two weeks prior, once I started pedaling, I knew I wasn't 100%. The first loop went OK and I kept my eye out for my Central Valley Triathlon team mates. However, I was more concerned with seeing my sister and knowing that she got out of the lake OK (not that I doubted she would, I just wanted that peace of mind).

On the second loop, I was really starting to feel the fatigue in my legs, but I kept on pedaling. The course is fairly technical, so I just tried to ride the best I could and not crash. About half way into the second loop, I did a quick down-shift and dropped my chain. I slowed and tried to get the chain back on while moving. I was missing something during this process and ended up pulling over to manually put the chain back on.

I feel like I'm on safari
It seemed to take forever! +James passed me going the other direction and asked if I was able to get it back on, I muttered "No!" under my breath because the last thing I wanted James to do was mess up his own race. He has played the knight on shining armor on plenty of occasions to damsels in distress, I didn't want him doing that for me. Eventually I was able to pry the chain out and get it back where it needed to go. I was mad that it took so long, but I knew that there was nothing I could do about that now except to finish my race as planned.

As I neared the end of the bike, I finally saw my crazy sister (ok, that's it...that's her new nickname...MCS "My Crazy Sister"). So anyway, I see MCS and her man and they are riding side by side apparently having the time of their lives. Me on the other hand, I was pissed off about my chain and trying to coax and bit of energy out of my legs. Ugh! I waved and them and pedaled on towards transition.


For some unknown reason, I unclipped my left foot first as I coasted to the dismount line. I'm not sure why I did this, but I quickly realized that I was off balance and had to really concentrate in order not to lean over to my right side as I would have normally done. Thankfully, I was able to dismount my bike without falling over.

Still upright!


My goal for the run was to get through it with as little as walking as possible. I tried not to focus on other runners as they passed me and reminded myself to run my own race. Actually, for a trail run, it went fairly well. Only in some of the really steep sections did I end up walking. At about mile four the trail back in comes within yards of the trail headed out. I saw a woman on her way out (probably mile 2 for her), turn and start to head back to the finish ahead of me. Before fully merging on the trail to the finish line, she turned and spotted me. She quickly made a 180 and headed back out on the course. I was blown away that she could have actually been trying to cheat.


MCS finishing!

Post Race

The award process seemed to jump all over the place. I was fairly certain that my age group was going to be a while, so I collected my gear and loaded it into the truck. Eventually, they neared my age group and I knew that I had placed 2nd in my age group. I wandered over to the water jugs to get another drink because I was still feeling extremely thirsty. All of a sudden I hear MCS yell "Tracy!" I rush over to the podium thinking that she was calling me because I was missing my award. Nope, not it at all. She was calling me because she had placed 2nd in her age group!!! Way to go MCS!!!

"Who does No. 2 work for?" ~ Austin Powers

After everyone had collected their awards and packed up their stuff, we decided to grab some lunch in Folsom. As sat around eating and chatting, I mentioned that I was considering IRONMAN Cozumel in 2017 for my 50th b-day. MCS says "I'm there!" I asked "Will you race it with me?" MCS answered, "I'll do the half." I sadly informed her that there was no half at that time, only a full. "I'm not doing a full," she says, "but I'm there!" What can I say...I love my crazy sister. Maybe she'll wake up in Cozumel in 2017 and feel like racing!

#endureandenjoy #pearlizumitrichampion #tbfracing

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

IRONMAN Vineman 2016 - Race Report

Before you start reading this race report and get to the part about all the pain and suffering on the run, look at the photos. For the most part, I am loving every minute of this experience (except for the run LOL). As soon as I crossed the finish line, three years of dreaming and training were realized. I cannot explain the joy I experienced at this moment. All I can tell you is that, if you dare to entertain the idea of doing a 70.3 or 140.6 race, you can do it! Endure and enjoy!!!

