Ironman 70.3 Ohio Race Review

Ironman 70.3 Ohio is in its infancy and I think we all want to know what kind of race Ironman is delivering in Ohio.  I was interested to see how it compared to other 70.3 events in the Midwest.  I was also interested to see what Delaware, OH had to offer.

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Delaware was about 2.5 hours away from my home in the Ft Wayne, Indiana area.  I was flying solo for this trip so packed & pulled out as soon as I could get Mr. Michael over to hang out with my parents.  Minivan/Bike selfie for the win!  Love being a minivan mom!  When I’m old & wrinkly I’ll probably still be driving one around cuz my bike REALLY  likes riding inside.  Smile

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3 hours later, I pulled into Delaware, OH.  Home of Ohio Wesleyan University.  Easy enough drive.  Cute town.  Beautiful church in the downtown area .  Typical small college town with a main street area lined with shops & restaurants. 

The expo was on the Selby Stadium campus.  Big merchandise tent with A LOT of IM 70.3 Ohio stuff.  The merchandise tent was much bigger than Muncie & was larger than what I usually see at Steelhead too.  Not sure why, but it was impressive & I’ve done quite a few IM 70.3s.    Smallish expo otherwise but the highlight was free sunscreen from Ohio Health, then both NormaTec & Rapid Reboot had recovery boots for people to try.  I’m part of the Best TRI Club Ever (BTCE) & we get a discount with Rapid Reboot so I was happy to try out a pair of those to see how they compared.  LOVED them!!! I think they would be great for Aby & I to help with recovery.  Maybe Santa could bring a pair for us to share?!?!?! 

Saw one of my BTCE teammates at the expo & we got to hang out, drop our run bags together, then we eventually did dinner.  Thanks, Laura!

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What makes IM 70.3 Ohio slightly different than most 70.3s in the Midwest would be multiple transition zones.  Transition 1 was by Delaware Lake at Delaware State Park.  Transition 2 was inside Selby Stadium.  Below.

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Hard to see all the bike racks because they are sitting on the white lines.  We had to pack our run bags the day before & drop in our T2 spot so that we would have what we needed when we brought our bikes in for the run.  Those bags are the red spots you see on the white lines. 

Then after we dropped our run bags, we headed 6 miles away to Delaware State Park to drop our bikes in T1.  I didn’t love this but it was mandatory due to very little parking at the park & a need to shuttle athletes in on race morning.  Last year, there was a tornado that touched down in the park overnight while the bikes were in transition.  Yes, that was definitely in the back of my head.

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Race day started bright and early as we all needed to board a school bus to be shuttled to the swim venue.  We were able to park in 2 different locations.  I picked the one closest to T2 since I would  need to get my bike & all my gear (sans transition bag) back to my car solo.  My parking area was about 0.6 mi from Selby Stadium. 

Good news was delivered via Facebook right before we boarded the shuttle. Wetsuit legal!  We boarded buses.  As soon as a bus was full, it would leave.  Lots of buses.  I didn’t have to wait at all.  Easy ride to the venue.  We were dropped near transition.   Went thru body marking.  Then finally had access to our bikes again.  Everything looked fine, just damp with dew.  Biggest challenge was pumping tires when we couldn’t carry in a pump unless someone we knew could carry it back out for us.  We were not returning to T1 after we left on our bikes & there wasn’t room in our bike bags for an air pump.  Luckily, someone loved the lady beside me & she had her tire pump in transition.  She was kind enough to share with me!  Much appreciated! 

I set up my spot and prepared my bike bag for when I returned for the swim.  Everything from our swim needed to go INSIDE our bike bag & then volunteers collected the bags & transported our swim & morning stuff to the T2 area for us to retrieve after the race.  Quick picture with Laura before we left our phones in the bike bag.  Then out of transition by 6:45a when it closed.

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Our swim waves were at 8:04 & 8:08a.  Long wait.  I was definitely stiff, tired & ready by the time my wave went off.  The lake water the day before was a bit choppy but smooth by race morning.  We waded into the water & treaded water as we waited for the start.  4 minutes between waves.  Seemed like we swam somewhat parallel to shore to start but according to the map, we swam in a triangle.  First segment to the red turn buoy was 500m, then a long 800m stretch into the sun.  I don’t think any of us would have hit those last 2 buoys on the long side without help from the guards.  The sun was in our eyes & we could see buoys over on the other side but not the ones “in front” of us.  I kept hearing the guards yell, “swim right, swim right”.  Finally we made it to the final turn buoy for a 600m kick to shore.  It was kinda carnage. We could see again but the course narrowed, basically there were more swimmers & the guards were in closer to the buoys so it seemed like we didn’t have much room to swim.  The people in front of us who were struggling were just lounging, kinda stopped in the water.  Or going very slow.  The people behind us were trying to swim over us to get out of the water.  I got smacked in the head & my goggles were dislodged but I didn’t lose them.  The gentleman was very nice about it but I couldn’t get my goggles to reseal after that.  Oh well, just keep swimming, right? 

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Finally out of the water.  Almost an identical swim split as Muncie even though I felt like I did better.  It seems like the harder I try and the MORE I want to do better, the slower I go.  Is that even possible?   The mysteries of the swim elude me!

On the bike.  Splitting headache & nausea the first 22 miles.  Maybe that guy hit me harder than I thought?   After some ibuprofen & pepto, I was good to go, just in time to turn out of the wind.  Smile   First half of the course was super easy, very few turns.  Good roads & we were frequently separated from the cars by traffic cones.  Last 20+ miles had a lot more turns & the “where are we going now” feeling.  I wouldn’t call this a particularly fast course because of the number of turns toward the end.  And the roads were open.  So we had cars to deal with the majority of the time.  There were several times that the riders were having to wait on cars, or a car would pass us, then have to slow because they couldn’t get around the next group of riders and we’d have to brake to keep from running into the cars in front of us.  Traffic got increasing more congested as we were nearing town for T2.  So as we were navigating the course & all the turns at the end, we were also fighting real traffic.  Very unsafe at times.  

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Hit the ground running at the dismount line, onto the track around the football field, onto the astro turf for transition. HOT.  The astro turf was burning hot on my bare feet.  I fortunately wasn’t too far into the rack for T2.  So I grabbed my run bag (that had been sitting since the previous day) & realized that my shoes were burning hot too.  Fun.  It was upper 80s probably by the time we got off the bike.  Quick T2 cuz well, I wanted to get away from the astro turf. 

Onto the run.  Two loops.  Still hot.  Some breeze.  Some shade.  A few nice people who brought out water to spray on us or splash us.  One spot where kids with giant water guns were having fun spraying us.  However, the aid stations weren’t as prepared for the heat as most IM events which I have done in the past.  There was ice in maybe 3 or 4 spots over the 13.1 miles.  What little ice they did have would go fast & I didn’t get any on the second loop until I was headed back to the stadium with about a mile to go.  It made me feel really bad for those behind me. 

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Great volunteers on the run course.  No vehicular traffic that I remember.  Varied elevation but mostly flat with a few small hills. 

Finish.  The sweet finish.  We ran back into Selby Stadium.  Did a partial lap around the track & we were done.  Yes!!!  Nice finish.  I went to pick up my morning/bike bag.  Hands were full!  Then I went to the food tent.  They were grilling hamburgers & chicken but it was gone when I got there & they were waiting for more.  I didn’t feel like waiting.  Went to T2 to get my bike & the rest of my gear.  Quite the balancing act getting the bike & all the gear back to the car without my transition bag.  If I had thought about it, I should have left my transition bag inside my run bag so it was there when I was ready to pack everything up at the end of the race!  Or maybe another backpack.  That would have been helpful.

Overall a good race.  Nice venue at OH Wesleyan. The two transition locations was not ideal for me but I still enjoyed the race.  Volunteers, police & spectators were great as usual.  Plenty of SWAG, pictured below.

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Thanks to Delaware OH for letting us invade your town.  Great hospitality. 

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Ironman 70.3 Muncie – 2017 Edition

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Saturday brought the 2017 edition of the Ironman 70.3 Muncie event in Muncie, IN.   My third time participating.  I must say I’m not even sure why I signed up because my first and second experiences at Muncie were less than stellar (torn tendon in my foot in 2012 & ruptured discs in my back + a broken bike in 2016).  But several of my friends were going.  Peer pressure?  No.  Its just more fun to race with friends.  So I signed up with mixed emotions.  Spoiler Alert:  Muncie delivered a good race for all of us!

