Beach to Battleship Ironman 70.3 PreRace

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I have arrived in the little gem of a town Wilmington, North Carolina. I braved interstate 40 and Hwy 74 to get here.  Of course my flight arrived into RDU just in time to hit the peak of rush hour traffic.

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To add insult to injury my rental car, which was brand new, decided to take a digger about a mile outside of the rental agency.  So back I had to truck to the agency to wait for another car to be available.  But the agent hooked me up with a nice upgrade, which was nice not having to worry about if the bike box would fit or not!

After a quick pit stop overnight at my mom’s house, I was on my way to Wilmington finally.  This trip is bitter sweet, a race I was so pumped for in June has slowly become an Albatros hanging heavily around my neck. A IT band injury after Santa Claus Half Marathon that was further aggravated by my running Ragnar Great River (which was awesome and worth it) set my training back 5 weeks. Which luckily wasn’t so bad since I have been training since December for this race and already had a strong base to pull from. That along with personal turmoil rollercoaster, the prospect of cross country travel and peak racing were daunting at best. Up to the day that I flew out of Fairbanks I was questioning if I should even go.  I still am questioning if I should have traveled.  Another cross country race, shleping my gear alone through the airport…. which is par for the course.  I can only hope racing well will clear my mind.

The worst part of the day so far was humping my giant bike box up these stairs!  My apartment is part of the Momentum Surf Shop, thank you Hunter for hooking me up with your place!

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I checked into Ironman Village got my gear and only half listened to the athlete briefing.  Which of course led to furious texts to my high school friend Charlie, who is also doing the race, questions about transitions and bag drops 🙂  Thank goodness he is much smarter than I am. I am slowly trying to get my bags packed tonight. Which means I have gear strewn all over my apartment.

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I hit up dinner at the Front Street Brewery.  Food was meh, but the beer was cold and free.  I sat at the bar and for the length of the bar all you could see were people wearing blue and orange Ironman arm bands. These are my people!  The gentleman sitting beside me, John from Atlanta, was great dinner company.  We talked about Triathlons and tech gear.  As a gear head, I was right in my element.  As a single traveler its always nice to meet new people.  The bartender was even more awesome, as he bought my beers for me. Which totally made up for the food being kinda crappy.

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After dinner its time to walk off the carbs!  I took a short walk up and down the river walk. Enjoying the 80 degree sunshine. Race day will be much cooler at around 63 for a high, so its best to enjoy it while you can. Saw lots of athletes walking and running the river walk, along with the normal homeless people.  I did sit down and talked with the lady that was sitting near the coast guard boat. She was a hoot and very friendly.  She offered me some of her dinner and some of her hooch!  I did decline 🙂

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Even got a great shot of the sun setting behind the Battleship NC.

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And this one: Sorry for the lens flare, but my lens is cracked.

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And last but not least was the apple pie ice cream!

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Back to my apartment and time to put Frank together.  I love my Cervelo P2, its fast, light and beautiful.  Frank has been an awesome bike. I am so glad that Bree trusted me with him years ago 🙂

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Tomorrow I gear check my T1 and T2 bags along with my Frank.  I hope to get this done early so I have the remainder of the day to relax, explore, and take in the Ironkids race in the afternoon.

I am hoping that I have an awesome race non the less.  I need this personal victory to overcome the set backs of 2016.  Learning that a friend you thought were there for you, were not, and have actively made your life harder, the break up of a 4 year relationship, the fits and starts of trying again, and moving have all made 2016 a year of transitions.  I like to think that I have made it through T1 and T2 and now all I have to do I propel past the finishing line and everything will fall into place. A simplified analogy, but fitting.

Onward and forward to Saturday!

-Suze

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Happy Independence Day Ya’ll

Happy Independence weekend everyone.  Not just a long weekend, in which for me is a 4 day weekend, but a time to reflect as well as enjoy.

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This weekend I am taking to to reflect on myself and my own personal independence while also doing my part to give back to the community.

Today I participated in the nationwide event the RWB Eagle Charge.  Hosted by RWB which is an amazing veterans outreach group, read more here at TeamRWB.  And one can sign up for the eagle charge here, EagleCharge!. Today we celebrated not only Independence Day, but veteran enrichment and personal achievements.

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TeamRWB – Fairbanks

I am lucky to be involved with this amazing group. We run, triathlon, read books, help the veteran community, and provide outreach to the greater community.  It truly is a life changing group.  We are a glorious mix of active servicemen, veterans, spouse, and civilians.  We are open to all. My dad proudly served in the United States Army and retired with honours after a long career. Now it is my turn to give back in a capacity that fits who I am.

The weather held for the duration of the event. And well as usual me and my buddy Cassie made sure we got our pre-race selfie in.

