Money In The Bank: 3/4 Iron Weekend (beware: long post!)

I never really understood the phrase “Money In The Bank” until this weekend.

The week was a toughie for me. I had gotten an eye ulcer (likely from a gnat flying in my eye – though I am VERY careful to ALWAYS wear some sort of eye protection on the bike). It hurt to blink and looked super nasty – blood-red eye white, plus this yellow “bump” right off my iris. The doctor originally said no swimming in Clear Lake at all – because the LAST thing you want is lake water/bacteria/etc. into an “eye sore.” I have to say that I freaked out. I have been dealing with the various aches and pains – the hip thing, shin thing – but an eye issue taking me out of the game was unanticipated.

I did a little running the week between Del Valle and the 3/4 Iron, but mainly I was sick with the stress of it all. The doctor checked it again later in the week and said that he thought I could swim – but not with contacts. So into the City I went, to Sports Basement to get some of their prescription goggles (who knew? $16). Then after a trip to Costco (I love that “Rice Krispie Treats” are now marketing themselves as “Energy Bars” – !!), I swung by the pool and tried the suckers out. They worked FINE – my prescription is not the same for both of my eyes, but they worked well enough and I could sight fine. I looked a little odd walking through the gym to the pool in the goggles – and walking up the stairs to the pool was not a picnic for sure – but I was relieved I had something that “could work.” I kept hearing the words to Pink’s song “18 Wheeler” in my head, which made me feel stronger:

You can push me out the window
I’ll just get back up
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler truck
And I won’t give a f*ck
You can hang me like a slave
I’ll go underground
You can run over me with your 18 wheeler but
You can’t keep me down, down, down, down

After trying out the goggles, I went by Long’s to get some of those “old lady over-the-glasses” sunglasses for my prescription glasses – since I would need them for the bike/run if I wasn’t wearing contacts. Kathryn from the team offered me via Facebook her prescription sunglasses if our prescriptions were the same – I love our Team!

Friday (the day that I was leaving for Clear Lake) I was pretty much a mess. I was having an appointment with the ophthamologist at 11:30 (so much for leaving early to check out the event route) and I was going to get a “thumbs up” (or down) on whether I could do the weekend. I was REALLY excited when he said, as I put my head in that “look into the eye vice holder thing” that my eye was “miraculously” better – so much so that I could actually not only do the event, but wear my contacts. Who-hoo! He said that it might really itch, and if that happened, to be “ready” to change into the glasses. (Then we talked about how he had biked/run with a gal who did Alcatraz – the best part is this is a doctor who UNDERSTANDS what I was facing. Loved that.) So I added the over-the-eye sunglasses, glasses, glasses wipes, contact lens holder, saline, eye drops, and mirror all to my transition bag – and off I went to prepare for Clear Lake.

I had to laugh, of course, as I was getting everything ready – for an Ironman, you wind up with like 50 pounds of gear/”nutrition” and the like, and then a sundress tucked into a back zip pocket of your huge bag for afterwards. (I even wear my swim-to-bike shoes with the sundress.) So funny. I remember this from Sedona – at least this time I was DRIVING to the event, not FLYING.

arriving at Clear Lake

Had a funny You Know You’re Iron When moment preparing to go. I was putting together my nutrition, and as I tweeted/posted on Facebook, “You know they know you’re Iron when your husband comes in the kitchen to suspicious white powder on the counter and says, ‘CarboPro Accident?’.”

Got up to Clear Lake without incident – wearing my glasses until the last second, of course, to save my eyes as much as possible. Although we had had rain just a few days before, it was going to be a hot one – evidenced by the piles and piles of water jugs for the team! I drove through some rainy patches though on the road and left my bike with a little trepidation. (Sure enough, when I got there the next day, all the bikes were soaked. Stupid me for not finding a garbage bag and “bagging” Angeline. Poor thing.)