Muncie is a Saturday event.  So we went down Friday afternoon to get our packets.  It rained the entire drive.  Some thunder.  Some lightening.  Lots of rain.  We got to the venue.  It was REALLY muddy but not raining.  We parked pretty far away and hiked in so that I had a chance of not getting stuck.  Quick check of the water to see that the buoys were out and the water was calm.  Pretty normal for Muncie.  The swim is in the Prairie Creek Reservoir, so warm water without much chop is the norm.

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Packet pickup was smooth & easy, as are all Ironman events that I’ve ever done.  Packet, check.  Event bag, check. Race shirt, check. Activate chip, check.  Then we hit the mandatory pre-race meeting and had a hard time paying attention because the skies were turning black and a new storm was rolling into the venue.  We ended up cutting the meeting short & hiking back to the car, just in time to pull out as the thundering rains came down.  Rain.  Thunder.  Lightening.  Hail.  Downed trees.  Tornado sirens.  This went on for hours & Ironman ended up shutting down packet pick with a  plan to resume early before the race start on Saturday morning. 

Opening packet pick up early, really affected all of us, not just those who didn’t have their packets.  Although transition didn’t open until 5a, they were opening the venue at 4a for packet pick-up.  Since the venue was really muddy before the big storm on Friday night, there was an extra level of anxiety for some of us, okay ME, that we would struggle with parking and/or get stuck getting parked or getting out to go home!  Although many people did get stuck on Saturday morning, the boy scouts were helping push people out.  And we parked further back, where there was less traffic and we got in pretty easily on race morning.

Transition closed at 6:45 since the first swim wave started at 7a.  We left our shoes, grabbed our swim gear and wetsuits.  The bonus of a stormy Friday was wetsuit legal temps on race day!  First workout of the day, wiggling into our wetsuits!  Then my wave took off at 7:45a.  Get ready to swim, bike & run!!!

Swim started with five minutes between each wave.  But it was a madhouse as usual.  128 ladies in my division/swim wave.   I was pretty much right in the thick of it when I would have preferred to be swimming alone.  I breathe bilaterally, which works in my favor cuz I can see who is trying to beat the crap out of me on both sides.  I’m not a fast swimmer but I can swim a long time.  I don’t need to start at the front but if I start too far back, I get trapped.  Placing myself in the swim is never fun and I never seem to put myself in the right spot.  I held my own with the fist swimming ladies in my age group.  Let the fasties go, and we started swimming up on the wave in front of us pretty quickly.  That’s when things get dicey.  We got to them about the same time the fasties in the age group behind us got to us.  Lots of extra traffic.  But I was just swimming from buoy to buoy & looking at all the kayaker lifeguards to see if any of them were my friend Sheryl.  Didn’t see her.  Sad smile 

Swim course was set up like an inverted triangle with 2 long sides and a short “leg” in between. 

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As we swam around the second turn buoy, heading back to shore in the final leg of the swim, the sun was in our eyes.  So blinding.  I’ve done this race 2 other times but the sun seemed so much brighter this time.  I couldn’t see the buoys at all.  Had to stop several time to see if I was on track.  This last leg should have been where I picked it up but I didn’t since I couldn’t see.  In fact, I was so blinded that about half way thru that final leg, I swam up on a gentlemen from one of the waves in front of me.  Scared the poo out of me.  I froze, popped my head up & apologized.  Well, I must have really tightened up when I hit him because my left calf cramped  & I was dead in the water.  Quite literally.  Clutching my cramped calf in one hand, trying to swim with one hand out of the way of all the bazillion swimmers who were fighting to get around me once I stopped.  Not fun.  I couldn’t get the cramp to pass & was trying to massage it in the water.  Hundreds of people passed me as I was sidelined & then I was eventually able to start swimming again & get out of the water.  Yes!  Victory.  Back on land.  Better yet, there were wetsuit strippers!!  Life savers because with my back in its current state of disrepair, I really struggle getting out of my wetsuit.   Super thankful for the lady that helped me & helped pull me back up off the ground since I was struggling there too! 

Muddy run/walk up to transition.  Found my bike.  My friend Sara got out of water at the same time as me and was particularly speedy.  I felt dull in transition, like I didn’t know what to do.  How many times have I done this?!?!?.  Put down my swim stuff. Thanked the Big Man (once again) for my end spot in transition. Put on my bike glasses.  Sprayed myself with sunscreen, put on bike shoes.  Grabbed my helmet.  Started to open a bottle of water but realized I would have plenty of time to drink on the bike.  Go, Go, Go!!  And Sara zipped by me at this point as I was getting my bike off the rack.  Side note:  I always struggle getting my bike off the rack because my bike is so much bigger than most.  I have to tilt it sideways to get it in and out and be careful to not mess up anyone else’s transition area.  I also have to be careful  to not lose my nutrition in the process.  Not graceful.  Not fast. But at last I’m rolling. 

Jogging out of T1 with my bike, hop over the giant river of mud to the road, roll to the Mount Line.  Hoping there isn’t a lot of mud stuck in my bike cleats to prevent them from clipping.  Finally I’m clipped in and rolling.  Slowly.  Everyone is flying past me.  My legs feel heavy.  I wonder what the day will bring and if my legs will shake out.  I’ve felt nothing but heavy & fatigued on the bike for about a year now.    Ever since I ruptured 2 discs in my back last summer.  But recently, I had been feeling better.  Then I had 2 really bad rides the week of the race after vacation.  Maybe I’m not getting better?  Maybe it was wishful thinking?  Hmmmm, only time will tell.

Rolling.  I knew I had about 6 miles of rougher type roads before we hit the main drag where we would loop 2x.  I just settled in, took in some Tailwind for calories & tried to relax.  The work would start on the main drag & I felt like it wasn’t worth wasting too much energy hitting it too hard before the road smoothed out. 

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Once I hit US 35, the main drag, there was new pavement, spectators & other riders hitting it hard.  Relatively flat course with a few rollers.  Total of 1021 ft of elevation gain for entire bike course.  First section on 35 before the turnaround was from mile 6-17.  I wasn’t really sure how far it was to the turn around (rookie mistake!!) and I thought the wind was at my back but I wasn’t sure about that either.  I should have been pushing way harder in this section but I was still riding pretty easy.  Once I hit the turnaround, somewhere after mile 17, I started looking for my friends, fighting the wind & figuring out my strategy.  Yeah, a little late, right?  Miles 17-28ish.  Into the wind.  Hit the turnaround for the final loop around mile 28 & then I put the hammer down.  My legs had come back.  Like many endurance athletes, the beginning of a run or ride may be yucky but the body knows what’s up and will eventually get on board, once it warms up.  Just takes me awhile!  So I pushed a lot harder on the second loop and passed some people.  I grabbed water at every aid station.  As always, the volunteers at the bike aid stations impress the heck out of me.  They are smart, pay attention to the riders & deliver into my hand whatever I call for as I’m approaching.  Great job, volunteers!!!  Thank you!!!

I was hoping to get my bike split back under 3 hours but I started too slow to make it happen.  Decent bike though & the best bike split I’ve had in over a year so I was happy  and know what to do for next time.  No back pain during the bike!  HUGE win!!!

Transition 2, back to my lovely end spot.  So lucky!!  Tilted my bike to get it under the rack.  No need to worry about losing my nutrition and my rackmate wasn’t back yet so I didn’t need to worry about disrupting her bike/gear.  Shoes. Sunscreen.  Visor.  Race belt.  Go, go, go!   I left T2 in a jog.  A jog is about all I’ve got these days regardless if I want to go fast or slow.  So away I went in my one and only gear.  Slow.

I was looking forward to the first aid station on this run.  Last year they had a water hose & were spraying people down.  I saved my “thank a volunteer” bracelet for whoever was on the other end of that water hose.  It was heating up.  Probably close to 80 by the time I got to the run.  The temps were cooler than normal for Muncie but still hot for me.  I knew the run course had some rolling hills.  Nothing too bad, only 161 ft of elevation gain, but one of the issues with my back is that nerve damage prevents me from raising my feet off the ground too far when I’m running, so hills are a challenge. Even little ones.  My plan was to just keep moving, regardless of the pace.  Just keep moving.

Course was an out & back.  Aid stations & potties about every mile.  Closed course.  Lots of spectators.  Decent roads.  Some shade.  Slight breeze at times.

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I love a good out & back course because I get to see my friends.  Racing is about challenging myself, staying motivated to push my limits, & the friends I meet along the way.  An out & back lets me see those friends who are racing with me!  Yay! 

