Friday, December 11, 2015

Cookies and offseason :)

It’s December, which  means the last month of real “offseason” and slacking… ;) Ok, not slacking, but having such focused recovery time.
Shawn keeps emphasizing I am just supposed to stay fit.  It’s about recovery.  He has also reiterated on multiple occasions that, come January, it’s time to WORK.  Aweosme ;)  I am both ecstatic, but sad, because I am totally getting lazy and this whole 7-hours-a-week thing is feeling pretty nice….
Just kidding.  It’s not.  I mean it is, but it only feels good because I know it’s temporary and I get to start the hard stuff again soon!
It’s been interesting.  I have definitely gained weight.  Only a few pounds, really, but I just FEEL like it.  I also read a really interesting article which essentially said “athletes can gain u to 8% of their race weight during the off-season, and it actually provides benefits once the real training starts again”…I’m well below that 8% weight gain soooo I guess it makes me feel better knowing, for real, it’s ok :)
I have also proven to myself that I’m not actually just getting fat and lazy.  Well, I AM getting lazy, but I am fully capable of still pushing it hard!  We have kept 1 or 2 intense workouts per week, focusing on running right now, and I am THRILLED that my run speed is coming back!  6 months post-ironman and I am FINALLY seeing some paces that tell me maybe I’m not super slow, after all!  It’s also a great feeling to be feeling fat and off-season-y, but still able to hit those hard workouts.  So, I know it’s all ok afterall.  Last week, Shawn put this (what I thought was) crazy treadmill workout on my schedule.  I HATE treadmills, but…FINE.  It was an hour run, with 3x11:00 intervals…to be done at 6:55, 6:45, 6:35.  Let’s back up a second: by 5k PR is at a 6:54/mi average (granted that was somehow eked out 2 weeks after IMCDA, and I’ve only done a couple 5ks so not much to base that off of, but STILL).  I figured I could do the 6:55.  I figured the 6:45 would be tough, but ok.  I was NOT sure about that 6:35…especially AFTER the previous two intervals.  But I did it and…it was…ok???!!  I mean it wasn’t awesome, not exactly looking forward to it again ;) but I did it, I didn’t have to bail (I was seriously concerned, and I do NOT often get worried that I may not physically be able to complete a workout..I’m kind of full of myself).  It was hard, but it was hard in a “man I need to get used to pushing my body this hard” kind of a way, not in a “my legs can’t do this!” kind of way.  So, a good kind of hard. I was pleased!

Then yesterday I had the worst run ever, slower intervals but I just COULD NOT do them and...gave up.  Trying to move past that and not dwell.  :(
Speaking of running, we are focusing it now because I’m running a 12k on the 20th.  It’s a fun Christmas run, so obviously I’ll be dressed up and wearing a tutu…but I have been instructed to race it so I guess I’m racing in a tutu (not like that’s the first time).  I have also been instructed to “win it” but uhhh yeah that’s not happening.  But, I will race it as hard as I can J  So that’s exciting, but kind of scary.  This weekend I’m supposed to run a 10k (on my own) essentially as if I were racing, to kind of get a baseline I guess.  We’ll see how that goes.  It’s always hard to push yourself when you’re just running alone as a training run..but we will see. 
Other than that, swim is slowly coming back (although “coming back” really just means coming back from being SUPER awful to being regular Rosanne-level awful, so that’s kind of sad), and biking is…fine.  It’s so hard to tell on the trainer, I mean I’m following my workouts and having some fun mountain biking, but it’s never the same as going for a ride outside and really knowing how you’re doing.  But, it’s been good.  Especially after feeling like I was able to bring my biking back up in the fall, I’m confident that my bike is fine, and will just continue to improve in the upcoming months.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Team Wattie Ink. and 2016 Planning

Can I just say that I am SO EXCITED for 2016?!?!


First off, some hugely exciting news—I’ll be racing with Team Wattie Ink. in 2016!  There are 100 athletes nationwide who make up the team.  This year, there were 800+ applicants, and only 36 new members who were not part of the team previous years.  I don’t say that to brag, but mostly to express my excitement and star-struck-ness about it all!


I wavered a lot about even applying.  Am I good enough?  Do they if I’m “good” enough?  What about social media?  Do I want to be “stuck” with one brand?  What if I don’t like the color of the kit (I have to admit that was a legit concern of mine)?  What about the people?  I like doing my own thing, staying off the radar, and not feel any obligation—doing it all for myself and no one else.  But if there was any team I wanted to join—it was Wattie.


I knew about the brand, but wasn’t until the IM CDA expo that I really saw any of their stuff in person.  It seemed good quality, but mostly, it was the people that stood out.  We started chatting with the girls working the tent, and eventually met Wattie… I don’t think I even realized it was him until later, because everyone was so unpretentious.  I was totally shocked at how many times everyone wished me good luck, when I said I was racing!  I mean, it’s an ironman expo, of course half the people there are racing—and yet it never seemed tired, and it was all a very genuine “that’s so awesome, and it’s your first Ironman?!  Have a great race!!”


Needless to say, when Heather Jackson won the next day, I was even more impressed—these guys had their own pro to follow and care about (and a super legit pro at that), and yet they still were just as enthusiastic about wishing me a good race, and about being so friendly and caring!


That stuck with me.  I started following more of the Wattie folks on social media.  I got a sense of their camaraderie, their loyalty and their passion for the sport.  They give off a certain personality and vibe, and I think a lot of people identify with it.  Work hard, race hard, do work, have fun.