I hadn’t seen some of the team in forever. Because Maria and I didn’t do the 80 miler, and then a number of people hadn’t made Del Valle the week before (Memorial Day Weekend), it was like “old home week” seeing everyone. I was really sad that Will had quit the team, because I always just love seeing him and chatting. As I counted “through” people, I heard of more and more folks who were no longer on the team, many of whom really surprised me. A number of people were also planning to not do the whole bike course or the run because of injuries, but were there to do what they could.

We took a team picture, and then Maria and I headed back to the hotel, to get our game together.

view of swim start

That was actually pretty funny. Maria had never done a Spring Break during college, and that’s what the whole scene reminded me of. Super old (though clean) two-story hotel where you could yell across and toss things to one another off the railings, turquoise fridge and push-button electric ring stove, the works. I had as much fun watching Maria as folks walked in and out of our room, etc. as I was having being part of it all! Neither of us is particularly good with “Nutrition Math” and it got to be a running joke that we would be “just about” to do our 4 hour bottles with GU Brew/Gatorade and CarboPro and count it all out and someone else would come in the door throwing off the count. It was kinda like an old black-and-white TV comedy routine. (Reading Teammate Rocky’s blog about it is hilarious – I highly suggest it. Especially the part about the arrow and harpoon-wielding carp fishermen that we shared the hotel with, who were having a big “do” in the lake the same day. Yeah. Really. I was VERY GLAD to hear that we were swimming on the OTHER side of the lake!)

One thing I did discover is that my CamelBak is NOT “four hours” for me – it’s three. (And almost perfectly – both at 3 hours into the bike, and at 6.) For some reason, I thought it was 4, and so mixed up the Nutrition with that in mind. I had to do a little “recalculating on the fly” when I went “dry” an hour before I thought I would on the bike course – but that’s why we do these things. I wound up with the wrong “count” in my Special Needs bottle, etc. but I made it work. Good to know.

close up of beach for swim start

If you look at Maria’s blog (linked above) her Special Needs bag was just fabulous. Included were the usual tube, CO2 cartridge, 4-hour bottle, etc. but also as much junk food as she could think of (me too!) She took a picture of hers though and posted it, which is just priceless. Pringles should sponsor Ironman – I swear! It’s definitely the “Special Needs Bag Treat Of Choice.”

We went out for some AWESOME handmade pasta to a restaurant Coach Mike suggested, and just chilled and chatted with our teammates about the next day. I had a glass of wine at the restaurant and when Maria questioned it, I mentioned that the day before the Wine Country Century I had had martinis and wine (and RIBS and dessert and dessert drinks!) with H and a friend, and that the day before Del Valle had been macadamia nut martinis – so I was actually “backing off from” what had been my “routine” thus far with just one glass of wine! (funny)

We woke up at 0-dark-00 on Saturday, and got our Game on. I liked that Maria brought an Ironman-related book of Quotes, and she read some of them as we were getting ready. I had picked up some tattoos (at Safeway, no less) and she chose to put “Soul” on her arm, I chose a Dragon, and “Courage.” (I chose “Spirit” for the next day’s Run – her tattoo was still on the next day, mine had rubbed off). We formed a caravan with other IronPeeps, and off we headed to the other side of the lake, for the Swim start.

As I mentioned above, the bikes were soaked. I had brought 3 yoga mats (1 for me, 2 to share) just in case the ground was wet –

the transition area

sure enough, we were to lay things down on grass, and it was sopping. I was really glad to have the mat. I had been able to get my contacts in without incident, but still had an extra “transition area” for All Things Eye. The photo shows the transition area, before everyone lay their bikes down next to their stuff. (This is the opposite side from where I was – it was a big round lawn of grass.)