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Then off we go most of us choosing the 4 miler, with one lone 7 miler.  Of course we chose a hilly course, because a challenge can only make us stronger right? Scott, one of our Marines, was the lucky flag bearer for the start.

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The route was pretty simple and I think we all had a great time.  I was the red lantern in the 4 miler finishing in 42 minutes.  Overall, not my best but far from my worst 🙂

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Thats a hill!

All in all it was a pretty darn good day and a good turnout at GoldStream Sports on a rainy, grey day.

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Cassie and I post race w/Old Glory

Cassie and I posed for one final photo, we do love a camera, with Old Glory.

Have a great holiday weekend, get outside, do some personal reflection, and give thanks for the great country we live in which affords us with so many choices and freedoms. Focus on the good things and find positive way to affect change and to support all of the things that are close to our heart.  This weekend I celebrate personal freedoms and having the ability to be and live our lives in way that is meaningful to our selves.

 

 

Running for 12 hours…sounds fun right?

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I am not sure when I decided that running for 12 hours sounded like fun, but somewhere along the way I  must have. Either that or my dog accidentally registered me for a 12 hour endurance trail run.  Im leaning towards the dog having a good laugh at my expense.

Fast forward and BOOM it was race week.  After the disastrous Two Way Torture Test, which is a 13.1 + 13.1 that goes relentlessly uphill on pavement, that Patrick and I ran just a week earlier, I did not have high hopes for the 12 hour Alaska Endurance Trail Run.  I did not even bother to set a goal, other than to keep moving for more than 8 hours out of the 12.  My sister Susan said I should go for at least 40 miles, I just kinda laughed at her.  She is my task master always pushing me to be better, she is everything I wish that I was 🙂 The Alaska Endurance Trail Run (AETR) is a 6 mile loop through rolling hills of our nordic ski trail at the University of Alaska.  From wide trails to very rooty single track with a few down trees as obstacles.  I run on this section of trail at least 2x per week as it is just a few steps from my office at the Uni.

Friday afternoon I hook up with Don, the race director, and we head to Sam’s Club to buy feed station food and post race BBQ foods.  I am not sure either of us were prepared for the Sam’s club onslaut…first of the month on a friday afternoon, it was cray in there! But we got just about everything on his list and I trucked it all home to hold for after the race. Friday night, I got all of my things together.  Lots of shoes, sock, and my measly food stores.  I carbo’ed up with the meal of champions, Taco Bell. Yes, Taco Bell.

Saturday morning came early at 5 am with the sun already shining. In the land of the midnight sun of Alaska, this time of year it always is!  The weather was looking at mostly sunny around 65-70 degrees, with an isolated shower possible in the later afternoon.  OK, this looks promising. I have my early morning Cafe’ Caramel protein shake and get ready to head out the door for a 7 am check in time.

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EagleFire with Travis

I get to the check in and see a happy familiar face, Travis from my RWB group is there cheerful and awesome as ever. EagleFire! We snapped a quick photo and I got down to business of sorting out my gear.  I settled on a my clothing, went with an INKnBURN skirt and racerback tank. The skirt had two generous pockets and the singlet was nice and light. I figured if it showered later I could pull on a tech t. But the sun was starting to be nice and warm so I figured the tank was the best choice. The trails were mostly dry, which is not normally the case this time of year, with a few downed trees and some mushy spots. But nothing that could not be navigated easily around.  For once my feet stayed dry the whole time 🙂

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PreRace meeting, Travis snapped a photo!

Pre-race briefing, with Don the race director and off we go!  The first loop was GREAT, I felt amazing. Kept to my pace of about 11:30 per mile just to get my feet under me and to get a jump-start on the long day.  I had my audio book all ready, the BBC Radio dramatized version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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Normally this part of the trail is a mini lake!

Somewhere around loop #2 I started to feel the beginnings of a hot spot on the inset of my foot near my big toe. So at the end of loop 2 I stopped and put some moleskin on that spot on both feet. This tends to be where I get tender and/or blister spots.  I decided to keep on with my Hoka One One Speed Goat trail shoes for a little longer.  After loop 3 I got a nice surprise, my running partner Patrick was waiting for me at the starting line 🙂  YAY!!! I got a huge lift of spirit when I saw him as I was running up to the line.  Love this man to death, he is so awesome and always so supportive of me and the crazy schemes I come up with for us to do.  He tweaked his back earlier in the week so he was unable to run or participate this year.  We talked a little, and I got a bite of my Quest strawberry cheesecake protein bar and some poweraid zero.