And then Mac and Kyle worked with Wattie to get the Ironheart kits, and I was even more blown away—we got a custom kit designed, then manufactured and shipped out in under two weeks.  That is absolutely unheard of!  Not that that’s always going to happen, but to see a company put in the extra effort to make that come together definitely stood out.


But of course, the real test was the product itself.  I kept eyeing various kits, but never really pulled the trigger. No reason not to, I just didn’t really “need” anything new either, so just kept putting it off.  But receiving the Ironheart kit and doing a quick test brick in it, I knew I would be racing with it in the Los Cabos 70.3!


Race day came and went, which you can read all about (and then some) in the previous post.  Verdict: Wattie puts out a quality product.  Yes, I did have a couple minor comments about my kit on race-day (minor as in, “the collar flapped when I unzipped it and annoyed me momentarily”), but overall I was the most comfortable and happiest than in any other race…nothing serious, and definitely no huge cuts on my legs, like a certain other pair of shorts did in CDA…!  I absolutely love the feel of the fabric, and best of all, the top didn’t ride up when running!  Totally a win in my book.


So with all that, I pulled the trigger and applied—and I am so glad I did!  Cannot WAIT to see what this amazing group of people will do next year!


Aside from that...what is 2016 looking like?  Well, it’s shaping up to be an amazing year.


Coach has instructed me to race 10Ks this winter.  Basically he told me to quit being so slow (not his words; my own interpretation) but 5Ks are too short so now it's time to bring on the pain in the 10Ks.  So I’ll spend the winter/spring looking for local things to race just for training purposes.  He also mentioned some TTs, and there are a couple in the area in February (??) so I’ll probably go freeze myself while the local guys make me look like a fool out there and halve my time.


There’s a Wattie contingent going to Wildflower, so I am crossing my fingers and seeing if I can work that into the schedule.  Timing-wise, it’s perfect.  It’s the logistics and yet another travelling thing that need some planning.  But, we will see.


There’s also Troika, which I may do (end of May).


Ironman 70.3 Coeur d’Alene is basically a sure thing—Allen is racing it (his first 70.3!) and I need to race soooo, I mean, it only makes sense for me to do it.  :)  It seems incredibly odd to go race a 70.3 there after a slow, methodical 140.6 there just one year before… I associate that course with the ironman mentality, and I’m a little worried about trying to race a half on the same course, but..we’ll see.  Should be fine.  I love Coeur d’Alene, and that also means probably a training weekend (or two) there so…I’ll do it.


After that, I’m not entirely sure.  There’s Seafair, so I might do that, but the longest course they have is an Olympic.  And it might only be 2 weeks after CDA, again, which is fine but not as ideal.  I need to find a late July/early August race.  This is still a bit open…


…because after that, it is AUSTRALIA!  70.3 world championships is September 4th, and will probably travel a week before (and after..or more).  The entire year will of course focus on getting to Mooloolaba beach as strong, fast and healthy as I can!!  I’m still totally in shock about this.  I don’t totally feel like I deserve it.  Yes, I won my age group..but I just feel there are so many other faster people, that it was a fluke!  Oh well.  Just means I get to take the next 9 months proving I belong there!


Spectating-wise (which is JUST as important), I’ll be at IM Canada to Sherpa for Mac.  She’s also doing Victoria, so may try to get to that one as well.  The only probably with this big Australia trip is I’m using up sooo much PTO, I have to really plan things ahead and be a bit stingy on taking extra days off work!  But, that would be nice.  Mac is also doing Monterrey, and Galveston (AND CDA!) but I think it’ll be less likely I can make those.  Too much travelling, not enough time!  Fingers crossed she can punch that WC ticket in Monterrey, and we can go rock Australia together :)


All that said, I’m greatful for this off-season.  I feel fat and lazy but I know it’ll all come back, and I know I’m not really loosing much.  Shawn keeps reminding me it’s ok to not go as hard as I can and kill myself in workouts, and the goal is to just stay fit this winter.  It’s been good, and I am really learning to embrace it.  The off-season has its own purpose and goals, and in order to work on this massive, exciting goals or 2016, I need to make sure my mind and body are ready to go.  Patience, Rosanne!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ironman 70.3 Los Cabos – 2015

AKA "That time I tried racing a 70.3, swore I'd never do that distance again, then got a slot to World Championships and decided maybe it wasn't so bad after all."

That might be a bit dramatic ;) Quick details below:

Swim: 43:16
Bike: 2:57:57
Run: 1:50:46
Overall: 5:37:21

Division Rank: 1/20
Gender Rank: 24/263 (14th, when you take out the pros!)
Overall Rank: 124/918

Let’s start off by saying that travelling for a race is hard.  Especially a triathlon.  It just is.  But bike was packed, gear was packed, a whole ton of bikinis were packed...and we were off.

How much luggage does it take for 3 triathletes to get to a race in another country?

This race had been very disorganized from the start—we received the Athlete’s Guide the week of the race.  And an “update” the next day (but not specification as to what had been “updated”).  Along with many other internal inconsistencies (and misspellings, which were just icing on the cake), it insisted the race would be wetsuit legal.  Even once we got there, on Thursday, they were posting “yes we have measured the water temperature and it will be wetsuit legal”…even though the next day we did a practice swim and were boiling in our wetsuits after about 5 minutes.  It wasn’t bath water, it was hot tub water!  As we picked up our packets later that day, there were signs everywhere—THE RACE IS NOT WETSUIT LEGAL, THE WATER TEMPERATURE IS 85.4F!  So, you know, somehow the water temperature went up 10 degrees in the last 24 hours?  Luckily, Heather had leant me and Mac some Orca swimskins, so we were covered either way.