Quick Overview

  • January through March: Aerobic base training (tried to keep my HR below 135)
  • April 4 through July 24: Average of 13.5 hours of training per week

The Numbers
             2016            2015
Swim 1:09:30 1:14:01
T1 0:04:07 0:03:13
Bike 6:10:38 6:18:02
T2 0:03:58 0:05:15
Run 4:58:26 4:50:14
Overall 12:26:39 12:30:45

Injury Report
  • All toe nails in the same basic condition as they were before the start of the race BIG WIN!
  • Knot on my forehead about the size of a quarter. I think the padding on my helmet shifted so the plastic rubbed on my head. BOO!
  • One small raw spot on the top of my left big toe...about the size of a peppercorn WIN!
  • One small raw spot on the back of my neck from my wetsuit...smallest spot in over a year WIN!
That's it...140.6 miles and still in pretty good shape (except for my gut).


I had procrastinated booking a place for race weekend. When I finally got up the nerve to look on, our usual spot was unavailable. I found a spot in Monte Rio instead that was considerably cheaper than our regular Guerneville location (the owners in Guerneville had also jacked up the price...probably because they found out IRONMAN was in town).

Cabin "C"
The Monte Rio spot looked nice, was close to the river,  and was about five miles from the race start. I decided to book it for Thursday through Sunday and enjoy an extra day in the area before the race. I am so glad I booked that extra day...I would have been in trouble if I didn't!

Great place to kick back and wait :-)
As it turns out, I needed that extra day. All athletes were required to check in on Wednesday or Thursday and to attend an athlete briefing on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Friday was also the day designated for run gear and bike drop-off.


HS and I left Stockton Thursday morning and got to Windsor about 1pm. The check-in process was well organized and went fairly quickly. When you exit the building, they funnel you into the IRONMAN store so you can start spending any money you may have left from this endeavor.

Number relation to Zipp ;-)
The store was twice as busy as registration, so we just continued on through and out into the IRONMAN village. The village had the standard triathlon type vendor type displays and there was plenty to see. Rudy had a great sale but didn't have my size in the color I wanted. I got some free dog food samples and checked out a TREK Speed Concept that was on display (HS told me I could buy ANY bike I wanted). Since it was warm, I made my way to the shade and sat down to wait until the gym opened for the athlete briefing.

The meeting was well attended, and although I had seen some race info claiming that the meeting was mandatory, nobody was stamping hands or anything like that. Most of the info was the same as last year without the video. They went over certain details of the course and how the transitions were going to work. Everything was fairly straightforward but I was a little worried about the penalty cards and subsequent time-outs.

Post check-in lunch at KC's American Kitchen in Windsor...Coach K said
I could have a glass of wine to relax (PS: Great food too!)

Relaxing after a stressful afternoon at registration and a huge
glass of chardonnay

I thought that dropping off running gear was anxiety inducing. Dropping off my bike and bike gear was way worse! As you bring your bike into T1, an IRONMAN official takes a picture of it and then directs you how to place your bike on the rack. I walked down my designated row until I came to my race number and placed my bike facing the river as instructed. At least I wouldn't have to put up with some last minute athlete squeezing in and moving people's gear around like last year ;-)

First pre-race bike drop off
PS: I'm sporting my Barb's Race shirt...this race needs to be resurrected!

Smile for the camera, Beast.
After racking my bike, I walked to drop off my bike gear bag. I found my row and walked to where my race number would be. My OCD tendencies kicked in so I opened the bag and made my 10th or 11th gear check that day...two shoes, one helmet, glasses in their case (attached to the inside of my helmet so they didn't get stepped on inadvertently), and last but not least, one Clif Bar. It didn't seem like enough for 112 miles and I reminded myself that I would have more food to add to the bike in the morning.

NOTE: Some athletes had bottles on their bikes with hydration in them at drop off! Gross!! I can only imagine the petri dish of crap they will have growing after sitting in the hot summer sun for an afternoon! Yuck!

Ok bike gear...don't go anywhere

Race Day Morning

I woke before my alarm and started getting ready.

Step 1 - Get dressed. I pulled out my Pearl Izumi tri kit. I am so proud to be able to wear this and to be part of the Pearl Izumi Tri Champions team. On top of that, I had trained in this outfit, I had raced in this outfit, I love this outfit and I knew it was going to get me though the day without any problems.

