DIRTY KANZA 2015

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”.

DIRTY!

DIRTY!!

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.

http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/article23158254.html

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

BLOOD SUGAR READINGS FOR THE DAY

BLOOD SUGAR READINGS FOR THE DAY

 

 

ON BIKE:
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

HYDRATION PACK
2.5 liters of skratch
1 big cliff bar (for emergency) – didn’t take
3 packets of skratch
1 extra cliff shot block pack
AID STATION 1
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
AID STATION 2
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

Ruby

Ruby

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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REVIEW: WATERPROOF IPOD

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.  http://www.audioflood.com/?gclid=CI7Piub7hMMCFQ6paQod0oYA5g

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:

AUDIOFLOOD

AUDIOFLOOD

 

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 WordPress.com 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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A DIAGNOSIS DIDN’T END THE RUN – Medtronic Global Hero Marathon Weekend

2014 MEDTRONIC GLOBAL HEROES

2014 MEDTRONIC GLOBAL HEROES

 

I wish I could get these posts out sooner but I do take very good notes!

The weekend and this report is more than just a race or race report about the Twin Cities Marathon it is about the joining of 25 individuals brought together in the face of some sort of medical condition.  The tagline of the event best describes it “A DIAGNOSIS DIDN’T END THE RUN”.  These individuals share one common trait and that is they have not let their medical condition slow them down.  I always say that although I HATE diabetes I also LOVE diabetes because without it I definitely would not be the same person I am today and I would never have met some of the most amazing individuals I have in my life right now.

In the summer my friend and colleague Adam and fellow T1 Diabetic nominated me to be a Medtronic Global Hero.

What does it mean to be a Medtronic Global Hero?

The global hero program is a cooperative effort between Twin Cities In Motion and Medtronic Philanthropy, the Global Heroes program recognizes runners from around the world who have a medical device to treat conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain and spinal and neurological disorders.

As a global hero I was given an all expenses paid trip for me and Tom and an entry to the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota.  We arrived in St. Paul Thursday prior to the marathon where we were greeted at the airport with snacks and water then whisked away in a car to the hotel.  From the minute we arrived we were treated like royalty.

That evening we attended a welcome happy  hour where we got to meet the other 24 global heroes.   I won’t be able to give everyone’s stories justice here but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least provide a summary of the 24 because they were such an amazing group of people. So I’d like to introduce to you my 24 global hero brothers and sisters and SOME of their stories (at least the ones I could find).

Molly Dicroce, Arvada, Colorado

Dicroce has a spinal and bone fusion device to treat lumbar degenerative disc disease.

 

Jason Dunn, Smithville, Missouri

Dunn has a stent to treat coronary artery disease.

 

Gillian Forsyth, Chicago, Illinois

Forsyth has an insulin pump to manage Type 1 diabetes.

 

Kent Grelling, Orinda, California

Grelling has an artificial heart valve and a conduit to treat a congenital bicuspid aorta and ascending aortic aneurysm.

 

Lynn Hall, Lafayette, Colorado

Hall has a neurostimulator to manage pain.

 

Kristen Hallock-Waters, Tabernacle, New Jersey

Hallock-Waters has a pacemaker to treat heart sinus node dysfunction.

http://www.shamongsun.com/2014/09/15/kristen-hallock-waters-set-run-medtronic-twin-cities-marathon/

Roberto Itimura, Jundiai, Brazil

Itimura has a stent to treat coronary artery disease.

 http://globotv.globo.com/rede-globo/sptv-2a-edicao/v/maratona-de-sao-paulo-acontece-no-domingo-19/3697048/

Dawn Kenwright, Lampeter, United Kingdom

Kenwright has an insulin pump to manage Type 1 diabetes.

 http://www.carmarthenjournal.co.uk/Dawn-s-heroic-effort-brings-new-challenge/story-22936298-detail/story.html

Luis Moreira Da Silva, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Moreira Da Silva has an artificial heart valve to treat ascending aorta aneurism and aortic stenosis on bicuspid valve.

