Twin Cities Marathon and Global Hero Alumni weekend



When I got the email about the 10 year global hero alumni event in twin cities for the marathon.  I didn’t hesitate to sign up.   I had such a great time the prior year.  Although this year would be without the black car service at the airport and I was responsible for hotel and flight this year.  It was a chance to see my fellow global heroes from 2014 who I had stayed connected with throughout the year following our epic weekend.  We had a choice of doing the marathon or the 10 miler.  Of course I chose the marathon.

The twin cities marathon is beautiful.  I may go as far as to say that it is one of my favorites.  The route is lined with people the entire way and winds through some beautiful lakeview neighborhoods.

The weekend was not the best, from a schedule stand point.  My work schedule was crazy during that time but I decided just to bring my laptop and work from the hotel.  That way I could still attend the great events that Medtronic had planned for us.  Additionally, I had just finished the Wisconsin Ironman 3 weeks prior and had not exercised once during that time. I felt heavy and sluggish.  Everyone says but you just did an ironman a marathon should be easy.  What they don’t get is that training for an ironman marathon is not at all the same as training for a stand alone marathon.  Prior to ironman I had probably ran approximately 40-45 miles in the 4 weeks prior with 1 16 mile run and 1 13 mile run.  When you train for a marathon people will run 40 miles in 1 week with 5 or 6 days or running.

But it wasn’t really about the time or the marathon.  It was about being together with global hero’s from around the world spreading the message that a diagnosis did not end the run.  Despite various medical conditions we were still able to do what we love.

What I loved about this weekend was getting to know better the handful of returning 2014 global heroes  in a way that I never thought possible.  We ate and drank and shared our diagnosis stories.  We got to know each other on a whole different level and it felt like I had known them for years.  And FUN!  I haven’t laughed so much in a long long time. It was an amazing weekend.  Medtronic of course did it up in style with an alumni mixer gathering and a wonderful dinner.  I even got to see one of my riding on insulin teammates from the IM – Robb who was a global hero in 2009.  Also seeing familiar faces from the prior year of Medtronic’s Ranita and Cory as well as Warren and Debbie was icing on the cake.





Saturday night before the race we finished up at the dinner at the Science museum and headed back to the hotel of course to have a night cap.  I realized that I had spilled some water on my dexcom and my tester and both went on the fritz.  Normally I would have an extra tester but this time of course I didn’t bring one.  I have never needed a spare in the past.  Lynn offered to drive me to get a new one but I always hate to burden people.  We ran into a 2015 global hero Tomas from Ireland and he offered to give me his extra tester so I was set….he had to show me how to use it because it had some neat features that I had never seen before and I had to multiply by 18 to get to the “American” standard number.  More evidence of how European “FDA” approve things more quickly than here.  He even had a 640g Medtronic pump which was totally cool.  I have been holding off on replacing my pump in anticipation of the new updated insulin pump being approved here.

After we said goodnight to Tomas we all decided we would go for a drive anyway.  I’m not really sure why as I think back but it seemed to be a good idea at a time.  Five of us squeezed into Lynn’s tiny rental car which we nicknamed sparkle… I think the actual name was a Spark?  We drove about 20 minutes and found a Walgreens.  The others bought cheap throw away sweatshirts for the morning and I picked up an “American” tester that I was used to.  Regardless, we had a ton of laughs at the ‘roos expense.  I got back to my room a little late but I really didn’t feel any pressure or worry about the marathon.  We also bought some duct tape at walgreens :)



The next morning, I got on the shuttle to the start in Minneapolis at 6:30 am with my layers of clothing to keep me warm.  It was a beautiful fall day, with beautiful blue skies and fluffy clouds.  I arrived at the start and felt a bit alone the others were doing the 10 miler.



I decided not to carry much with me.  I had my spybelt with my tester and a sleeve of marguerita cliff blocks.  I reduced my basal to 40% about half an hour prior.  I had eaten a peanut butter and banana sandwich for breakfast.

The gun went off and I shed by big hoodie that I had bought for 7.99 at Walgreens the day before.  Hills are relative to what you are used to.  For instance the gals from near Calgary Alberta Emily and Debbie scoffed at the hills as Debbie clarified that they live in the “foothills”  of the “mountains” .  For me Twin Cities is hilly.  Not huge hills but just rollers and coming from Chicago it’s enough to feel it in the legs early.

A few miles in an older man started to chat with me.  His name was Rick. Rick is 75 years old.  He had coached track in the area for 49 years.  He chatted about the course having done it every year up to 2010 when he took a break.  This was his “return”  although he said probably his last.  He told me about the wind direction, the uneven roads and the x-NFL football player ahead who was going to be playing the tuba.  Rick seemed to know everyone.  Rick was running a 4 mile run/ 1 minute walk pattern.  So at some point I ran ahead not one for liking to stop.  However at one point I did stop do use the porta potty where I had to wait to get in.  Sure enough when I got out there was Rick.  This happened once again.  I had stopped to wait for a port-a-potty again and getting impatient I took off.  Then finally I really just had to wait.  I was a little bummed and losing the minutes.  I ran with Rick until about half way.  He was figuring he would come in around 4:15 or so. We passed the half way mark at 2:06. I tested at 126 – perfect.  I had eaten 2 blocks and had mixed Gatorade and water at the aid station.  I didn’t see Rick after the halfway mark but he ended up finishing in 4:25.  Amazing at 75!

In the meantime I was hurting quite a bit.  My legs felt tight and sore and I could feel them burning with lactic acid.  This started around mile 7 or 8.  I felt like I had run the first half fairly cautiously but  I did not feel good going into the last half.  Knowing there would still be more hills.

Instead of focusing on the negative and letting the pain get into my head I did several things to get me through:

  • I focused on the crowds and enjoyed the cheers and the partying.
  • I focused on my cadence and the sound of my steps hitting the pavement.
  • I adopted Rick’s 4 mile / 1 minute walk program.
  • I thought of things to look forward to – Medtronic cheer station, seeing Mari on the course.
  • I thought of Lynn who had just finished a 106 mile ultra.  After hearing what she went through and how she battled through some dire circumstances as well as finishing despite an over 50% DNF rate for the race (see her story that inspired me here  On Not Quitting )  .  She was a huge inspiration and motivator for me.
  • I tried to remember my ironman mantra – with every step of this day i will get stronger in every way.

Using these methods I managed to gain some traction.  I passed the Medtronic cheering station and heard my name being called.  Which gave me a nice little boost.  I still had 7 miles to go and I was hurtin’.    I tested my blood sugar again during one of my walks at 134 – awesome!  In total I had eaten 4 blocks then at mile 19 ish I ate a GU with caffeine to get me home.  I was very happy with my blood sugars that day!

Finally I reached the point where I could see the capital building in St. Paul I knew I was home.  I didn’t do a sub-four which is usually my “benchmark” marathon time but I was pretty close at 4:06.  I approached the finisher chute and drank in the cheers and the crowd, passing the Medtronic VIP area I waved to the crowd so excited to be done.


After crossing the finish line I limped through the long finishers area to get my medal, my shirt and my clothing bag.  I had to stop several times to gather some strength.  I was so spent, I had truly given it my all.  I got my bag and went to the changing area and changed into warm dry clothes.  It felt so good.  It was nice that they had this option.  I finally made it to the Medtronic tent where I was greeted by Jonathan who had also ran it last year and who is the Team 2 End Aids endurance even manager and Lynn my global hero sister.  She was so amazing.  She got me whatever I needed including a much needed chair and food.  I sat for quite a long time as runners still filtered in.  We wanted to wait for Debbie and Emily to finish.  This was Debbie’s first marathon in a while and also has diabetes.  I was very excited for her and excited that she will be training for her first ironman next year!