I’ll skip the (many) other disorganized and inconvenient details.  We got what we needed, checked in gear, and prepared as best we could.  The few days leading up to the race were relatively uneventful.  It was a strange feeling—it didn’t really feel like a race.  It was a foreign country and vacation-y, yet also race-y.  It wasn’t a full ironman, which I had been so focused on earlier this year, and I didn’t really feel like anything was happening—but I also knew I needed to get my head into it and I needed to RACE.  By now, I know this is pretty standard for me though, and the second that cannon goes off I’ll get into race mode.  So I didn’t worry about my lack of enthusiasm or nerves.

Bike check-in with photos and descriptions of all the bikes (and wheels) was serious business!

To add to the silliness, Daylight Savings in Cabo happened the Sunday morning of the race!  Thank goodness it was “fall back.”  When we arrived in Cabo, they were 1 hour ahead of Seattle, so that morning with the time change, we were now back on the same time as back home.  I heard the rest of Mexico changes the following week, so I’m not sure why Baja California does it differently...but that’s beside the point.  It was nice to get an “extra” hour, although it really didn’t change how early a 3:45am alarm clock felt.

Transition opened at 5:30 (yes, for a 6:30am start..ahem).  There were buses leaving the hotel starting at 5am.  After getting up, making really crappy hotel coffee and getting dressed, we met up with Mac and Kyle at 4:30 and headed to the buses.  My parents had landed in Hawaii shortly before then, and with all the time differences, it was just after midnight for them—so it was funny to text them.

Transition on race morning was crazy!  All set to go, but do we look awake enough for this yet?!

One of the last-minute changes for the 70.3 race was no bike bags.  I guess they had issues getting the real bags on time, so instead of having a numbered bag with our gear all set up on racks, we had to just put our stuff in a clear bag and hang it on our bike.  Kyle and I were on the same rack, just a few bikes apart; it was a really handy location, straight out from the swim out, but it was pretty cramped; there was a palm tree in the middle of the rack, like someone’s spot was literally filled with a palm tree…so everyone had to scrunch together to make space.  Luckily, my tiny little bike could squeeze underneath the two big bikes on both side of me.

Because yes, this guy can totally rack his

After getting everything sorted; after finding another porta potty (with no toilet paper though, because that makes tons of sense: no toilet paper for a bunch of triathletes…ew); after getting more photos together and saying bye to Allen, who was on super-sherpa duta all day… we headed to the beach.  Kyle and I got our swimskins on, watched the sunrise as the pros started, said good-bye and good luck to Mac, and headed to get staged.  And it was crowded.  After pushing and shoving our way, we positioned nicely at the end of the 0:33 minute group.

Sunrise over the Sea of Cortez was not bad.  Not bad at all.

The 0:33 group seemed highly optimistic to me, considering a 0:40 minute swim would be “fast” for me, and all the lingering swells from Hurricane Patricia (which had gone through just a couple days before) were not exactly encouraging.  But he insisted it was the right place to be, and honestly that’s probably true.  With a few last hugs and good lucks, the cannon went off and we started funneling to the start!

Beach start--and GO!  I am the blueberry.  At least it made me easy to spot!

Swim – 43:16 (15/20 AG - ouch)

After running through the starting arch, you still had to run down the little beach and then throw yourself into the water, hoping to time it right with the waves and actually make it into the water.  Luckily, I made it.  The swells were big, the water was choppy and salty, but nothing different than the practice swims from the last few days.  The thing that was different was all the people!  This swim was hands-down the most violent swim I’ve ever been in.  Within the first 2 minutes, I was grabbed, yanked under, punched in the eye, kicked and pummeled more than any other race.  Ever.  Coeur d’Alene was so calm and peaceful, with people being very respectful of space, as we were all trying to get to the same place.  Here, it felt like a free-for-all, and no one seemed to care how many people they injured in the process.  I changed my mindset right away, and had to remind myself to breathe and stay calm—a lot. 

I finally found a bit more open water once we got around the first turn buoy (which was a nightmare in and of itself), and the first big long “out” began.  We were now swimming perpendicular to the incoming waves.  I do have to say one thing about choppy water—it may be harder and slower to swim in, but it sure is more fun!  I think I’m just a bad enough swimmer that I go slow no matter what, but the waves distract me from the swimming part.  I just kind of bob along in the water and go along for the ride, which is kind of fun.  Foreword progress is a plus.

I'm not sure how none of the photos accurately portray the massive swells.

I kept getting stuck behind or next to people.  You’d think that if you’re swimming next to someone, and you keep smacking them, you might adjust your stroke a bit or give them an extra half an inch….NOPE.  A few times I got so fed up with people I had to surge forward to get around them.  I’m not a big fan of using up extra energy in the swim, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  But come on, people.  Common courtesy.  Besides, it couldn’t have been very efficient for them to grab onto me with every…single…stroke.

Rounded the next big buoy, heading back in-ish, but at an angle.  I finally had some space around me.  Probably because I was swimming off track, but at least I wasn’t getting punched anymore!  Sighting was really difficult, with the big swells; sometimes all you could see was a wall of water in front of you, sometimes you were on top of the wave and would have to look down and out and see a little buoy off in the distance.  I did an awful job sighting, and eventually just tried to make sure I was swimming in the same general direction as everyone else, because it was so hard to see anything.

There was one last triangle buoy.  But it was the wrong color.  Do we turn?  Where is the course?  I’m so confused!  I looked up and saw a boat and everyone else had turned and I apparently missed that memo and was swimming off in the wrong direction.   UGH.  After correcting that, it was just one long push back to shore.  There were more people in boats now, since it was a narrow channel we had to swim through to avoid hitting giant rocks.  Lovely.  I swam with basically the same two people most of the way in, and they were slightly nicer than others and only smacked me a few times.  Seriously guys, it’s not that hard!