 

Saci Mowinski, Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada

Mowinski has an insulin pump to manage Type 1 diabetes.

 

Joshua Simon, Key Biscayne, Florida

Simon has a shunt to treat hydrocephalus.

 

Amanda Zullo, Saranac Lake, New York

Zullo has an insulin pump to manage Type 1 diabetes.

 http://m.pressrepublican.com/sports/adult_youth_sports/saranac-lake-s-zullo-selected-as-medtronic-global-hero/article_01b20d20-991e-5132-bea1-10cbf0eae9aa.html?mode=jqm

Ten Mile Participants

Monika Allen, San Diego, California

Allen has a shunt to treat hydrocephalus.

 http://www.self.com/life/health/2014/10/brain-cancer-send-edge/

Brad Ashfield, Haddon Township, New Jersey

Ashfield has a lumbar cage to correct a ruptured spinal disc and a stent to treat coronary artery disease.

 

Rachel Bishop, Holland, Michigan

Bishop has an artificial heart valve to treat a congenital bicuspid aorta and ascending aortic aneurysm.

 

Gabriel Estrada Mejia, Bogota, Colombia

Estrada Mejia has an insulin pump to manage Type 1 diabetes.

 

Roger Frisch, Plymouth, Minnesota

Frisch receives deep brain stimulation therapy to help manage symptoms of essential tremor.

 

George Gilbert, Cuffley, United Kingdom

Gilbert has an artificial heart valve to treat bicuspid aortic valve regurgitation.

http://www.athleticsweekly.com/featured/global-hero-pb-medtronic-twin-cities-marathon-12955/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Kimi Hall, Southlake, Texas

Hall has a pacemaker to treat arrhythmia caused by heart block.

 

Geoff Henderson, Binalong, Australia

Henderson has a pacemaker to treat sick sinus syndrome.

 http://www.thesenior.com.au/News/The-Senior-News/Geoff-Henderson

Fei Jiao, Sanmenxia City, China

Jiao receives deep brain stimulation therapy to help manage symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

 http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/health/2014-10/06/c_127066698.htm

Carrie Romero, Columbia, Tennessee

Romero has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to treat cardiomyopathy.

 Article

Alana Savage, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Savage has a septal occluder device to treat an atrial septal defect.

 http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/story/26694050/marathon-vip-mother-with-heart-healing-device-to-run-10-miles

Carolin Suhayda, Roma, Italy

Suhayda has a pacemaker to treat sick sinus syndrome.

 

Guy Yohanan, Givat Ela, Israel

Yohanan receives deep brain stimulation therapy to help manage symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

More info on these amazing people can also be found here: http://www.medtronic.com/globalheroes/our_heroes.html  .

We also had Global Hero Alumni and fellow Canadian Debbie Muir Zelez and Aussie and musician Warren Williams to help us with the lay of the land.  

Friday after an amazing breakfast and presentation we were all given an awesome backpack filled with team swag then we were bused out to the Medtronic headquarters.  Here we were given a fantastic tour and shown some very cool devices that were being developed.  One was a blood dialysis machine which was portable so that people didn’t have to go to a hospital 3 x a week for blood transfusions.  Listening to the employees speak about their projects you couldn’t help but feel the passion and desire in their voices to make medical improvements for people in need.  Listening to and seeing the history behind the company and my insulin pump a few of us were brought to tears of gratitude knowing that our lives had been changed forever by these people and this company. After the tour we were treated to a VIP lunch at the headquarters and were each presented with a beautiful crystal globe engraved with our names.  We were also treated to a musical performance by global hero Roger Frisch a concertmaster for the Minnesota Orchestra and a violinist.

Getting my award!  I was so honored that I missed half the presentation!

Getting my award! I was so honored that I missed half the presentation!