The finish eventually presented itself. Finish Line = Pure Joy!   It was a good day of racing for me & the people I knew who went to Muncie.  Bonus, the wind that slowed us a bit on the bike, and cooled us a bit on the run, also dried up a lot of the mud so we could get out of our parking spots.  Yes!

Shout out to my bestie, Julie M.  She completed her first half ironman only 5 weeks after her first EVER triathlon.  Racing with this chick makes things fun.  So happy she drank the Triathlon Koolaid!

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Shout out to FNA Bicycles.  They hooked me up with a badass Felt bike this year.  I had to save my pennies for a long time for this bike but it was worth it.  The geometry on this bike is so much better for my body.  And the electronic shifting ….. worth the $$.  It still amazes me that when I shift, even under a load, everything just moves.  So nice to have equipment that works! 

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Lastly, thumbs up for Muncie.  They continue to deliver a great race, year after year.  Amazing volunteers.  Great venue.  Best post race food in the Midwest on the IM 70.3 circuit.  If you are looking for a race that is good for beginners & experienced racers alike, Muncie might be for you.  It is in the middle of nowhere but its worth the trip.  Expect a non-wetsuit legal swim, flat bike with a few rollers, and a hot/humid run with some hills.  And the SWAG is below.  Cute bag, cute gender specific shirt & I’m loving the medal this year! 

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Next up, Ironman 70.3 Ohio – 7/30/17.

** Give It a TRI ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Pokagon Olympic Distance Triathlon–Angola IN

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Last Saturday brought us a cool 50 degree day that is perfect for running but a bit chilly for triathlon!  However, it was the 11th annual Pokagon State Park Triathlon & I was signed up for the Olympic distance event.  1500m swim (.94 miles), 40K bike (24.8 miles) & a 10K trail run (6.2 miles).  First triathlon for 2017 and I was excited.  I’ve been working on my swimming ALL freaking winter and was hoping to be comfortable in the water and well, let’s be honest, faster.  So I was ready!

The race didn’t start until 9am so we weren’t rushed.  We got to the park early.  Made it thru packet pick up in about 60 seconds, which included body marking.  Checked on the water.  The weekend previous the water temp for Lake James was 39 degrees.  So water temperature was on everyone’s mind.  Fortunately after a week of 80-90 degrees, the water temp increased to 63 degrees by race day.  I know that’s cold for some people but honestly, it wasn’t that bad with a wetsuit.  My fingers & toes didn’t go numb …. so it was good.  Smile 

Swim  –  We walked down a longish stone staircase to get to the beach for our swim in Lake James.  Keep in mind that when we come out of the water, we have to climb back up to get to transition.  So a decent walk to the swim start.  But once we were on the beach everything was good.  Even though it was an early spring race, the beach was in decent condition & the water was pretty clean.  What I love about this swim, that I haven’t seen at many other races, was the line between the buoys.  So nice.  So minimal sighting was necessary & I was just able to follow the line.  I’m not a straight swimmer so did hit the rope a couple times with my stroke & I may have hit someone on the other side once, thankfully it was Julie so she didn’t get too mad at me!  The Olympic swim was straight out from shore 375m , around a buoy, back to shore, walk onto the beach to the other side of the line & repeat.  2 loops.  Easy.  My swim wasn’t perfect but it was decent for me & “fast” compared to my previous swim spits.  I don’t usually drop a lot of numbers because I know we are all at different levels but I was happy to get out of the water & see a 31.  I lapped my watch to start my transition 1 time & stop my swim time.  After the race, I saw I swam a 31:52, which is about 2:03/100yd.  Fast for me.  I was happy!!

It took me a little over 2 minutes to get up the stairs & into transition.  I wasn’t running hard but I was jogging & trying to move as quickly as I could without wearing myself out on the steps.  Little did I know, the real challenge was getting my wetsuit off over the huge square box of a timing chip that was attached to my ankle!  It took way more effort than I expected.  I had to sit down.  I almost panicked because I just couldn’t get my suit off over the chip.  Somehow I was eventually on my way & running out of transition with my bike. 

The bike.  40K – 24.8 miles  One loop.  On my beautiful new bike!  Yes, the bike is faster than me! 

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I did this race in 2007, before I owned a wetsuit, and ended up doing the duathlon because the water temp was cold that year too!  But I rode  the Olympic bike course that day.  Not sure it is exactly the same now but I remember it being hilly and windy.  It was exactly as I remember on Saturday.  But maybe windier & maybe hillier.  Smile     

I think I talked a little bit last year about a few discs in my back that ruptured (June 2016).  Well, I’ve not really recovered.  The back issue has caused some neuro issues & my legs are constantly fatigued & lack the power that I had previously. Last year was a long year, fighting the issue with my back & legs,  which comes to the forefront when I ride.  As soon as TRI season was over, I took some serious time off & did some serious treatments (Anti-Inflammatory, PT, Chiro, Cortisone/Steroid cocktail injections).  Took the edge off but I’m far from “better”.  I had hoped this would be a great TRI season with the new bike.  Well, the bike is only as good as the machine riding it.  And my machine has a couple blown valves!  So my bike split was about  5 minutes slower than my conservative estimation but I eventually made it back to transition & attempted a real dismount.  I learned a couple years ago how to slip out of my shoes as I was riding into transition, but I had yet to get brave enough to do a proper dismount.  I tried it once last week in the yard, while it was raining & figured I’d just go for it.   So as I was nearing transition, I slipped out of my shoes, then attempted to gracefully dismount.  Keeping my left foot on the pedal (atop my shoe) and swinging my right leg over the bike to drop it down behind my left foot.  Right foot hitting the ground first.  I came in a little fast.  And hit the ground “running” a little hard.  But I didn’t crash & it didn’t jar my back anymore than random daily activities.  See a smoother version of the dismount from Derek Taylor who competed in a different event last weekend.  His dismount is opposite mine but its still the same concept.  Photo credit:  Amanda Taylor – Get to Goal.

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Slow bike but my 2nd transition rocked.  I loved the new dismount & it really helped me speed into transition and get out on the run quickly.

Run – 10K Trail Run – 6.2 miles!  Once again, I’ve ran the 10K portion of this event previously.  But I was a lot younger & a lot faster!  But still, I remember it being hilly.  Trail runs usually are hilly but they are beautiful.  I’ve never had a more scenic run portion in a TRI  than this one.  Temps were still coolish, in the 50s.  The trail run was mostly shaded.  3 aid stations.  Nice day.  I couldn’t go real fast.  I had to walk up some hills.  And my back was really crabby about the pounding down the hills.  But I eventually made it back to the start/finish area.  5 minutes slower than I had anticipated but I made it back!

Best part was that I had time to grab my camera to capture Julie’s first ever triathlon finish!  We went 1-2 in our age group, you know.  But don’t ask how many people were in the age group!  Winking smile

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Great SWAG at this event.  Unisex Brooks technical tee, pint glass & a few other goodies. Then I got a certificate & coffee mug for the AG award.  Very cool! 

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Huge shout out to FNA Bicycles in New Lenox IL for helping me find the perfect bike.  Huge shout out to all the police & volunteers at Pokagon for keeping us safe.  And the biggest shout out of all goes to Pokagon State Park which is one of my all time favorite State Parks.  Great running trails, beaches & camping areas!  Hope to see you out there sometime!

** Give Triathlon A TRI ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

New Year & New Beginnings ……

I haven’t been publishing much as of late.  I’m in a zone where I’m helping Aby & her friend train for the Little Rock Marathon and that means lots of long runs, not so much racing.  Too many blogs do week by week training recaps.  I’ll let you read one of those if you are interested; you won’t find it here cuz really, who cares besides me?.  But I’m running.  In the cold, in the snow & we’ve had some surprisingly nice days too!  Running.  That’s what’s  happening.

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I’ve also been lifting dumbbell weights & trying to increase my strength without aggravating my back.  I ruptured 2 discs in my back last June and they don’t seem to want to repair, despite many sessions of Physical Therapy, Chiropractor, anti-inflammatory meds & several special cocktails of cortisone type shots in my low back & SI Joints.  I was asked to stop riding & swimming from September 12th thru December 26, 2016.  I did as I was told and I didn’t complain.  I didn’t get any better.  I eliminated all exercise other than 2 slow, easy runs per week.  I gained weight.  I lost strength.  I became frustrated.  I ate too much sugar.  No need to write about that. 

The first of the year (2017) brought a new beginning.  I started adding in more running & strength work.  I’m seeing slow improvements.  I can lift a gallon of milk.  I carried the laundry basket up the stairs today.  I can function, as long as I don’t have to sneeze.  Then you might actually see tears. Why does sneezing HURT so badly?

