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Shurukian

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About Shurukian

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    The Address Book of Cybernations

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    Ibaran
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    The Bear Cavalry
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  1. Hello. I haven't provided an update in a while, so I'm going to do a short one now because I'm procrastinating doing real work. A week and a half ago I ran an ultramarathon (50k) at Lake Tahoe. It was gorgeous. It looked like this: It was fantastic and wonderful and I'm moving there again as soon as I can, much to certain people's likely chagrin. I have another ultra in another week and a half. I'm hoping to run 40 - 50 miles (65k - 80k), as it's a 12 hour challenge rather than a set distance. Two weeks after that race I have a back to back Sprint Triathlon and Half Ironman Triathlon (Sprint on Saturday, Half on Sunday) on a course that is supposed to be one of the hardest in the United States. This is part of the bike course at 34% grade: If you make it to the top without falling, they put your name on a brick in the road. Then after THAT race, I have a four part race over three days - a 4.3 trail run on Friday, a 5k and 10k on Saturday, and a half marathon on Sunday. And then finally, three weeks after that one, I have an ultramarathon (another 50k) in Kentucky with an insane amount of climbing. The course elevation map looks like this: There's my two second update. If this actually generates any interest, I'll put up race recaps after. Vicarious suffering FTW.
  2. You are, most certainly, correct. It is a very real issue, with a very distinct lack of understanding by those that have never felt it. One of the things I love, and generally turn to when I'm having a bad day, is Hyperbole and a Half's characterization of it. Part One Part Two Just to remind myself that it happens, it's okay to feel terrible as hell, and that those around me that are frustrating the !@#$ out of me mean well, but I just need to find my shriveled piece of corn.
  3. Damn. That sucks, Bilrow. Good luck with the treatment, I'm sure you'll kick ass.
  4. Oh man, that question. I think it's definitely still one every single one of us is asking! Haha. Congratulations on your project reaching a decade of play. It's definitely something to be quite proud of, these days.
  5. Thanks so much Kyriakos! That's a pretty crazy story. Detriot might be on my list because of how awesome the international portion looks. I'm assuming it's an awesome course?
  6. On Sunday, I ran the Philadelphia Marathon - my second marathon. Over the last few months, I've been trying to fight off the tendonitis I developed back in April, so I was sorely undertrained. As assumed by my unfortunate lack-of-training-ability, this race absolutely trashed me. Things fell apart that haven’t fallen apart in years, and things that I expected to fall apart (my feet, mainly) stayed blissfully perfect. I did manage to partially recover from this trashing before the race was over, which was an unexpected surprise. Anyway – Pre-race was fairly normal, for what was expected. Our group came out of the subway at around 5:45AM and made our way to the security checkpoints. They had increased security this year, and had a full perimiter around the start line. You had to go through checkpoints where you would be searched in order to get in. Jason, myself, my mom, and my dad got through with no problem - my hydration vest was searched, Jason’s backpack for our stuff (that my parents would be holding) was searched, my mother’s purse was searched, and my dad walked straight through because he didn’t have anything. For some reason though, they didn’t want to let my sister in over her tiny little Vera Bradley clutch that she had her phone and ID in. Luckily, one of the head guys there noticed she was with two runners, and told them just to let her through. …Okay then! We hung out for a bit and used the port-a-johns before the lines started, until it was time to head to the corrals. Jason was in the first corral after the elites, and I was in the very last corral to be sent off. As usual. We offered our ‘good luck’s and lined up in our corrals. After a delayed start, my corral was finally walked up to the start line around 7:45AM. They shot the starting pistol, and we were off! ….at our speedy 10 minute pace. Mile 1 was my ‘winging it mile’, and wing it I certainly did. I tried my best to just focus on what felt comfortable and not look at my watch or the mileage. I read all the signs I passed, checked out all the buildings, took note of all the flags – the things I don’t normally notice when I’m running the beginning of a race. Around a half mile (a freaking half mile!@#$%!!) my hip started hurting. My brain was screaming, ‘SERIOUSLY? A HALF MILE IN?!’. I wasn’t expecting to have to deal with hip pain until at least mile 13 or 14, so this was a bit of a pain. From that point on, I had to do my stupid crescent kick every mile or so to pop the ligaments in my hip back into the place they should be, where they wouldn’t hurt. Annoying. Other than my hip, miles 1-7 felt amazing. Sometime during this stretch, I ran my fastest mile, at 9:59 pace. The buildings and shops were so cool, and the crowds were awesome – the guys at mile 3-ish handing out the tissues were certainly my MVP’s of the race. I have never been happier to get a tissue. There were so many great race signs in this stretch, like ‘You’re running better than the government’ and ‘hurry up, the Kenyans are drinking your beer’. I passed so many awesome restaurants that Jason and I had been to, and was thinking about all the delicious food that we needed to come back and eat. By the end of mile three, I was trying to figure out pace and timing, since I was feeling so great other