We handed in our Special Needs bags to be delivered to us on the course. We were actually going to get them twice (you only get them once during the real race). The reason for this is that they wanted to “check us off” at the Special Needs stop as arriving (or not!). There were 3 waves in the Swim start – guys last, and then if you were a girl and your Special Needs bag had a “1” on it you were in wave 1, if it had a “2” you were in wave 2. I was in wave 2 – Maria was in wave 1. We gathered for a pre-race talk, during which Mike told us that the bike course instructions that we had been mailed out were incorrect. I was glad at that point that I had NOT arrived early (as I had planned) to ‘scout the course’ – that would have been 100 miles’ worth of useless driving! Then it was time for the Body Glide-ing and wetsuit boost-ing and Atta Girl-ing and Go Team-ing…and the first wave headed for the beach.

first wave into the water

Patricia was in the first wave and I knew she had an issue with “touching things/things touching her” in the water. Mike had said there were reeds and seaweed in there, and I frankly was a little concerned as to how it would go. (I saw her on the Bike later, so I knew at least that she had not had a heart attack due to all the “stuff” in there.) The sun was coming up as the first wave took off – and there was a lot of low fog in the ring of mountains surrounding the lake. As I stood waiting the 20 minutes to get into the water, I was able to take in how GORGEOUS the area was. I was sad that H hadn’t come, as I knew that he would really like the geography of the area. I had heard a lot about Lake County (not much of it very kind) and so I admit I was a bit surprised at the beauty.

We got into the water to “fill up our wetsuits” a few minutes before the start, and WOW there definitely was a lot of seaweed/reeds/etc. in there. My last triathlon experience was the Go Girl tri years and years ago – I had even trained a few girls to be in it (and also the Avon) – and one thing that made me ultimately quit the sport was that kind of crap in the water. Not so much “things touching me,” but “flying over” the reeds and seaweed coming up from the bottom gave me serious vertigo. I realized that today was going to be the day to conquer that old fear.

We were to swim left to a buoy that was tethered at the far left side of the lake, then swim across the open water to the dock of the winery that was next door to where we started, then back. After I got out of the reeds and started to find my stroke, I saw a little bear in the water! OK, I thought I had thought of everything – sharks, snakes, leeches, fish…but a BEAR?? I pulled up short, and felt the person who was drafting off of me switch directions quickly so as not to run over me. When I looked closer, it turned out to be a river otter, watching me! It wasn’t until Monday (when I was telling the story to 2 friends) that I realized that the Otter was the totem I had felt when swimming in Aquatic Park – which my hypnotherapist had sent to me “energetically” to deal with my open water swimming trepidation. And there was a “real” one, watching me! It was pretty cool, though I had a good laugh at myself for thinking the tiny furry face watching me was a “bear.”

I was swimming with Mel, Margaret and Paula for a while, though Paula and Margaret were long gone by the first buoy, and Mel pulled away after the turn-around and was swimming with someone who was faster (Coach Dave’s wife Norma, I think). I just settled in and paid attention to hip rotation, keeping my neck loose, “alligator arms” and the like. Sedonia was bobbing in the water at about the 1 mile mark in a bright blue swim cap, and I was able to confirm my bearings on the “Winery dock” that we were supposed to use as the second turnaround.

As Coach Mike had described about the bridges at Louisville, I faced the mental feeling that the doggone dock was actually pulling AWAY from me! I would sight on it, stroke about 10 strokes, look up – and it looked just as far away.

graph of (old) bike course - "new" one is on the link

Sedonia had moved from her previous “position” to a new one that was closer to the dock, and I could see her blue cap which was comforting. At one point, however, I stroked right through what was obviously a huge floating “pile” of the reed/seaweed/grass stuff. It was like a fishing net. I pulled my arm through it and up and over before I realized I was tangled. “Suddenly” there I am, my arm is held back by “something” and I can’t see because “something” is over my face! Once again, I pulled up short and luckily didn’t completely spazz out – I realized what had happened and reached over my back and around to untangle my arm (and face) from the mess. I did see Sedonia turn her back from about 10 yards away – I think she was laughing at the “Swamp Thing” that had suddenly emerged from the water, but was too nice to let me see her do it!

FINALLY I reached the dock, and started to head back to the Start. Once again, it seemed as if I was never going to reach the beach! About 1/2 way there, the water was very clear and I could see the “trees coming up from the bottom” and started to get that vertigo feeling. I calmed my breathing, and decided that the way to deal with it was just to shut my eyes. So I would stroke 3 times with my eyes shut, then sight (being sure no one was close, and I was still on track), then shut my eyes, stroke, sight, etc. It was incredibly peaceful, and I could feel myself relax. As I was close to finished, I sensed that someone was right with me – turned out that it was Maria! We got out on the beach together, gave each other a “low 5,” and off we went to the transition area. I finished the 2 mile swim in 1:13.