We’ve ran up some hills.

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We’ve discovered new trails.

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I finally got a new bike & started riding again.  Michael thinks its “the best bike ever” and was yelling the same when I took this pic.  Love that kid.  Pure joy.

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I started getting up earlier on Monday’s to go to Chicago “early” so I can take advantage of a Master’s Swim class before I go into the office.  That lead to my buying some training devices.  And believe it or not, I even know what to do with these things!  My swim WILL improve this year!

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2017 is off to a solid start.  I’ve really got my head down and am working on building strength & skills at this point.  I’ve registered for a few spring marathons & a few 70.3 triathlons over the summer.  My fall season is wide open so far because I had planned for over 2 years to do Ironman North Carolina in October 2017 but they canceled it after last year’s race.  For some reason, my fall is staring at me with wide eyes asking me “what’s up”?  And I just don’t know.  I have no idea how much I can build.  I have no idea how much will be taken out of me with what I’ve already committed to racing.  I have no idea how my back will feel as my training progresses.  I have no idea what I want to do in place of IM NC.  My “real life” schedule & the races in which I have interest, just don’t seem to be meshing this year.   I refuse to force races into my schedule.  Running & Triathlon is fun for me.  Its about fitness and challenging myself.  Its social.  It stops being fun if it causes stress or makes me miss something that I want to do in real life.  The family, in particularly the kids come first.  I fully agree with the Trace Adkins song, “You’re Going to Miss This”.  Time flies and kids grow up fast.  I don’t want to miss anything.  So maybe I’ll be racing this fall, maybe I’ll just be following Aby around from one Cross Country venue to the next.  Who knows.  Only time will tell.  I refuse to force the schedule.

Never Have to Force Anything

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and fun filled 2017!!  Chase those dreams but don’t forget what’s important along the way!

** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

2016 in Review …..

2016 was infinitely better than 2015 in so many ways.  First, our IL house sold!  Yes!  We didn’t make any $$ but it was a huge burden to be lifted from our shoulders & it allowed us to do some much needed work on our current house.  Second, the kids were insane but definitely adjusted better this year to our new hometown.  Third, I was able to run all year.  Although, I had some issues with my back, I was “mostly” healthy and while I was limited on my biking and some other things, I ran every step of 2016 with a smile on my face.  And that my friends, it a big fat win in my book!  Yay for running!!

Just Run

As for the stats.  I’ve currently ran 38 marathons/50Ks in 22 different states.  For 2016,  I ran 1132 miles & cycled 1450 miles.  I ran 12 marathons, 1 which was a 50K:  Mississippi Blues Marathon, First Light Marathon, Rock N Roll New Orleans Marathon, Garmin Marathon, Kentucky Derby Marathon, Flying Pig Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon, Rock N Roll San Antonio Marathon & the Huff 50K

Best Race of the Year goes to the Flying Pig Marathon.  I really can’t say enough about this race in Cincinnati, OH.  I heard it was good but, really, it was great.  Everything from the Expo to the race itself.  The community support was beyond amazing.  Entertainment.  They had every snack you can imagine on course (bacon!!!), stations where you could toss a basketball up to a hoop, cooling stations, great views.  Fun, Fun, Fun is how I would describe Flying Pig.  It really is a must do but yes, there are hills, and then more hills, and then a few more. 

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Best Course of the Year goes to Rock N Roll New Orleans.  It was really tough to award Flying Pig the best race of the year because RnR New Orleans was a close second.  I do think the crowd support and expo was better at Flying Pig and that’s why they get the win.  But I can’t leave New Orleans out of the mix.  Amazing race.  Amazing course.  Amazing city.  If you are looking for a city tour while you run, then RnR New Orleans is your race.  You see everything on this course from the French Quarter, Garden District, Decatur Street, Jackson Square, French Market to City Park.  The half marathon runs with the full the entire way til they turn off at mile 13 for the finish.  The full then goes around Lake Pontchartrain, over the levies & back toward the finishers party.  Amazing race.  I’d love to make a return trip and run it again.

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I also managed to squeeze in a half marathon at RnR Chicago, the Rat Race 10K in Ft Wayne, IN,  the 4 mile Galloping Gobbler, an Olympic distance triathlon at Tri Lakes, IN, the Fort4Fitness 100K Cycle  …. and 4 half ironman triathlons:  Cutting Edge 70.3, IM 70.3 Muncie, IM 70.3 Steelhead & Rev3 70.3 Cedar Point.  

It was a full year.  And I’m grateful for all of those finishes!  Some of those were much harder than others! 

Best SWAG of the year goes to the Huff 50K!  Although a close second goes to Flying Pig. And I really LOVED the RnR Finisher Jackets this year!

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Best pics of 2016:  The crew from IN & IL for the Garmin Marathon,  Aby & I at the Rat Race 10K (cuz she doesn’t like to take pics with me anymore!), and me & Nicki at the Rock N Roll San Antonio 10K.  Fun, fun, fun!

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Best selfie of the year:  Bike Selfie at the Cutting Edge 70.3

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That’s a wrap for 2016!  I hope that all of you had an amazing year!  More importantly, my wish for you is a happy, healthy, prosperous 2017.  Remember to keep dreaming, keep believing and if your goals don’t scare you …… they aren’t big enough!

** Cheers to 2016 ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Rev3 Cedar Point 70.3 Race Review

I’ve never heard anything but good about the REV3 Triathlon events.  So last year when I was planning my 2016 triathlon schedule, I added the REV3 Cedar Point 70.3 to my roster.  I figured it would be a great event for me & a fun trip for the kiddos.  Each race entry comes with a free park pass for the weekend for the athlete & then a voucher for a $45 weekend pass for each family member/friend who accompanies you on the trip.  Win, win!

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Rev3 is notorious for putting on a series of events to include the entire family.  This weekend at Cedar Point they did a Sprint & kids triathlon on Saturday, then a full & half iron distance triathlon & a GLO run on Sunday. All events, plus the expo started in the Cedar Point parking lot in front of the park.  The expo was small.  Packet pick up was smooth.  The race meeting was informative.  Then off to the park with my munchkins.

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Saturday was extremely windy.  Thankfully they waived the mandatory bike check for the full & half athletes.  I was seriously concerned that my bike would blow away overnight.  It was difficult to roll my bike thru the parking lot on SAT, I wasn’t sure how to anchor it in transition.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about it.  But then I had my bike in a hotel room full kids.  Made things a bit tight but they rolled with it.  However, getting it back to transition on SUN morning wasn’t fun.  We were told that the best way to get to transition was down the beach from the hotel.  I didn’t realize that the boardwalk ended shortly after the hotel and that I’d really be hiking the beach …. with my bike …. and all my  gear.

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Due to that famous wind, the swim start had been moved from Lake Erie (in front of the Breakers Hotel) to the Cedar Point Marina.  I wasn’t really sure why.  The water looked calm to me.  I mean, honestly, I’ve been swimming in Lake Michigan all summer.  I’ve raced every event except Cedar Point sans wetsuit.  Lake Erie was calm.  Rev3 said they couldn’t’ secure the buoys in Lake Erie without them floating off to Canada.  Pic from the Breakers Hotel of Lake Erie on race morning (courtesy of David Standley).

Lake Erie

 

So the Marina swim it was and the water there was very calm and very warm.  I would hazard a guess that the water was too warm for wetsuits BUT I race mostly Ironman events which has a lower water temp limit (76.1 degrees) verses non IM branded events who use the USAT limit of 78 degrees.  Regardless, I was warm.  Pic of the marina water by Jill Kromer. 