The first words out of her mouth when I saw her… was “that was so far”. I gave her a big understanding hug.  I know the feeling of being overwhelmed by what you just “did”.  It can be very emotional.    But she finished and after you let it sink in it feels pretty damn good!!!






Back at the hotel we all sat around … drank more, ate and laughed a ton.  I was so happy.  Finally we had to say good bye.  I had had a 3:30 am wake up to get a 4:30 am  shuttle reality of getting back to work hit hard.

As I was packing I finally said good-bye to my beloved Hoka’s that has seen me through over 600 miles of running.  I had tried a new pair on at the expo and was amazed at how good they felt.  I had not realized how dead the old pair were.  You can see here how worn they were on the bottom too.



FullSizeRender (1)

I headed straight into work with some great memories of a wonderful weekend.  Thanks again Medtronic for what you do.

To my hero brothers and sisters who attended this weekend – Carrie, Brad, Kimi, Kristen, Lynn, and Rachel and to all of those who virtually ran with us.  Thank you so much for being a constant inspiration to me and to many others. Until next time.



Posted in Race Day Tips, Race nutrition, Race Reports, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ironman Wisconsin 2015 Race Report

11988495_10153019571861906_5625107479653669097_nIronman #4 is done.  I previously mentioned that I wasn’t really sure how it would go due to my lack of training.  At the end of the day, for how I trained, it went really really well.  My measure of really really well was not really the time.  When I initially set out to do this race I had different goals, but shit happens.

I say it went well because for the first time in my history of all four ironman my head never got into that deep dark place of hell when all you want to do is quit.  I almost feel like I didn’t get a true ironman experience because I didn’t have that mental breakdown.  I felt great the entire time.

I finished the race 12 minutes faster than the first time I did IM Wisconsin which was also my first ironman in 2011.  I probably trained about half as many hours.  I averaged about 8-9 hours the last few weeks vs in the 20’s in 2011.

A few ramblings about the day:

  • The weather – what can I say it was perfect.
  • My Riding on Insulin team mates and all the support crew on the course. There was hardly a moment where I didn’t see a red ROI supporter t-shirt.
  • awesome ROI supporter shirts that were EVERYWHERE!!!
  • Over 70 ROI athletes 36 with T1 Diabetes raised over $120,000 for riding on insulin to help T1D kids go to active camps – mountain biking and snowboarding etc. Enough said!
  • Having no expectations and not being nervous. I just enjoyed the day on my bike then went for a long run .
  • My parents, at 80 and 83 – I truly didn’t expect to see them as much as I did. God bless them they were out all day cheering for me. Love them to pieces.
  • Tom, who took great care of my parents.
  • Other friends on the course who provided great support – Amy Flores  and Dave Athans who ran with me for a spot.  Thank you!!!!
  • Carol, Helen and Tina – always love you guys.
  • Coaches and friends who got me to the start and believed that despite my accident that I was strong enough to do it… Mike Peters, Chris Navin and Bill Bishop thank you all!! Katy Sandberg who PT’d the hell out of my broken body to get it ready for the race. Melissa Bowman who helped me get my nutrition plan ready.
  • My sweet little Ruby necklace from Chris.
  • Trimonster tailgate such a perfect location and thanks for taking care of my parents.
  • The woman ironing on Witt road… hilarious.
Mom on bike course high fiving me :)

Mom on bike course high fiving me :)

My parents with Steve on the bike course.

My parents with Steve on the bike course.


I arrived with my parents and Tom on Thursday.  Despite my best efforts to not be nervous I could feel the nerves creeping in.. seeing Monona Terrace just scared the crap out of me.  Remembering back to 2011 when I did my first Ironman.  It was terrible and I was so deathly afraid of feeling that way again. As the days passed my nerves subsided and I had fun seeing a lot of the athletes I had trained with over the months.

Thursday night I finally met in person the Riding on Insulin team as we gathered for some food and drinks at Grays Tied House which is actually on the course.  I will reiterate above – we raised $120,000!!!   Friday night I went to the athlete dinner and split my time with the Trimonsters and my ROI teammates.

At dinner with ROI team

At dinner with ROI team

At the athlete dinner Chris, who never ceases to amaze me for his thoughtfulness gave me a beautiful lucky charm for my race.  He gave me a gold necklace with a ruby cat on it.  For those of you who don’t know my cat Ruby passed away with cancer just prior to the race.  I got to carry her with me the entire time around my neck.  What a thoughtful gift.




Saturday I racked my bike and got my bags all ready.

One thing I did this year was keep my bags simple.  I think in 2011 and other IM’s I packed everything but the kitchen sink.  My run and bike special needs I had a spare tube and c02 some extra blocks, cheese crackers, red bull and  a small first aid kit in each with Vaseline and Band-Aids etc. My transition bags only had the bare necessities.

I made a few changes to my nutrition as well.  After sharing my nutrition plan with Melissa Bowman (VQ nutritionist) and having her laugh at me I figured I’d better listen to her. So we spoke on the phone and she talked me through what I should do.  Note I didn’t take anything different than I was used to in training I just did things a lot different than in previous ironmen.  I made things much more simpler.  See below for more details.

I taped up my dexcom sensor and added 2 spare insertion sites on my abdomen.  Should I lose a site due to heat or accidently tearing it off in a porta potty I would have plenty of back up.  I also carried my tester, my dexcom and a syringe and a vial of Humalog with me the entire time.  My friend Lyndsay had brought a spare pump which she had left at the “glasses table” just in case my aquapac which I use in the water failed.  I just got a new one after my old one failed during a training but apparently not enough to kill the pump (thank god).

Real estate was hard to come by at this point! Extra pump sites and tape over the dexcom sensor...

Real estate was hard to come by at this point! Extra pump sites and tape over the dexcom sensor…

I ate breakfast at about 4:00 am.  I would normally do a bagel with almond butter and a banana but instead I went with oatmeal which I had taken from the breakfast the morning before at the hotel.  It was pretty hard to swallow and I wasn’t able to finish it.  I did finish my banana.  I fully bolused for this meal.  I had preset my basal rates as a new pattern – I did 0.3 units until about ½ hour before I was due to start the bike so that was about 60% of my normal during the swim.   My friend Helen dropped Tom and I off at 5:30 am.  I quickly set up my bike where I found a sweet little note from Nic Ruley. Which made my morning.

Awesome little note on my bike in the morning

Awesome little note on my bike in the morning

I walked with Tom and headed to the start. I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful sunrise.  I took a deep breath and thought of Katie and thanked her for watching over me.  I checked my blood sugar one last time it was 112.  Although near perfect for a normal person, a little low for pre-swim for my liking.  I had brought a honeystinger waffle with me.  I figured it was fairly light and if I need it I could eat it.  My initial plan was to drink an ensure about an hour before start but I just didn’t feel like it. So I ate about ½ the honey stinger.  I had my gel tucked in my wetsuit just in case. I was 126 coming out of the water – woot!  I put my wetsuit on and headed to the water.  I dropped my bag with dexcom and tester  at the eye glass table.  It would be at the swim-out waiting for me.

i'm in there somewhere drowning

i’m in there somewhere drowning


I entered the water and found a position that seemed good.  Fairly far back and just to the right of the ski ramp.  I had been in the water the day before and new that the water was going to be nice.  Within a few minutes the gun went off and mayhem ensued.  This was the worst part of the race by far and I think always will be for me.  For at least the first 500 yards or so I thought I was going to drown.  I was panicky and I was being swam over.  But one of my goals this year was to fight through it.  I tried with all my might just to keep swimming despite having no room around me and feeling extremely Closter phobic.  I felt my wetsuit tight around my chest I couldn’t see any break to get over to a kayak.  I am sure if I had remotely seen one I would have used it.  Eventually it thinned out.  I had a few mantra’s which were shared with me for the swim – my wetsuit floats –  it’s the most relaxing part of my day, I am on a paddle board paddling forward I cannot sink, Left arm right arm left arm right arm.  I had not been able to turn my watch on. It had gone back into lock mode and I didn’t realize it until after the race started.  Stopping to turn it on in the mayhem would have been a recipe for disaster.  So I just didn’t worry about it.  I would have liked to see how I actually swam.  I know I kept off to the right and probably didn’t swim so straight on the back long edge.  Other than the first 500 yards I felt pretty good.  I came out of the water and had no idea what time it was.