At this point I decided that I needed to run with my handheld as it was getting warmer.  So I popped a NUUN tablet in with my water and off I went.  I did this each lap, drank some poweraid zero, a few nibbles of the Quest Bar and then filled my handheld with NUNN water for the running part.  Lap three was mentally HARD. I think I walked more this loop than I did any other loop.

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Just keep moving forward!

 

I got an amazing lift at the completion of lap 4 I had a gift left by my girlfriend Skye, who was walking the 12 hour or at least most of it.  She had left to course for a little bit and brought me back a bun-less cheeseburger. It was the best damn patty I ever had.  It was perfection!  That gave me the energy to pick up the pace.  I also took this time to take an extended break of about 15 minutes. Re-applied my moleskin, new socks and then I changed into my Brooks Adrenaline’s, these are a little on the big side and my feet had began to swell so they felt amazing.  Lap 5 uneventful…more running. I tried to keep a strategy of running the first 2 miles, run/walk 3-4, and running the remainder.  This seemed to work well. I felt really good the whole time so far.  My motor was strong, my body felt good, other than my feet were getting really tired. Lap 6 was my last full lap.

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Ran through some brambles getting around the downed tree.

 

The last 2 hours of the race a shorter course was opened up, which was roughly half a mile. This way you could maximize your mileage. Strategy is involved in that this small loop was muddier than the rest and much hillier than the big loop.  I got in my 36 then decided to change shoes one more time to my old Hoka Clifton 1’s as they have the widest toe box.  I drank one protein drink and decided to hit the small loops. I could have possibly made one more big one, but I did not want to chance it.  Only full loops counted and I didn’t want to make it all that way to only not have it count.  So off I go on the mini loops.

 

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Rachael taunting me to do MORE!

I did run/walk a small loop with my work and running buddy Tom. He is awesome and was doing the 6 hour version. He is a running machine. I want to be like him when I grow up 🙂 At this point time was winding down and I had made sister Susan’s goal of 40 miles.  I decided to give it one more baby loop just for good measure.  At the end of my final loop Stacey and Rachael were trying so hard to get me to do just one more, even offering to run it with me……but I was DONE 🙂  Extra beer stamps on my beer card were not enough to get me to run more.  I finished the day with 40.50 miles. I also ended up out of the 12 hours moving about 11:05 of the time…whoa a lot more on my feet than I thought I would do.

 

Things I would do differently:  Better nutrition.  I am sure that I did not get enough calories, with 2 protein drinks and a single kid sized burger patty and a single Quest Bar. But that said, I was never hungry nor did I feel like I crashed.  Better Hydration. I drank the whole race, but never once had to use the bathroom.  I never felt thirsty, but I think I needed to add more electrolytes, maybe…. Tape/moleskin up right from the start my normal hot spots.

At the start I had no idea that I could do this.  But it was amazing fun. And the thing is I was not as tired as I thought I would be. I still had gas in the tank and legs to run at hour 11, I figured by that point I would have been reduced to crawling.  I learned yesterday that my body is capable of much more than I give it credit for.

Today I feel pretty darn good. I feel less tired today than I did after the Two Way Torture Test that Pat and I did the week before, its kinda amazing.  My legs are good and surprisingly not a single blister to be found, now that in itself is a miracle.

Onward and forward to the next Ultra!

 

Post Holiday Let Down

I am suffering from the dreaded post holiday let down.  How can you go from tropical beautiful Hawaii back to a still transitioning from winter Alaska with out going through withdrawl?

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Mountain to Ocean view…

I left that, to come home to this…..A grey wasteland

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Time to get to get back to real life.  The semester for me is all done, just a few grades left then the freedom of summer at least for 3 weeks until summer session starts. I am taking this time to focus on my running.

I had a great run last night, it was short, 4 miles, but I was really able to work on my pace.  Prior to my injury I was running sub 10 and in January of this year I was running about 12:35.  Well I have been working hard on my stand alone runs and have been able to consistently run right at 10:45. So I have made progress.  By the end of the season I hope to be able to get back to at least a round 10:00 per mile.  Its going to take a lot of hard work. And the 10 pounds lost so far have been a big help I am sure.

I have one big goal race in October, Beach to Battleship Ironman and one additional goal of getting in an ultra somewhere.  A suggestion from friend, Tasha, has me looking at the Tunnel Hill 100 in October, but dang why does it have to be the weekend after Ironman?  I guess the search goes on to find a good friendly 50, 100 or even another 24 hour race to fill out my schedule.  Do to conflict I will not be able to attend the North Coast 24 hour endurance run again this year.

I am inspired to run. My Girls on the Run ladies are awesome and inspire me every day to keep going.  These young ladies give it their all each practice and that makes my heart happy. I wish so much that I had a program like that when I was that age.  We had a fund raiser for GOTR in conjunction with our 5K Run for Respect and I was amazed at how many came to run our race.  The community here is strong and giving.