As the shore FINALLY approached, I came up on another swimmer who abruptly stopped, frog-kicked, and kicked me HARD, straight in the chest.  I reeled backwards, coughed up water and glared at the guy who was now bobbing along and paddling (and still kicking wildly), and tried to get around him.  He started swimming normally again, but then suddenly kicked out all crazy again.  This guy was nuts.  For the first time ever in the history of EVER, I was very deliberate back, and grabbed his thigh and shoved it as firmly as hard as I could away and to the side.  There was no other way to get around this guy, and I was not about to wait as he slowly bobbed around—especially with the beach was just 20 yards away!

I got lucky, and was swimming in right when another big wave came crashing into shore.  As I rode that wave in, the beach suddenly came to meet me, I put my hands down right as the wave receded, and tried to just stay in one place (as opposed to being pulled back into the ocean).  This did mean I was left laying like a beached whale on the sand, but hey, at least I was done!  I scrambled up, realized I was off to the side, and ran along the beach until I got to the swim-in arch.

My eyes are closed in EVERY SINGLE swim out photo.  There is nothing glamorous about swimming :P

T1 – 3:36 

Running through sand kind of sucked, but hey, I was done swimming!  I was, as always, supremely underwhelmed with my swim time, but hey, what can you do.  Time to put it behind me, and at least the day could only get better from here.  As I ran past Allen, who was cheering at the entrance of transition, I got another shock—he yelled to me that Kyle was only 30 seconds ahead of me!  I was shocked he swam slow, but secretly happy because it meant now I had some company!

I quickly got to my bike (seriously good location; I realized other athletes had to run all over the place to get to the various racks all over the beach), confirmed Kyle was there and just getting his bike stuff situated, and yelled over to him.  I stripped off the swimskin but my feet were now COVERED in sand.  After throwing the swimskin down, I realized it could be a pretty good “towel” so I tried to wipe my feet off on it—it helped, but there was way too much sand.  And now it was covered in sand too.  Darn.  I grabbed the water bottle off my bike and tried to wash my feet off as best I could quickly, before shoving my feet into my shoes.  It would have to do.  After shoving things back in my bag, navigating my little bike under the bikes next to me (I was surprised those guys weren’t out yet; I guess I’m not the only slow swimmer), I started running up out of transition—with Kyle right behind me.

He quickly called to me and told me to walk, which was good.  They had small carpets out, but they were still on top of sand, and a slight uphill to boot.  There was really no point in trying to get out of there quickly.  We hoisted our bikes on our shoulders, cyclocross style, and walked out of transition, chatting about the swim and swapping quick stories and impressions.  He had about as much fun as I had.  Bleh.  After climbing the short driveway up to the road, there was a tiny little flat spot to mount our bikes…

Bike – 2:57:57 (1/20 AG - that's more like it....)

…followed by an immediate climb up to the highway!  Nothing like a climb to start out with, right?!  We spun up the hill together, passing a lot of people who I guess hadn’t put their bike into a little gear, but also passed by a few guys who were attacking with a vengeance.  Was that really the place to stand and go as hard as you could?  30 seconds into the bike?  I don’t know.

After climbing out of that, it was onto the highway for the rest of the bike.  A nice downhill onramp.  Time to get this started.  The pavement wasn’t the best, but it was ok.  A slight uphill.  A slight down.  And another hill.  And another.  Someone said it flattened out more as we get closer to Cabo San Lucas, right?  Another hill.  Another.  Wait, seriously, is that ANOTHER HILL?!  This went on, and on, and on.  It was hard to gauge, since we kept expecting some flatter sections.  I started out strong, and let Kyle spin to warm up, since I knew he would be doing that.  A few miles in, he caught up to me again, and took the lead.  I would pass him going uphill.  He would pass me going downhill.  Back and forth, up and down…

I saw the first aid station, and tossed my water bottle—it was just a cheapo bottled water bottle and I was worried about it bouncing out of the cage.  I mostly just had it to rinse my feet and mouth out from the salt water.  I lined up, prepared to grab a new bottle and..the guy in front of me dropped his bottle, and I had to swerve away to avoid it.  Which means I also missed a chance to get my own bottle.  Annoying.  Kyle later leant my his bottle so I could dump a bit on my legs and wash my mouth out more (still so salty) but it was a bummer to miss the water right off the bat.

A few more miles in, I think once we were realizing that maybe there were more hills than we thought, Kyle saw me grinding up a hill (I mean come on, it’s got to be over soon, right?) and told me to keep my cadence up.  Well, fine, I thought, and quickly shifted down.  And my chain came off.  UGH!  I made some sort of exclamation, tried to get it back on and nopeeee that thing is stuck again.  What is it with me and dropping chains?!?!  Kyle heard me, realized what happened, and pulled off the course and rode back to me.  I was off the bike, trying to un-stuck it, but he barked at me to hold the bike while he very quickly got it sorted himself.  Always a good thing to have your mechanic on the course to fix things for you!  ;)  I felt really bad for making him stop buuuut was very greatful!  :)  Right as we were getting back on the course, some of the pros came flying by in the opposite direction, already on their way back from the turnaround in Cabo San Lucas.  Alright, Kelley, you can do this.

Kyle and I riding together for the first part of the bike course - major motivation!