than my hip. Luckily, mile 4 came at a great time, and I remembered that I was simply focusing on having fun that day, and not PRing or finishing in any certain time. I spent all of mile 4 telling myself this whenever I’d pop pace or average times into my head, and eventually quashed those thoughts completely. This was a big thing for me, since normally, math is what keeps me going during races. But, it also keeps me distracted – distracted from my body, distracted from whatever hill I’m running on, distracted from the runners around me. I wanted to experience a race without being distracted, so no math (other than miles down and left) it was! This was an enormous help to me over the whole race, since I know I would have become extremely discouraged later in the course if I still had an ‘I need to do good’ goal in my mind. I focused instead on what was around me and saying thank you to every person that cheered for me. Miles 7-10 started rolling terrain on our trek from University City over through the Please Touch Museum area. I hit the hill at mile 7 and started my walk to the top, as I knew I didn’t need to be pounding up hills in my under-trained state with 19 miles to go. Somewhere along this stretch I heard my name and saw my friend Amy and her daughter Morgan cheering on the sidewalk. I was totally surprised! I waved, said hi, and kept heading up the hill, a little more pumped up than I was before. The downhill at mile 8 was awesome, but I couldn’t seem to get my legs to open up as much as I wanted to. This wasn’t much of a concern for me though, because we were running alongside the Philadelphia Zoo! I spent most of my time looking at the walls of the zoo hoping I’d catch a glimpse of an animal, and listening to all of the different noises that were coming from behind the wall. I passed a door that said “Rhino Enclosure”, and spent the next few minutes wondering what else was behind the wall next to me. Mile 9 brought the last big hill to walk, at which point we were at the highest point on the course (just under 150 feet – save your oxygen!) – the Please Touch Museum. They had some fun bands and drummers up top, which were awesome to run to as you headed around to the start of mile 10. While I was walking, I pulled my phone out to check Jason’s splits – he was doing amazing! I started getting excited for each time I could check my phone to see his tracking updates, and hoped I would see him on the out-and-back section on Kelly Drive. Just before mile 11, we made the turn to start heading back down Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard towards the Art Museum and passed a fantastic cheer station – trippy music, people in costume and drag dancing… It was super awesome. They seriously pumped me up and my pace quickened for the start of mile 11. By the time I hit mile 12, the wheels were starting to come off a little. My feet hurt, but not my tendons – just the beginnings of soreness from being on them for the time I had been so far. My legs were starting to feel heavy. My hip was getting worse. It was at this point that I realized I was soon going to hit the split for the marathon and half-marathon, and that I could tap-out half way if I wanted to. The second I thought it, I instantly told myself, ‘you can’t!’, because I had dedicated mile 13 to Jason, and I wanted to make sure I made it to the end of that mile. I walked up the hill to the Art Museum, and stayed to the left for the Marathoners, watching the half marathoners speed past me to their finish line. At the top of this little hill, I saw Amy and Morgan again! In that moment, I wasn’t quite sure how they got from University City to the Art Museum in that short amount of time (it wasn’t actually that short). I smiled for some pictures and headed on my way around the museum to the half marathon mark on Kelly Drive. I hit the half mark at 2:45:40 – not too shabby for me, considering I had walked some hills. I hoped that I’d be able to hold that kind of effort for the rest of the course, but (spoiler alert) that wasn’t in the cards, as I would soon find out. Shortly after the half way mark, I saw a bright orange and yellow shirt running towards me. It was Jason! He was running down mile 25. I yelled his name, and he saw me just as he was about to pass me. He cut across the course (sorry random guy he ran in front of!) to stop on the yellow line and give me a hug. As he hugged me, he said, “Can’t stay too long, I’m on track for a PR!” (personal record), to which I said something like, “OMGWHYAREYOUSTOPPINGRUNNOWGO!”. I was so, so, so excited to hear he was doing well, got a little emotional over it (oops), and ran-walked the rest of the mile to try and get myself back on track. I was really starting to feel the mileage. Just at the end of Boathouse Row, I heard my name again – it was another friend, Marty! He walked with me for a bit, and we talked about the rest of our runners. Once we hit the Marker for the returning side’s mile 25, Marty headed over to hang out on the curb, and I ran/walked my way through the rest of mile 13 and 14. 14 was much more walking than running. I started to get nervous. Mile 15 is when I crashed. And I crashed hard. I could only run for short sections. My other hip had started acting up. I would pop my left one, and the pain would come back within a quarter mile. My feet were sore. I tried to put it out of my mind and keep run/walking my way down the course. But by 16, I knew I couldn’t keep running. I was in too much pain. I sat down on the curb and tried to stretch my hips out. I got some relief from it, and decided to walk mile 16 (a gradual uphill) so I could try and loosen them up and not put too much uphill stress on them. I got to the top of the Falls Bridge, crossed it, and saw (what I thought would be) a blissful downhill on the other side. I started up into a run… and felt a horrendous pain in my left knee. My IT band. An issue that I haven’t had for almost two years. All I could think was, “Really, this too!?”