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This amazing young volunteer gave high 5’s to everyone!

I have my first Alaska Triathlon this weekend.  I am hoping all my hard work has paid off and I can better my time from last year by 5 minutes. That is my goal. Five minutes, I think thats doable.  I guess we will find out and I will report back 🙂

 

Like a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes…

LavaMan Triathlon. Redemption in the form of an Olympic Distance Triathlon. As the title says, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, I triumphantly busted out an almost 50 minute Personal Record 🙂  My last Olympic distance was December 2014 with the less than stellar HITS Palm Springs Championships.

Lavaman has been on my list for a long time.  I was registered last year but had to pull  out after contracting that water borne illness at that fateful Palm Springs race. This was my year for redemption.

Honestly, who doesn’t secretly want to race on parts of the Ironman World Championship course?  I know I will never qualify for Kona, so this is the next best thing. Me racing down the famous Queen K Highway, just like Chrissie Wellington.

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Morning run to A-bay

I found myself in Waikoloa Village 4 days pre race. Found an amazing condo close to the start in Anaeho’omalu Bay (A-bay) I figured this would give me a few days to acclimate.  Every morning I went for my 6am run before the sun came up. What a feeling! I did not swim much in the Bay before the race.  Swimming is the best  part for me. So I concentrated on getting my running feet underneath me in the heat.

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Thought my Phoenix  INKnBURN was appropriate

Saturday before the race, I picked up my packet and attended the pre-race briefing.  The briefing was a joke, but mandatory, so I went.  Relaxed the rest of the day and prepared my race kit and bag. And turned in early.

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Check the list to make sure I have it all

Race morning, up at 5am.  Transition opens at 5:30. Ride the half a mile over to A-Bay to rack my bike, set up shop, get numbered, and grab my timing chip. OK, so I went over super early and then had a lot of time to kill 🙂

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My spot is all tidy.

Saw both Kinsey and Marcus, from home. These two are amazing athletes and incredibly nice people to boot. Got my pep talk from Kinsey and wished her well, as she was starting with the elites. Turns out Kinsey won the overall women’s title, with Marcus coming in 5th male.  Amazing I tell you 🙂

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Pre-race selfie

I made it to my swim corral and waited as we swam out waist deep for our start wave. Boom, time to swim.  So much congestion.  I started out mid pack and quickly found myself in the “washing machine”  I clawed my way out a bit past the worst of the congestion. I then after that first 500 yards, had the best swim I have had in months.  Swim, slice, pull through the water with ease. I did not even have issues like I normally do with sighting my position.

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Out of the water, whoops I feel waterlogged!  Trudge up the sand and across the pavement to Transition #1. Get my feet clean and geared up for the ride.  Considering the distance to T-1 I feel like I had a pretty good transition.

Whoomp, Whoomp, Whoomp go the wheels of my Cervelo P2 as I head South on the Queen K.  Now here is where things get fun.  Wind….check.  Sun….check….Traffic….check.  Ok girl, you got this.  I get down in Aero and push through the wind.  And then it happens, I, yes I, start passing people left and right. What a feeling.  All these hours this winter spent on my trainer are paying off.  I was able to hammer in a way I know I couldn’t have done this time last year.  The turn around was sketchy.  It was a no pass zone, but this one lady just had to cut me off and pass.  She almost took out my front wheel doing it.  But once we got back on the main highway, I quickly overtook her and in the distance she fell behind.

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Transition 2 was quick. Just pull on the socks and a hat and off.  Now the pavement is scorching hot.  I can feel the heat from below and above.  The course has limited shade the whole way, so I made sure to stop at each mile marker aide station for a quick drink and ice.

Here is where I struggled.  My runs are always decent, but today that heat was just to much.  I could feel myself struggling right out of the gate.  So for the first 3 miles I did a run walk, until I felt better.  At the mid-course turnaround a light breeze came and I was able to run until I hit the lava/coral/beach section.  This was mostly single track at this point.  It was narrow and hard to run on. This section was about 3/4 of a mile. I went with the flow of the group around me. So much of this was walked during the narrow sections.

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This point we are all running adjacent to the beach. It was so hot all I could think of was jumping into the water, but not yet.  I could see the finish line ahead.  Okay Susie, you can do this.  You can run through all this loose sand and finish strong.  I dug down deep….to keep running even when I could barely keep my footing straight. Finish Line!

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Woot, look at me I am done ☺

Celebrate……I crossed it 3:38.  I beat my goal of coming in less than 3:45.  The Phoenix has done it.  Lavaman 2016 finisher. I couldn’t be happier.

 

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