More of the same hills, over and over. They were pretty annoying hills, too.  The course description had said “rolling hills following the coast line” or something to that effect, and yes, they were just “rolling hills” not massive climbs…but they were legit hills.  And they were not very efficient, and not gradual, and basically just sucked the momentum out of you.  Yes, you could fly downhill, but once you hit the bottom, there was no nice coasting back up the next hill; no, it would kick right back up at enough of an angle that you would come grinding to a halt and you found yourself shifting down and crawling back up another hill.

I did eventually get water, and it was cool they were actual bike bottles (and with the Ironman Mexico logo and stuff)..but I mostly got the water to dump on myself and keep myself cool, and they did NOT lend themselves well for that.  Basically as soon as you turned them upside down and squeezed, somehow the top would close.  This made it really, really hard to pour over my head!  That strategy worked SO WELL to keep me cool in Coeur d’Alene and I was counting on doing the same…I did get to dump some water, but not nearly as much or as often (way too much energy and I kept slowing down to try to squeeze it out carefully).  As a result, I got way hotter on the bike than I had hoped.  In CDA I never really got super-hot, thanks to keeping my core (and head!!!) temperature down as much as possible (and starting way early), but with that out the window, I was feeling the heat a lot more.

Kyle yelled after me to remember to eat, at one point ;) My friends know me so well.  I think we both knew it was a bummer he was riding with me, because it meant his swim was slow, but I also knew I was really lucky too because I’m the one that got the big benefit from it :)  Having him just ahead of me, or knowing he was just behind me, was such an incredible help.  We weren’t physically drafting, but it gives about the same mental benefit, knowing you can pace off each other like that.  I can definitely say I was set up for a good race, starting the bike out strong like that, and really getting myself into the right mindset of riding strong.  Thanks, Kyle!!

I think it was ~15 miles to Cabo San Lucas, and it was literally 15 miles of hills.  The last couple miles were a nice gradual descent, actually, but by now there was a pretty steady stream of athletes coming back up the opposite direction, and I was acutely aware of how dejected a lot of them were looking from the climb back up.  My head was already starting to hurt, I kept drinking more Gatorade and taking salt pills thinking I was dehydrated, but it wasn’t really going away.  It wasn’t bad, but it was annoying, and I did NOT want it to get worse.  I didn’t want to use my Advil so soon (not sure why, but just didn’t want to), so I waited until the first turnaround.  Probably should have taken it sooner because I felt much better after that :)

The turnaround came very abruptly…and suddenly I was on that long ascent back out, too.  It was long.  It wasn’t steep, but it was just enough to be annoying.  As I finally hit the shorter rollers again, we seemed to get a tailwind!  WHAT?!  This was too good to be true.  I was climbing, but going 24mph?! This is great!  This is the best thing ever!!!!

…that didn’t last long.  We never got much of a headwind—a bit, but nothing to write home about—but I missed that nice tailwind.  Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

There’s not much to say about the way back, because it was the same as before—but backwards.  Hill, hill, hill.

We started seeing fresh new people entering the course the other direction, and I knew that must be people from the full.  Suddenly, we were getting close to Palmilla, which is where the swim had been (and where the bike started), and on a big descent I suddenly heard a loud “ROSANNNNNEEEEEE!” from the other direction.  It took me a second to realize it and couldn’t turn to look in time, but—MacBeth!!!  I was shocked and thrilled, knowing she must have had an AWESOME swim to be on the bike course in time for us to cross paths! Sure enough, the onramp for the bike start was just on the other side of the next hill—and there was Allen on the side of the course, too!  I grinned, flew by, and pedaled hard.

Waving to Allen, and wondering how he's going to get back into town when the race has all the roads closed...

Now, for a couple miles, we were on a part of the road I knew from riding it in the car so many times the last couple days. I also knew that, in the car, I had thought “ew, this is an annoying hill, I’m not looking forward to this on the bike, I bet this is like the biggest hill though”…  Hah, hah, hah!  On the plus side, the hill wasn’t as bad as I had been expecting, probably because that’s what all the other hills for the last however-many miles had been like…

I was so sick of Gatorade.  I kept trying more, because I wasn’t feeling well, and of course each aid station had different flavors and all got mixed up in my bottle.  It started making me even more sick, and I definitely had to keep myself from throwing up a few times.  I basically stopped the Gatorade around then and just tried to drink some water to dilute things and hoped it would be ok and not too sloshy by the time I was running.

Quite possibly one of my favorite photos.  I'm clearly suffering going up hill too, but at least I'm leading these guys who seem irritated some chick just passed them ;)

Grinding up to the turnaround in Cabo del San Jose was a bit annoying, but I kept trying to ride it strong.  A very slight uphill, but I kept passing people.  I knew the turn to go up to the airport would be soon, and was expecting that to be the real climb of the day.

Here, I saw the first girl all day that was in my age group!  I’m sure there were more, but you could basically only tell from people who had the tattoos—the marker had washed off of everyone on the swim, so there were a lot of bare calves.  I passed her, and wondered how many were still ahead of me, and made a mental note to try to stay strong for a bit since she looked like a good cyclist and I didn’t want to get re-passed ;)

One more turnaround before the hill up to the airport…and why are my brakes screaming at me?!?!  I guess it was a combination of dumping water and the brakes cooking in the sun, but holy cow, it nearly gave me a heart attack.  It sounded like something was seriously wrong, but the brakes were working sooo…shake it off, and keep riding!  I was a bit unnerved though, knowing I had a big climb (followed by a big descent) coming up.  I mean, they seemed to be working, but what if there’s an issue?  That definitely did not sound good, and no one else’s bike made such an awful noise like that….