Pre-race selfie
Step 2 - Put on Tri Tats. The instructions on the back of the tri tats were so small that I had a hard time reading them. Other than how to put them on, there was nothing telling me where to put them, so I guessed. I put my age on my left leg and my race numbers on my upper arms. There was a third set of race numbers that I had no idea what to do with, so I slipped them back in the envelope.

Step 3 - Eat breakfast. I started a pot of coffee and put a couple of pieces of sour dough bread in the toaster. Last year, eggs on toast was my go-to race day breakfast, but I have gotten quite lazy this year and have found avocado on toast to be an acceptable substitute that requires very little cooking.

Step 4 - Double check. Here I go again...time to check and double check. I opened my morning gear bag and spotted my timing chip. Oops! That should be on my ankle.  I strapped it on my left leg and checked the fit. It felt much better than some I have worn in previous races (Ones that feel like they are falling off the entire swim!) Ok, back to the inventory...wetsuit, swim cap with number, goggles, extra pair of goggles just in case, Gatorade for the bike, Honey Stinger waffles, coconut strips, Skittles, Sport Legs. Check. Check. Check

Step 5 - Finish up. My final step was putting my hair in a pony tail, applying plenty of sunscreen to all exposed areas (including my part because I would be wearing a visor on the run), coating the back of my neck and hairline with copious amounts of Glide so my wetsuit would not rub me raw, and putting on my flip flops. That was it. Time to walk out the door. I hesitated and contemplated bringing a pair of socks for the ride. Nope...most of my training was without socks, I don't need them today.

HS and I got in the truck and drove to the river a little after 5am. When we arrived in Guerneville about 10 minutes later, the town was crawling with athletes in the early morning darkness. Parking was difficult to find, so I asked HS to let me out so I could head to T1. I would have gone nuts if I had to sit in the truck any longer. I grabbed my gear bag and the bike pump and started my solitary walk.

Pre-swim warmup!

Happy to see a familiar face :-)


In 2015, the Vineman swim was two loops and was seeded according to age group. This year, the swim was one loop and the athletes were required to self seed based on estimated finish time. I was prepared to give up some time on the swim due to the number of athletes in the water. I estimated that there would be twice as many swimmers. In my mind, this meant twice as many people hitting and kicking me. I prefer to hang back and let the people that want to fight their way through the water go ahead.

A sea of green and pink caps. Where's Waldo?
Last year my swim time was 1:14. I seeded myself in the 1:10 to 1:20 group and stayed towards the back. There were a lot of big guys in that group and I wanted them in front of me. The race started at 6:45am, but I don't think I actually entered the water until about 7:05am. The timing mat was at the edge of the river and once an athlete crossed the mat, their official time would start. I had to wade out a few yards until the water was deep enough to swim.  This year, after I pressed start on my Garmin, I locked the keys so I wouldn't have to worry about anything getting screwed up!

Once I got going, I quickly figured out that a lot of the men folk in the water were a little more optimistic about how fast they were going to swim. I would spend a few minutes slapping big feet in front of me and then move past them. Oddly enough, even though this event was much bigger than last year, I had less people hitting and kicking me in the swim. Once I moved past a group of slower swimmers, there would be a nice open space and then a few minutes later, I would come across another group.

The swim seemed magical. I don't know that it is about swimming in that river, but it is one of my favorite places to swim. As I swam past the original turn, things began to feel effortless. I was sure I was swimming slower than normal, but I didn't care. The river was beautiful as it made a slight bend to the right. Eventually the water curved left and I knew I was coming to the turn. I could not believe that I was almost half way finished and I still felt great.

As I neared the turn buoy, I swam towards the outside to avoid the swimmers trying to save seconds by taking the inside. It wasn't worth it because it seemed like once a swimmer got around 2/3 of the buoy they would stand up and block the other swimmers. I continued on with the process of moving past a group and then into an open space. When things got too shallow to swim I would do porpoise/dolphin (it's much quicker than walking) being careful not to dive too deep and bottom out.

At one point I found myself trying to negotiate a path around two male swimmers. Every time I tried to move left or right, they seemed to read my mind and block my path. Eventually, I decided to try and "blast" through the middle. It worked. Unfortunately, it also caused my right foot to twinge and set off a pre-cramp panic inside my head. No! No! No! Please don't cramp. I forced myself to relax and I stopped any kind of movement with that foot. Thankfully, the potential cramp passed and I was able to get back to the job of swimming.

