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I Have No Bike Legs

When I was growing up, a hobby of my family was to participate in kid's pedal tractor pulls. It's basically where they slap a bunch of weight behind pedal tractors of various sizes to accommodate different age groups. The weight moves up the ramp, so it gets progressively heavier. Whichever kid in that age group pulls it the farthest wins. They gave out trophies for the top three finishers in each age group. I never won a stinkin' trophy. The closest I ever came was 4th, and that was usually if there were 4 or 5 participants. My 4 other siblings all won trophies at nearly every event. They all qualified for the state match. Steph and Matt even made it to the national and international meets. It was a pretty big deal. But me? I had to settle for the free can of Dr. Pepper for participating. Every. Single. Time. I am reminded of that today. I don't think I'm genetically programmed to have pedaling strength.

My half Ironman race at Chisago this weekend actually went pretty well. I went into it just hoping to finish around last year's time. I was secretly hoping for at least a little PR, but like I've said, this year's training has not been the same volume as last year. Well, I did PR - by nearly 15 minutes. I have been feeling pretty good about it until today when the official race results came in. My Place? 63 out of 68 women (74 if you count DNFs). I am darn slow in triathlon. Now I've never been fast, but in running races I can usually finish somewhere in the middle. Don't get me wrong. I've never gone out to win a race and found out a long time ago that I cannot compare myself to anyone but myself. Holy cow, though. I had the second slowest bike split of all the women, even though I cut 6 minutes off last year's bike time. So... Here's the lowdown:

Before The Race:
I looked in all of the local bike and run retailers for a suitable tri outfit since I have never owned one. In the past I have either done the whole tri in my swimsuit or changed in transition. After sifting through limited selection in St. Paul, I made the trek out to Gear West, where of course they had plenty of clothes to chose from. I found a great pair of shorts that did not make my legs look like sausages and a top that actually covered my belly button while giving me the extra support I need for the girls. Bonus: I thought I actually looked pretty good in it.

Steve and I got up the morning of the race bright and early at about 0400. He went to work putting our bikes on the car while I filled up the water bottles and lined up anything we hadn't packed the night before. We enjoyed early morning booty music and good conversation during the car ride, and before we knew it, we were in Chisago City. We checked in, set up transition, and joined the masses waiting for the swim start.

The Swim:
Last year, the water was so choppy that I couldn't see they buoys. We swam in a gigantic triangle and I must have swallowed a gallon of water. This year, there were no white caps on the water. I was actually pretty smooth. It was an out and back, which I had never done before in a tri, but it's my new favorite as far as swim courses go. Total swim time: 47:50. Still lots of room for improvement here, but I'm fairly happy with it.

I threw on my stuff, including an extra pair of bike shorts and my top, and I was off: 3:33.7 later.

The Bike:
I got passed by quite literally everybody on the bike, especially since I started in wave 2 of 6. I ate more than I ever have on the bike, but I was still hungry. I managed to consume 3 packages of Cliff Shot Bloks, 1 pack of fig newtons, my entire water bottle containing 7 scoops of Carbo Pro and 2 scoops of Gatorade, 3 bottles of water, and some Enduralytes. I have never eaten that much on the bike before, but like I said I was hungry. I have said before that this course is fairly comparable to IMMOO, although it is a little easier. It's never really flat and has a couple of pretty descent hills. Parts of the road were TERRIBLE. I remembered them from last year - the road is so rough that you can never really get into a rhythm because you're always bracing yourself. Overall I had a really good bike. I kept a good cadence and was singing to myself for the last mile (the Gambler by Kenny Rogers if you must know). I'm sure I could have gone faster. I just don't know how much faster before totally hashing my legs.

Off came the bike shorts, on went the running shoes, and I was out: 1:22.1.