My transition was slow, because a lot of folks were standing around talking, and I checked and checked again that I had everything I needed for the ride, and then did a “towel around the waist surfer shimmy” out of my swim suit and into my bike shorts (I wore my jogbra under the swimsuit). The funniest part of the whole thing was Liz telling Rocky to “turn around and talk to Sandy” (we were all side-by-side) as she applied Chamois Butt’r – and just as he turned around, of course, I was slappin’ it on in there! THANKS Liz! (She looked up and burst out laughing – Oooooops.)

Here is the map of the bike course we rode. (And here is the map of Tennessee Teammate Missy’s course – which she was doing simultaneously that day.) You will definitely want to click to see the “Elevations.” I read in another teammate’s blog that a portion that I will talk about later was a 9+% grade – I believe it. Clear Lake is the largest lake in California and we were riding around it (and then some). On the link (which is there is also a “beta” you can download to “fly over” the course through Google Earth.

I had asked a number of the coaches what the route was like, and no one really gave me a straight answer. They said that there were parts “a bit like Chalk Hill on the Vineman,” but the thing that everyone kept saying to me is “The Louisville Course is NOTHING compared to this.” That didn’t give me much confidence as to what was coming up!

The first 13 miles or so were around the lake. Nick had told me this was flat, and Sedonia said that there were a few gas stations, so that I could have a “pit stop” if I needed. I was in the back-middle of the pack, especially after trying to get a pit stop in (first gas station didn’t “let me” use the restroom – second did). I slowly started to catch up to and pass Teammates as I continued along. Melissa and I wound up doing our “carrot and stick” thing there for a while. I was surprised that I had been able to catch up to her, because she was long gone from transition when I showed up.

The day was definitely warming up as we continued along. I practiced keeping my heart rate at about 150 (low aerobic) and kept telling myself I had PLENTY of fat to use as “fuel” at that range!

At about Mile 15, we started to climb, and I could see it was a l-o-n-g one. I unclipped my right foot as I had planned, and just worked my way up the hill. About midway, I passed Mel, and she didn’t seem to be doing that well. I was breathing so hard that I couldn’t even ask how she was doing. She was on her new bike, and the evening before, Margaret had come over to borrow a bike bottle from me, because she was having issues getting to her water (not sure what’s up with that – maybe Aerobottle?) The hill spiked at around Mile 17, and I WHOOPED that I had made it. There was a long, steep descent, and then a few more “rollers.” I kept unclipping and then clipping back in my right foot, and it was working well. I was feeling more confident that if I DID have to stop, I wouldn’t fall down.

Melissa caught me up on the top of the hill at Mile 22, and confided that she hadn’t remembered any of her “Nutrition” on the bike! I immediately went through my Bento Box and Camelbak, and gave her 1/2 of everything that I had. That is the point where I realized that I should have put more of the same in my Special Needs bag – it contained a tube, CO2 cartridge, Pringles, coconut water, another “4 hour bottle,” etc. but no GU because I felt I had “plenty on me.” Oops! (I also managed to drop my Chapstick, so that’s another thing I need to add to my Special Needs.)

A little while later we ran into Mr. and Mrs. Yoshida’s SAG stop, and she was able to “load up” on GU and the like. This is where I took a fistful of Red Vines and shoved them in my mouth – Mmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!! (Laugh) Again, something that I would never imagine eating otherwise – IronNutrition is a strange thing.

After this section was another crazy-huge climb, that went on for a couple miles. (If you haven’t already, click on the link above, and then click on “Elevation” – you can see it for yourself.) I got to the top of that one, and once again WHOOOPED (I actually lost my voice by the next day). I looked back and I didn’t see Melissa, and was afraid that she might have blown a tire, but I knew that there was SAG out there for us. I crested the hill, and started down the other side.