At one shallow point, in between my porpoise/dolphin move, I heard a male swimmer ask someone if that was the second bridge up ahead (meaning the second bridge we passed after the start). I stood up and walked a bit while I stared at the bridge. That is the second bridge. I'm almost done. Woo hoo!

I couldn't believe it. I dove in and started swimming again. Minutes later, I mashed my hand into someone's really soft rear end. Oops, sorry! I thought I had accidentally molested a female swimmer, but as I moved to the right, I caught a glimpse of a green cap. My only thought was "Dude! You need to firm up those cheeks!"

It was a short distance from the second bridge to the first. As I passed the first bridge, I looked up to sight and saw the swim exit. I was amazed that the swim was over already. As soon as things were shallow enough, I stood up and made my way to the bank taking a moment to unlock the keys on my Garmin and press the [Lap] button. My watch read 1:09:18. No freakin' way! I had planned to swim about a 1:20:00. I was certain I would add time to last year, not take time off. I was pumped and I ran all the way to the changing tent!

Total game face!

Feeling great and running to my gear bag!

An IRONMAN event is big time. Everyone gets treated like a pro.  As I ran out of the river, I grabbed my swim to bike bag and ran up the bank to the wetsuit strippers. There were plenty of volunteers (Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!). I unzipped my wetsuit, pulled it down around my hips, flopped on the ground, and put my legs up. My suit was off in seconds. I stood up, took my wetsuit, thanked the volunteer and headed for the changing tent.

Here's a pic of the inside of the changing tent (taken at bike drop off). It was muggy
and dark on race morning.
The tent was a little on the dark side and the ground was pretty muddy...probably from all of the wet swimmers changing. I found an open chair and sat down and started going through my bag. I didn't have shoes, helmet, glasses, and a Clif Bar. A volunteer came over to me and asked what she could do. I asked if there was a way I could clean off my feet and she handed me a wipe. As I cleaned the bottoms of my feet and put my shoes on, the volunteer packed up my stuff and handed me my bag.

I dropped the bag off on my way out of the tent and went to find my bike.

Look for the green tape.
I made a mental note on bike drop off that my row was the only one that had green tape on the carpet. Thankfully it was still there on race day.  It screamed "Tracy, turn left here!"

Beast! I'm coming for you!!!

I walked up the short steep hill leaving the river and mounted my bike. I was almost to the main road when I remembered to advance my Garmin to the bike section of the race. I pressed the button and looked down at my watch...there was the cyclist icon. Success! Things are going so much better than last year!

I love this really makes me look like I'm going fast!
Out on River Rd. there were hundreds of riders, It was hard to keep the proper spacing and I worried about a course marshall driving by and giving everyone a penalty. I did what I could to maintain a legal distance.

Briefly bunched up...I was in the middle of a pass ;-)
My first loop was fairly uneventful. I rode at my desired pace. I ate on time and executed flawless hydration top-offs at each aid station. I couldn't ask for more. On the first climb up Chalk Hill, I ate a GU in an effort to replenish the glycogen in my fatiguing muscles. 

I love my bike!

There was a lady who had "MONICA" on the back of her kit. We traded spots back and forth throughout the first loop. She was in the 40-44 age group, so I really didn't care if she passed me. At the end of the first loop, I saw her pull over and grab her special needs bag. I was feeling a little un-special because I couldn't think of anything I needed in my bag and I really didn't want to stop.

Hey guys! Guess what? I'm done with my first loop!
The best part of any race is seeing your family and friends!!

On my second loop I was finally passed by my first course marshall. Thankfully, I was well behind the group in front of me that seemed to have mistakenly thought they were in the Tour de France. The marshall's motorcycle pulled up next to them and lingered for a while. I think he was busy handing out penalties.

So focused, but loving it!
The rest of the second loop went as planned, except for one small mistake. At one aid station I decide to unload some trash in my bag. I reached down, grabbed what I thought was only a bunch of Honey Stinger wrappers and tossed them. Unfortunately, I tossed my second Chalk Hill GU as well! Bummer. Luckily I still had some Skittles left over to substitute.

