Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2017 Lifetime Mpls Olympic Race: The race in my backyard!

Sean and Hanna, two of the nicest friends in triathlon.
 Lifetime Triathlon is one i decided to try in 2013 because it scared me. It scared me bc it's on tight roads, roads that aren't really all that great ( some improvements made, lots to be desired) and its flat. I tend to like some hills. Plus Nokomis in mid July can be pea green soup. This year was my 3rd year I think? 2013 we had huge rains and it got shortened so i didn't have to ride the really crappy backside or the course. Ironman got in the way of 2014/15 and then i went again last year in 2016. I was super duper nervous last year bc i had never done the whole course.

This race has as close to an IRONMAN feel to it as you will get without doing a WTC race. ITs big, its loud, there are a lot of people, of all abilities. It is not the small town Waconia race where you pretty much know who is out there, and know the roads have great shoulders and you don't have to do much thinking. This year? I was so relaxed. ALOT of this comes from some new thinking and new ways of looking at my training, and my longevity in this sport. In the big scheme what did this race mean to me on July 8? Can i keep relaxed and still remain strong? We would see. Its the first time racing where I haven't kept a close look at my timing devices. When i finished Elaine asked me my time. I said " I really don't know." I didn't. ( love her, she said " well i think you were ahead of me." ) haha, no um you passed me around mile 15 of the bike:)

Swim: 24:24 ( from timing) I had a great swim. I swung wide a bit at the start but got the keyhole going and even knocked my head on the way in on the metal balls outside the swim area. Oops. That was sorta funny. Hanna and i jostled a bit, but other than being warm ( 76 deg) in a LS wetsuit i felt pretty good, kept the turnover up and strokes long.

T1: run run run. parking lots, run. etc..same old stuff.

Bike 1:06 per me 1:08 per timing.  I had heard I was 3rd female out of the water. I know Gaby was WAY ahead, and later saw her on the river road mixing it up with the lead guys. Not sure who was ahead of me bc i never saw anyone. ( later learned it was maggie, who somehow turned wrong? not sure)

I didn't feel like i had great legs to be honest. I tried to just not spike my watts and to let my legs warm up to an intensity that i felt was right. The first 12 miles is lovely. The west river road is pristine now so you can settle in a bit, but as you come back towards the lake and then head down nokomis parkway and to Lake Harriet its anyone's guess what pothole or crack you will land in. I spent most my time in AERO but i was certainly not head down and i was not pedaling efficiently. I know this is true for everyone, so pretty sure all the riders share this. I remembered in 2016 seeing Chris Spoth flatted and running his bike up the parkway in barefoot. So i prayed that wasn't my destiny. The MPLS police did a fabulous job controlling traffic to keep us safe and there were very few wayward spectators using the open roads for their burly and dog running. (Last year i remember there were a few times you thought you may hit one of them)

My bike comfort is always a work in progress. Chris ( balser) has worked tirelessly at helping make my Small Bike ( don't ask, i regret this sizing but i didn't know any better) is too small. We have made it as big as we can but its been a real pain the back. ( Dave, want to buy a bike) So especially on courses like this where i cant really stretch out and settle in, my back hurts. I came off the bike with > 3/10 which was a bummer per pain levels and hoped it would settle down once i was running.



Just me on my tiny little bike 
 T2: I always give myself a bit " get your back into alignment" time as i run out of T2. I don't have a tea party but i do let myself JOG EASY PEASY out of T2. I saw maggie right ahead of me and pretty much let her go.

Run 44:50 : I started this run very easy. Relaxed, drop the shoulders. Let the core take over and get your back upright, Yay, it was working. By mile 1 I was feeling pretty ok. DEF less back pain.
Sean went by me and gave me a hug. Who has time to do that when you are winning the race? HE does! Such a fine person, and athlete.

The run felt hard. I guess this sport is hard. I kept telling myself to relax and to just run. I had a goal of winning the masters, but i really didn't think i had anyone to chase. On the 2nd lap i saw Roger who said " one more lap" and at that point, yes i was happy for the only partial jog over the cedar bridge and the ability to be running down some of the folks on their 1st lap of two.

I wasn't sure what pace i was running, I have gotten in the habit of not looking, just going by feel. As we hit mile 4 i decided to try to not slow down....at 5, i decided to try to " move faster, " I hate to say pick it up bc that is all relative but right before mile 6 I think is when i saw that there was a runner ahead of me. I wasn't sure it was Maggie bc she is tiny and there were lots of collegiate tiny people out there. Some spectator said to me " you can catch her." I was like " damn, deep breathe."
I decided i would just keep running in my heightened " pick it up" speed and see where that got me. Well it got me to her shoulder right as we were about to cross into the road and go down the chute. At that point it was " GO." I wasn't about to hang on her shoulder, that is annoying and figured if she went with me i had no hope in outsprinting her. She is fast!