OK, if you haven’t done it already, you REALLY have to pull up the map now (smile). Because Mile 31 was the Big Black Wall of Death. Just go look at the Elevation Chart (I’ll wait).

As I crested the hill I was looking down into my Bento Box, and I looked up and – seriously – all I saw was a WALL of black tarmac. The hill that was on the “other side” of my downhill was so steep, and so much higher than what I was coming down, that it looked like a wall. I gasped, geared all the way into my hardest gear, and tucked into as aerodynamic a shape as I could figure out how to make. My chin was nearly on my handlebars. I SCREAMED down that hill (hit 40 MPH at the highest). As I hit the bottom of the “V” I kept pedalling like a demon, but the hill was so steep I couldn’t even gear down through my gears one at a time – I had to use the “3 gears at a time” sweep that Angeline has to keep pedaling. I also, thankfully, was going fast enough and had the presence of mind to get my right foot unclipped while I kept pedaling for all I was worth. By the time I was about 100 yards from the top, I was going so slowly, the road almost looked as if it wasn’t moving. I just kept staring at the tarmac, coaching myself under my breath with “JUST….KEEP….GOING!” My heart rate was over 190. It was crazy. Seriously crazy. And then – suddenly – I was at the top.

I actually just stopped, stood there, stretched my back, and looked back DOWN that monster as I had some GU and popped some salt tabs. I wish someone had taken a photograph of that hill. It was like nothing else. And I DID it!

Now to talk about my Earth Angel. There were a few more rollers, and then a climb that ended in a 4-way road “connection” at the top. Josh  (speed demon) had passed me on the climb up to that spot, and as he was wearing a red jersey, it was pretty easy to follow him. As I said, there were 4 roads – one straight ahead, two off to the left and right, and one slightly ahead and to the right – which was a STEEP downhill. As I got to the top of the hill, there was a big semi parked a little ways along the “straight ahead” road, with a guy talking on his cell phone. I smiled at him, and followed Josh down the steep road.

About 100 feet along, I hear this voice SCREAMING from the top of the road: “GIRL! GIRL!” I put on the brakes HARD (it was very steep) and of course faced that “teetering moment” where I wasn’t sure if I would get my foot unclipped or if I was going to hit the dirt. Luckily I got unclipped, and I looked up and to my left. The trucker had LEAPT out of his cab, and was looking down at me from the upper road. He has the phone in one hand (as I’m unclipping/stopping I hear him say “Just a sec!” in an agitated voice) and he says, “Girl! All the other bikes, they went THIS way…” (Pointing down the road he was parked on.) I let out a HUGE sigh of relief, and actually had to get off my bike to turn it around and push it back up the hill (it was that steep). As I’m getting to the top, he looks perplexed and says in an agitated voice, “What are we going to do about the DUDE?” (Josh was nowhere to be seen – he had flown down that hill.) I smiled and said “He’s a really good cycling dude, he will figure it out and come back up, I’m sure.” I asked what he was doing up there (in a huge semi with a flatbed) and he said he had been “combing the hills” for a “roller” that had apparently broken down. When he explained what it looked like, I said that I definitely had not passed it on the way up, and showed him the road directions I had followed. He thanked me for saving him the time of going that way. I thanked him for saving my LIFE!

our Special Needs bags, waiting for us

The Special Needs stop was around Mile 55 – and we were going to come back around to it around Mile 85 or so, too. I pulled in and WOW, what an amazing experience! “The Franks” (Frankie, one of our honorees who is an Ironman triathlete himself, his mom Francine and his dad Frank Sr.) – as well as Frank’s girlfriend Meghan, Teammate Janice’s handsome son and friend – all manned this stop and it was unbelievable. Frank Senior had cold wet towels for our neck. The boys offered watermelon. Someone was there with almost your every need. All I could think of is how a NASCAR pit crew acts. I just stood there, took off my CamelBak, and said things like “oh, I need water” and “does anyone have a plastic baggie?” and people leapt to action. THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS! YOU ARE UNBELIEVABLE!