. Luckily, I couldn’t feel it at all while I was walking. I speed walked the rest of the downhill, turned around, speed walked the uphill, and tried to run again over the bridge. The pain shot through my knee and I drastically limped. Nope. I realized that I had a lot of walking in my future. I spent the next four miles walking. Other than that short attempt at running near the falls bridge, I ended up walking all of miles 16-20. Instead of getting discouraged, I tried to look at the scenery around me and think about how close I was to the turn around. Once I turned around, I knew I’d be able to make it back, one way or another. I allowed myself to do some quick math and realized that even if I had to walk the whole rest of the course, I would still finish within the 7 hour cutoff time. I relaxed. Closing in on mile 18, a man caught up to me that had my same hydration vest on. Because of this fact, he decided that we were going to be best friends. This guy was a chatterbox on legs. I’m usually not a very chatty person in the first place, but at this point I was deep in the pain cave and did. not. want. to. talk. He told me all about his friends that were running, what he did for work (IT Implementations), the projects he had coming up, the conferences he had, the different companies he implemented systems in…. He wanted to tell me everything. He began noticing other people passing that were part of his running group, and he started talking to me as if I knew them. He seemed to point out people every quarter mile and tell me things like, “Bob’s test last week went great! Which is really fortunate for Susan”, while I had no idea who Bob, what this test even was, or why the hell it was so awesome for Susan. He let me know that the leader of his group had told him to train to 28 miles as a first-timer for the marathon. He had done it successfully, but had done something give out in his leg around mile 16, and now could not run without pain. He was content to walk the rest of the course, but was hoping he could run it in for the finish line photos. He walked with me for the next three and a half miles. I started to feel obligated to walk with him, because I thought it would be rude to try and start running again in the middle of someone’s life story to you. I didn’t like the feeling. By the time we got to Manayunk, I was listening to my fourth description of a company IT software installation (all of which I understood exactly none of), and was desperate to get away (sorry dude, you were quite nice, but I throw things when I even need to CALL IT, and listening to stories of it for an hour during late miles of a particularly painful marathon were a very polite form of torture). In addition, I had seriously started feeling like I developed some sort of Alzheimer’s during the past few miles - this guy had pointed out SO MANY PEPOLE as if I knew them, and I was partially wondering if I actually DID know them, and they were all somehow connected to Montco (they weren’t, this guy was just a chatterbox). At this point, and I realized we were at the top of a hill with a long downhill in front of us to the turnaround, where we would be three quarters through mile 20 and headed on our way back to the Art Museum and finish line. This was my chance. I told my new BFF4lyfe that I was going to run the downhill, stretch at the bottom, and then walk the uphill. He said he’d catch up to me while I was stretching. I was selfishly hoping for my own sanity that he didn’t. I told my knee to STFU and ran probably my fastest quarter mile in the course. I stopped at the bottom to stretch as promised, and began walking up the hill once I was finished. I passed him before he hit the turn, and he let me know he was going to stop at the port-a-johns at the bottom. “I’ll catch up with you if I can!”. He was stopping for a bit. Oh thank god. In a way, I’m slightly glad I met this guy, because he was my motivation to keep pushing forward and run as much as possible to stay ahead of him catching up to me. However, my knee was still really bothering me. Once I got to the top of the hill, I ran for another tenth of a mile or so, limping along. I decided to walk for a bit longer and figure out how I could get myself ready to run. Around this time, I happened to hit the beer stop at the end of Manayunk. A guy handed me a cup of Yuengling and told me, “You got this, and you definitely want this!” I figured Beer couldn’t hurt by now. I grabbed the cup from him, said thank you, and heard, “Get moving, Potts!”. It was friends from my traithlon team, JJ and Kimberly! I waved and said hi, feeling boosted by seeing familiar faces. I drank half my beer, threw the rest out, and started my limp-run towards the 21 Mile marker. Just before I hit it, I realized, WAIT A MINUTE! I KNOW HOW TO FIX THIS! Duh. It’s fitting that at the end of the mile I dedicated to doctors, I finally realized that I had the skills to fix my IT band. I plopped down on the ground and did some ART and hand combing on my IT Band. While I was down there, I chided myself a bit for not thinking of this four and a half miles ago. I finished up, stood up, started to run, and viola! I was fixed! I beamed ear to ear, mentally thanked my Doctors, and started on my way through my last 5 miles. Miles 21 through 25 were fairly uneventful. I ran/walked most of the miles, and drastically lowered my pace compared to miles 16-20. I had a conversation with a woman about my hydration pack, and stopped every mile to do my routine stretches and ART/comb out my IT Band. I mainly enjoyed the scenery, relished in the fact that my knee wasn’t in exploding pain any more, texted my family when I got to each mile marker, and tried to ignore the aching pain my legs and feet. My tendons still felt fantastic, and I was becoming more and more thankful for that with each step, but also more and more nervous