 

My beautiful crystal award.

My beautiful crystal award.

 

 

Musical treat.

Musical treat.

 

Outside Medtronic Headquarters with the famous logo.

Outside Medtronic Headquarters with the famous logo.

 

 

After the lunch we were off to packet pickup and a VIP reception for marathoner organizers and elite athletes.  We were honored at the reception as well.

Saturday we had pictures with the team then time on our own.  I decided to go for a run to shake out the cobwebs.  I felt like had been eating and drinking for the whole time.  As I left the hotel another woman was also leaving the hotel.  We just naturally started to run together.  She was tiny and looked like a good runner.  As we ran together we talked.  As it turns out it she is masters runner Christine Kennedy who will be turning 60 in December.  She is hoping to break the 60+ record and run under 3 hours.  Her marathon PR after 50 was 2:51 she told me she was seconds from getting into the Olympics she ran a 18 minute 5k at age 53.  A reminder to not let age ever get in your way!   Luckily she was going for an “easy” run which still left me gasping, Thank goodness we hit a few red lights and I managed to keep up for the 4 miles we ran together.

Later, Tom and I went to the Science Museum of Minnesota which coincidently had a butterfly exhibit happening.  Everyone who knows about my friend Katie knows that if you see a butterfly it is Katie letting you know that she is with you from above.  We went to the butterfly room where immediately 3 butterflies landed on my head and didn’t leave until we left. It was definitely Katie saying that she was with me for this race.

A visit from Katie and her friends.

A visit from Katie and her friends.

For dinner we went to the marathon pasta dinner then off to bed early.

Marathon morning near Vikings stadium being rebuilt

Marathon morning near Vikings stadium being rebuilt

Amanda and I waiting to go to our start corrals.

Amanda and I waiting to go to our start corrals.

Sunday was marathon day.  It had been two years since I had run a stand-alone marathon.  Waking up to do a marathon is so much easier than a triathlon or even a long bike race.  I woke up at 5am and ate my usual pre-race meal of bagel, jason’s chocolate hazelnut butter and banana and gave myself my full bolus.  My BG was 202, as my pump delivered the insulin I chickened out and stopped the insulin with 1 unit to go.   The temperatures were fairly cold to start but I had plenty of “disposable” clothes with me so I was plenty warm getting to the race start.  I tested prior to dropping off my bag at 236 so I was happy.  I set my basil at 60% for 4 hours.

I had not followed any typical training program.  I did a lot of bike racing and training all summer so hadn’t been running, aside from once per week as marathon coaching started up in June.  I had run one 15 miler prior to the end of August.  At the end of August I traveled to the west coast for races.  I ran the hood to coast relay race in Portland which included 3 legs at 4-7 miles each.  The following weekend I raced in Rebecca’s private Idaho a 100 mile gravel bike race (RPI Post) .  My real marathon training started when I got back after labor day weekend. I had 3 weeks to train.

I ran 3-4 times a week for the 3 weeks.  I tried to run the mid-week runs at a decent tempo place and I ran 2 20 milers.  Something I definitely would recommend for any beginner but knowing my body and knowing my pace I felt confident enough to not overdo it.   I hoped that my biking fitness would transfer over to the marathon.  I looked up my last marathon time and splits. It was 2012 Chicago where I ran 2:00 in the first half and 1:50 ish in the second half.  I knew I had run negative splits that day but that is crazy.  I decided for this marathon I would aim for 2 hours at the half again then see where that would take me.  At my ripe old age I only need 3:55 to have a Boston qualifying time.  Not that I want to run Boston soon but I’d still like to keep my Boston Qualifying time alive.

For the cool weather I wore a thin base long sleeved layer with shorts and my Medtronic singlet. I also made sure that I had the purple butterfly cancer pin that Chris Navin had given me to my jersey as a reminder of Katie.