(My favorite part was that Mr. and Mrs. Yoshida were sitting under a tree, Mr. Yoshida was eating a sandwich out of a ziplock. When I asked if anyone had a ziplock, Mrs. Yoshida whipped it off the bottom of his sandwich and handed it to me before he realized what was happening. I laughed out loud!)

Just as I was about to leave, Mel came into the stop. She stopped her bike, took a breath, and just started sobbing. I got back off my bike and Frankie was right there to hold it. I think that it would have fell to the ground if he hadn’t “caught” it, I was so concerned. I went over, and just gave her a big hug, and told her how great she was doing, that she was there, it was going to be OK, etc. I actually wanted to stay, but the Franks said that they would take care of her. I gave her a last big hug, and also told them to give her anything that I had in MY Special Needs bag, if there was something that I had that she wanted. I was really concerned. That’s my ‘Lil’ Lady” there! When I got back on the bike and shoved off, she was off her bike and having some water in a lawn chair and looked ok. (I am not sure what happened from there, I didn’t see her until the very end, and was so exhausted I forgot to ask.)

photo at Special Needs - heading back out

We turned back onto Main Street, and SOMEHOW I had heard that the “out and back” loop that we were heading to was “mostly flat” though the first part was a “bad road.” OK, no. As Paula said later, this bad road was so bad it was like having “two flat tires, and dragging a sofa.” I actually felt like it was going to shake my shoulders out of my sockets (and I think I left some fillings on the road!)

And, the out-and-back was anything but flat. Well – it was rollers – but from about Mile 77 to Mile 82 it was BRU-TAL. I was riding with Susie at this point, on a tiny thin rutted road, single track, with a big drop-off to the right. (We actually had to let a car pass at one point – that was a real trick.) The coaches had put signs going up the hill – they said “GO (name)” on them, one for everyone. That was great. I hadn’t seen that at the 1/2 Iron/Wildflower, because of course I wasn’t there – and I loved it. The only problem was that only about 8 names had gone by (I was looking for myself, Susie, Maria, Mel, Patricia, Paula) and none of the names I was looking for had “happened” – and the road flattened out a TINY bit and the signs stopped. I realized that meant that we were going to have MORE uphills – with more signs – and I audibly groaned! Sure enough – that’s what happened – it just went up, up, up and at each of the “worst” bits, there were the signs. Once I had seen everyone’s, I started counting back in my head to other teammates – I was SO DONE with that road, that I was hoping that there were no more names/signs (e.g., no more brutal uphill cranks)!

I got to the top of this hill, and had a nice (though controlled – bad road) downhill to the bottom. At this point, I realized that my computer was somewhat off – about a mile or so. The route rolled along a straight highway area, and I actually had to stop at a woman selling baskets of flowers at the side of the road to ask if I had missed the right turn I was looking for. (Her dog was VERY excited to lick my legs – mmmmmmm salty.) I was definitely feeling the ride in my Nether Parts, and was really glad I had included a Butt’r in my Special Needs, which I surreptitiously applied on the side of the road every score of miles or so.

Rocky and I were trading places on the road for a while. At 6 hours (when my CamelBak ran dry for the 2nd time) I pulled over in the shade to pour my two bottles into the CamelBak, using a house’s big garbage can as a ‘convenient table.’ It had taken me some time to convince myself to stop – I definitely was “talking to myself” and had to “convince” myself that, yes, I DID need to get that liquid easily accessible! Rocky rolled by slowly to be sure I was OK, and smiled at my “banquet table.” I actually contemplated throwing my empty GU gels (that were tucked up the leg of my bike shorts) into the garbage, but I could see the curtains moving in the little house and was afraid that I might get shot if I did that. Yeah, this is Lake County…

Somewhere along this stretch Teammate Kathryn (who was SAG’ing) caught up to me in her truck, and asked if I “wanted a present.” Hell yeah, whatever it was, I wanted it. I pulled over at the next shoulder, and she put an ice cold water balloon down the back of my shirt and popped it. You Know You’re Iron When the greatest thing that has ever happened in your entire life is a water balloon down your jersey! (Thank you Kathryn!)