that the tide there would turn. There were very few spectators left, but each one of them cheered for me by name and told me that I had it in the bag. I thanked every one of them. Just after starting Mile 25, I saw a familiar orange and yellow shirt on the side, waving at me. It was Jason again! I ran up to him and gave him a hug. He let me know that he had gotten a PR! I was so excited. I asked him if I could give him my hydration pack, since it was starting to hurt to carry, and he wonderfully said yes. He couldn’t keep up with me on the way back (probably the only time I will ever type that), so he let me know he’d meet me there after I finished, and that my family was waiting for me. I walked/ran to the top of the long but gradual hill, until I could see the Mile 26 flag off in the distance. At this point, I stopped for a bit and really laid into my IT Band to make sure I could run the whole rest of the way in. A woman on the sideline noticed me grimacing and got nervous, and kept telling me “Slow! Slow!”. I could tell that she didn’t speak much English, and didn’t think it was the greatest idea for me to run it in. I smiled at her, said thank you, and took off at a run for the finish. After 6 hours, 16 minutes, and 11 seconds, I finally crossed the finish line for the Philadelphia Marathon. I finished all smiles, happy that I was about to be able to sit down and relax. No more pain cave. Just hobble cave to get home. A volunteer put a finisher’s medal around my neck (arguably the coolest finisher’s medal I’ve ever gotten), and I slowly made my way over to my family, who were waiting at the chute exit. Our running group friends caught up with us shortly after, and Jason hobbled back to us in one piece. After some group time, we all headed back to our respective homes, where Jason and I went to dinner with my family and then promptly fell asleep at 6:30PM. An afterthought - I’m TENTATIVELY saying this because I believe in repeat verification…. but… my new medicine worked! At NO point during the course did I have breathing issues, even when I got emotional (which usually sends me gasping for air). My breathing felt fantastic the whole way through. I’m hesitant to declare it a full victory, however, as it was only one occasion and I wasn’t pushing myself to my hardest potential. But still – I comfortably ran a 9:59 mile somewhere in there with no breathing issues?! That’s amazing. I’m intending on using the same med combo for a 5k this Thanksgiving, and if it works just as well there at a higher intensity, then I’ll declare it a victory, accept the Mast Cell Activation Disorder diagnosis, and see will talk about where I go from there. Here’s hoping! Hope you guys somewhat followed along and enjoyed the recap. Until next race, Shuru
  7. Thanks guys! Haha! Nope, though you're probably right! There's a guy that does a bunch of Ironman's every year in full firefighter gear. He most defintiely gets attention from how amazing it is!
  8. First of all, I got married! Second, IM 70.3 Lake Tahoe (my honeymoon race) Recap: IM 70.3 Lake Tahoe was an absolutely amazing race. It was quite different in terms of set-up (compared to other races we’ve done), but I’ll get into that in a bit. I’m going to cover everything, beginning with the first day we checked in for the race. On Thursday the 17th, we had check-in at Squaw Valley early in the morning. We were surprised to see that they had a TON of vendors at this event, as well as free ART (Assisted Release Techniques). Jason (husband) and I headed over and got our legs loosened up for the race, as well as buying some raw food bars and some Base Performance Salt (we forgot one of our tubes… oops). We checked in, got our things and our plastic wristbands that designated us as racers, and two awesome vouchers for $25 at a ton of local restaurants. We were pumped! $50 to go eat? Best goodie bag ever. After check-in, we were headed to the Corporate Office/Warehouse of WetsuitOutlet.com in Minden, NV to get Jason a full wetsuit, and to Lover’s Leap for some climbing. Half way to Minden (a two hour drive on its own), we realized we forgot our climbing rope. Oops! No Lover’s Leap for us. We decided to change up our plans and attempt to hike Mount Rose instead (10,778 feet - probably not the best idea three days before a 70.3… but vacation). We ended up getting Jason a bangin’ new full suit, got some vegetarian In-N-Out Burger, and made it to the trailhead for the Mount Rose summit. The hike up Mount Rose was absolutely beautiful. After a round trip of 9 miles, we made it back to the car and headed back to town for dinner. Friday morning we headed out for some mountain biking around and in the (former) Prosser Creek Reservoir (current mud puddle). It was absolutely crazy to see how much water is missing out there. Afterwards, we headed up to Kings Beach to do some swimming in Tahoe and get used to our full wetsuits in the 60 degree water. Tahoe was the same story, water wise. It’s down a few feet, which the beach much longer, and the drop off much more shallow. We walked the start and finish of the swim waves, and realized that there would be a lot of foot time in the beginning and ending portions of our swim, though not as much as Eagleman had. I was most pumped about the clarity of the swim. Ever since I worked in Tahoe, I have been spoiled. Their water clarity reaches for 75 feet, unfettered. I was so excited to show this to Jason, and have him experience what swimming in crystal clear water is like. We swam out a few hundred feet, still being able to see the bottom. It’s a very surreal experience to see a rock under you, think you can easily stand on it, and then reach for it and just keep sinking… and sinking… and sinking. No worries about swimming into someone in the cloudy water here. After our swim, we grabbed some fresh food and California pomegranates (seriously, take me back just for California Poms… I miss them), and headed