Butterfly Pin

Butterfly Pin

As I was running my shorts kept falling down.  I couldn’t figure out why but I was quite annoyed by it.  I had worn the shorts before I didn’t know what had changed.  Then I realized that it was because I had my base layer tucked into my shorts.  The waistband was not gripping onto my skin but rather was sliding down my torso with the jersey.    Once that was fixed I was happy.  The chocolate cherry gel I had stored in my shorts fell out and all I had left was my sleeve of blocks but that was plenty. The gel was really just for the caffeine if I needed it later in the race.

Cool temperatures and being well rested seemed to be a good mix, I felt great.  The miles were flying by.  It was a bit hillier than I was used to but it was extremely pretty and the streets were lined with people the entire way.  I watched my pace and stuck to my plan.  I let fellow diabetics and global hero’s Saci and Amanda go as they were going at a faster pace than I had planned so ended up on my own.  As I got to mile 10 I thought to myself only 7 miles before I get to see TeamWild founder Mari Ruddy.   I got to mile 13 exactly on pace at 2 hours.  I still felt great.  There were even a few mile markers that I just missed completely! The sights and the people were just so amazing.  The marathon course led runners through beautiful neighborhoods with lovely lakes and throughout the neighborhood people got together and looked like they were having a blast.   I finally saw Mari in the distance with her teamwild jacket.  I yelled Mari, Mari!  She finally saw me and I slowed down to give her a hug.  It’s always nice to anticipate people on the race course.   At mile 19 I heard my name being called as a global hero over the loud speaker I raised my arms and cheered and so did everyone else… it was awesome and gave me a nice boost!  I was supposed to meet up with Adam at mile 19 he had offered to run with me and I honestly felt I could use a bit of a push but we never saw each other.  After that bit of excitement I knew that the toughest part of any marathon was coming up.  Mile 20!  I also knew that there was a 2 mile uphill between miles 21-23 ish.  It wasn’t over yet.  I continued on. People every once in a while yelled go global hero! It felt great.  I was pushing it but kept up the pace with all my might in the last few miles, honestly I felt like I would never get to that last downhill mile. As we were coming down the final stretch I saw the parliament building in the distance and thought to myself it is so far I’m not going to make it at this pace!  Then I realized that the finish line wasn’t quite at the building so I was able to pick it up.  As I came down the finishers chute I veered to the left where I knew the Medtronic VIP section was.  I heard all my fellow global heroes as well as Tom cheering and tears came to my eyes.  I had finished in just under 3:55 and had qualified for Boston for a 5th time.  Yay! My splits can be seen here:  http://www.strava.com/activities/204377503

I slowly made my way through the finish line area.  I definitely felt every last mile in my body as it started to shut down as the adrenaline wore off.

I arrived at the Medtronic tent and was greeted immediately by Ranita the Global Hero Program coordinator she had been and is amazing and made you feel like you were special the entire weekend.  She gave me a huge hug which was exactly what I needed.  The tent was heated and had plenty of snacks and hot soup which hit the spot.  Another peasant surprise was seeing Team 2 End Aids endurance program director Jonathan who oversaw the marathon program that I had been coaching back in Chicago.  He was there with his wife and family.  It was so nice to see a familiar face and to meet his family.  Of course Tom my forever supporter as always was there to get me what I needed.

The Medtronic team had written out messages from friends and family on cards and had hung them in the tent.  I loved reading them.

IMG_0414 IMG_0397 IMG_0399 IMG_0400

Messages from friends and loved ones.

Messages from friends and loved ones.

 

I quickly tested my blood sugar for the first time since before the marathon I was 125 ! yay The 60% basil worked and I had eaten my sleeve of blocks evenly throughout the marathon and had drank water/Gatorade at the aid stations.  I also may have eaten a donut hole or two J, a couple of orange wedges and a ¼ banana. My Dexcom had crapped out on me and I didn’t have my tester so I went totally by feel.  Something I would only recommend if you have marathon experience!