The rest of the ride went as well as could be expected. However, the wind really started to pick up on the second look and it reminded me of my windy interval rides from Stockton to Thornton.


T2 was out in the field of Windsor High School, or maybe it was part of Keiser Park, either way, it seemed barren and dry. I was happy to finally get off my bike.

T2 bag drop off on Friday afternoon (there was a rose at the end
of my row)
I handed my bike to a volunteer and thanked them. They asked if I needed anything off the bike and I replied "No."  Quite frankly, I didn't want to look at my bike for a while. I grabbed my run gear bag (right where I left it) and headed towards the tent.

The T2 changing tent was noticeably more empty than the T1 changing tent. I plopped in a chair and dropped my bag. Two volunteers rushed over to help me. I started pulling stuff out of my bag and taking off my bike gear. This time I opted for socks and as I changed, I asked if a volunteer could fill up my hand held bottle with water. As she hurried off to take care of my hydration, another volunteer asked if I would like some sunscreen. I said "Yes" and she started coating my shoulders.

I asked if she could get the back of my neck too. She obliged. However, as soon as the sunscreen hit my neck I could feel it burning and I knew I was either burned from the sun or raw from my wetsuit. Too late now...gotta keep moving. I thanked the volunteers. They stuffed my bike gear into the bag and I headed out of the tent.


While the first two disciplines went as planned, the third and toughest for me, the run, was a disappointment. On most of my training runs I carried a water bottle. I decided that this year I would carry one during the race so I could cut down on the amount of time I spent at the aid stations. Another thing that I did on my training runs was start off with some C4. I did this partly to wake up for my 4am L-O-N-G runs, but also for a boost of energy. I decided that I would put ½ a serving into my water bottle so I would get a boost for the start of the run.

Karen snapped this pic of me headed out on the run!

I made my way out through the park and on to the road. My first couple of miles were around my goal pace, but then again, there was a monster downhill to start the run, so I’m sure that helped. I sipped on my C4 and plodded along. There was a lot more sun on this course compared to last year’s route and I missed the shade of the trees. I decided to take two Endurolytes to be on the safe side because I didn’t want a repeat of the Auburn Triathlon.  While I didn’t have to grab something to drink at the aid stations, I did get ice to put down my top and I helped myself to ½ a banana and some potato chips.

Around mile 10, I started to experience some stomach discomfort. I had an ulcer in my late 20’s or early 30’s and all I can say is that the pain that struck me felt like that. My stomach was knotted up and I felt a sharp, burning pain. Part of me wanted to stop and puke, part of me didn’t want to go there (even though if I did, I could tell everyone that I definitely left it all on the course).

I started adding water to my bottle at the aid stations and chewing on some of the ice I had been collecting. Nothing seemed to work. My slow run became a definite run/walk. I cajoled myself into running on down hills, but even then, the pain was making it difficult. On my second loop, I saw a runner bent over on the side of the road. In my head I pleaded with her not to puke. If she started, I was going to be joining her. I turned my head so I wouldn’t see her vomit and shuffled past.


Speaking of loops, let me touch on that briefly. As most of you know, I’m not opposed to loops. I find running in a loop oddly comforting. The loops on this course were not comforting and I found them to be quite annoying. Even if I didn’t have to run up the monster hill three times, I still would not like these loops. I saw a post on Facebook by Karyn Hoffman (a tremendous triathlete and runner) and she referred to part of the loop as “the maze”. This was a perfect description.

Worst loops ever!
At the end of each loop, you had to run around the perimeter of a parking lot in the park, back out on the street, back into the park, around the backside and then past the fork in the road reminding you that you needed to head back out on the course, back through the park, out on the street and around the parking lot. It was nice that you got to see lots of cheering fans (thank you Karen Messersmith for being there to cheer for me since my crew was out having DINNER! LOL), but the well wishes weren’t enough to make running through this park multiple times worth it.