home to cook up a nice dinner. Saturday – the organization and drop off day. Here’s where it gets quite different. Lake Tahoe was the first race I’ve done that had two transition areas. The first area, for the swim to bike transition, was 18 miles from the bike to run transition. Therefore, you had to bring all your stuff for transition the day before. I already had my bike bag and run bag all packed up. We headed to load them into the car and take the bikes out for one small test spin before dropping them off in transition for good. This is where I encountered my first huge issue, and arguably one of the two largest for our race. To get a little bike techy for a moment – before we left, I had my front chain rings on my Tri bike changed. I previously had a set-up on there that was meant for moving quickly across flat courses. Whoever had my bike previously either thought he/she was going to be the next Andy Potts (see: Triathlon Superstar), or actually WAS Andy Potts, because the setup was ridiculously large (54/42), and was terrible for climbing hills. Knowing that we needed to bike over the Sierras, I had it switched out for a much more hill-climbing-friendly set of chain rings (50-38, unfortunately the smallest they could go with my 130BCD crank arm). We got my bike back 32 hours from our wedding, and a little over 48 hours from the start of our honeymoon trip. Not idea. Okay, end bike tech speak. So I take my bike out for a test spin, and notice immediately that it’s not shifting. Cue instant panic. I take it back to Jason, we test it a bunch more times, and it’s just flat not working. Jason tries to do some adjustments, and it’s still not working. We decide we somehow need to get it to a shop and get it worked on, knowing that the bikes need to be dropped off within the next few hours. Luckily, I picked the right shop to stop by at. The mechanic saw how desperate we were and stopped working on the bike he was tuning up to try and get my shifting working. After a few changes, he managed to get it shifting, though not as cleanly as it had been before getting my chain rings changed. I didn’t care – I’d take it, as long as it worked. He let me know that my issue was because of my front derailleur – it happens to be the first SRAM Red front derailleur ever made, and is engineered specifically for giant chain rings… which I no longer had. The shop we had the work done at didn’t catch this, and I didn’t have time in the nuts-ness the night before the wedding to test-ride the bike. Gah. (It’s also possible that the shop we had it done at had it in the exact perfect position and the derailleur somehow shifted or moved out of place in the week it spent driving around the country on top of our car. Who knows). I thanked the guy profusely for, what I thought was, getting my bike fully working (foreshadowing!), and we headed up to Squaw Valley to drop off the run transition bags. Dropping the run bags was an interesting experience. When you have the bags, you don’t set up your transition spot like you do for other races, you just… leave it in the bag. Similarly, we didn’t have a spot at a bike rack. Instead, we lined the run bags up in numerical order in a giant, open parking lot. We talked to a volunteer and she explained to us that this race basically used ‘Valet Bike Service’. When you finished the bike portion of the race, you simply handed your bike to a volunteer (who would take it over to the rack area and make sure it was placed in the right spot), and you simply grabbed your run bag and ran into the women’s (or men’s) changing tent. …Cool? After dropping the run bags at Squaw Valley, we headed to the other transition area in Kings Beach to drop our Bikes and Bike Bags. Here, we lined our Bike bags up in numerical order on the beach, and racked our bikes alone in the huge transition area. I said goodbye to my bike, arranged it so nothing could touch it and screw up my painfully-precise-and-barely-working derailleur, and we headed to Sand Harbor to do some Stand Up Paddleboarding for the rest of the day (we were in full taper mode… can you tell?). That night, we agreed that we were going to race together, instead of racing individually. We really wanted to cross the finish line at the same time for our first race as a married couple. There was a TON of logistics to be worked out for this, and we spent the rest of the night working them out. Sunday – Race day! Our alarm went off at 4AM, even though our race didn’t start until 8AM. We grabbed our swim stuff and threw on the warmest clothing we had (it was in the 30’s outside), and headed to the finish line at Squaw Valley so we could catch a 5:30AM shuttle to the start line. Once we were there, we watched the sun come over the lake and huddled in the conference center (they got us a conference center to stay warm and change in!) for warmth. At 6:40AM, the full Ironman athletes went off. At 8AM, it was our turn! We took off our warm clothes and shoved them in our morning bags to get shipped back to the finish line, and wrestled our wetsuits on. The swim was a ‘start when you feel like it’ swim, Jason and I had decided that I would start a few minutes ahead so that he would be able to catch up to me on the bike, where we’d do the race together from that point on. It’s WAY too hard trying to keep track of another person while swimming in a mass of people. I crossed the timing mat shortly after the gun, high fived the race director (coolest guy ever – him and the Mayor of Truckee wouldn’t let you go past without high fiving one of them), and started wading out for my swim into the 60 degree water. At this point, it was in the 40’s out, so the water didn’t feel nearly as cold as it did Friday and Saturday. I solidly believe this will probably be my favorite race swim ever, until I do another Tahoe race. I swam looking straight down, watching the lines in the sand, the rocks, the fish, and the old tree logs 20-60 feet