The Run:
I started the run feeling a little crampy in my abdomen, and that feeling took a while to go away. It may very well have been all the food I ate on the bike, but I never felt nauseated, just like I had to back off a tad. I knew I was on track to PR over last year's time, so I tried to keep it in gear. I saw Rural Girl for the first time of the day when she had just a couple of miles left. She looked great! I found Steve on his way in a few more miles down the road. He looked spectacular too. He said that his knee was a little sore, but I knew he was going to make it well under 6, the time he expected to come in. We exchanged a smooch and didn't see each other again till the finish line. Turns out I missed seeing Iron Jenny and a few other bloggers out there too. I did stop for 3 minutes to walk halfway through the run to get rid of a little stomach sloshing. I also walked through the water stops. There was ice at nearly stop, and boy did I take advantage of it! I had it everywhere - under my hat, in my sports bra, eating it. It was heavenly! I finished fairly strong. Total run time: 2:18.39, 5 minutes slower than my half mary earlier this season.

Comparison To Last Year (my only other HIM):

Chisago Lakes 2006:
Swim: 50:18
T1: 3:53
Bike: 3:41
T2: 2:25
Run: 2:23
Total: 7:01.59

Chisago Lakes 2007:
Swim: 47:50 PR
T1: 3:33 PR
Bike: 3:35 PR
T2: 1:22 PR
Run: 2:18 PR
Total: 6:47.10 PR

Steve and me after the finish sporting our medals.

The Aftermath:
Well it seems that although I loaded up on sunscreen, I still got crispified. I have been wearing a sports bra to work for two days now because my burns are worst over my shoulder blades where my top came in. Steve and I enjoyed a glorious 45 minute nap after we got home from the race, and then I got to work cooking. I knew that with our race, Steph's 18 mile run, and my brother Matt's 40 mile bike ride, we'd be a hungry bunch. So I made a double batch of sweet and sour chicken with rice, pasta salad, 14 ears of sweetcorn, a turkey tenderloin, and washed up a couple of pounds of grapes. Time it took to all get eaten: 36 hours.

IM Moo, here we come!
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Um, Eww

So I don't normally get grossed out. I am a healthcare professional, and as such, my lunches usually consist of discussing topics involving parasites, bodily fluids, or worse. I see and smell things on a daily basis that would leave many people scarred for life. So when I head to the local Y to swim, not much grosses me out there, either. Now I'm not talking about the sights in the locker room. However unpleasant, the naked elderly ladies who just finished their water aerobics class are nothing I haven't seen before. The slimey floor under my feet often prompts me to wear my sandles in the shower, but I can deal with that. The pool monkeys (those gigantic clumps of hair that lurk at the bottom of the pool and follow you till they wrap themselves around your fingers)... well the pool monkeys aren't my friends, but I suppose they're just a part of swimming pools. The other day, however, when I thought I saw a small turd float into my lane, well, that was my tipping point.

I couldn't tell exactly what it was at first. It was small (about the size of a marble) and sort of round. It was staying put for the most part. I tried to ignore it. I told myself that it must be something else. My goggles are getting pretty old and scratched, so I can't see the best. I swam another lap. It was still there, sitting at the bottom. A huge groupe of little kids in the lane next to me got and out and left. I knew I wouldn't be able to finish my workout wondering what the heck it was, so I called the lifeguard's name. She handed me a small net and I scooped it out. I still couldn't tell what it was at first - a rock maybe? I prayed that it wasn't a turd. I handed the net to her. She made the final diagnosis - a bandaid, rolled up really funny. Whew! False alarm! Bandaids do not gross me out. There's lots of them in the bottom of our pool, especially during the summer. I finished my swim and headed home.
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My Version of WIBA

If you want to read a really great recap of WIBA 07, head to Steve's or Wil's or Rural Girl's blogs. They've got some great pictures and awesome descriptions of the weekend. Steve put most of our pics on his site, so if you want to see our wetsuit Christmas card worthy picture (amongst others), head on over there. Been working on this post for over a week now. 'Bout darn time I get it up.