This also made me realize it was the first time I had used the brakes in, well, a long time.  About 15 miles since the last turn-around, that is.  The course may have been unrelenting hills, but it was NOT a technical course AT ALL.  Straight up and straight down, with the tiniest turns to hug the coastline, and absolutely no need to touch the brakes.  That made me pretty proud though, knowing I wasn’t loosing time on the descents because I wasn’t braking or anything—I was letting it fly, and felt totally comfortable doing so!  I hit 40mph at one point which was the fastest I think I’ve ever done, but I don’t think I ever felt like I was going faster than about 25mph.  I love my nice, steady bike :)  After that turnaround, and before heading up on the last-out-and-back, I saw Kyle again.  He was only a minute or so behind me, but after our last talk a few miles ago, I knew he was having a harder time.  The hills were not good for his heart, especially after the rough swim, but I was glad to see he was right there behind me still.  I yelled at him to get up to me again, but I’m sure he didn’t want to hear it ;)

The long grind up the road to the airport began.  We climbed, and climbed, and climbed.  It wasn’t a steep climb, nice and seated the whole way, but it was long.  Aside from a couple undulations near the top of the last turnaround, it was essentially a 10-mile climb.  I may have thought it sucked, but I also know I’m actually a pretty good climber, so while it was a bummer that that course was way different than expected, it actually worked out in my favor.  I was kind of naturally prepared for it, I just wasn’t expecting it.

Pedal, pedal, pedal.  I kept trying to find the balance of how hard to work.  Mentally, this last part got hard because I wanted to keep riding strong and go as fast as I could, but it was getting to be long and I wanted to be done and knew I needed to run a strong half marathon.  Especially ending with all the climbing, how much should I be destroying my legs?  But I kept at it, tried to ride hard but smart, not burning all the matches, but not sitting back and soft-pedaling, either.

I caught one more girl in my age group—and I actually recognized her name from the start list, and as someone I knew would be closer to the front (Naveen, a very cool, unique name).  I passed her for a bit, she passed me again, I let her stay there (she kept glancing back, maybe she was worried about me) and so I took a short break and kept her just ahead of me, before finding a spot to pass her again—and ride hard.  But now I knew she was back there, and knew she would keep me motivated to stay strong.

In other news, I had sand on me the whole time.  My hands were sandy, no matter how much I tried to wipe them off on my kit (probably because my kit was full of sand too).  My feet were sandy, and apparently I didn’t wash them off very well because there was a rock the size of a small boulder in my left shoe, which managed to wedge itself right under the ball of my foot.  It went from minor annoyance to major irritation while on this section.  I kept thinking how I absolutely needed to figure out how to get my feet cleaned off before the run, because there was no way I could run like this.  I was just so sick of sand!!

It looks like I'm smiling, but I'm really only grimacing in pain, and swearing I'll never do this distance race again

We FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY hit the last turnaround.  Now it was just a matter of zipping back down into town, and finding T2.  The way back was much faster, since it was mostly all a fast downhill after the enormous climb, but there were a few short little hills left.  I realized I was getting tired.  I felt ok but didn’t have the same spark, and found myself slipping into the ironman mindset—conserve energy, go easy, don’t push it on the hill.  A few people passed me and I woke up a bit, realized I needed to pull it together and get this thing done.  The last big descent was awesome, it seemed so much shorter going downhill than it did going uphill!  Again, I was eternally grateful for my little argon (as well as the super non-technical course); I felt so comfortable on it, even on some less-than-ideal road surfaces (nothing like 3-feet-deep sections of turtles spanning across the road, spaced 2 inches part), and even going straight downhill.  My brakes kept making noises but I hardly used them at all (only at the very bottom when we had a sharp turn), and they seemed to be working soooo I pushed that out of my head.  I passed a few girls going downhill which was a great feeling, since usually I’m the one being passed constantly downhill.  Building back confidence again going down hills has been a long time coming!

Another grind up a false flat, another turn, and the dismount line was down at the bottom of one last hill!  But this was a little side road, in the town of San Jose del Cabo, and it was quite possibly the worst bike-riding surface in the history of the planet.  Potholes, bumps, uneven speed-mounds (they weren’t speed bumps, they were mountains), torn-up chunks of rock strewn everywhere.  And also downhill.  I groaned to myself, and distinctly remember thinking “Really, I made it THIS FAR, I better not crash now coming into T2…”  (we later did see one guy wipe out, as we were waiting for Mac to come into T2 later on that day; I’m sure he wasn’t the only one).  My water bottle FINALLY came off over one of the speedbumps, which was sad because I was at least happy I’d get a cool Ironman Mexico water bottle out of the deal (Mac’s came off her bike at the same spot later, which I thought was pretty funny, and pretty telling about the road condition). 

A dismount line at the bottom of a hill seemed dumb, but at this point, it was time to shift focus.  I got off the bike probably more smoothly than I ever have (which isn’t saying much at all), and handed my bike off to someone.  There was a small little carpeted path to our bags, and off I went.

T2 – 1:46

I found my bag easily, hanging from its hook.  I was ushered into the Women’s changing tent, which was EMPTY!  There was one other athlete in there I think, and a few volunteers with about 5 chairs total.  Thinking back, I wonder if they set up more and had more available later, because it was really, really sparse and empty.  A giant, empty tent.  Even in my race-focused, discombobulated state, I remember thinking it was all very odd.  I grabbed a chair, dumped my stuff, and immediately a girl was next to me offering me a glass of water.  I took it, then realized I didn’t actually want water (still a full belly of all the Gatorade and water I had tried to drink), so I dumped a little on my head to cool off and—LIGHTBULB!  I threw off my bike shoes, and slowly poured the water over one foot, thankfully washing allllll the sand and rocks off!  The girl looked at me like I was crazy; I guess she just expected me to drink the water ;)  She asked if I wanted more, and I said “si, para mis pies, gracias!!!” and she ran back with 2 more big cups of water as I got the first sock and shoe on.  I repeated with the other foot, then dumped another on my head—I knew it would be hot.  I double checked to make sure I had what I needed, she told me to leave my stuff, and off I went!  I went tearing out of that tent.  I ran past the men’s changing tent.  I saw Allen on the side of the course.  I realized I must be officially running now, but had no idea where transition had ended and where the run had started soooo figured I should start my garmin!!