underneath me. When we hit the turn to come back, I had just lost sight of the bottom of the lake (water was about 80-100 feet deep). After a few more strokes, it was back. I watched it slowly come up to meet me, following the sand lines until it was time to put my feet down. At the end, it faked me out – my hands felt like they were just about to hit the sand. I figured I was in about three feet of water, and that it was time to start wading. I stopped swimming, went to stand… and promptly sunk under the water. Oops! Not three feet. I went back to swimming and kept going until my fingers ACTUALLY hit the sand so I wouldn’t be faked out again. With the swim unfortunately over, I jogged to the beach, grabbed my bag of things out of the sand, and headed to the appropriately named ‘wetsuit peelers’. I had planned to take my suit off myself, but when I got to the top of the beach, a woman instructed me to wash my feet off in a plastic baby pool filled with water, and walk over to a peeler. Before I could tell the two peelers that I was okay to take my suit off myself, they had it down around my knees and yelled, ‘hurry, sit down!’ in the nicest, most authoritative tone I’ve ever heard. Haha. I sat down and they pulled my suit off of me before my butt even hit the concrete. They handed it back to me and I headed into the women’s changing room in the conference center, which was a huge room with a ton of chairs and close to 60 volunteers. This, along with the wetsuit peelers, was probably the weirdest moment for me in an Ironman race. Ironman is usually very strict about a race being ‘only under your own power’, and you’re not able to receive any help. When I walked into the conference center, it was almost like I was instantly assigned a volunteer. A woman zeroed in on me, took my bag, and immediately emptied it on the floor to sort the items in it. She grabbed towels for me, found my socks, gave me each item in order, and repacked everything I took off so it wouldn’t get lost. It was so awesome. At one point, I told her I was good, and that she could help someone else. As soon as she left, I had two more volunteers asking what they could do for me. When I was ready to leave, a woman grabbed my bag and my towel and told me to go, and that they’d pack it away and tie up the bag for me. It was a super awesome environment, and it made you feel so supported! However, the full change (absolutely necessary because of how cold it was outside) along with heading through the conference center made for a super slow transition for everyone. 12 minutes and 30 seconds, for me – a 12 minutes I would have loved to have had at the end. Once I was out of the conference center, I jogged out to my bike and headed out to the bike course. On my way out I noticed that Jason’s bike was still racked in transition – at least I knew he didn’t kick my ass in the swim and was already out there for me to chase down. I crossed the mat, hopped on my bike, and started the bike course, which to me was three parts: the bike course up to the base of Brockway (the 5 mile long hill/mountain pass we needed to bike up), the actual climb up Brockway, and the portion after Broadway (i.e. the ‘sit back and relax, because you don’t need to bike over the damn mountains again’ portion). While I was rolling along, I was appreciating my new gearing and hoping that my new granny gear (easiest gear) was low enough to get me up Brockway. Fingers crossed! At a tiny out and back 4 miles in, Jason caught up to me. Apparently he only started a minute behind me on the swim, and we hadn’t created as much of a gap as we’d thought. Oh well! Jason slowed his pace to hang with me and we kept peddling through the course towards Brockway. At mile 12, my bike-nightmare revealed itself to me – we turned a corner on the course to see a short, steep, kicker hill in front of us. I down shifted in my granny gear and got out of my seat to push my way up it…. And my chain instantly popped. My bike chain has NEVER popped, and I instantly knew it was because of the way my derailleur was adjusted. Because it was adjusted to give me enough room to get into my big ring up front, it now didn’t have enough pressure to keep the chain on while being in the little ring up front, and the big ring up back (having the chain all the way to the left). I was instantly panicked, but also took note that there was nothing I could do about it without making my shifting worse than it already was. I walked the bike to the top of the hill, and put it in my second easiest gear, where I tested it out up the next small hill – no pop. Thank god. Unfortunately…. It meant I had to do all the hills in my second easiest gear, and had lost my granny gear. Brockway was becoming a nightmare in my mind. In addition, I had to guess where my second easiest gear was. I was too nervous to accidentally shift into my easiest gear for fear of the chain popping and jamming, so I would try to peak back at my rear gears to make sure I was in the right spot. At one point, I accidentally went up another short, steep hill in my third lowest gear, missing the fact that I could have gone down another step. It ended up wearing my legs down a lot more than they should have by the time Jason and I got to the base of Brockway. Then… the climb started. By this point we were 28 miles in, and we had 5 miles of a 1400 foot elevation gain in front of us. I’m proud to say that I made it 95% of the way up Brockway before I needed to walk the bike. It was so frustrating rotating my legs so slowly and with so much effort, when I’d see others making their way up in their granny gear, rolling freely with a moderate to hard effort up the never-ending 10% grade. With the summit not in sight (I didn’t realize how close I was), I made the decision to walk the bike instead of getting of the saddle for the last quarter mile – the steepest part of the hill. During this time, Jason had been rolling ahead of me (being able to move much easier in a much lower gear), waiting, and then rolling on again once I caught him. When I hit the top of the hill, I noticed he wasn’t there. I was certain I hadn’t walked past him, so I hopped on my bike and started down the screaming descent back into Tahoe, while trying to keep my eyes on the road, the offshoots, my breaks, etc. I tried to keep my speed under 40mph so I could avoid any road hazards and keep my eye out for Jason, but people easily blew past me doing 60 miles per hour. I finally hit the bottom of the hill a few minutes later… and still didn’t see Jason. I kept biking for three more miles, and hit an out-and-back on the course… and still didn’t see Jason. I started wondering – was I wrong and I missed/passed him on the hill? It seemed terribly unlikely. Did he think we were only riding together to the summit of Brockway and decided to kick up the speed after the hill was done? As I started to get… admittedly emotional about the prospect of Jason ditching me mid-honeymoon-race, I noticed a bike hanging out in a pull off a quarter mile ahead of me. I rode up behind it… and it was Jason! He thought I would be coming down the hill a bit faster and was riding slow to let me catch him, but made it further than he thought he would before I caught him. Back together again, we rode the final 10 miles into Squaw Valley to hit our run transition and head out on the part that I was (for once!) looking forward to. By this point, it was a balmy 75 degrees. At transition, I felt great. I handed my bike off to a valet volunteer (I still think it’s funny I got valet bike service in a race), grabbed my run bag, and headed to the women’s changing tent to get all my run stuff ready and take off my bike stuff. The transition here was much like the first – I had my own volunteer to help me unpack, change/swap, and repack my bag – but not fully changing saved me a lot of time: only 5 minutes for this transition. Having to pull everything out of the bag still took up a decent chunk of time. I walked my way out of the tent knowing I transitioned faster than Jason, and loitered at some sunscreen bottles until I saw him making his way out. We started jogging on our way into the run course, when I finally noticed some persistent chest discomfort, my breathing became labored, and I got dizzy. This immediately threw me into the dumps. I didn’t feel it at ALL on the bike, so I thought I might be in the clear for this one – or at least in the clear for a few miles of the run before my allergy would pop up and my medicine would stop working. I tried to push through it in the first mile by walk/running, but it only flared it up further, and I was wheezing and gasping just walking up hills by mile two. Jason and I agreed to majorly slow it down and walk… which is outrageously frustrating when your legs still feel good and fresh, but other parts of your body can’t handle the rest of the load. For the next two and a half miles, we did nothing but walk, and I pounded grapes and redbull to try to help break up the junk in my chest, open up some of my airways, and get some adrenaline and caffeine buzz going. At four and a half miles, I was finally able to run again, albeit shortly. Jason and I realized that we were very close to the cutoff time, and would need to run 12 minute miles to get back on time. I took stock in my current condition and realized that, while I could normally smash 12 minute miles for the 7.5 miles we had left, it would be dangerous for me to push myself to attempt that now. I promised I would try to run as much as possible, but we agreed to be smart. After every run portion I would be left gasping and dizzy, and we would walk for a while again to get my breathing and heart rate under control. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we wouldn’t be making the 8 hour and 30 minute cutoff time because of my breathing issues. By mile 10, we were already over 2 hours and 45 minutes into the run course, and the cutoff was only 20 minutes away – and still 3.1 miles to go. with my 5k PR being 29:55, I knew it wasn’t possible. I tried to convince Jason many times to go ahead and finish so he didn’t get the ‘paper’ DNF (Did Not Finish), but to his credit, he refused and still wanted to finish together. With that, we set our sights on finishing under 9 hours. We knew we’d still get our finisher’s hats and medals, as they had announced the day before that since they cutoff for the Full Ironman was midnight, any Half athlete that got out on the run course before a certain time could finish any time before midnight and still get a medal and finisher’s hat for the Half. I thought that was pretty cool. We saw many other athletes out with us with Half bibs on that we knew didn’t make the official time cutoff as well, and I’m sure they were appreciative, too. When we started mile 12, adrenaline finally kicked in and my reaction started to lessen (adrenaline is a natural anti-histamine). With that, Jason and I ran the rest of the way into the finish, and were able to complete our goal of finishing together. Once we got our medals, we walked into a beautiful conference room that had a full hot buffet up and fresh baked cookies. Yes – they got Squaw to cater this. The food was absolutely wonderful. Jason and I were totally floored by it. Afterthoughts – This was an awesome, supportive, hard race. I had decided prior to this that I was not doing another Ironman branded race until they ironed out (pun intended) some issues that they have in their organization in terms of equality (see: #50womentokona), ego, and the insane entry fees. This race was the first one where I felt like the race may have been worth dealing with all of that. I seriously enjoyed the amazingly beautiful and challenging nature of the course, and Jason and I began talking the next day about coming back for our anniversary to actually race it individually, instead of taking the