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The swim venue change also changed the start.  Instead of a wave start, it was a self seeded rolling start.  I was pretty sure I would swim around 50 minutes.  So I seeded myself around people who were thinking the same.  I was a bit nervous about the new swim.  Not because of the swim itself but because I couldn’t see all the buoys.  It was a blind swim to the right toward a narrow channel in the marina.  One side of the channel was docks & big fancy boats.  The other side a rock wall.  I had no idea how far we had to swim in that channel.  No idea how many buoys were on course.  No idea when I hit half way.  And honestly, I didn’t even know where our swim stopped.  I just followed the crowd, buoy to buoy.  They did have orange turn buoys so that was good.  And then once I got toward the end, I saw a red buoy that was our stopping point.  First half of the swim was great.  I was swimming well.  My back wasn’t bothering me.  I felt strong.  I was passing people.  But I was really warm and started overheating.  At some point on the back side of the course, possibly around half way, I felt a wave of water enter my wetsuit.  Strange sensation but it had a cooling effect.  I couldn’t really figure out what was happening but water kept coming in and was actually ballooning in my wetsuit, I could even see it ballooning in the sleeves as my arms would come out of the water for each stroke.  I was also slowing down although I wasn’t sure why I was slowing.  I felt good.  I was calm.  I was sighting well enough.  Oh well, just keep swimming, right?  Once I stood up to exit the water & reached for the cord on my wetsuit, I realized why I was so slow on the back half and why I had so much water in my suit.  It was unzipped.  All the way  down to my hips.  We had zipped it up when I started but it must have come loose.  Swim split:  50:47

Rev3 had wetsuit strippers who helped us out of our suits (and me off the ground when I couldn’t get up).  Nice touch. Then we had a half mile run back to transition with our wetsuit, goggles & swim cap.  Fortunately, some Rev3 Cedar Point alums warned us about this possibility and I had a pair of extra shoes to put near the swim start.  Yes, there was a whole staging for shoes, by race numbers, at the swim venue.

Onto the bike.  This was the part for which I was most nervous.  If you read the last post, you know that I haven’t trained much in the last month.  My bike has been broken on & off all summer but Felt finally sent new shifters and the bike was ready to roll.  But my body wasn’t ready.  Long story short, I’ve been going to physical therapy for my back.  They believe that I have at least one disc that is bulging from the front and the back of my spine.  So instead of a circular disc, they think it is now oblong, like an oval.  Then to make things extra fun, its pressing on some nerves & causing issues with my legs, lack of power on the bike, etc. I’m sentenced to 6 weeks of therapy before insurance will pay for the MRI, then after that, I can see a pain specialist for injections to reduce whatever is left of the swelling/pain.  For now, I live with it.  Rev3 was my last ride of the season & I’m not allowed to ride or swim til we get this all figured out.

First 5 miles on the bike away from Cedar Point was rough.  Bad road.  Nobody will admit to owning it so Rev3 can’t find anyone to repave it.  Same route for the last 5 miles.  Most of the first half of the ride was with the wind.  I was moving pretty well.  Got loose a couple times in the wind & actually thought it would sweep me away at the bottom of one hill where there was an opening in the trees on both sides of the road.  Good news, I didn’t crash.  Lots of turns in the course.   As soon I got moving pretty well, then I had to brake & turn but that worked out when the wind was really bad on the back half.  Some hills but not horrible.  Not much spectator support but lots of awesome volunteers & the police did an excellent job of keeping the road clear for us.  Last half of the course was significantly slower, back into the wind, plus I had some serious knee pain which is related to my back issues but still irritating.  3:21:15 bike split.  I believe there were 4 aid stations on the bike.   That’s one more than most IM 70.3 courses, if you’re counting.

Time to run.  I had Biofreeze in transition.  Slathered some on the aching knee.  Slathered more on my aching back.  Off to run.  I realized quickly that it was going to be a “long” run.  I saw people running back to the finish and I was just getting started.  That felt a bit defeating.  I normally just focus on my race but there wasn’t a lot going on and it kinda felt like a training run.  Not a lot of spectators out on course.  The highlight was definitely the aid stations positioned at every mile.  Such awesome volunteers.  Aid stations were stocked with gels, power bars, powerade, bananas, coke, water & ice.  One even had broth.  I utilized the ice a lot and dumped some down the back of my tri kit at every aid station.  Between the biofreeze & the ice, I was numbed out and just focused on one foot in front of the other.  I thought overall the run course was cool.  They ran us over the Cedar Point causeway, into town & back toward the water where we got to go thru a couple other marinas that had walking paths, bridges & one even had a swimming pool.  We could even see Cedar Point across the water.  The course did get a bit confusing for those of us on our first loop.  The course wasn’t a full double loop but there was one section that had a double loop.  I could see varying distances signs for the full and half that didn’t make sense. As soon as I finished the first loop, I was okay.  The course was extremely well marked and there were volunteers helping direct runners.  No confusion on where to go, just a bit of doubt initially that I had messed something up due to the signage.  I won’t lie, turning away from the marinas & heading back toward town and the finish line made me one happy lady.  I was ready to be done.  I was ready to be reunited with my family.  I just wanted to finish.  Run split:  2:21.  Finish 6:43.

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Swag bag is below & included a personalized note in each bag.  A full sized towel from Gatorade.  Rev3 Cedar Point visor.  Gender specific tee.

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So, I know a lot of you are thinking about your first 70.3.  I get asked over and over again, Ironman or “off brand” triathlon for the first 70.3?  The bottom line is that if we don’t do these off brand races, they just won’t be available in the future.  In case you haven’t noticed, Ironman (World Triathlon Corp) is trying to buy up as many triathlon companies as possible.  The non IM branded races are cheaper.  Smaller.  Less competitive.  They are family focused & will most likely let you run down the finishers shoot with your kids, baby, dog or hubby.  They will bend over backwards to make sure your race is as good as they can make it.  And your fellow competitors will be there for their own reason, which probably won’t include attempting to qualify for the 70.3 Championships or up their position to All World Athlete status.  If they bump you on the swim, they will probably apologize verses pushing you harder under the water so they can swim over the top of you.  It just a different feel at these events vs an IM event.  Way more relaxed.  They try to personalize the experience for you.  When I crossed the finish line on Sunday, the Rev3 announcer said my name, told everyone that I blog at TooTallFritz.com, that I’m a Marathon Maniac & that I’m currently attempting to run a marathon in every state.  I would get lucky if my name were even announced at an IM 70.3 event.  That being said, there would be people to cheer my down the shoot & along the course in an IM event and at Rev3, it was pretty lonely.  I’m pretty sure Rev3 had more volunteers than actual participants and spectator support was virtually non-existent.

What do you get for your extra $$ at an IM event?  Consistency.  Accurate distances on the swim, bike & run.  Accurate info in the Athlete Packet for race meetings, transition opening/closing.  Larger group of competitors.  Spectators.  A community that is “all in” to support the race.  Finisher swag.  Free athlete tracking. World class venue.  Large expo.  Insurance for the race registration in the event you are injured prior to the race, plus insurance on race day to cover any issues on course that may require emergency care.   Numbered swim buoys:  the first half yellow, the second half orange.  Ironman is like the fortune 500 company that is well polished & sparkling.  Off brand races are like the mom & pop business.  What’s right for you is really about what YOU want out of a race experience.  I go both ways depending on the day.  I was on edge all weekend with Rev3.  Partially because I was rushed getting there with it being Cross Country & Soccer season for the kids.  Both had meets/games on SAT before we could leave.  I felt like crap with my back.  It hurts to do the very basic things like sit, drive, bend over …… so I’m CRABBY and trying to pretend like I’m “fine”.  Then I felt pulled between being with the kids at the park & doing what I needed to do for me & my body.  The last minute changes that Rev3 had to make then put me further into crabbiness. BUT, nobody swam over me, ran over me or even bumped me at all during the race.  And let’s just say my body couldn’t take anymore jostling.  I was in the right spot with Rev3 this weekend and applaud their willingness to make last minute changes to keep the racers as safe as possible.  I just wish I felt better and could have enjoyed it a bit more. 

Rev3 offered a great race at a great venue.  Great fun for the entire family.  I hope that you give them a “TRI’. 

** Cheers – Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Swim, Bike, Huh?

I’m 3 days out from the Rev3 Cedar Point 70.3 and I should be excited.  This was to be my “A” race.  I was hoping to go under 6 hours.  I started my training in January & I was very focused.  But the bottom line is that I was in better Swim-Bike-Run shape in May than I am now.  I had a full season of marathons from January thru April, 6 marathons in that period, 4 were doubles (Back to Backs, SAT/SUN races).  I was strong.  Tired but strong. But in May, I “downcycled” to rest & recover.   I rested.  Then I was training more than racing, all easy paced.  I was planning to refresh my legs and add some speed to my TRIs.   I had registered for four 70.3s, one a month from June thru September.  I knew the June race would be a bust.  I would still be tired from the marathons.  But I thought it was important to get out there and do my thing.  Most would probably do a shorter race  as a “rust buster” but I’m an endurance athlete.  I gravitate toward longer races.  It helps my mommy guilt to know that when I pack my bags its for a race that’s important to me.  So the 70.3 or the “half ironman” has become my signature triathlon distance since Michael was born in 2009.  Baby boy just turned 7 yesterday!!!  Happy Birthday, Michael!!!  Aby turned 15, in late August.  My babies are getting BIG!! 