Run – 1:50:46 (1/20 AG - how did that happen?)

Despite the confusion, it was time to run.  At least this part of the street, I knew.  Not to mention, I felt GREAT!  I glanced down and realized I was flying, told myself to hold up a bit—but not too much.  I figured I may as well get as much time in the bank as I could now, and my legs were moving fast so I just let it happen.  (In hindsight, I guess this paid off)  The first turn around with the first timing mat came at 1.2km which I thought was pretty crazy, and I laughed when I realized how fast it would look like I was running..but kept at it.  After the first aid station and dumping another cup of water on my head, I felt my shoes already soaking wet.   That’s odd, I don’t even remember my feet feeling like they were sloshing around in Coeur d’Alene. Blisters?!… oh well.  I gradually slowed down a bit, but was feeling ok and kept at is as we turned up onto a bridge, taking us into the nature preserve.

Out of T1!  I think?  Is this the run course, now?!

"Yes, I am feeling awesome and ready to kill this run!"

Geez this entire bridge is uphill!  Can’t wait to run down it.  I wonder where this part of the course takes us?  And where’s Kyle?  I hope I didn’t miss seeing him… Another aid station.  Having them every km was both a blessing and a curse.  Another roundabout.  We must turn around there.  Oh no, wait, we keep going.  There’s another turn, it must turn around there.  Oh, no, we keep going.  On and on and on.  Suddenly we were on a dirt path.  Where the heck does this course go?!  And now up a dirt hill?!  This is just stupid!  We are like 20 miles away from civilization!  Are we done yet?!!!?? I’m so sick of this!  Finally the course met back up and FINALLY turned back around and headed back into town.  The whole little section was maybe 2-3 miles total, but it felt like an eternity.  It’s ok, now that I’ve done it once it’ll be better for the second lap.  Just have to run this section once more!

"Just kidding, this run is killing me.  This is the worst course ever and we're only 3 miles in."

They started having ice at aid stations, and I stuffed my sports bra with it.  I would grab a piece, rub it on my face, or bite off a piece and stuff the other half back in my bra.  Super hygienic, and super attractive.  But I was hot, way too hot, and needed to cool off.  The ice was soft enough I could chew it easily, and just like in CDA, the feeling of crunching up ice in my mouth was the best feeling.  Also like in CDA, I started just spitting it out because I didn’t want to eat it, I just wanted to chew on it.  I guess running isn't very glamorous, either.

Crossed over the bridge again.  But why was it uphill the whole way again?!  Wasn’t it uphill the other direction?!  What is with this course?!  Just before turning off, I finally caught sight of Kyle making his way out.  We moved to the inside as we got close to each other, so that we could talk briefly as we passed.  I asked how he was, he said bad, and I tried offering him my cup of ice.  He refused it, but I hoped he would be ok and at least now I knew he was on the run and we should see each other more.

We crossed onto some other road, for another dumb out-and-back.  Again, the whole thing was less than 2 miles but it felt like forever, in the middle of nowhere.  Why was I feeling so bad already?!  My pace was slowing, I was getting annoyed, and mostly I was irritated I had to do this whole dumb “loop” one more time.  Why can’t we be done already?  This is the stupidest distance race ever, I’m never doing another 70.3!!  Arrgghhh!!! (<-- famous last words)

Back around another corner, and up another gentle incline (because why would anything here be flat??).  The finish line was JUST THERE, and I heard the announcer welcome in the 4th place female.  I made the turn-around instead of heading to the finish (darn), and Allen was right there taking photos.  I made some awful faces and tried to tell him "this sucks, I hate it so much..." but he just yelled “KEEP GOING, YOU’RE GAINING ON HER, GO FOR IT” back at me… Thanks for the sympathy, dear.  ;) I have no idea who I was gaining on, and I don’t know if there was actually anyone, but I tried to use that as motivation to run harder.  I’m not sure it worked.  As I ran back down the street towards the start of the loop (by T2), I realized how slow things must be if they were celebrating the 4th female and I was just heading to start my second lap…sigh.

Rounding the corner to head out for a second lap, instead of running straight to the finish line :(

I kept dumping water and mostly holding ice in my bra.  It took a long time but I finally cooled off a bit.  I kept the ice routine up, smearing it on my face, looking like a lunatic.  I would put my hand up on my forehead and feel the sand and salt still there from the swim.  Gross!  Why is there sand EVERYWHERE?!  Update: ok, absolutely nothing about any part of triathlon is glamorous, AT ALL.

The section through the nature preserve was looming, and I was dreading it.  I’m not sure why I hated that section so much.  It wasn’t that long, it just felt like it, and sucked out all my energy.  There was no way to get into a rhythm on the entire course, too many out-and-backs and turns and weird sections and BLEH!  I was slowing down.  I started walking the aid stations around here, which I never expected to do during any half marathon!  I saw my pace hit the 9s and cringed.  What was going on?!  I kept doing the math, I only had a few miles to go.  Why couldn’t I rally and pull things together?!