time to race together. Of course, the day after we decided that… they discontinued the race, citing ‘unpredictable weather’. Bright side is - at least I won’t have the temptation to not stick to my guns. No Ironman branded races for the future, for me. Second, I absolutely need to get my condition under control, and I have no idea where to turn with it. I’m going to try out carrying Benadryl with me at all times during races, but I’m not convinced this is just an allergy problem. I also don’t want to have to take Benadryl that frequently, as this doesn’t just impact my racing – it severely hampers my training as well, and prevents almost any kind of progress. It’s outrageously frustrating to work at something year after year and have no progression on it. So if anyone has any suggestions or avenues, I’d love to hear them. My doctor kind of stopped answering my calls and the entire Rothman Organization in Philadelphia refused to see me because they don’t have anyone that ‘treats my kind of condition’ (Uhh, I don’t even know what my condition IS). The only thing I can think of is to try an ENT. Other than that…. I’m stumped. Because of all this, I’m going to try to hold back on racing as much as possible until I can get it figured out. I don’t want to do what I did this year and race every month, just pushing myself from reaction to reaction. I want to take the time to try and get a handle on this, and actually start seeing improvement from the effort I’m putting into it. Of course, I still have 5 races to get through before the end of the year (Runners World 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Perfect 10 Miler, and the Philadelphia Marathon), so I’ll be putting that Benadryl theory to the test sooner than later. Final thoughts: This really was an awesome race. I honestly can’t wait to go back to Tahoe and race again. Luckily, there’s an independent Lake Tahoe Triathlon that runs there every year! So LTT, I’m coming for you!
  9. Well, you're still doing more than most of America, so thumbs up to you, sir!
  10. Thanks, Capitalist cat!
  11. I get a lot of questions about what my training plan looks like, since I seem to be always doing... well... something. My comments of 'heading out for a run/bike/swim/climb/yoga/etc is usually met with, "Didn't you just do that, like... yesterday?" And in most cases - yeah. Pretty much. I develop all my training plans myself, off of plans and research that pros and coaches publish. I also put together all my own workouts, mainly for swimming - they range anywhere from just under a mile to almost 3 miles. It's really awesome to be able to write up your own schedule instead of just downloading one from the internet and trying to plod through it. That sucks. Believe me. So with that intro, here's a look into my next two months, prepping for IM Lake Tahoe in September, four races in October, and a marathon in November. Now... normally I would get crucified for the lack of rest days in this schedule. You normally want at least one per week. Luckily, climbing has become sort of an active recovery for me. I boulder, which takes very little leg work and utlizies mostly upper body, so my legs can rest without getting tight. I consider it an active rest day. Writing up a training plan while trying to work around additional races can be a challenge - especially with back to back races, like I have in the beginning of August. You need to make sure you rest enough to prepare for the races, but you also need to make sure you're still growing your training to prepare for the next races you have coming up after them (which in this case, is 6 in the following 3 months). My schedule ends in November with a blissful two weeks of doing nothing. And I seriously mean nothing. I will sit on my couch, eat popcorn, and watch netflix. It will be glorious. The races coming up: The Krista Greisacker Adventure Race was kind of a last minute addition. This will be my first adventure race ever... and I probably didn't pick the best one to start out with. It's a 12 hour race, and ranges from 50-80 miles. Your mileage depends on how many checkpoints you get and how lost you end up. The idea of an adventure race is that you start at one location with no idea where you're going. You have to navigate using a bit of checkpoint data they give you to try and make your way through the course. We're going to be trail running, mountain biking, kayaking, and even possibly some climbing and rappelling depending on where we end up. It's all self-supported (no aid stations), so it should be interesting. This one is a total wildcard for me and I don't really know what to expect. The good news, is that I'll be able to write up a fantastic race report afterwards, as I am going to screw it up so bad. Really. The Steelman Aquavelo is my copout (kind of?) for feeling like I'm not healthy enough yet to run long distances (which is horrendously ironic since I will literally be trail running anywhere from 8-20 miles the weekend before). An Aquavelo is just a race that is just swimming and cycling. This particular one is a .9 mile swim and a 24 mile bike. If I can clear up my tendonitis in my foot (which will not f$%king die), then I may bump back up to the Olympic tri. Not sure yet. I basically just don't want to FUBAR myself for my remaining races this year. That. Would. Blow. This entry wasn't necessarily as exciting as the others, but hopefully it gave some kind of insight into the work and mild dedication it takes to (decently) complete the races I've been posting about. Similarly, if you need help or get interested in how to develop your own training plan for something, let me know. tl;dr:... Basically, send me snacks. Please. My legs are hungry.
  12. Thanks smurthwaite! Glad you enjoyed it.
  13. It was a thought that may have crossed my mind. Thanks Helbrecht!
  14. That's pretty f-in' awesome. Haha. Nice.
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