One of my other goals was to make my transitions fast.  I did a light jog to the wetsuit peelers then jogged away.  As I was passing some ROI folks I realized that I hadn’t seen the glasses table.  I had run right past it.  So I had to go back, I went back past the wetsuit peelers and headed to the table.  Mollie asked if my pump was ok and held up the spare that Lyndsay has left.  I looked at my aquapac there was no errors and no buzzing.  It was all good. I jogged back again and headed up the helix.  It seemed to take forever.

just prior to turning back to get my dex and tester.

just prior to turning back to get my dex and tester.

I decided to quicken my transitions I would not change.  I got into T1 dried myself off. I put on my bike jersey which had all my pockets prefilled.  Spare blocks, a tube and co2, insulin, syringe, Lara bar and I put my tester and dexcom back there.  It was pretty full.  I used my arm coolers then put on some thicker arm warmers on top because it had been quite cool in the morning.  I thought I was pretty fast in T1 but apparently I was not.  I honestly don’t know how it took 18 minutes.  I tested, drank some  Skratch and had someone put lotion on me and I carried my shoes to the bike.  I didn’t even eat in T1.    The hi-lights included getting to see fellow VQ’er Cecelia who had just done Latoja the day before, a 200 mile gravel race.  She flew in after the race just to spectate at IM.  So awesome. And seeing Sharon and Michelle my other VQ teammates.  As I was running to my bike I realized that I still had my spare googles around my neck. I squeezed them off over my helmet and handed them to a volunteer.

Melissa and I agreed to the following nutrition on the bike:

On 0 and 30 I would take Skratch. On 15 and 45 I would take 1-2 blocks Marguerita shot blocks  with the goal of doing 4 per hour with water.  I told her I may need to eat something a little more solid at some point. She was not buying into that. I also had endurolytes and took about 8-12 during the bike.

A huge change from prior years where I mixed all kinds of nutrition – gu/sustained energy/ blocks/ you name it.  I had no idea!

My basal rates were set for 1 unit per hour which is about 115% for me.  In hindsight was a bit much for my reduced intake.

I had decided that I was not going to use the Gatorade endurance orange flavor on the bike – because gross.  The Gatorade spiked my blood sugar too much and I hated the flavor.  I stuck with my Skratch despite being extra work.  I filled a small flask with 6 scoops of Skratch and water – essentially making a concentrated Skratch mixture.  Every time I refilled my aero bottle I squeezed a 5th of the bottle into it.  I kept just water on my down tube.  It worked like a charm.

I glided down the helix and pedaled lightly down the path towards the stick.  I had received a phone message from Robbie Ventura earlier that day and I could hear his advice to take it easy and calmly leave T1 and settle in to the bike.  It was exactly what I did.

As I said I didn’t break any records on the bike but I certainly felt a million times better than I did in 2011.  I enjoyed every second of the bike.  I thanked all the volunteers and high fived people it was great.  My back didn’t hurt (much).  The hills came and went. I watched my watts and basically smiled and enjoyed it.  As I said the course was lined with ROI spectators and having my parents and Trimonsters out there made me feel great.

The first loop was over before I knew it.  On to loop two I actually looked forward to it.  At mile 56 I decided I would not stop at special needs.  I did eat a small cherry Lara bar that I had with me.  I didn’t really need anything else.  In fact, I did not get off my bike once in the 112 miles.  Yes I peed my pants.  I passed by the Trimonsters and my parents for the last time and finally saw Tom out of the corner of my eye. I almost ran into another racer as I swerved to catch a glimpse oops….

When I said my basal rate was a bit high it was because I was beeping low the entire bike.  See picture below.  I actually suspended the pump as I hit the stick part of the bike course. I knew that I wouldn’t be needing much insulin on the run.  I had set my basal rate to be 0.25 units per hour on the run.  Knowing that I probably wouldn’t even need that.

Blood Sugar Readings during race

Blood Sugar Readings during race

I rolled up the path to the helix, spun up the helix and dropped off the bike.  Now for the run.  And trying desperately to make this a fast transition.  I had practically nothing in my T2 bag.  I drank some Skratch and tried to deal with my low blood sugar.  I ate some glucose tablets.  I took off my bike jersey and my arm coolers.  Put on my visor took two packs of cliff blocks tested my sugar (it was low) and off I went.  I had forgotten to Vaseline up my feet.  T2 was better but still not great.  Again, not sure what takes me so long.  This time I was out in 11 minutes better than the 19 minutes in 2011.  You will see in the above that my sensor actually expired – note to self make sure sensor has enough hours in it to last the entire race! luckily i only went a small time without it.

Heading out on the run

Heading out on the run

Total transition times 2011 –  15:45 and 19:32

Total transition times 2015 – 18:35 and 11:32


I eased onto the run course pretty much on schedule.  Now, I knew I had plenty of bike strength to glide through the bike course but my running had been less than stellar. I had run one 16 miler 4 weeks earlier.  I had planned on doing a long brick the weekend of the Michigan Titanium race which was to be my last big workout but that turned into a long swim and only a 56 mile bike and no run.  A lightning storm cancelled the race and the swim and the bike had been so bad that I was glad it was over.

First I had to deal with the blood sugar.  I was still low.  I shoved about 4 blocks in my mouth.  My plan had been to eat 3-4 at the top of every hour then sip the lemon/lime Gatorade endurance and water for for the first half or so. Lemon/lime was much more palatable to me than the orange on the bike course.  Within the first 2 miles I saw my support crew… my parents, Tom, Helen, Carol, Tina and Dave .  It was great.  I stopped to give my mom a big kiss as I did every time I passed them.

I ran the first 3 miles without stopping.  I just put one foot in front of the other.  My back ached a lot but I knew from experience that this would disappear after a while.  After the first few miles of not stopping I walked through each aid station.  By mile 6 I was drinking coke.  I couldn’t stomach any food at this point.  I was feeling a bit of nausea.  I knew I needed to eat something so I tried a bit of banana but it was gross.  It seem thick and mealy and not very much like a banana so I spat it out.  I managed to eat the two remaining blocks in my packet.  I recited my mantra which Lorraine a VQ athlete had given me.  I had run into her a week prior to the race and she was so insightful.  I told her about what I’d been going through with work, the injury and Ruby.  Her belief in what she practices is that the injury happened for a reason.    Anyway, my mantra was “with every step I take this day I will get stronger in every way”.  I used it a lot throughout the race especially at this time during the run.  As I felt a bit rundown and my feet and back were sore.  I had never really used a mantra before and it worked!  I was happy that I got to see Lorraine a couple of times on the run course.  I recited my mantra to her.

As I finished the first loop I started to feel more nauseous. I ran into Amy Flores, fellow diabetic and ironman athlete.  She ran with me a bit and tried to raise my spirits.  As I ran by special needs I grabbed my bag.  The only thing that I took were 2 tums that I had packed in my little first aid kit.  I prayed that it would work.  As I kept running I threw up a bit and finally around my 15 or so the nausea went away, the back pain was gone and I was chugging along slowly, walking through aid stations drinking coke and broth and trying to eat a bit.  I managed to eat a few potato chips here and there and some orange slices.  My main concern was getting my blood sugar up.