The road ultimately wound up back at Special Needs, where I finished my coconut water and Pringles, and mis-heard that the remaining 15 or so miles were “dead flat, along the lake.” By this time I also realized that whereas I had applied a ton of sunblock everywhere on my BODY, I had forgotten my FACE – so I had a big white raccoon mask from my glasses and the rest was sunburn! (Note to self: SUN CREAM ON FACE!)

The final 15 miles were just brutal. I actually started talking to myself, talking to my bike, complaining, b*tching, moaning, and definitely with a full case of Athlete’s Tourettes. Every roller I would hit would be preceded by me screaming “OH COME ON NOW!” At one point where the road ran right next to the Highway, I thought I was completely offtrack (I mean, we were supposed to be “on the lake” on the way home)! But just as I would start to despair, I would see another Ironteam road arrow, and that would hold me until I would get to feeling anxiously lost again.

Susie soaking in the lake

I finally rolled into the Finish at 8 hours 13 minutes (7 hours 45 total rolling time). I felt good about my time, until I realized I was one of the almost last ones back! That’s when I found out that a number of folks hadn’t ridden the whole course. I went straight from the bike down to the lake, for a “ice bath soak” with Susie.

Maria was the last one in – she’d gone from a personal max bike miles of 60 to ONE HUNDRED! (She hadn’t been able to make the 80 miler that we did as a team.) So awesome! We all got out on the road to cheer her in. That’s the best part about being on the Team – even if you’re later than others (that’s me, always, in our Marin/Napa group – they are all amazing athletes and so I’m forever the tail on group bike rides or runs), everyone is there to cheer you in and give you an “Atta Girl.”

Maria and me

I got Maria down to the lake to do a soak – though Belinda snapped this picture of us before we headed down. Yes, we are the “long and the short of it” and that’s a fact!

After everyone was in and folks were squared away, it was barbecue time. Chris and Meenu got the Spirit Cape, and Jen Jay read my email nominating him. I was SO glad that they got it. Chris has been so fantastic in supporting everyone (I’m sure it’s not just me!) – he always always ALWAYS has an “Atta Girl” for me, whether it’s in the Swim, or smoking by me on the bike, or on the run. I realized it at Del Valle the week before, when we were doing the “out and backs.” He passed me not one but NINE times, and each and every one he had a heartfelt “Go Girl!” for me and looked me in the eyes and slapped me a “low 5.” That is the kind of Spirit that deserves the Spirit Cape. And though Meenu Facebook’d later that she thought it was funny that she “got the Spirit Cape when she’s not on the team,” I posted back that her amazing Meenu Bars are all IN the Team from yummy SAG stops she has womanned, so that meant she was definitely “a part” of the Team, too!

After the Barbecue we were back off to the hotel, and though we were exhausted, we washed out our wetsuits, swim suits, etc. and got packed up, so that we would be ready the next morning to throw our stuff in the car and go without having to come back to the hotel. We also had a glass of Vinho Verde, and Maria caged some silverware off Jim to eat her doggie bag of pasta from the night before (shades of Spring Break!) We talked about our experience, and read more of her Inspirational book!

Though we were up a little late with the packing, etc., we CRASHED asleep. In fact, I didn’t even hear my alarm – Maria woke me up from a dead sleep (thank goodness) and got me up and out!

I put my old pair of shoes into my Run Special Needs bag, because my masseuse had surmised that “perhaps” the fact that I had switched to New Balance from Asics (which I had always run in) had caused the hip issue. I had purchased the New Balance because they were 1/2 price on sale – but when I was at Sports Basement to pick up the prescription swim goggles, I bought the Asics that I always run in, and decided to use them for the Run. I hadn’t run in them at ALL, so having the New Balance in the Special Needs bag was a “just in case” move (I wound up being fine). I also had the ubiquitous Pringles in there and coconut water. Need to add Red Vines, as that wound up being something I picked up at the water stop!

The run was to be 16 miles or 3 hours – whichever came first. From the 2nd water stop Frankie’s girlfriend Meghan ran with me because not only am I tortoise slow, but also I had my “Tunes” with me! She wound up having a lifetime personal best mileage (I think about 7 miles).