Some guy was there ( you can see his arm in the picture below) and he went with me. I dunno maybe he set a pick for me! But i ran in that straight away like I was running down a drop shot that was two courts away. And when i stopped i was like " what happened? " and " oh that may leave a mark."

Hey i don't feel so bad. 
This is when i realized i could catch the girl in front of me. hmm....not looking forward to this finish. 
 I survived that sprint and clocked a good 400 time in doing so!  My splits were pretty consistent and fastest in the last 2 miles, same as liberty. Marilyn is onto something.
Funniest is the guy said to me " you made me throw up 4x in that final stretch. " at first i was like HUH? then i see this picture and see that he must have veered to the bucket after.
Coming in hot. Faster than i have run since last summer. 

Oh now i see what he was talking about !! ha!

I congratulated Maggie and we posed for our  Pretzel and water sponsor deals. LOL, No really she was super sweet and told me she had gone off course earlier on the bike. She has a ton of potential and will be fun to watch her continue to race.  Then said " who are you?" I didn't have enough energy for a snappy comeback ( a friend/peer of your moms? :))))) but introduced myself:)

Well that is about it. Finished 2:21 and lowered my course record for 50-54. Got 5th elite ( two college kids beat me, guess that is ok!)  I love that i can get home from this race in 10minutes. I love that you get BARE chicken coupons ( yum yum) and i love that you really do get to share the course with some fabulous athletes. Its got a great energy! I always say i am not doing it again, but as long as i am welcome in that 2nd wave you will hopefully see me back.

Thank you to my coach Marilyn Chycota for continuing to hold onto my shirttails in training, and to be as much of a therapist as a triathlon coach. Your knowledge and life experiences continue to help me see that I am not old, just need to train smarter and continue to get some life challenges   ( see older blog) in check.

Thank you to Kevin and all the folks at Gear West Bike and Tri. And to all my PT's ( Viverant) and my main LMT Bianca, for keeping me in working order. And Crystal, when i can make the drive for handling all the other stuff:) Yup i am not old but hell the body needs a lot of TLC as we get older!!

Thanks for reading!!!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Liberty Olympic Race Report

 Saturday June 10 was the Liberty OLY. I have done this race umpteen times. I have raced the half iron distance in rain, hail, sleet, and high 40 deg temps. Not fun. I Remember running 13.1 miles on calves that were so cold, that my legs were literally trashed for 2 weeks after. Not fun.

HOWLING? Liberty 2014

So when saturday's forecast was for heat ( which we had last year) plus high winds, you sorta go: Ok whatever. Adapt. Make it a training day. Whatever you need to do to get to the finish. My marching orders were to keep this race under control. I am not sandbagging when i tell you my running has been very slight the last few months. Its been all about keeping my body, my back especially happy. I came into this race with two runs of 50 minutes as my long runs. So to say i had low expectations is an understatement. The plan wasn't to kill it ( very challenging for me to say that) but to keep my lower back at a < 3/10 pain level.

After what i posted last week, I am shy to comment that this race went well. You know sometimes all your fears are 75% in your head, and sometimes your fears are just that. False Events Appearing Real. I love that. Rich used to tell me that all the time. Don't be scared. Fear is just a waste of energy. So onward.

Swim: I have no idea my time( not a garmin swimmer) , but it was slow. I had to often look up and do breast stroke bc even with bilateral breathing the water was coming every which way. I just plugged along till i got to the turn buoy. The Oly race had already been delayed as the Half started first and at least one gal was pulled bc she was hyperventilating. A canoe capsized. It wasn't a pleasant day on the lake but we had wetsuits on ( even thought it was 76 deg so it was toasty) and the likelihood of this race ever being non wetsuit is nil. I don't think in the history of this race this has ever happened. Never say never but I like non wetsuit
( Any wetsuit hurts my back) but i was happy to have it on today. Coming back i drifted ( The wind was a head cross and a tail cross) so likely I did a few extra meters. LOL. I wondered why there were people swimming at me. Oops.  Well I was in the first wave so yup, my bad, it was oncoming waves.

T 1: Uneventful. In and out in a minute.

Bike: As many have said, it was an effort in not spiking watts into the wind, and then staying upright. I had changed out my front wheel from an 808 to a 303 ( anyone want to buy a front 808, I am serious) and that was huge. No way i would have had as comfortable of a ride on a front deeper dish. I also didn't ride a disc. No need to give mother nature any other reason to toss me around. I had fun out there, kept it controlled and didn't override into the headwind. Coming back it was sweet to be riding 34-36mph, pushing minimal watts. Lets just not kill those legs now for the hot run to come.

Not sure where this was, back into the park? credit to Sebottka photos 
T2: Gingerly hopping off that bike, into T2 and nothing crazy happened. Remembered my Gel and my Belt:) off i went. Tippy toeing trying to get my body upright.