As I ran I got to see my ROI teammates and plenty of Trimonster athletes it was great.  As I approached the capital for the last time I was in complete disbelief that I had done this again.  I had kept my pace intact and I felt good. Not once during the entire event did I worry about my time.  I didn’t even look at my pace on the run at all. I savored the finisher chute and saw Tom and my parents.  I passed over the finish line and unlike ANY other ironman I did not need any help I walked through handed back my timing chip grabbed some water and walked out.  I went into the food tent and even inhaled a piece of pizza.  I sat with teammates Gary and Alex who had finished close to me.  I saw Maryann a Trimonster who told me where my parents and Tom were.  Standing up was definitely not easy.  I could feel the blisters on my feet. Two big ones.

Matching blisters on each foot.

Matching blisters on each foot.

I walked over to where my parents, Tom and Helen were and gave them huge hugs.  In 2011 I had finished sat on the curb and did not move for some time.  I couldn’t eat or drink.  This time was much much different.  I even stayed out until midnight to watch the final athletes come in and got to see some of my riding on insulin teammate’s finish.   What an amazing day.

Hanging out at midnight

Hanging out at midnight

The problem is that because it went so well I sort of want to sign up for next year although I swore I off triathlon for 2016.  I have some great friends who are doing it and I would love to do it with them….

Final results:

Swim 1:41:38

Bike 6:54:00

Run 4:45:21

Total 13:51:06

A special shout out to my coach Mike Peters who was hit by a car recently.  He has always been such an inspiration to me.  He works so incredibly hard in training, at work and at home with his family.  Even now his recovery is much faster than anyone would have imagined.

And of course thanks to Tom for putting up with my race antics.

Next up, next week I get to see my fellow global heros as I return to the twin cities for the global hero alumni event.  Can’t wait… oh yeah and I have to run the marathon while I’m there… oops.




Posted in Ironman Wisconsin 2015, Race Reports, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


When I posted my last post I realized that I had never posted this!!!! It was sitting in draft mode (no wonder no-one commented!) so I re-read it and tweaked it and am posting now.. if you want to get to the meaty part skip to the “last 25 miles”.



First of all I want to say that I am so happy that I decided to do this race and yes I am saying this after it is over and knowing that it took me 18.5 hours to finish!  I was on again off again with the decision because I am actually training for ironman Wisconsin.  Throwing a 200 gravel race into the training mix certainly isn’t ideal and I knew I couldn’t convince Tom to support me again this year.  I wanted to do it for two reasons 1. I knew it would take the better part of 14-16 hours a good mental prep for ironman.  Also, the race has a draw to it that makes you want to do it.  It’s the scenery, the route, the people and the town.  Walking around Emporia the day before the race and attending the course talk it feels like a familiar place.

Peters Power

Peters Power

This year I was racing on a CX bike vs last year when I used my mountain bike.  I got the Cronus all ready for the race and had Bontrager 33 XO tires installed tubeless.  Kanza is notorious for flats due to pinched tires or puncture from flint.  It is really quite rough in sections and if you don’t choose the right line you could get yourself into some serious mechanical issues.  Knock on wood I have been lucky so far.  The tires were a huge decision up until this point I have been riding 38’s on the CX bike.  I felt very vulnerable using 33’s.  I tried them out at the gravel grovel which has a various types of terrain – single track mud, grass, gravel rocky.  They seemed fine here. As Kanza approached I kept looking at the forecasts, they were predicting thunderstorms and flash flooding.  I would be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous. Not nervous about a little rain but nervous about the course conditions.  There were several river crossings and spending 16 hours in wet and possible cold conditions was not appealing to say the least.  The whole week I spent worrying about gear and tires.  It seemed like everyone I asked were going with a 35 or even 40’s for the race and here I was with my 33’s.  After speaking with my coach he set me straight and said to not question my decision and just go with it.  He was right.

The Cronus  – dubbed Peters Power after my coach who  sold it to me  was set up with a bento box for my blocks and blood glucose monitor and a bar. I had a rear seat bag with 2 tubes 3 co2’s and two connectors.  I also had two water bottle holders.  I put some purple and black zebra duct tape on the top tube to remind me of Katie when times got tough.

I’m trying to work on simplifying my nutrition.  For this ride I planned on using Skratch as my electrolyte drink and cliff blocks as my main source of carbs.  I also packed a couple of gels and bars for variety.  The aid stations were to have chips, subway sandwiches and a ton of other stuff so I was quite sure I would get what I craved at each of the 2 aid stations which were located at approximately 75 and 150.  This year I paid for support vs. last year where Tom supported me and I had the luxury of having everything I could possible want in the car.  We did have aid station bags. I had extra blocks, skratch and tubes in the first one in the second I also had my helmet light and believe it or not my old bike shoes and socks.  I had gotten new racing shoes with a hard sole and I was deathly afraid that I would suffer from hot feet or some other pain in my feet. I had worn them before but for 60 miles not 200 miles.   For me comfort is so important on a race like this.  If you are not comfortable for any reason it will make it all that much harder to mentally pull through.  I also stuck with my Osprey hydration pack that I used the year prior.  I had extra tubes, extra nutrition and a thin wind jacket packed in the pack.

Reliable synchro

Reliable synchro

in synchro

in synchro

Early Thursday morning I packed up the bug and started the 10 hour journey to Emporia, Kansas.  I had plenty of car snacks, pre-made lunch and lots of energy drinks!  My friend Steve (VQ) was also leaving downtown Chicago around the same time, although he was ahead of me because I didn’t actually leave until 7:30 am a bit later than planned (of course).  We kept in contact though which was nice.  I didn’t feel so alone. I arrived at the hotel and checked in.  I unpacked and sorted all my stuff.  This hotel was new and about a million times better than the gross one from last year!
The next day we had talked about doing a pre-ride however it was pouring rain.  Also I am not crazy about riding at all the day before.  Both Steve and Clemmens (3rd place last year – other VQ’er) decided to do a viewing by car.  They got about 5 miles in before they couldn’t even drive in their suburu or SUV!  Clemmens showed us pictures of his mucked up SUV it was crazy.  If this was what it was doing to cars what would it do to us.  There was lots of talk about re-routing etc.  They shared pictures and we talked more about tire choice although we couldn’t really do much at that point. My other big worry was getting the course loaded onto my garmin 920xt which seemed an impossible task.  I was trying to follow some threads I’d googled and apparently it was a mystery to a lot of people.  Finally after many hours and many tries I finally got it to work.  (Note I have since figured out a good method to do this albeit hard still!)  This course was marked to a point but was not to be relied upon.We went to the early course talk which is held at the movie theatre in town.  We heard Rebecca Rusch the Queen of Pain talk about what keeps her going in tough times.  She was looking for her third win the next day.  The organizers who you can tell are very passionate about this race gave a very  emotional tribute to a loved one that passed away which madae me think of Katie.  They make every racer feel like they matter. I wandered around the town afterwards and checked out the art galleries which had some great framed photos from prior year’s races. Then had pasta dinner at the church. Back at the hotel the alarm was set for 4am with a 6am race start.

The start line was about 3.5 miles away and I was driving there because I knew that I would NOT want to ride from the race back to the hotel. The hotel had breakfast so I had some oatmeal with peanut butter and a banana as well as some eggs. I loaded up the car and head towards the race start.  I felt good and had actually been able to use the bathroom :).  I reduced my basal insulin to 65%.  I parked the car and rode to the main street where the race started.  I wore my VQ kit with arm warmers and toe covers on my shoes  full finger gloves and a headband which covered my ears.  Nothing is more painful to me than being cold on a ride.  It was damp out, not raining but misty.  I saw Steve at the 16 hour pace mark and although I aimed for better than that I lined up there.