I don't blame you guys...I wouldn't want to wait for me either! LOL

The Run Continued

In a quick post-race email, Coach K commented;
“From the outside looking in it looked like your day went according to plan with the exception of miles 13ish through 22?” 
He could not have been more right. While my distress started earlier than that, it may not have been reflected accurately in my times until later in the race.  At mile 11 I stopped to pee. I had been debating whether or not to try and go on the run, but decided against it given the amount of distance I still had to cover. I’m glad I stopped, because I really had to go and at that point I didn’t care if I screwed up my pace or not.

Back out on the course, I continued my run/walk. I was miserable and started questioning whether or not I even wanted the finisher’s medal. I was in so much pain that at one point I even considered going over to the ambulance at the side of the road and asking to be taken back to the finish. Ultimately, I knew I wanted the medal and I wanted to hear my name when I crossed the finish line. At that point, I started questioning my sanity. Really, Tracy? You’re going to put yourself through all of this suffering just for a medal and five little words? Really?

At the end of my second loop, I thought I would never see the top of the monster hill (This hill is so much more fun descending it on a bike!) It was a long miserable walk. Every once I a while I would muster up enough oomph to run for a few yards, but that was the best I could do. I even started walking downhill! I tried smiling when I saw the course photographers, but I’m not sure if they captured a forced smile or a grimace.

Yeah, that's a grimace :-/
Thankfully, at the start of the third loop, the temps started to cool. My stomach was still my biggest concern and I wondered if I was doing any kind of damage to myself. I had been avoiding food since my stomach problem started but I knew I had to get some sort of energy in me in order to finish the last loop. I decided to try eating another ½ of a banana at the first aid station and  then started taking sips of Coke at the following stations (Note: for the cost of this event, you think you would get real Coke and not something labeled “cola”…but I digress…).

Towards the end of an endurance race, being able to perform simple math becomes an issue for me. Throughout the run, I kept trying to figure out whether or not I was going to be able to PR (yes, even with all the pain, that was still in the back of my mind). At certain points, I would calculate that it was impossible. At other points, my calculations would look like I still had a chance. It wasn’t until the final turn with approximately 4 miles to go that my calculations pointed towards a PR by a very slim margin. I didn’t have much time to dilly dawdle.

One of the things I practiced this season was telling myself that a little discomfort was not the end of the world and that I wouldn’t die just because my legs were tired. I refocused and started to run. I kept telling myself to keep moving forward…just keep moving forward. My average pace for the last four miles was 10:48, 10:50, 11:10 (going up the monster hill one last time), 10:28 (almost there), and 9:49 (headed down the finish chute). The seven miles preceding the last 4.2 averaged around 12:30 per mile. Divine intervention is the only thing that I know that could have picked up my pace because it definitely wasn’t half a banana and some fake coke!

The last .2 miles, as I headed towards the finish line, were awesome. The chute was lined with fans. Children climbed the fence and stuck out their hands for a high-five. I made sure I left no outstretched hand untouched.

Free high-fives!
There was a male runner ahead of me. I kept some distance between us because I wanted to make sure that the announcer had plenty of time to get my name out (that’s what I came here for, right? LOL). I rounded the last corner and smiled when I saw the finish line. This was it! As I crossed the line I raised my arms and then immediately started looking for HS. He had to be there somewhere. I heard the announcer say “Tracy, you-are-an-IRONMAN!” and then heard a voice in the crowd calling “Tray!” I looked to the right and there was HS with James and Jessica. I was so relieved to see them.

The clock does not reflect my actual start time ;-)

I walked over to HS and let out an audible sob (listen for it in the video) and he placed my finisher’s medal around my neck. I can’t watch the video he took without shedding a tear. It was a momentous occasion for me and I couldn’t have done it without him!

This video made the entire race worth it!!! Thank you, honey!!!

Post Race

I stopped and posed for some pics with the IRONMAN screen behind me. Looking at the pictures now, you would never know the amount of pain I had endured to get to there…I was all smiles.  It was if the finish line had some sort of magical powers that could momentarily transport you to the happiest place on earth.

What suffering? I don't remember suffering!
A volunteer gave me my finisher’s shirt and asked if I was OK. I said I was fine, just a little emotional. She remarked that it was perfectly normal. I walked towards the exit and the volunteer ran up to me and told me that I dropped my hat. I looked at the hat and explained that my hat was still on my head. “No, she said, this is your new finisher’s hat!” I laughed, thanked her and made my way to HS.