Run: I didn't look at my Garmin. I almost didn't wear it, but i wanted to see where I was ( post race) and see what my body felt like RPE v what i actually ran. I was just ticking along, took my gel around mile 2, didn't want it but heck who wants a gel? Drank water at each stop, etc...It was lonely out there actually i didn't see anyone till i started to see the guys coming back at me. I had no idea who was ahead or behind me. Then i saw Andi fly by ( 1st place) and shortly i saw Katie ahead walking. Run-roh. Decision time.

My decision wasn't really a decision, it was me saying " check on her make sure she is ok, and then keep running." and i did just that. I told her to keep on, that " you got this girl." and i just kept moving. Luckily in the heat I don't do so bad. I also kept ahead on the bike and well, lets just say its not like I was cool as a cucumber but my pace didn't slow too much over 6.3 miles. ( maybe i ran loopy i dunno)

I did miss water stop bc they had oncoming traffic and i regretted that. The sun was hot and i hoped that the half runners, and even the 10k runners were smart about pacing, and their hydration. It was a day to walk water stops, use your flask if you have one, and just get it done.

Finish: Its a gorgeous finish on a gravel road, tree lined and a great greeting from our own Jerry McNeil. I was super thrilled to be done and happy to get 2nd OA. I knew there were a lot of fast cats behind me though so I was mostly happy that i stuck to my plan and most happy that my LBP was nil. To say that thrills me. Almost don't want to put that into the universe but I am.

Congrats to all that raced and thank you to FinalStretch and Mark Bongers for always putting on great races. Ongoing thanks to Kevin and Gear West Bike and Tri for helping me with bikes, and life in general. And of course thanks to all my PT's who i can't name bc there are too many of them.And to my coach Marilyn Chycota for holding onto the back of my shirt when i run:)

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Playing Catch Up Summer 2017: I Don't Know How to Give up

Well today i wrote a blog on my easy 50' run. I have written a lot of blogs in my head running, and I have done a lot of easy running in the past two months. Time to put something on paper.

Its been along time since i posted. Damie said she wanted me to post more, so while i really haven't been avoiding it, its just ALOT has happened and it felt overwhelming to try to share it. I also have a bird in my ear telling me that my life is private and i don't need to share it. But at the same time I think i have a lot to share and i think people actually like reading. When there is a lot of negativity in my life, or I am not feeling up and positive, its harder for me to share that. But life is life and sometimes sharing the reality of " life " goods and bads is cathartic. Also my life has become so much more than " a shiny PR" and a " race report where i killed it." So if you are looking for paces and pre race meals, go elsewhere.  All i know is that when my teammate and rockstar racer Diane said to me
" YOU ARE TOUGH, KEEP GOING, " that is what i decided to do.



So lets play a little catch up. Its been since July of 2015 since i posted. That would be a really long and tedious blog if i tried to catch you up on all that has happened. So lets see if i can give you a highlight reel:

I did Ironman Wisconsin. It was fine. To be honest if Jen ( my cop friend, awesome buddy) hadn't been there or been there to train with me it would've been tough. I recall feeling like my heart wasn't in it. I am not sure why. I did all the work Jen told me, and i still had a day where i came up with a race i wasn't super happy with. Now that is Ironman. I know. But after doing that course 2 times i thought maybe this would be the one i nailed.  
Training ride!!! 
So disappointed no triathletes knew Roger Federer

Sister fun at a family wedding in the poconos the weekend after IMOO 

I met my own Roger
At the same time I felt a bit down about my race, I started riding with a local cycling group. I had ridden with them before and its and effort to not get dropped in the first 15 miles a lot of fun!I met Roger there and its been a great thing for us both. Now i have my own Roger, though Roger #1 ( just bc i knew him first) sure has shown us he isn't ready to retire yet. Ahh, so exciting the tennis he has played in the last year. Seem to always have to talk about a Roger. 

The fall of 2015 my dad also was very sick. He was diagnosed at 88 yo with advanced appendix cancer and also prostate that had metastasized .. the prognosis was pretty grim. My mom and dad live in the house i grew up in, and are still there today. On June 9 my dad will turn 90. He still drives ( eye roll) and he still volunteers all over, walks the dog, and i swear they do more social stuff at night than i do. But the reality is its been really hard. Its been hard on my mom ( who, I know the role there, as a caregiver) and its been emotionally hard on me. He goes to chemo / drips every two weeks. He has been doing that since OCT 2015. Insert big LIVING WITH CANCER AT 90 cheer!!! 