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If you have been following my sporadic posts this summer, you know that I’ve had a less than stellar season.  My body hasn’t been right and the answer as to what exactly was wrong has been elusive.  My quads have been constantly fatigued like I just ran up a horrendous hill, 2000x.  My power on the bike has been poor.  I lost almost 3mph from my 56 mile bike split.  I have an ongoing glute/hamstring pull that has been lingering since November when I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk and bloodied myself.   Then as the summer progressed the issues dominoed:  hip, knee, back.    What you probably do not know, is that after my poor showing at the Cutting Edge Half 70.3 in June, I took some downtime to rest & recover & refinish the basement from the flood last summer.  It needed to be done.  I thought it would be good to do something other than swim-bike-run.  Well, apparently I was wrong.  What could have just been fatigue turned into a real issue from all the bending, stretching, lifting as we turned our basement into useable living space again.  The basement as of June 2015.  Yeah, our furniture & cats were floating.  IMG_7313  IMG_7351

June 2016

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After all the painting, cutting & installing the floor (that Aby & I did all by ourselves), then moving in the furniture …… I basically couldn’t move.  My back was in a bad place.  It’s been bad before, thanks to an old college injury, but it just wouldn’t get better this time, not even with the Chiropractor & Active Release.  My training slowed, my bike pace further plummeted.  More rest.  More recovery.  Fewer and fewer workouts.  Less and less sleep as the back just kept getting worse and I was miserable laying down.

So, where am I now?  One has been issue resolved.  My bike has been repaired & is actually working.  Yes!  Thanks, Felt for sending new shifters!!  The bike is ready to go! 

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My body is still damaged.  I still don’t have any power in my quads and feel like I’m riding thru sand.  The theory is that the neurons in my back are not firing the message to my quads to do the work.  My back continues to get worse.  I can hardly bed over now.  I can’t lift pots & pans out of the cabinet or bed over to pick something up.   It hurts to swim, run, sit, lay down & drive.  Ironically, it does not hurt on the bike but I’m still slow.  I’ve been thru 5 sessions with a new PT.  Not going great.  X-rays have been taken.  MRI was scheduled for today but canceled because insurance won’t pay until I’ve had 6 weeks of PT.  Ironically, I’m worse now that I’m doing PT than before (which is what usually happens with me & PT).  My GP is trying to get me into a pain specialist.  His theory being that this isn’t going to go away.  I ruptured discs in college while I was high jumping.  I opted out of surgery in 1993 for a series of magical drug cocktail injections of steroids, nerve blocker & anesthetic.  But alas, the magic has faded over time. Its theorized that the time is near for another series of injections.  Until then, I’ll keep hobbling along.  I haven’t been training much.  I opted out of my run last night, the short swim-run brick this morning because I really just feel horrible.  If there is any chance of getting to the start line on Sunday, I need to lie low this week.  Fortunately, I’m done with PT this week & have a few days to heal.  AND my therapeutic massage lady messaged me yesterday and said she had a cancellation for Friday.  So I’ll go get a massage tomorrow and see if she can take some of the pressure off my back & put some power into my quads.  Overall, my body should be fresh because I just haven’t been logging any miles. 

So that’s what’s up.  I’m still planning to do Rev3 but my expectations are very low.  And honestly, if I can’t do it, I just won’t.  I’m already stressing over the thought of carrying my loaded transition pack.  And water.  I always carry a jug of water to fill my aero canister.  I remember how badly it hurt my back carrying the water to transition for Steelhead and I’m much worse now than I was at Steelhead.  I hate the thought of blowing off the money of the registration fee, so I won’t be a DNS but I’m just going to be realistic and see how the day plays out.  The kids are ALL IN for Cedar Point so at least there is that.  I won’t be riding any rides but I can walk around and let them enjoy the park.  Maybe, just maybe, the walking will take some pressure off my back.  We’ll see.  My power word for Sunday is DETERMINATION.  At this point, that’s what I need to focus upon.  I’m determined to finish this TRI season with a smile on my face. 

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** Happy TRIing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Ironman 70.3 Steelhead Race Review – 2016

It’s no secret that Ironman 70.3 Steelhead is one of my favorites.  In fact, I’ll sign up for 2017 as soon as the event opens for registration.  Its “my” race.  Its in a familiar place.  I have friends in the area.  And I love Saint Joseph MI.  In fact, I raced this year, even though it was on my 17th wedding anniversary.  Oooops.  Sorry, honey.   Or I should say, thanks, honey. Smile

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Steelhead is set in a picturesque, beach town on the shores of Lake Michigan.  The venue is Jean Klock Park which has a Benton Harbor address, just one mile north of Saint Joseph, MI.  The views are breathtaking and the park is public so you can go visit anytime.  Take a swim in Lake MI.  Ride the marked bike route.  Go for a little run.  Fun!!

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I arrived at Jean Klock Park for packet pick up on Saturday morning around 11am.  It had stormed on me the entire 2.5 hours that I spent driving to the location.  The sun was out on the shores of Lake MI but “something” definitely hung in the air.  It was hot.  The wind was blowing.  And the waves were rolling.  Looks like a perfect day at the beach but not perfect enough for me to rack my bike.  I have been having issues with my bike all season, the gearing & derailleur, no need to leave it out in the weather overnight in less than ideal conditions. 

I quickly grabbed my packet, which isn’t as quick at an IM event as you might think. They are very organized but there is a process of checking identity, updating information & walking thru the various stations for bib/swim cap, shirt, & chip that takes a bit more time than a normal packet pick-up.  Fortunately, I got thru just in time for one of the pre-race meetings. 

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Always fun.  Nothing had really changed from last year course wise, just a few rule changes.  But then they dropped the big bomb that the water temp was almost to the point of being too high for wetsuits.  Since it was a very warm day, we should stay tuned for a last minute call on if the race would be wetsuit legal.  Honestly, I didn’t think much of it.  The swim is in Lake MI and I’m pretty sure it’s never NOT been wetsuit legal.  The water stays pretty cool, even in the summer.  Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. 

Packet picked up.  Race meeting attended.  Walked thru the expo quickly.  Bought some TriSlide ….. cuz that’s the way to make sure you can definitely wear your wetsuit, have extra lube so you can get into it!!  Found my spot in transition for reference.  Off to check into Hotel de Jude (not a real hotel in St Joseph – I always stay with a friend).

As the rest of the crew started filtering into Hotel de Jude, the air was light.  Most of us were on a repeat trip to Steelhead and knew what to expect.  We went about our business of cooking dinner, getting bikes ready for race day (cuz nobody from our group actually racked their bike), prepping nutrition & focusing on last minute rehab.  I’m thankful for friends who have all the cool toys that I can’t afford and I took full advantage.  Normatec Recovery Boots?  Yes, please!  Ed modeling his boots, I’m using Ryan’s.  Thanks, Ryan.  If they go missing, it wasn’t me.  I swear.  Smile  Super compression from the toes to the hip.  I’m in love. 

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Left my legs looking very “compressed” and super scary!  IMG_0664

Car buffer to rub out sore muscles.  I can afford that, $30 at Home Depot & I’ll be getting one soon!  There are also high tech muscle “massagers” that are more official for a much bigger price tag.  But this is essentially the same thing and much more affordable in my world.  Weird sensation!

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I was all in on the recovery front.  As a little background, I had spent the week hitting up the chiro and the massage therapist trying to bring my legs back from the dead.  The Chiro has figured out that due to some low back damage from my college years, then a fresh round of irritation this summer, my low back muscles are not firing properly.  My glutes aren’t working.  As a result my quads are overworked and apparently underpaid cuz they are revolting.  They are dead all the time.  It is a struggle to even climb the stairs at home.  When I get on the bike, all that is magnified and basically I’ve got zero power on the bike,  despite better training and better nutrition.  So, it is what it is and I have exercises to help correct the issue but it’s a slow process.  I was hoping to have a great race at Steelhead so invested some extra time & $$ into recovery.  Did it work?!?!?

Race day is always early.  The crew was up by 3am.  Pre-race prep and we had to put Hotel de Jude back to its original state of perfectness.  Off to the race site by 4:15am for a long day.  We were rolling our bikes into the venue when we heard the announcement.  Water temp was 77+degrees.  NOT wetsuit legal, the cap for wetsuits at IM races is 76.1 degrees.  The news did not hit the crowd well.  In fact, I wasn’t real happy either and I know I can swim the distance without a wetsuit.  It’s the waves.  The up and down of the waves that slow us “recreational” swimmers.  We don’t cut thru the waves but rather ride them up and down.  The wetsuits help our buoyancy, confidence & swim split.  But not at Steelhead 2016.  No wetsuits. 