After waiting for some of the others to finish we hopped on a bus and headed back to the hotel.  I had a nice hot shower a little drink then headed over to a brew pub for post race food and beverages.

"The Diabetics"

“The Diabetics”

We all chatted and took pictures and were sad that our weekend was over.  My life has definitely been enriched from this weekend as I now have 24 new bionic sisters and brothers.  We continue to this day to share stories of exercise and life on our facebook group page.  I have NO doubt that I will see many of them again.  I know for one I will see Saci since the two of us are both doing Ironman Wisconsin in 2015 with the “Riding on Insulin” group.  We have 100 people so far signed up many of whom are diabetic.  I am also raising money for the Riding on Insulin charity which is a great organization which provides athletic outlet for kids and adults with diabetes.  Riding on Insulin Fundraising Page  Sorry for the plug here but please consider a small donation!

The next day we said our final good byes and headed to the airport.  Tom had surprised me with a first class up grade!  Woo hoo, my weekend of VIP treatment lasted that much longer!

Until we meet again my fellow global heroes (and I know we will) love all of you and i’m glad I get to be a part of your lives forever.

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Rebecca’s Private Idaho – Part 2

logo

After running in the hood to coast race in Portland and spending a week working in Vancouver, WA  I started the drive to Idaho.  Besides a $260 speeding ticket my drive to Idaho was spectacular. I really like driving and have no problem driving long distances on my own.  After working all day, I made it to Ontario, Oregon on the first night which is just west of the Idaho state line.  I arrived at the Hailey airport 2 hours ahead of schedule and made friends with the hotel shuttle driver who was waiting for the next flight to come in.  I assumed that it would be all the VQ people and it was.  It was nice to finally see some familiar faces after 5 days of being on my own.  Everyone piled in the bus and the chatter began.

Not long into the drive Robbie received a call from my coach Mike.  Apparently he had been mountain biking with his brother earlier and flipped and broke his collar bone.  We all sort of sat in disbelief.  He was so dialed in for this race and I couldn’t believe that once again he had such bad luck.  In Kanza in May he experienced 5 flats and a fall and now this.  He wasn’t even going to be able to start this race.  I knew knowing him that he would put on a brave face but I also knew that he had worked really hard to be ready for this particular race. Where most people would be crushed and likely would have flown home to have the shoulder taken care of right away he embraced the chance to cheer his teammates on despite the pain. I just can’t begin to explain the gratitude the whole team had for his encouragement at the 40 & 60 mile aid station of the race.  I also can’t even begin to imagine exactly how much pain he was in.  Later he found out that it was one of worst breaks the surgeon had seen, apparently his collar bone was splintered in several pieces.  If Rebecca Rusch is the queen of pain, this guy is definitely the King.  His strength and determination is infectious, when you are around him you want to do well.

So here I was again at another race.  You may wonder and I wonder why the hell I keep doing this.  I think about all the training I do for these race and yes sometimes I think I should just stop, sleep in have a lazy Saturday or Sunday.  Instead I get up early to run or get up early to go on a long bike ride on the weekends. And certainly July was one of the hardest months mentally that I have had in a while. I think Rebecca Rusch said it best in her book “I am addicted to finish lines” I love the way it feels when you come across that line and your team/or friends are cheering for you or the feeling of even finishing at all.  My experience at the Boulder Ironman this past August was  case in point.  I had flown out to spectate since I knew several people who were competing.  The whole time I was watching and cheering in the heat and seeing some of athletes suffer from the altitude and the heat I just thanked god it was not me and after seeing the carnage of the marathon I had no interest in doing another ironman.  Then, as soon as I got to that finish line and I was banging on those boards listening to Mike Reilly call out the names of the new or once again crowned ironmen I wanted it so bad. I wanted to go through all that pain and suffering just to see that finish line.  I’m not anywhere good enough at any race to worry about winning or placing in my age group, I don’t think my nerves could handle that pressure but I like to get out there and train as hard as I can to see that finish line.   I don’t think my brain or my body would be happy if I wasn’t doing something.