I really would like to break the race up into the first 175 miles and then the last 25 miles.

For some context here is a great article written about the race.

The first 175:

The race started with a neutral roll out of town.  We stopped a couple of times for an ambulance I hoped it wasn’t a racer.  Once we got going the mist in the air caused a lot of fogging so I took  off my glasses and stuffed them in my shirt.  It was a really damp day. On the third 5 miles we hit the mud.  The mud was thick and sticky like peanut butter it stuck to everything it stuck to our shoes our tires everything.  We had no choice but to carry our bikes from about mile 10 to about mile 14.  That took an hour and ten minutes. That section I averaged 3.4 miles per hour.  What was worse is that you didn’t know how long the walking would last, there was a long line of bikers carrying bikes for as far as the eye could see.  We would turn corners and people were still walking.  Some tried to ride only to clog up there gears and components with thick clay mud which was impossible to remove.  I carried the bike to my side, I hooked in on my arms in front, I tried to carry it like a purse over my shoulder and I carried it on my back. There was no comfortable position.  My toe covers had peeled off of the bottom of my shoes and found their way on top of my shoes and I looked like I had a tongue coming out of each shoe.

Here are some pictures:

half way through the mud with Steve

half way through the mud with Steve

mud slippers

mud slippers

Small example of what we dealt with

Small example of what we dealt with

The following 50 miles were uneventful, although I couldn’t help but notice the number of people who were dropping out at this point, either done in by the walking or broken bike parts from the mud.  I reached the one river crossing from last year I prayed that it was not cold.  With the cloud cover and the cooler temp I wasn’t exactly warm.  As I plunged my feet into the water I found it surprisingly warm but now I was completely soaked.  I had worn my favorite wool giro socks which had never failed me before no matter what weather.  Please don’t fail me now.  There were several river crossings throughout the day and several detours from the original route.  One in particular had a small 2 foot water fall attached to it.  I remember it was quite a strong flow and the edge was close to where we walked.  You couldn’t see the bottom of the river needless to say I walked very gingerly.

River crossings

River crossings

Back on the bike I settled in again and headed towards aid station #1.  I had planned on making my stops nice and short and efficient.  As I arrived through the timing arch the cheers were loud.  I can only describe it as tour de france like.  People lining the street just yelling and cheering.  It felt so good.  I got to the paid support area which was at the other end of the aid stop due to the re-route.  I ate a half a peanut butter sandwich and a few chips and a couple of pickles.  I  refilled my water and hydration pack and restocked my food supply.  Since my dex was beeping low all the time I lowered my basal again to 20% had I also had to use the bathroom and instead of going back to the port-a-potty I went to the gas station where I waited in line.  All in I think I took about 15 minutes.  Not terrible.

I rolled out feeling good despite the slower time.  I was pretty excited.  Somehow at about mile 80 while carrying my bike again a button was pressed on my watch.  I am not sure what happened but I thought it had turned off.  At this point I started my watch again but somehow lost some miles and didn’t exactly know where I was for a while.  Finally at some point I figured it out and was able to add up where I was.  Still it was a royal pain.

The course wound its way through some private lands  where we passed groups of cows hanging out by the edge of the road we were riding on.  I slowed down and started yelling as we were told to do.  One particular big black cow made a quick move but luckily bolted the other way.  It’s all part of the Kanza fun. People sometimes ask me how I can ride so long by myself.  Although the ride is beautiful sometimes I do get bored, at those times when I’m out there just me, the gravel, the grass and the sky I talk to Katie.  I have full on conversations with her.  I think out there she can hear me better because there are no distraction. I know I usually hear her loud and clear.

As I rode I saw the same people over and over again.  I passed them they passed me.  There were two particular guys that I came upon over and over again.  I recognized a thick Canadian accent and asked them where they were from.  They were from Kitchener, Waterloo the one guy had started the race the prior year but had not finished so then dragged his friend with him this year.  I told them that I was grew up in Richmond Hill, Ontario (a few hours from Kitchener) so from that point onwards I was dubbed “Richmond Hill”.  We were laughing about how I would keep sneaking up on them.    I had already ridden most of the race by myself (non-drafting) and this next section on the way to aid station 2 was particularly difficult because you were riding into the wind a good part of it.  I struggled a great deal.  They had caught up to me and told me to hop on… so I managed to get a few free miles out of them which was nice.  There was also a guy on a fat bike.  Now that was nuts!  He would fall back then catch up many times over during the race.  I am pretty sure he ended up finishing ahead of me.

To this point everything was humming along pretty nicely. I kept my heartrate down as much as possible and   I was staying well hydrated eating my blocks.  I dealt with the mud/water crossing hazards, dodging dead armadillo shells and stopping multiple times trying to figure out which direction to go in.  At this point following the people in front of you was not a good answer.  The cue sheets were not updated for the last minute detours and my Garmin 920XT certainly was not updated.. more often than not it was telling me that I was off course.  I still didn’t think my time was going to be way off at this point.  I would have expected it to be slightly longer than last year.  Little did I know!

Somewhere on the way to aid station 2 one of my lenses popped out of my rudy sunglasses.  I wasn’t worried from a sun standpoint since they were polarized and it was overcast.  I thought I had caught it in my arm but when I stopped to look it wasn’t there.  From then on I was the one lensed bandit.  I figured if anything flew up and hit my eye at least one would be protected.

Finally at about 7:30  pm I rolled into the 2nd aid station at about mile 155.  I WAS starving and I was so hoping that this aid station would have the subway sandwiches I was promised… I needed something non-sweet asap. I rode through the aid station looking for the purple chamois butt’r tents and soaked in the cheers.  At this point people had been out there for a very long time and they knew a lot of people had dropped out so the few riders they got they really cheered for!  It was freaking awesome.  I asked about the paid support and I had actually passed it so had to roll back to the start of the aid station. I found it and quickly dug into an Italian sub and some chips.  I got my special needs bag and stood by the fire pit.  It was starting to get chilly.  I took my red bull and refilled my nutrition and hydration.  I dug into another sandwich and ate more trail mix that I had packed (peanuts, raisins and m&m’s = super sweet).  If you are a diabetic you may figure out what happened later (think lots of food and only 20% of insulin) I looked at my clean dry shoes I had packed and made a decision to change out of my wet ones.  I was told that the rest of the course would be flatter and dryer.  Note to self, do not believe everything you hear! I figured I had the dry shoes and socks why not use them, it was worth it to take the time.  Also because I felt chilled I put on my light wind jacket over top my hydration pack.  I also put my serta light on my helmet.  Just to throw something else on to your already tired body the light is super heavy.  I thought to myself I only (yes I thought only) had 45 miles to go.  The math in my head thought even if it took me four more hours that is a total of 17.5 hours only an hour more than last year.  I was ok with that given the conditions this year.

I rolled out again.  The last leg out of aid station 2 starts with a fairly steep hill (at least it felt steep to me).  After muscles stiffening at the aid station and low energy it was a struggle.  Once I got past the hill and warmed up again I felt pretty good ( as good as can be expected).  I took the light jacket off.  I fiddled around with the light to try and get the setting to medium or low vs. the bright.  The brighter the setting the quicker the battery drains.  I couldn’t get it but I thought sure it would last until the end.  I was under this false sense of having “only” 45 miles left.  In this case my math was not good.

Within ten miles of aid station 2 my feet got soaked again, so much for the dry shoes.  I should have known better.  At 25 miles to it felt like 5.  I was happy.  At least until things just started to go very wrong.