Transition set up quickly.  Then we wait.  Donna, myself & Wendy waiting for transition to close at 6:45a and the race to begin at 7a. 

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IM races always start on time.  The three of us (above) were in the 40-44 category and our wave started at 7:24 am.  The other ladies warmed up with a quick swim, I just stood on the beach socializing, awaiting my wave start.  Lots of nervous people on race morning.  The normal nerves were intensified by the “no wetsuit” call.  I spoke to several people who had never swam without a wetsuit.  Some who were so nervous they couldn’t hardly even speak.  I felt bad for them and still wonder on how they did.  I’m hoping once they got into the water, they just got down to business.  The 1.2 mile swim course is very user friendly.  5 yellow buoys out, red turn buoy, 3 more yellow buoys, then 3 orange buoys (once you hit the orange buoys you’re half way), then a red turn buoy, then 5 more orange buoys to the beach.  The swim was not easy but I’ve had worse.  I’m not a fast swimmer even with the wetsuit so I was happy to see my swim split of 55 minutes once I got out of the water.  That’s a decent swim for me, especially without a wetsuit & considering the rolling waves.  The waves were rolling so high that spotting was difficult.  Normally I don’t have to lift my head real high to see the next buoy but I wasn’t timing my siting correctly and each time I lifted to site, I could only see the wall of the next wave coming at me.  Oh well, I just tried to be patient and focus on the next buoy.  Just keep swimming, right?  Made it out of the water with a smile on my face.  Saw Valerie who had VIP access right next to the swim exit & she captured my happy exit from the water.  Yay!  Thanks!

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On to the bike and the real test as to if my attempt at recovery did any good.  I knew within the first mile that it was going to be a long bike.  I had 56 miles in front of me.  And my quads felt horrible, very fatigued, just like every other day for the last 3 months.  I’ll be honest, I was scared.  I keep getting slower & slower with every race and I just didn’t want to have bad race at Steelhead when I love the race so much.  Took me a minute to think but I basically had a realization.  I remembered something that someone told me when I first started riding.  They said, “when your legs get tired, pull UP on your pedals instead of pushing down”.  So I refocused my efforts on pulling up vs pushing down and I had an instant turnaround in power output.  I wasn’t able to harness as much power as last year, or the accompanying speed, but I did well with the new pedal stroke.  This used different muscles and pulled power from my hamstrings vs my tired quads.  Worked for me!  3:04 for the bike, 18.1 mph average.  Best I’ve had all year and in case you were wondering, my gears did fail.  I only had big gears.  The shifter on the left side slid out in my hand within the first few miles.  So I didn’t bother trying to use it, for fear of breaking down.  I just used the big gears, pounded down the hills as quickly as I could, rode the wave of the up as long as possible, then I stood up from the saddle and rode the remainder of the hill when things got tough.  I’m always willing to improvise to avoid catastrophe.  Side note – Felt send new shifters for me, so I’m hoping the next couple weeks of training (and REV3 Cedar Point 70.3) will go more smoothly. 

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I want to toss out a huge thank you to the bike aid station volunteers.  They always impress me so much.  They are very attentive.  We call out what they want, then they basically hold steady so we can grab water/gatorade/banana/gel, etc.  Or they run with us for a second to help us connect with what we need.  Nerves of steel!  Thank you for being brave and so attentive.

Pro Tip:  Do NOT pass someone 2 seconds before an aid station on the bike.  This goes double if you plan to STOP at said aid station to get something from the very first volunteer, after cutting in front of me someone 2 seconds prior to stopping.  The way the  aid stations work, there is always spillage from water & gatorade bottles.  The ground is wet.  I had to lock up my brakes at the very first aid station in an attempt to not hit a person who passed me, then stopped immediately.  I didn’t crash.  I didn’t hit him.  But I’m quite confident the scenario could have easily gone a different way.  I’ve been riding for a long time.  There are a lot of people out on the course who are less experienced.  We got lucky.  Our race could have easily been over at mile 15 of the bike course.  Thankfully, luck was on our side. 

Bike aid stations – 3 – every 15 miles on the one loop, 56 mile bike course.  Great layout.  Great volunteers.  Potties, food, fluids.  Smooth roads the majority of the race.  Well marked course (that is marked year round).

Run course – 2 loops – a couple decent hills.  Aid stations every mile.  Varying terrain, we even get to run some of the trails behind the Whirlpool Center!  So cool!!!  By the time we got to the run, it was really heating up.  I definitely struggled but just focused on getting from aid station to aid station.  Then I made sure to hydrate, take ice & just stay calm.  Good run considering the heat.  2:23 for the 13.1 miles.

Finish was 6:31.  That’s 7 minutes slower than last year but to be honest, it felt like a huge win.  I haven’t had a decent TRI all year.  I’ve been fighting the good fight and focusing on getting thru the races to which I committed, but it’s been rough.  Overall, the TRI Gods came thru for me and delivered a better race than I could have hoped for and I’m very grateful.

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SWAG – Cuz that’s what everyone wants to know, is great.  IM does some of the best swag in the business.  They went kinda cheap last year with the backpacks and the same shirt for every event.  However, I think we all let them know that we were unhappy in our post race surveys.  This year, the swag improved considerably.  Different shirts for each race and the backpacks had the name of the event vs just a generic IM 70.3 logo.  Yay!

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Overall, a great race.  I love it.  I definitely hope to make a repeat visit next year.  Here is my 2015 race report, if you want more info on IM 70.3 Steelhead

** Happy TRIing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

TRI Lakes Triathlon – Columbia City, IN

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On Saturday, I participated in the Olympic distance Tri Lakes Triathlon for the very first time.  1500m swim, 25 mi bike, 6.2 mi run.  First Olympic distance race for me since 2008!  Tri Lakes is a local race, about 35 minutes from my house.  About 10 members of my triathlon team were participating,  I figured since I wear their kit, but rarely see anyone when I race, I’d join in the fun.  Go Team Tritaniaum!!

The race was small, 55 participants, at a very out of the way location on Skinner Lake.  Parking was at the Tri Lakes Tavern.  The tavern was kind enough to not only let us use their parking lot but they also opened early so we could use their facilities.  Love the hospitality of small community races! 

Small transition.  Close to the water & parking area.  Nice setup.

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Open water, 1500m swim in Skinner Lake.  Water temp was 82 degrees.  No wetsuits.  Easy, calm, out & back around a line of buoys, 2x.  Men started first, women followed 10 minutes later.

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I’m a slow swimmer and that was really amplified with such a small field.  Almost last out of the water.  But it was a smooth, easy swim for me.  Not stress or anxiety so that’s a win!  2:14 average per 100yd.  Right where I normally am, you’d think I’d eventually get faster, right?  Nah!  On to the bike.  Photo courtesy of TRI Lakes Triathlon.

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The bike is where I’ve really been struggling this year.  I’ve taken so much down time, that at this point, I’m starting to worry if my fitness is suffering.  The bike was 25 miles.  Should have been easy, even with the searing temps.  No.   It was a struggle.  I had hoped I could pick off some of the people who had passed me on swim.  No.  I had hoped that the rest I had taken would bring my legs back. No.  Dead legs.  The course had some hills, nothing noteworthy unless your legs are shot.  I could barely get up the hills.  I’m not a great hill rider anyhow but this was just insane.  16.1mph average on the bike.  Took me forever and I’m pretty sure I did better on my very first TRI.  I have better equipment (by far) now and I know what to expect.  I just can’t go any faster right now.  Super frustrating.

Run.  Heat & Hills.   That’s the theme of 2016 and I think it was the theme of most of 2015 too.  Everyone was walking.  I had grandiose plans of running the entire 6.2 miles.  No.  I walked up the hills.  Aid stations were pretty far apart considering the temps, there were 3 on route, plus a homeowner that was so kind as to give out water & ice!!  I think it was over 91 by the time we finished.  Most of the run was in the open, full sun.  Aid station at the turn around ran out of water but at least they had ice.  Athletes were just crabby and miserable & ready to finish.  Shout out to the 2 residents who put out their sprinklers for us!  Life saver!  Run:  12:09 min/mi average. 

Finished my first Olympic triathlon since 2008.   I was “almost” last and I anticipated it being way more fun than what reality delivered.  Summer racing, is always a wildcard.  Nice small town race.  Community members weren’t real active with the race but the few who were, really went out of their way to help us.  Another one in the DONE column.