Getting ready to go over the bridge again back into town, I realized I had LESS THAN 3 MILES.  That’s NOTHING.  It may feel like I was far away, but three miles is nothing, and I had even less than that to go.  COME ON ROSANNE!!!  I was way off my 1:40 prediction, but realized I would be done soon no matter what and if you can just hold a 9 minute mile…. To which I laughed.  I mean, I think I actually made myself smile out there on the course thinking that, because HECK YES ROSANNE, you BETTER be able to hold a freaking 9-minute mile!!!  Spoiler alert: I did not hold a 9 minute mile.

It was pretty pathetic.  I got so discouraged.  I had no idea where anyone else on the course was, or what age group people were in, and I honestly didn’t even care.  I knew there was nothing in the world that could motivate me to run even faster, so there was no point thinking about it.  It was time to get into my brain and just keep my legs moving enough to get to the finish line; nothing else was going to get it done.

I slowly shuffled along, trying to will my legs to move faster and find something in them, but there was nothing.  I’m still not sure why I fell apart, or why I seem to fall apart like that on runs sometimes.  I wasn’t running hard and making myself sick, I was just out of gas and there was no way to MAKE my body go any faster.  Frustrating.

But I made it, rounded that last corner again and headed up that eternal uphill street to get to the finish line area.  The guy at the intersection was motioning to people if they had another lap or to go to the finish, and you better believe I looked him straight in the eye and pointed forward because I WAS DONE and was not about to do another lap!  Turning onto the finish line, the announcer enthusiastically called “from Woodinville, California—” Um, what?  Is there someone else?  Or is that me?? “—Rosanne Kelley!”  Oh well.  Suddenly, of course, I had a bit more energy and yeah, those kids want a high five?  Sure, I’ll give them a high five!!

In a final act of cruelty, they put the finish line raised up, so you have to run up a little ramp.  No, it’s not hard; yes, it’s short; no, it doesn’t make a difference… but I mean, really?!  Haha.  Nevertheless, I crossed that line and was DONE!

"Yes, I would love to make my way up yet another ramp!"

I debated if I should be pumping my fist in the air, because I certainly wasn't feeling triumphant or like I had a good run, but it just kind of happened so I guess it's more of a "YESSSS I can stop and cool off now" thing.

Total Time: 5:37:21

I had someone catch me, ask how I felt (“HOT”), got a medal, was directed to get my chip taken off (the dumb thing had been flapping around the ENTIRE race; in fact, during the swim I was absolutely convinced I was going to lose it), was assigned a new volunteer to walk me around, and was delivered to a bunch of different tents—bananas and pistachios, Gatorade and water (ew), pizza, then finally a giant tent with beer and ice bath tubs.  No to the beer, but (after a quick, official photo), YES to the ice tub!  It was more just cold water, and less ice, and we all know how much I hate ice baths..but it felt pretty amazing.  I hobbled into it like an old lady and crouched down to get the water as high up as possible.  After a few minutes, I wandered out to get my shirt etc and find Allen.

There was a lot of drama with finding Kyle and sorting out what was happening (long story short, he had issues, collapsed on the course, wanted to be taken back to the finish line but instead got carted off to the hospital by an ambulance. Everything was fine, but it was a huge mess trying to communicate with medical, and the officials, and no one really knew anything until about 2.5 hours later when finally I insisted that we knew SOMEONE had been taken by an ambulance, and was it Kyle, to which case we finally got a “oooh yeah, that’s him..he’s on his way.”  Let’s just say my Spanish got really good really quick, as I argued with security to let me through to the medical tent, and telling the medical folks to get their act together)  Ugh.  Anyway, it wasn’t until a while later I finally used Mac’s phone to casually check my times—I was curious what all the official times were and what my place was, although I figured I was  like 5 or 6 or something if I was lucky.

“Um, this thing says I got 1st place in my age group….” Allen admitted he hadn’t seen any other girls in my age group cross before me, but the ironman tracking site is a little silly sometimes so I didn’t quite believe it (especially with the rolling start etc, who knows)..but even after the course closed it still said I got 1st and I started to accept it.  How a 5:37 got 1st place, I don’t know, but I’ll take it!  In looking at all the times now, I see everyone was pretty “slow” (at least compared to other 70.3 times I’ve seen) so I guess it was just a crazy course and it was hot and miserable.  Apparently this is my year for hot races :P  We still had to go shower and then cheer on Mac on her way into T2, and assure everyone back home that Kyle was alive and well, so it was a little hard to get excited about a win...but still!!  :)

The proof to our friends at home that we were both alive and well ;)
The most important part of all that, of course, was I AM GOING TO 70.3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!  In AUSTRALIA!!  This is beyond cool to me, and it still hasn’t really sunk in!!!  Going to the WC allocation the next day was stressful, and I was shaking soooo much as they called my name, I took the slot, and sat down to fill out all the online registration stuff.  Getting that letter and hat sealed the deal, and made it so real!!  I have a lot of work to do and things to work on (swimming, obviously, but also running off the bike and not having a meltdown), but I have 10 months and now I know what my focus is for next year :) :)

For the record-- I don't really hate the distance.  I didn't  love it at the time, but you never  love it when it  hurts ;) Even on the bike wen I caught myself thinking that, I knew I was only don't worry.  I am fully committed and fully excited to work on this distance and keep doing it :)

A few drinks were in order, as we waited for the Awards ceremony.

Nothing like the paparazzi to make you feel like a rock star!

HUGE thanks to all my amazing friends and family-- in training and racing, I'm so lucky to pursue my passions with all your support.  You all know who you are!  Special thanks to super-Sherpa Allen, who may not have been mentioned here as much as he should have, but was behind the scenes ALL day long (and what a long day it was), and for being amazing and letting us all race on vacation ;)