I have to admit that I was more than a little nervous heading out to WIBA, for lots of reasons. As I mentioned in my last post, my training hasn't been as strong as I had hoped it to be by this time. I'm certainly not ahead of last year's training and in fact may be a little behind in comparison. Also, being one of WIBA's first year crew, I just didn't think it would be the same. I'm usually more of a small group get to know everybody kind of person. I knew WIBA would be big this year. I just couldn't fathom how big. Steve and made it to dinner just a little late Friday evening (still had to put in a full day at work), but once we got there, my worries started to fade. Our group was HUGE but familiar faces like Tri Al, Wil, Stu, Robby B, and Thomps stood out right away. I also recognized other bloggers from pictures but always feel like a stalker introducing myself, so I waited till Saturday to meet a lot of those folks. We got to sit by some amazing people from Bloomington, IL, and I was quickly reminded that this one thing called Ironman is an instant bond maker. Suddenly our huge group wasn't so scary, and by bedtime Friday night, I was really looking forward to Saturday's swim and ride.

Saturday morning came sooner than I would have liked, but we were up bright and early to squeeze into our wetsuits. We got to meet Taconite Boy at the swim. I was afraid of looking like a stalker introducing myself, something like, "Yeah, you're Tac Boy, right? Um, yeah, I've read your blog." But he was totally cool. Soon Steve, Wil and I jumped into the water and had an amazing time swimming stroke for stroke with each other. Of course we did have to take a few seconds here and there for a good laugh and to make sure our fellow swimmers weren't getting picked off by the ski team practicing a little too nearby. Then it was on to T1!. A little creative changing in the parking ramp helped to prevent Run Bubba Run from seeing a little of Pharmie than he needed to. Before we knew it, we were heading down the ramp toward the rest of the group. The next time I bike down that ramp will be during Ironman. Only 8 weeks away! Steve and I had decided to go with the 72 mile group right away. We didn't know how his knee or my training would hold up, and we were more out to see the course and have a little fun than kill ourselves in the heat. Our group started out really small (only 4 of us decided to do the 72 miler), but it turned out that most of the big group ended up just going 72 anyway. The heat and the hills got to 'em.

My mini group started out as Steve, Thomps, and Widget. I'm not sure if it was because I was the only female, lack of training, or the fact that I'm just plain slow and steady, but I just couldn't cut it with those guys. I tried and I tried, but I was killing myself to barely keep up with their "easy" pace, and even then they were stopping to wait for me. I'm usually the waiter, not the waitee, and for me, it was humiliating. After I told him multiple times, Steve and the guys finally dropped me at around mile 30. I met up with Run Bubba Run and his friend Pam soon after that, but I really couldn't keep up with them either, so I told them to go on. I think Bubba was appalled that Steve would have left me. Honestly, though, I actually felt better once they had all gone. I could finally make it my ride, just enjoying the hills and meeting up with other bikers here and there. I finally got to meet Triteacher, who is just as sweet in person as she is on her blog. I also got to meet a great guy named Mike from the Twin Cities who is training for IM Moo. I had sort of thought that this weekend would be a make or break for me, but it was really neither. It just reaffirmed that I need to kick it into gear even more in these last two months. Steve and I met up at the end of our ride and just went for a one mile run. It was hot and I was in great need of a shower. Day 2 accomplished. We met up with the group at the Great Dane for supper, where Steve proceeded to eat his famous "man burger" with pizza for dessert. I stuck with the sensible fish, vegetables, and rice. The hotel had fresh cookies waiting when we got back, and we both ate those too. Delicious!

Sunday we met up with the group fairly early to try to beat the heat. I ended up running with Wil and Chris Sweet's wife Cara. I can only hope to look like her when I'm 5 months' pregnant someday! The three of us ran together for a while through the early morning streets of Madison before Cara stopped at her car. Wil and I ran together for a while longer and just talked about life and Ironman. It was great to have her there. I can't wait to tow the line with her again on September 9. She put so much work into the weekend along with Stu and Robby B, and it turned out fabulous. WIBA 2007 was another success!

Funny as it sounds, WIBA weekend was a very much needed vacation, even with all of those workouts. For two whole days, I slept, ate well, got to spend some alone time with Steve, and didn't think about remodeling houses, selling houses, paying bills, finishing residencies, starting a new job, or squeezing in my training. I left all of those thoughts on the course, where they belong. It also rejuvenated my training. I know what I have to do to get this done again. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a 2 hour bike ride planned...