The last 25 miles – what could go wrong?

I was riding on my own again.  I had been feeling good having past a few people and still had energy.  It was of course pitch black and I was trying to follow the cue sheets although I didn’t have the exact mileage and I had trouble seeing the small print due to my old eyes and my recent need for readers.  Well, I didn’t have my readers so I had to stop and pull my one lensed glasses off to try and read where I was to go.

I overshot a turn and slowed to do a U turn.  As I was doing the U turn my brake cables got caught on my head tube which caused my brake to engage involuntarily which then caused me to crash.  So after 16 hours or so on the bike negotiating river crossings, rocks and mud I crash and land on my elbow and hip.  With the body being so tired I may as well have been run over by a mac truck.  That is how I felt. In addition my rear wheel seemed to come out of true or something and my brake was continuously rubbing so I had to disengage the back brake.  I also noticed that my rear red blinker had fallen off somewhere.

Then because I had eaten so much at the aid station #2 I felt bloated, also because I had reduced my insulin so much my blood sugar sky rocketed with all the food.  Doh!  Bloated and high bg = sluggish.

Sluggish and bruised I carried on.

To add fuel to the fire my headlamp went out.  It was pitch black out.  I stopped took off my pack to get to the battery.  I fiddled with the connection thinking it came loose due to my fall.  Sure enough it came back on. I put everything back on only for it to go out with in seconds of starting again… arg!  Why hadn’t I taken the time to put the light on the correct setting!!!! Lesson learned – take the time!!!  Luckily the day before I had bought a “spare” at Walgreens.  So I pulled out the cheap headlamp I had bought the day before.  I pulled the elastic on top of my helmet and off I went.  Unfortunately the lamp kept slipping off so I pulled it off and wrapped it around my handlebars.  At this point all the people I had passed were now passing me.  When I say all it was really only about 20 or so over all the stops… there were not a lot of people out there at this point.  Unfortunately the lamp then fell off its elastic band so I was left holding the lamp in my hand.  At this point.., high blood sugar, bruised body, no rear brake and no real light and time ticking I felt discouraged and I just wanted to be done. As I crawled along barely able to see my hands were so sore that I actually used the clip part of the light and held it in my mouth.  With each movement of my head a shadow would cross me causing my heart to palpitate and jump into my throat thinking something was coming at me.

The final “straw” was that my garmin shut down within the last 13 miles.  I had truly no gauge as to where I was.  The last person that passed me was off in the distance and all I could see was a brief glimmer of his red flashing light.  I tried to keep up enough just too at least follow it so I didn’t need to stop as much to read the instructions.  At some points however I lost him and would need to try and figure out where I was by reading the cue sheets in the dark.

That 25 miles felt like an eternity and it did take an eternity.  Finally I hit town and I knew I was done.  Finally there was human interaction. People cheering and actual lights!  I rolled down the main street and saw the finish line and broke down.  I was sort of sad because I didn’t have anyone waiting for me at the finish line.  Last year I had Mike and a few other VQ riders and of course Tom.  This year there would be no-one. A weird feeling.

I came across the finish line not expecting anything where I was greeted with a bit hug from Kristi Mohn one of the race organizers who I had met the previous year and at Rebecca’s Private Idaho.  This is why I love this race I was alone but I wasn’t alone.   She greeted me not as a stranger but as family, I whimpered in her arms.  Then as I walked away I saw Clemmens.  The guy had gone home showered and came back to help me.  I felt so incredibly grateful for  his help, he took my bike and walked me to my car and stood there while I pulled everything out of every bag I had while I looked for my car key.  He already had a long day and he had come in 15th overall and 2nd in his age group. He will forever hold a special place in my heart because of this. Not to mention that his son has T1 and has been to riding on insulin camps (my fundraiser for IM)

2nd place Clemmens

2nd place Clemmens

My results – 9th out of 18 in my AG and 23rd out of 37 women finishers.  I don’t feel bad about this. The overall finisher rate was just over 40% so just finishing this race was an accomplishment in and of itself.

Nutrition Summary and BG Summary





3 sleeves of cliff shot blocks at 180 g per
2 gels at 90g per
1 small cliff bar
2 water bottles with a scoop of skratch in each

2.5 liters of skratch
1 big cliff bar (for emergency) – didn’t take
3 packets of skratch
1 extra cliff shot block pack
2 shot block packets -1 left
1 gel -Didn’t take
1 kind bar -Didn’t take
4 skratch packets- Left 1
2 bottles with 1 scoop each of skratch powder
½ cup of mixed nuts with m&m’s and raisins -Didn’t take
½ cup of cheez its
3 skratch packets
2 gels -Didn’t take
2 cliff blocks -Didn’t take
1 kind bar – Didn’t take


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This year and IMOO training.

Ironman-logoSo here I go again.  In two weeks I’ll be hopefully finishing my fourth ironman.  When I signed up I had every intention of beating my previous course record which was also my first ironman in 2011.  I started off the year building a huge cycling base with a 6 day cycling camp in Spain, several gravel races, another 3 day camp in Wisconsin and finally Dirty Kanza a 200 mile gravel race.  I really felt myself getting strong on the bike and it showed as I finally took a power test putting me 10% over my previous test.

After Kanza I went into serious ironman training mode.  My swim still sucked but I was working on it.  I hired a swim coach.  I was doing decent paces on my tempo runs and it felt great.

Trimonsters at IMOO 2011

Trimonsters 2011

Leaving for swim

Leaving for swim

At the beginning of July I ran into a roadblock well actually it was a giant recumbent tandem bike parked on the road (sans owners).   It was a charity ride in the suburbs with not a car in site and I was having a great day. I was in aero on the tri-bike going 25 mph.  The result of the crash was a large deep gash down to the knee cap and bruised ribs.  I got 6 stiches in the knee which were conveniently located right on top of my knee cap so bending my knee was not an option.  Although my injuries were not earth shattering.  I was unable to swim, bike or run for about 4  weeks during peak ironman training.  I remember the first time I tried to pedal after the accident.  I had rented a divvy bike to get from work to a friend’s party.  With each pedal stroke I cringed with pain and I ended up pedaling with one leg while keeping the other straight.  I tried swimming that day and got in a few hundred yards before my ribs started to hurt.

Waiting in Emergency

Waiting in Emergency

Since then I have recovered for the most part.   My ribs still hurt a bit and my knee still aches but I am able to train without much discomfort.

Unfortunately although my body recovered my mind didn’t I was unable to get the momentum back.  I no longer had the drive or the focus.  In addition around the same time my beloved 15 year old cat Ruby was stricken with cancer.  I felt compelled to stay at home and spend her last days with her rather than train.  I was also suddenly overwhelmed by many memories of the past 15 years.  I had gone through a pretty rough patch in my life back then and am not particularly proud of some of the things I did.  Things came back in my head that I thought had been gone forever.  I struggled with making the decision of whether to start the race and the struggle caused me some anxiety.  I don’t operate very well when I am not focused.  If I am not set on my goals or my plan my mind gets mixed up and I can’t function very well and I second guess everything.  I’m not good at making up a workout or a plan as I go along.  In the meantime while recovering, I was given a promotion at work.  I have gone from having 1 direct report to nearly 50.  This has fatigued me mentally when I needed to be strong mental focus the most for my IM training, it just wasn’t there.  I found myself exhausted from the day at work  without the willpower to do a workout and just wanted to drink wine.  When my weekly hours should have been 15+ I was lucky to get in 8 or 9.  As my teammates racked up the hours mine dwindled and I was spending more time at home and making excuses than I was training.