The one thing I discovered, however, is that I just can NOT run with someone. I get engaged in talking – and I get off my nutrition plan. I started to feel bad, and looked at my watch and realized I was FORTY-FIVE MINUTES off my plan. I kind of spazzed out. I reached the Yoshida’s SAG stop at 3 hours – which was 1/8 mile from the end (so 1/4 mile total out and back). Though we were supposed to turn around at 3 hours, I wanted to get to the end (and Meghan concurred). So with a fistful of Red Vines in my hand, I got to the turn around and headed back for home.

Sedonia caught up with us when we got back to the Yoshida’s water stop, and started running with us and turning folks around who hadn’t quite reached it yet. Apparently a number of people actually turned around at the 2nd stop (the Franks’). I did my best to catch myself back up to my Nutrition, and was immensely grateful for the coconut water in my Special Needs, which IMMEDIATELY made me feel better.

By about 4 miles out, I started to whine. Sedonia was running with me and Coach Simon sometimes (Meghan had peeled off). I was like a little kid. Since I don’t have a Garmin, I was all “How many more miles do we have? How much more?” In the back of my head I was proud of myself because I was still running (I ran the whole way – I didn’t do run/walk because Coach Simon asked me to see how that went), and it was over 2-1/4 hours of running, which was the longest I had run for well over a dozen years (which had been Del Valle, the week before). I was a big pathetic baby whiner. Sedonia kept telling me to keep my feet moving, and to “Be The Tortoise.” (smile)

Then my little handheld boombox came on with the “Weem-O-Way” song (from Lion King). Sedonia and I started singing it and it was just so silly, it lightened up my spirits. We caught up to Chris, who was also not feeling great. He said to us, “Were you guys just singing ‘Weem-O-Way’?” It made him laugh, too – he had heard it around the bend of the lake road!

I had REALLY decided to “give up” when we reached the Winery that is about 1/2 mile from the end – but Sedonia said “Don’t. This is where you learn that what you think is rock bottom is just a ledge – and you have more. Dig deep.” So I did – and ran in. Oh my lord though, I felt like crap (I was 2nd to last). A lot of folks were congratulating me, etc. but I just felt angry and evil. Patricia was funny, she started walking over, saw my face, and sort of “shuffled folks” away as I opened my van to get out of my shoes and socks and get some stuff to go soak in the lake in. She could see that it was NOT the time to approach!

Go Team, IronTeam!

 My 16 mile run time was 3:21. Not the fastest, but Strong and Steady, as Sedonia was saying. We had another lake soak, then a “Go Team” together . . . and I actually hung around for a while because I couldn’t face driving home. I was sad because BFF Leslie was in San Francisco from Colorado with her family, and I had been SURE I could catch up with her after the event and get together (and see her girls, who I haven’t seen since they were TINY) before they flew off to Hawaii. HA HA HA. I completely underestimated the depth of exhaustion that I was going to feel. Wow.

So – that’s my story. Monday was a rest day – today (Tuesday) I have now spent like 3 HOURS writing this – and I have to get some work done and am doing a speaking engagement in Menlo Park. I’m supposed to do an hour and a half Swim and an hour Bike, but I think I will go down and get on the Bike and save the Swim until tomorrow. Had to get the story down – before it was just too daunting to write it all out!

One thought on “Money In The Bank: 3/4 Iron Weekend (beware: long post!)

  1. Re your swim: Hahaha — gives a whole NEW meaning to “packing for bear”, huh?! That’s so wild that you swam with the otters (something else we were planning to do not long ago, eh?) I still can’t believe how much the “underwater forest” creeped me out. Guess there’s a first time for everything!

    Re your bike: You definitely rocked that time. You should be sooo proud of yourself.

    Re your run: I am so proud of you for digging deep and pushing through your toughest points. THAT is the essence of Ironman and you’ve shown that you’re more than capable of proving yourself wrong when you think you have nothing left ;)

    Great rooming with you!! And by great, I mean hilarious, and wouldn’t have changed a damn thing. Congratulations on all your accomplishments!!


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