After we were dropped off at the our awesome hotel – the sun valley resortsun valley resort we all got into our bike gear and headed out for a quick ride.  It was a short steep ride we were all trying to watch our watts but as we climbed I found myself in the lowest gear almost immediately.  This concerned me because up until now I had always used my mountain bike for these gravel events.  I had a ton of easy gears and I could bomb down the hills as well.  The rest of the day I spent worrying about my gearing.

Later that night we got to go to a VIP party in town for the race.  We were given some cool swag and got to meet the girls Katie and Jen from World Bicycle Relief an organization that provides bikes to 3rd world countries as a means to go about their daily lives with improved efficiency. You can find more information to this great organization at this link:  World Bicycle Relief . Visionquest raised enough money for 68 bikes! I also saw some of the folks from Dirty Kanza.  I spoke with the race director and tried to talk him into sending me a 200 sticker that I had lost at the end of the DK200 race but he wouldn’t budge.  I guess this means I need to go back.  Kristin another Kanza organizer said she remembered me finishing and said that she had hugged me which I thought was really cool.  The party was a lot of fun we had some great food and good wine.  I soon forgot about my gears.

Picture with Rebecca at the party.

Picture with Rebecca at the party.

The next morning we went out on another ride, this time with the Queen of pain herself – Rebecca Rusch.  This was about the 3rd time I’d met her and she recognized me from Kanza which I thought was nice.  This time we rode the entire first climb of the course.  I managed up it with my gears albeit slowly.  Once I realized I could actually hang on even in the lowest gear I felt a little more comfortable.  We had fun talking to Rebecca and enjoying the fabulous view.  On the downhill we experienced the infamous washboards of the race.  It was seriously so bumpy I felt my brain smashing around inside my skull.  My arms and hands were shaking so much it was hard to hang on.  You didn’t know whether to ride it fast to get it over quicker or ride it slow to slow down the bumps!

Recon ride with Rebecca (on the left) (me on right)

Recon ride with Rebecca (on the left) (me on right)

Top of climb.  It was a bit rainy and cold that day.

Top of climb. It was a bit rainy and cold that day.

During the day we all watched the wagon days parade.

Wagon Days Parade

Wagon Days Parade

Then headed back to the hotel for a big pizza / pasta dinner.  Apparently I  had worked up a hunger because I ordered the spaghetti and meatballs and the pizza.  I ended up paying the price later as I woke in the middle of the night with sky high blood sugar.  I hardly ever eat pasta and pizza is pretty infrequent too so I definitely misjudged my insulin requirements.  Luckily I did wake up and was able to give myself a correction and was fine again for race morning.  It could have been ugly if I hadn’t woken up.  Thank goodness for the dexcom alarm!

We woke up to a chilly morning.  I ate my usual breakfast in my room of wheat bread, crunchy peanut butter and a banana, while the rest ate breakfast together.  With a blood sugar reading of 100 I bolused about 50% for the meal and increased my basil to 120% for 2 hours to account for start-line adrenaline. Other than that I planned to keep my basil at 100% for the remainder of the ride.  I had packed my bento box and shirt with cliff blocks and gels.  For the first time in a long time I didn’t have my hydration pack or a liquid nutrition bottle with sustained energy. It was a bit of a risk but I planned on using more cliff blocks, gels and aid station food.  I wrote on my arm my inspiration – Katie love.

Inspiration

Inspiration

I packed up my things and met some others to head to the start.  I wore my arm coolers, thin vest and my VQ kit with long fingered gloves.  I knew that we would hit the hill soon enough where I would get warm.  Hopefully the vest would keep me warm on the downhill.