At this point, I’m not really sure what to do about the fatigue in my legs.  I’d like to take a month off and lounge on a beach in Hawaii but that’s not my reality.  I’m heading up to ride the Steelhead course tomorrow since that’s my “A” race & approaching fast.  My legs still feel like poop from SAT.  I’m just not sure how to bring them back.  My nutrition is on point.  I’m definitely resting more.  Trying to get extra sleep.  Avoiding alcohol & sugar.  Adding in tart cherry juice & turmeric to help with inflammation.  Seeing the Chiro to help my damaged back.  So I’m focused on ME.  Just struggling a bit with the quad fatigue.  Hmmmm….  If you have any ideas (other than take a month off and sleep on the beach in Hawaii), let me know.

** Keep TRIing ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Ironman 70.3 Muncie – 2016

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Last weekend was Ironman 70.3 Muncie.  Close to home, within 2 hours of where I currently live in NE Indiana.  2016 is my second appearance at this event, the first time in 2012 just after I tore a tendon in my foot.  That year, I showed up to swim & bike, then I took a DNF since I couldn’t run.  This year, my only goal was a finish.  Little did I know, that’s all the cards had in store for me.

Packet pick-up was at the race site this year verses the convention center like it was in 2012.  Loved it!  The race is kinda “out of the way” at Prairie Creek Reservoir.  Definitely not a venue that you’ll stumble across unless you have Google maps loaded!   It was nice to see the venue in the day light.  I immediately noticed that the water looked calm & clean, despite the wind.  I also noticed the site was much better groomed than it was in 2012.   No pesky rocks this year.  Lots of nice grassy areas.  Clean beach.  Yay!!!

I arrived at the venue after 5pm because I was waiting for as long as possible to leave home so the kids didn’t kill each other weren’t home alone too long before hubby got home from work.  I’m so bad about looking at the event schedule.  And the last pre-race meeting was at 5pm.  I realized this as I was picking up my packet.  Good news, packet pick-up was fast since everyone else had already been thru and I was on to the meeting very quickly.  Cool SWAG this year.  Ironman 70.3 Muncie backpack & gender specific tee, plus we got a Cliff Bar.  This year they put the race specific logo on the bag & I really liked that.  The last several years, IM has given out generic bags that just say “Ironman 70.3”.  They in turn give that for each 70.3 event.  So if you do multiple 70.3 events, you get the exact same bag for each race.  Boring.  Happy to see the change for this year.

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Race day started early.  Transition opened at 5am.  Transition closed at 6:45am for a 7am start.  I was concerned about parking so got to the reservoir pretty close to 5am and was happy I had cuz parking filled up very quickly.  Set up transition quickly but it was still visibly dark.  And visibly chaotic. 

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Hit the potties & was surprised that it looked like there were only about 20 potties for approximately 2200 athletes (and their families/friends).  The lines were long.  Like really long.  Fortunately, I was there early enough to wait thru that line 2x.  Hydrate much?

Race started at 7am.  My wave started at 7:59am.  I believe there were 5 minutes between waves this year, which was a little better than the 3 minutes from when I participated in 2012.  This event was not wetsuit legal, the water temp on race day was between 77 & 78 degrees, which is typical for this event.  USAT rules do not allow wetsuits when water temps are greater than 76.1 degrees.   No wetsuit, no problem.  I must say, I was calm.  I’m not a fast swimmer but I can swim for a long time.  Like Dory, I “Just Keep Swimming”.  Once in the water, it seemed cool & refreshing.  Not much turbulence.  I always start toward the back of my wave (cuz that’s where I finish the swim) and always get jammed up in the beginning.  I may be slow but its inevitable that the breast strokers start ahead of me and I have to figure out a way to get around them.  I felt strong on the swim.  I was focused, stayed on course, pulled thru my stroke. I didn’t have the moments of panic that have visited in the past.  It was difficult heading into shore on the last 1/3 of the course cuz the sun was in our eyes and I just couldn’t see the buoys in front of me.  That resulted in me spending too much time checking my position but overall, I was happy with the swim and hoping my time would show as much.  It didn’t.  50:30 swim for 1.2 miles.  I was hoping for 45 minutes but overall happy cuz I was comfortable in the water and in my opinion that’s a win!! 

On to the bike!  As I moved into transition, I forgot about the swim and started focusing on the bike.  I was really hoping for a good bike split.  My last 70.3 at Cutting Edge in June had a slow bike split and I was hoping that was a result of 1)  the high temps and 2) still being fatigued from my double marathon weekend at the beginning of May.  I spent a lot of time resting in June, plus the temps at Muncie were much milder (70s & 80s).  So I and hoping my time would show as much.  It didn’t.  I couldn’t get any power/speed.  I wasn’t fatigued per say.  I was well fueled (thank you Tailwind Nutrition!!!).  I was hydrated.  I just couldn’t get any speed.  Why?!?!?  No idea.  I’m not going to lie, I was frustrated out there.  But I did see Sharon S. out on course & that probably the bright spot in my bike!  She got the first pic below.  Second pic was from an Ironman photog.  Great aid stations on the bike, every 15ish miles.  Food, water, Gatorade, gels, & potties.  It always amazes me how steady & brave the bike aid station volunteers are to hold out the water or Gatorade so we can grab it as we zoom past.  Smile

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Then my bike broke.  Initially, I thought the chain had just popped off, which was odd cuz that had never happened in the 3.5 years I’ve had this bike.  But it wasn’t just that.  My derailleur was also broken and my chain was jammed behind the brakes.  It was stuck.  Nothing I could fix roadside.  At that point, I kinda laughed to be honest.  I was already 38 miles into a poor bike split.  I figured, if the bike is going to break, I was super thankful it broke on  day when I was already having a subpar performance!!  Then immediately, my thoughts went to “OMGosh, am I going to have to DNF this race AGAIN (like in 2012)?”  Thankfully, I did not have to DNF.  Ironman SAG support came rolling up after a short while.  It took the dude a minute to figure out the problem, then he pulled out a giant wrench.  He removed the crank arms that held on the chain ring so he could get to the chain.  Fixed the chain, adjusted the broken derailleur and told me to take it easy and not shift much as I limped back to transition.  That did the trick to get me back to transition!  And my bike has been in the shop since Tuesday awaiting a new derailleur.  Hoping to pick it up tomorrow.  Anyhow, slow for me bike split:  3:40:39.  I was hoping to go under 3 hours but I was WAY off that before I broke.  I’m guessing that SAG found & fixed me within 20 minutes of the break, which is AWESOME.  I could have been there for an hour or more.  Thank you Ironman SAG!!  

On to the run.  Smooth transition.  Sprayed down with sunscreen again.  Took off on the run.  I had heard the run was hilly.  That was accurate.  At this point, I had nothing to gain by trying to rush, so I took my time.  Didn’t stress about the hills.  Or the heat.  Just ran. Walked up the bigger hills Walked thru aid stations, which were every mile apart.  Lots of run support.  Great aid stations.  Lots of potties. I tried to enjoy it.  One loop run which is unusual for IM 70.3 courses.  It was good.  Got to the turnaround and cruised back at whatever pace I could manage without pushing. Run Split:  2:31:32.

Total time:  7:09:20.  Not where I was hoping to be but hey, a finish is a finish.  My goal for the year is to go under 6 hours for the 70.3 distance.  If I don’t figure out how to freshen up these legs & find my power on the bike, that goal is going to be impossible.  I’m also having issues with my saddle this year.  I’ve swapped it out 3x already and just can not get comfortable (I’m flat out miserable).  UGH.  Hoping to get everything dialed in by Steelhead so I can make an honest attempt at the sub 6 hour finish.  Only time will tell if that’s a realistic goal (for this year) but I’m focusing on me this month.  Nutrition.  Rest.  Chiropractor.  And I’m going to get a massage the week before Steelhead to try to flush out any nastiness from my legs pre-race.  I must say, I was frustrated Saturday after my finish.  It was not the race I envisioned but honestly, there are so many people who would give anything to be out there just DOING something, that I must thank my lucky stars for my health, my motivation and the constant drive to keep moving, even when life isn’t perfect.  And who has a perfect life?  I, of course, have a lot to focus on other than my fitness but I continue to make fitness a priority while simultaneously managing the family, work and life.  So that’s a WIN in my book.  And the finisher medal to prove it.

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** Keep TRIing, Even When Things Aren’t Going YOUR Way ** Amanda – TooTallFritz