2016 birthdays! 
On my end it brought up a lot of suppressed emotions about Rich. My dad's getting sick isn't about me. But i do a lot for my parents, and I am the caregiver in the family. The siblings have all jumped on and learned to help and learned that listening and being there, trumps the fact that i can speak the jargon. I am really grateful that they have jumped in when I just can't do it. 
My dad in the center, at the cabin with his goofy cousins! 
The reason i discuss my dad is I am still having panic attacks. Something i had after Rich died. I am getting some help with that, but i now see that I never really dealt with losing my husband. And i am told that living with someone dying from cancer is a traumatic incident. Not in the sense of " one time event" but in the case of a longstanding anxiety and trauma in dealing with what happened to him from his sudden diagnosis, to being married less than 3 years, to seeing the process of dying. Its not something i would wish on anyone. So i guess i just moved on. I am a doer, my therapist says I am not gonna let anything stop me. And so if i stay busy ( say racing) then i don't have to deal with the trauma. ( other than at night when i have panic attacks)

So I raced in 2016, did pretty well. 
 So 2016 came and has gone. I raced. All short and OLY. I was doing great. Jen was great at getting me into speedy 50 yo shape and to be honest I was loving the short stuff. But the truth is that my back had been bothering me for over 6 months. I had had a facet injection ( lumbar) and it had helped a ton the summer prior to Ironman Wisco. But when my dad got sick ( and i started riding A LOT Of CROSS AND ROAD bike) it got super tight. I recall the winter of 2016 not being able to run without feeling like i had a knife in my left lumbar ( L3-4 if you care to know where) Facet pain is pretty specific and its brought on worse with extension and rotation. So running down hills SUCKED.

I did the best i could with it thru the summer, and before i stepped on a rock at Toughman MN, i was really thinking i would make it thru the season and get to AG natz. I stepped on a rock ( beware if you do that race) and that was that. I was out for 8 weeks, in a boot, blah blah blah. my back went to Hell in that boot, and not running ( Which we had already tried over the winter) made it worse.

You can see where this is going.... I raced a lot in 2016 and i did well, but i was not healthy. I made some choices to race and ( train!) in pain. Actually i can't say i raced in pain, i really was pretty good racing. But even wearing my wetsuit ( which i have since replaced) made my left side hurt bc it extends you.

The fall of 2016 I had another facet injection. Its cortisone. It didn't help. We started to piece together a few things:
1. My MRI was clean. I have normal age related facet arthopathy. I have a back of a 20 yo. My discs are good. I have not discogenic pain.
2. My Xray ( AP. standing) is a different story. I have an exaggerated lordosis ( think anterior pelvic tilt or butt sticking out) and i have a right rotation. Thank you 40+ years of tennis. I can just serve a tennis ball for 40 years with my left hand and maybe i will be ok when i am 90! But that is really the key here. The lordosis and the rotation. ITs like a functional scoliosis.

In early 2017 I did what i thought i never would. I had two Radio Frequency Ablations. They put the sensory nerves to sleep that feed the facets. IT sounds awful. My Back doctor is great. She is a skilled technician and she did a great job. Facet joints are doubly innervated from above and below, which is really dumb so I am not that worried about it. Nerves regenerate. OF course anytime you have someone poking around in your spine you better damn well know they are good at what they do.
Did it help? Not 100% sure. I still have a lot of lower back issues, bilaterally.

And while this may all sound like " yawn, another injury..." I wish it was something that was easily fixed. Its not. ITs been constant work and constant PT ( and constant exercises and more strength than i have ever done) I will leave the anatomy and the fun PT stuff at that. ITs not fun when you can't fix yourself.

So today. Roger has learned to swim. Rumor is he may do a triathlon. Though Open Water is an entire different beast. He would kill it.
we aren't in MN anymore ( FEB) 

Those guys i ride with:) fun times in the dez 

Who said its always warm in the desert. Joshua tree. 


Sailing buddies

Wine tasting in Sonoma

Christmas 2016
Lots to be excited about, and well pictures are fun. I have done some really great travel and my back has been " meh " thru a lot of it. I even am now one of those picky sleep number bed people. Im a 65. And i know Gwen is too. yay me. 

Racing this summer? Is going to be different. I have a new sheriff in town and change and transition isn't easy. We have taken a few months to back off some of the things that were hurting me. I am not 100%, and i may never be. But the goal of my racing triathlon goes like this " So Julia, you can retire. or quit, bc i mean who retires when they are 51 and aren't professional? " Then i say " yes but can you still race and just back off what hurts you? maybe do some longer course and see if the slower pace is a bit better? " And then i say " yes but that sucks to not be fast and killing it. " And then i say " For once in your life, take your own advice." So far better than quitting this sport, goal is going to be to race, enjoy, train for mediocrity ( that is a joke roger and i have) and as diane told me. KEEP GOING. I haven't met all my dreams yet in this sport. I have met a lot of them in short course, so body willing we are going to bump it up and go longer. Nothing fancy this year. But lets hope my " 20 yo back" starts acting like one. Thanks for reading and see you out there!