Race Start

Race Start

The race started on a paved road, in fact the first 6 miles or so were paved.  I tried to draft off of as many people as I could until we got to the gravel.  I felt pretty good on the uphill and noticed that I climbed it faster than the day before.  I came across a few teammates and one of the World Bicycle Relief girls.  We chatted until we got to the top which made the hill go buy much quicker and it felt really easy.  Later she said that she had been struggling and that I helped take her mind off of the struggle.  It is always nice when we can help each other out during some tough times.

We arrived at the first aid station and got a refill of gu roctane.  I had only drank 1 bottle of skratch at this point.  Although I made sure I drank I wasn’t sure if I had enough.  I also had a qtr of pbj and one of the amazing roasted potatoes. Although I had been popping some cliff blocks along the way I figured I’d better eat some solids while I felt like it.  I make my stop quick like I had been working on.  The next several miles were a gradual downhill and I felt superfast on the Trek Cronus that Mike had so kindly lent me, the gravel was fairly hard packed.  I averaged nearly 21 MPH.  The next aid station arrived fast again I made it quick, having a couple of potatoes and a few sips of cold coke.  All the time I had been slowly sipping on bottle # 2 of skratch and refilled again on GU roctane.  I had brought extra skratch with me but rather than taking the time to mix it I just used what they had on the course.  I wished I had taken the time because I felt that the GU roctane didn’t quite agree with me, it wasn’t what I was used to.  At this point I hadn’t heard any dexcom beeping and I felt good so didn’t manually check my sugar.  I took off heading to the 3rd aid station.  Which was a slight uphill.  During this section I experienced lower back pain to the point where I was having to relieve it every few minutes.  I figured it had something to do with increasing my running mileage.    I tried to alleviate by going in the drops getting out of the drops but the only thing that would help was to stand up and give it a good stretch.  At least it was nothing that was going to stop, it was just annoying.

Aid Station and spectacular views

Aid Station and spectacular views

Before I knew it I arrived to see Mike’s smiling face at the 3rd aid station.  What a treat.  I knew he was going to be in the course but didn’t know where.  Seeing him gave me a big boost. He asked if I had seen the cows and the antelope, I had not. I wonder if I just wasn’t paying attention?  I thought I was enjoying the scenery.    I grabbed half a pbj and 1 potato and continued on into the loop of the lollipop route.   I noticed a girl wearing a bright pink t-shirt and bright pink compression socks and ended up behind her the whole way.  I made it my goal to keep her in my sight.  At one point she stopped at the side of the road  I made sure she was ok and continued on.  On this loop I did see the cows but no antelope, in fact at one point I slowed down as a cow was approaching the road and I thought he was going to walk in front of me but he stopped as he saw me.  I guess I looked scary.  At the end of the loop I ran into my teammate Andy.  He wasn’t doing to well and had lost a bottle along the way.  All I could say was 1 mile until we get to see Mike!  In fact the entire loop that is all I thought about.  15 miles to Mike, 10 miles to Mike… We arrived at the aid station together I grabbed some more roctane and headed out.  By this time “Pink Girl” had passed me again. She didn’t stop at the aid station like I did.  I knew I was going to stop at each aid station because I only had two bottles with me but it turned out I really only needed 1.  My back one was still fairly full at each aid station but better safe than sorry.  I didn’t test at that aid station either because I really felt good and my Dex was not alarming. At this point I felt great and was excited that I was already 2/3rd of the way in.