With July over Ruby was put to rest and I decided to get to the start line at IMOO.  I know that in a few years this will just be a “blip” in my racing career.  There will be plenty more!   I feel that my biking base will hopefully carry me through.  The swim will be like always – slow and the run – who the heck knows.  I haven’t even done one triathlon since November 2013 when I did IMAZ.  I have no race plan I have no nutrition plan I haven’t been practicing my nutrition or with proper insulin levels.  I am a hot mess of an Ironman Athlete.

Trimonsters 2015

Trimonsters 2015

I signed up for the Michigan Titanium Aqua bike which was a full 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike.  I planned on doing a short run afterwards it was going to be my last big test.  I headed out on the swim feeling pretty good but as I swam I started to get nauseous.  I had never felt this on the swim.  I could only assume it was my blood sugar.  My goal of swimming long and strong was shattered… instead I paddled about and float on my back every so often to try and avoid throwing up.  I got out of the swim feeling awful. I tested my blood sugar and it was all good at 155.  I got on the bike course.  I felt strong on the bike but as the miles clicked by I couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t really enjoying it and how much I prefer my gravel bike races over the post-swim tri-bike pain in the neck and back.  I really just wanted to quit but I would never do that.  Unfortunately for my training plan the race ended up being cancelled half way through the bike due to a lightning storm.   Although I knew I need to get the training in I was happy that it was done however again I had once again doubt about the big dance on September 13.  I failed the test miserably but I had fun with the girls!

Girls with the 'betes in Michigan.

Girls with the ‘betes in Michigan.

I made myself a little list of things to draw strength from.  I will somehow try to write these on my arms and legs so that i can read them as I go.

  • I’ve got my 80+ year old parents flying in to see me race again – must appear strong and brave.
  • I’ve got the riding on insulin team standing with me at the start line.  I did fundraising for the charity on the premise that I would complete the race! Donation page:  Riding on Insulin
  • I’ve also got my niece who tells me I can power through it because I am her Aunty G.  I definitely don’t want to disappoint my favorite girl.
  • I have my coach Mike who despite having had numerous injuries and setbacks he comes back stronger than ever. Mike recently was hit by a car and has some serious injuries, I will be thinking of him and his strength.
  • I will think about how lucky I am to have functioning arms, legs, eyes etc. that allow me to even participate in these races and the fact that I don’t have any other conditions such as  Missy Foy who has had to give up her running career due to illnesses and autoimmune conditions including diabetes and fights just to get out of bed in the morning.
  • And of Katie and Ruby who were taken from me too early because of cancer. Life is too short to quit.
Me and Katie

Me and Katie



I know full well that I’ll be kicking myself during the race for not training more and for being weak.  Hopefully I won’t let these voices of negativity get to me.   I know that mental strength is as important if not more important than physical strength in an ironman and negativity will just eat away at you.  The “i wanna stop” voice gets pretty darn strong.

I am hoping that if I ride easy I can power through the marathon and try to give and receive encouragement.  I will try my best to smile.  I am looking forward to cheering my ROI, Trimonster and VQ teammates on the run course.  I have many many friends out there so that will be fun.  And as usual my #1 supporter Tom will be there.  I will look forward to spending the week with my parents afterwards.

Over the next week or so I will try to figure out a nutrition plan and think about my transitions and special needs which will hopefully get me thinking about what I should do on race day! At the end of the day I will just have to do my best!

Nickname at 2011 race

Nickname at 2011 race

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barry roubaixMy first race of 2015 is in the books.

On Sunday I finished a 62 mile gravel bike race in Hastings, Michigan called the Barry Roubaix.  Although it’s a four hour drive it’s a great early season race and it always feels great to get outdoors.  What doesn’t feel great and the challenging part of this race is the weather.  Conditions are far from predictable and racers can expect anything from cold ice and snow to 40-50’s and sunny.

I looked at the weather early in the week and it predicted 40’s and sunny.  Perfect!  However as the week progressed the start of the race was going to be more in the low 20’s.  But still sunny!

I booked a hotel in Kalamazoo, MI an hour away from the race start but given the 10am start that was acceptable.  The race is 4 hours and 1 time zone away making it almost necessary to drive out the night before.

I packed different types of layers for the bike.  I packed sandwiches for breakfast and dinner, a small red wine for the room, red bull and diet coke for the drive home and plenty of water and electrolyte drink for pre-race fueling.

I arrived in Kalamazoo and re-arranged my bags since I had packed in a bit of a hurry.  I put all my cycling nutrition and gear in 1 bag and laid out my cycling clothes for the morning.

The Clothing:  A spring race is always hard to dress for but here is what I went with:

  • Craft winter cycling tights – fleece lined, wind proof front the warmest in my collection
  • Mid-weight craft cycling jacket – not quite fleece lined but wind proof
  • VQ winter fleece lined vest – love this item fits over jackets and has 3 deep pockets in the back – capo
  • Gore windstopper balaclava
  • Winter Pearl Izumi lobster gloves and chemical hand warmers inserted inside.
  • Giro wool cycling sox, toe warmers and thick wool socks over top – I am deathly afraid of cold feet.  Too many bad experiences during my winter commutes.  The pain in insane.
  • Winter SIDI gore-tex cycling boots – a size and half too big too fit extra layers and still have room.

My trusty rig of course was Peters Power my Trek Cronus X bike.  I love riding this bike it is smooth and light.  I had ridden it a week prior and unfortunately it was a bit gritty because of course I didn’t clean it like I should have.  Luckily I bought a bike cleaning punch card from Trek HP so will be having it cleaned next time!  My only worry was that I had just installed new pedals myself and had only tightened them by hand. Any time I do any mechanical work of any time I have concern but I had ridden it to work during the week and the pedals seemed ok.

Tucked in behind trying to get a break in the wind.

Tucked in behind trying to get a break in the wind.

The nutrition: was not terribly planned out.

  • Two bottles which were meant to have Skratch but I forgot it so one had water and one had a Hammer fizz tablet.
  • Packed 2 packets of cliff blocks, 2 gels and a tube of glucose tablets.
  • For breakfast at 7:15 was 2 low carb bread sandwiches with Jason’s chocolate hazelnut butter and banana and hotel coffee.  Bolused 60%.
  • No temp basal mainly because I just forgot.  Apparently a four hour ride isn’t worth worry about?
  • Waking BG was 120!
  • What I ended up eating:
    • 1 packet of blocks
    • 1 half pb and j sandwich at the first aid station

I got to the race site at 8:30.  I picked up my packet and went in search of a parking spot.  I decided to go for the charity pay lot.  I entered and the lady told me there was one spot left but it was tight because 1 guy had not parked straight (non-racer).  I decided to take my chances and squeeze in.  As I was getting ready the owners of the one car arrived and I asked if she had enough room to get in.  She started bitching about the race and said she was told to park there and she lived across and they were not told “nothin’”  I commiserated with her and apologized and told her that was terrible.. etc.  I don’t need to make any enemies after all and it was Tom’s car.

Once I had everything in order I did one last check on the bike.  I spun both wheels.  The back wheel was rubbing slightly on the brake.  Not good!  I took it over to the mechanics and lucky I had time for him to fix it.  I really need to learn this stuff!

It was now about 9:50.  The race started at 10:00 with my wave going off at 10:02 which included all women and masters men.  I walked up to the start and saw some friendly faces – Cecilia, Nan and Dave Noda.

Last year I used my mountain bike and right from the beginning I had been dropped by everyone.  In fact I remember hardly seeing anyone during the first half of the race last year then eventually catching up to people during the second half.

We started off and I realized I hadn’t checked my dexcom again prior to the race but it wasn’t alarming.  I was so sidetracked with the brake issue on the bike and the parking spot issue I just ran out of time.