As we walked to collect my bike and gear, HS proudly told me that he had bought me an IRONMAN outfit. He said he thought he got the right size but I could exchange it if I needed something different. All of a sudden the magic of the finish line vanished and I was back to being tired and in pain. “I don’t want anything IRONMAN!” were the embarrassingly ungrateful words out of my mouth. Here is a man that has put up with all my training hours, hung out for over half a day waiting for me to finish, and was thoughtful enough to buy me a GIFT and that is what I said. Ugh…God forgive me…I felt horrible.

We picked up my gear bags and bike. Beast was a hot mess. Gatorade had practically shellacked my aerobars. The top bag was open revealing a colorful mess of Skittles and coconut strips. I pushed the bike and HS carried the bags. The volunteer at the gate double checked to make sure we had the right stuff and we headed to the truck. Thankfully, HS had paid for parking so we didn’t have to go too far. I checked out the new IRONMAN cycling outfit he picked out and had to admit it was pretty cute (black and pink…how could it not be?).

On the drive back to the cabin, HS patiently listened to all of my war stories. We had about a 20-30 minute drive and I noticed that my stomach was still really hurting. Perhaps eating some real food would help? I asked if we could get pizza and he said we could get whatever I wanted. We pulled up to a pizza place in Guerneville but the “Pizza by the Slice” sign and the toothless woman out front made me reconsider eating there. I then suggested stopping by the taqueria I saw headed towards Monte Rio.

We parked across the street from the taqueria and I tucked my finisher’s medal in the center console as if it were made of precious metal and likely to be stolen (Hey! It’s precious metal to me!) Once we got inside the restaurant, I wanted to double over in pain. At that point, I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to eat. HS ordered a carnitas dinner and I opted for a bean, rice and cheese burrito. Thankfully, the food was ready within minutes and we were back on the road.

Precious "medal"
The first thing I did when we got back to the cabin was to take a bath. While I soaked, HS brought me a glass of wine. I took a couple of sips and my stomach was racked with pain. At that point, I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to eat. I got out of the tub, put on my pj's, and sat down to try and get some food in myself. I managed to eat about half the burrito, but it took some effort. I wrapped up the rest and put it in the fridge for later.  

Around 10:30pm HS said he thought we should go to bed. I laid down for about five minutes but was still so amped up that I could not sleep. On top of that, my stomach hurt so bad that rest was nearly impossible. That is when the mass evacuation started. I got out of bed and HS asked where I was going. “I have to go to the bathroom!” I replied as I hurried across the cabin. The rest of the night was like that…lay on the couch, get up and rush to the bathroom, lay back down, doze off briefly, get up and rush to the bathroom. I was lucky if I got 3 hours of sleep that night.

The next morning hunger and pain waged war inside me. I wanted to eat, but when I tried, the pain came back even worse. I managed to get a few more bites of cold burrito in me with a little diet 7-up, but that was the best I could do.  We packed up and decided to head home early. My stomach was still knotted up when we hit Stockton, but I forced down a turkey and avocado sandwich when I got home and managed a two hour nap before we had to pick up the dogs.

Something to consider from the cover of the cabin instructions ;-)
After we got home late Sunday morning, the pain was still lingering. Eating remained an effort and I was jealous when I saw the picture that Karyn posted of her and Scott’s post-race breakfast. I would have killed to have an appetite! Regardless of all of this suffering, I am glad I went through with it. I can’t explain why hearing those words were so important to me, but they were. The sense of accomplishment has made it all worth it.

What’s Next

Throughout this training season, HS and I have discussed what’s in store next. I’m not ruling out additional 140.6 mile races, I’m just taking a year or so off from that distance. I want to take some time doing races that bring joy back into the sport (although I have to admit, the feeling at and IRONMAN finish line is quite intoxicating). IRONMAN training is tough, not only for me, but for HS and I have to consider his feelings as well as my own.

Next year, I am going back to shorter distances with maybe a 70.3 thrown in for good measure ;-)