more amazing scenery

more amazing scenery

The next section was the stick part of the lollipop which we had ridden out on. This time we had a benefit of a gradual downhill for a while.  The wind had really noticeably picked up.  I stopped again at the next aid station had a diet red bull.  In hindsight I should have has a regular one.  I ran into another teammate Eric he was extremely tall and apparently his longest ride before this was like 65 miles.  He was suffering quite a bit and the wind was really strong this 2nd to last leg and we  also had a gradual uphill.  I tried to pull as long as I could then I had to let him go for a bit.  We worked together for a bit then I lost him.  It was during this time that I heard the beeping of my dexcom coming from my bento box.  I honestly was not sure if I was low or high at this point.  I took the machine out and tried to read it in the sun, no easy feat.  I finally got to some shade and saw that I was in the red low.  I took this opportunity to have my salted caramel gu and I also had a few glucose tablets.  I arrived at the final aid station and although I didn’t need to stop I stopped anyway.  The rest of the way would be the really quick albeit painful downhill then the quicker paved section.  I grabbed more liquid for some reason and ate a bit of a banana.  Eric also had come in.  I took off and started bombing down the hill.  I felt pretty good and confident with my hands in the drops ready to apply the cantilever breaks on the cross bike.  Shortly after my descent started Eric caught up to me and passed me.  Then I passed him again once we were on the flatter section.  I also passed the girl in pink and spoke to her briefly.  I don’t think she was happy that I passed her because she wasn’t really friendly.  I finally saw the mile to finish sign and saw another woman I rode past her at the pace I was going , then she picked it up and put the hammer down.  I thought I didn’t have anything in me at that point to push that sort of power and told her I had nothing.  But then something happened and I was able to sprint with her to the finish.  We ended up with the identical time and tied for 10th place.  Had I known it was for 10th I might have pushed it a little more but honestly I don’t think I could have.  The finishing timer mat was about 2 miles from the actual “finishers” chute so we ended up chatting the rest of the way.  She told me that her and her husband usually do 400-500 mile races.  I asked her about them, about sleeping in tents /food etc. Then I told her I did Kanza and she said she DNF’d because she underestimated it.  Later when I looked at the results I realized that she was Jay Petervarys’s wife.  Jay Petervary link

I arrived at the finish with some great cheers from the team and they said I was probably only the 10 or 11th girl to finish.  I had no idea who was in front of me or who was behind me at this point. I just had a great race, it was an amazing fabulous day.  I just couldn’t help think about how lucky I was to be enjoying this glorious ride and day.  The views were spectacular to say the least and although my blood sugar dipped low I really like it better when I can maintain a more normal range rather than running high which is usually the case.

These last few sentences sum up why I have forgotten about all trials and tribulations, all the mental anguish, all the tired Sundays and why I am signed up for my next big adventure! Even after I arrived home and was back at work I was basking in the glow of that race and the whole RPI camp.  It was a great time with great people. It made me smile.

I ended up eating:

1 Salted Caramel Gu

1 Chocolate Razberry Gu

2 packs of shot blocks

1 pack of GU chomps

2 bottles of skratch and 4 bottles of roctane

Approx 4 small-med red potatoes roasted in olive oil and rosemary with salt (so awesome!)

¾ PBJ sandwich.

½ banana

Awesome Idaho Potatoes at aid station.

Awesome Idaho Potatoes at aid station.

Finishing time was 6:37:08 over 94 miles and 5,200 feet of climbing. My max speed was 38.5 mph (woo hoo).  Lesson learned – I should have stuck with my Skratch.

Race Day BG

Race Day BG

Strava File

More amazing shots can be found here:

Linda Guerrette Photos

 

Although most people left the next day I had arranged to stay another day in this spectacular place.  I woke up late, went for a swim, I rented a city cruiser bike and rode it to the ski lift at Bald mountain and breathed the beautiful mountain air.  I ate lunch at the roundhouse at the top of the ski lift.  The views were stunning and it was so nice to just chill after racing.   Mentally I usually prefer to take a day to relax after a race.  I hate packing everything up and getting on a plane back to reality.  A day is nice to soak it all up especially if you are surrounded by mountains. Honestly this place was a little slice of heaven.

Top of Bald Mountain at the roundhouse

Top of Bald Mountain at the roundhouse

 

NEXT UP THE TWIN CITIES MARATHON ON OCTOBER 5TH.  I need to start doing some serious running!!!!

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