A gravel race is not the easiest race for testing blood sugar either, pulling things out of pockets or even grabbing a drink.  Immediately I had regretted not using the camelback.  Although I feel like I’m a good bike handler it is still pretty hard to get a drink without slowing down a bit.  I tried to drink on the smoother parts as much as possible.  In addition I had used an insulated water bottle which I think actually caused it to freeze faster.  The bottle was hard to squeeze and each time I tried to use it a small dribble would come out.

The race started, and although I felt like I was still at the back of the wave I didn’t feel like I had been totally left behind.  I was still able to keep up with racers and draft as much as I could, it was a very windy day drafting definitely helped.

Despite the wind the course was in better condition this year, less mud.   There were plenty of rocks and sand and some rutted sections.  On one of the rough dirt sections I had to ride around two stopped riders, which I did and as I was pedaling cautiously around some deep hazards a guy came from behind and fell into me.  I landed in the bushes.  I was pretty annoyed considering I had been proud for navigating through the tough section.  I didn’t feel anything then but the day after I definitely feel a strain in my neck and my right glute.

I stopped at the first aid station to grab more fluids although it was water which seemed to freeze instantaneously!

During the leg 2 (20-40 miles) Laurie Mann another VQ’er caught up to me.  We ended up riding together most of the way in.  We had a small pace group going with another guy and a girl.  We arrived at the second aid station, had I been on my own… I probably would have stopped, however the rest of the group didn’t seem to be stopping so I rolled through grabbing several cups of water from the volunteers.  I was really thirsty.  I knew I was sweating and I knew I had not been drinking enough.  My insulated bottle had completely frozen.  I had been sipping the fizz bottle but it was still about ½ full at that point.  Laurie and I lost the other two at some point and rode most of the way in together.

The thoughts in my head were as follows:

  • Why didn’t I lube my chain it is squeaking so badly
  • I wonder what my blood sugar is, I don’t feel bad.
  • I should really stop and check my blood sugar, but I can’t (don’t want to)
  • What is that other squeak? I think it is the # plate at the front of my bike
  • Why do I race
  • Its so pretty out here
  • I’m not an athlete
  • Should I be riding faster because of bike camp
  • Should I tuck in behind this guy I’m coming up to or pass him?
  • Can I finish in 4 hours this year
  • I’m so thirsty
  • I’m pretty comfortable my feet and hands are toasty
  • I need to stretch my back out
  • I need to get my front derailleur tweaked (I had a hard time getting into the big ring)
  • I need an uphill my toes are starting to get cold

10 miles out I still felt good and had many guys commenting on my speed up the hills (thank you bike camp).  I made a conscious effort to continue the same effort as I crested the hills and into the flats rather than getting to the top and taking a break.

The best part – sprinting to the finish while hearing GO VQ!!! a quick arm pump and I was done!  30 minutes faster than last year’s race partly better conditions partly better fitness.  4:04:45 for 17th out of  27 women.  Check the deets here:  strava file

Despite not checking, my blood sugars were fairly good throughout.


Blood sugar readings for the race.

Blood sugar readings for the race.

I joined the VQ crowd after the race to chat with Mike, Robbie and some others and had an amazing Porter by Founders Brewery one of the sponsors.  I watched some of the awards then started packing up my car to head home with my red bull and a sandwich.   Tom even commented that I was more alert that evening than I normally am after races – fitter?

The day after:

I woke up the next day with an aching back and a sore neck.  My training schedule gave me the choice of a sub max run or taking the day off.  I knew that I would run outside that day the weather was cold and blustery.  After stretching for a half hour my back felt better and I left for my run around 1 pm, after a pleasant morning of oatmeal and coffee.  I set my basal (constant drip)  to 60% for 90 minutes about 30 minutes prior to leaving knowing that I would have a high chance of going low after yesterdays ride.  Sure enough about 4 miles in and prior to my warning alarm I felt it.  I quickly inhaled 2 blocks and continued on.  10 minutes later I still felt the bonking so I suspended my insulin and took another block.  Another 10 minutes still feeling it I ate my last block.  Finally, like a light switch I felt normal and was able to finish my run.  I ended up running 10.5 miles which I was pleased with.  A great weekend overall.

Next up the Rough Road 100 and the Grumpy Grind 3 in 2 weeks as prep for the DK200 in May.  In the meantime ironman training and “the swim thing” is like a monkey on my back during the week I have been trying to get 3 swims, 2 other runs and an intensity ride in.  My goal this week is to at the very least  get my entire swim workout done.  Lately I am lucky if I make it through the warm up and have been maxing out at 2000 yards…time to embrace the swim.



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I hate swimming laps in a pool.  I don’t hate swimming per se just the lap swimming.  I liked being in water and partaking in indoor tri’s or swimming on vacation.  It’s the boring monotony of swimming back and forth for what seems a thousand times. It’s not have a view, I love everything outdoors and will choose outdoors any day over indoor training anything.  When I swim laps I get to look at a blue line at the bottom of the pool and maybe the odd swimmer in the next lane.    It’s the horrible chlorine that dries out your skin and hair and makes you smell all day.  It is goggle eyes.  Goggle eyes are the worst… or at least I seem to get them very bad, especially when I swim in the morning before going to my office job.  I have had colleagues ask if everything is ok thinking that my eyes are puffy from crying.

Since I’ve started to train for another Ironman (wisconsin 2015) after taking nearly a year off of triathlon (aka swimming)  I asked for a waterproof iPod for Christmas.  It won’t resolve the dry skin or puffy eyes but I thought if might alleviate the boredom. So without much research (when do i have time for research) I chose the audioflood.

The iPod shuffle I got came in a regular case with its own headphones and charger etc. identical to my regular non-waterproof shuffle.

It also came with a cute little bag with waterproof headphones, a swim cap and various earbud attachments.  Pictured here:




I tried it for the first time this past Sunday.  I got to the pool late and dreaded every minute of it. It had snowed the entire day before and I didn’t want to drive in the bad roads/ weather so my previous workout plans were put on hold as I figured out what I was going to do (or maybe it was just avoidance). Finally after spending the day indoors working and doing some wardrobe spring cleaning I had to get out.  So I gathered all my stuff put on many layers and my big winter boots and walked to the closest FFC location.  It was nice to get out and there was a sprinkling of snow coming down… so pretty.

At 4:30  ish I finally arrived at the pool deck.  Delaying as much as possible I jumped in.   I attached the headphones to the iPod and inserted them in my ears and pulled my cap over my ears.  Good so far.  I turned the iPod on and clipped it to the back of my cap.  Satisfied with the volume etc. I started swimming… all I could hear was a buzzing or white noise in the background.  I stopped to adjust the volume and this time clipped the iPod to my suit in front.  Starting to swim again I could sort of hear the music and it came in and out in line with my breathing.  Apparently when my head turned out of the water for a breath I could hear better…  I kept swimming, the earbuds fell out.  I pushed them in my eardrums and pulled the cap down again.  I clipped the iPod to the back of my cap.  I worked my way through myself made workout – of 200 swim, 200 breath left side only, 200 kick, 200 pull all x 2.  At this pool I do 10 lengths for a 200 vs the normal 8 because the pool is really short.  The earbuds fell out several times and I could sort of hear the music.

I was thinking maybe I could load it with some podcasts or something but if the sound doesn’t get much better I might just stick to music.

Next time I will try different earbuds.  It came with shorter ones so I think these might fit my ear better.  I hope it works!!!!

Well its noon here in Chicago and I’m already trying to prep myself for tonight’s swim at 8 pm… Its cold the pool is cold, it’s at a high school (think high school kids who have just swam in the pool- ewe!)

They don’t call it triathlon because there is no swim…

Stay tuned for trial #2. Anyone else out there have any thoughts on this? I would love to hear what others think.

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2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 57 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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