Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Countdown is on!

Things are good over here in sunny San Diego! Today's workout included a 2 hour ride with some intervals to test the heart rate and legs. The legs are still tired, but they'll gain the spunk they need by the time race day rolls around. The heart rate responded just as it should have. It's all a great sign that my body is soaking in the taper is on track. Then it was off for a short t-run in the trails by my house.

I need to approach race week with the comfort in knowing I trained harder, longer, and hopefully even smarter this season (isn't that half the battle!?!?!). It seems like forever ago that I was wondering if I'd make it back to the Big Island this year. With the ridiculous speed and strength of my competitors I knew I had a mountain to climb to get there.

I made it up and over that one and am ready for the reward! 9.5 days!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


In order to survive in the the Hawaiian heat, you need heart! I know it will be tough to relive the exact feeling I enjoyed while running the Queen K last year. Although I had a few blunders on the swim and bike, I ran on heart! Yes it hurt, but I can honestly say I loved every mile of the run last year (especially the last two!). In the weeks leading up to the big day I've thought about rekindling that passion and excitement I had as a Kona virgin last year.
I just watched the finish video clip from my finish last year.
Oh man!!! That did it! The feeling is there. The excitement is building! In 12 days my bike will be racked and ready to roll!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The weather's having its way with me!

This weeks theme has been fog! Three times this week I've headed to the ocean with hopes of getting in a few open water swims. Three times the weather has said "sorry, try again later."
When you can't see your hand in front of your face it isn't a good idea to get in the water. Before you know it you could be swimming to Hawaii! Thanks, but I'd prefer to fly.

I love living close to waters edge, but today it wasn't an advantage. Due to the fog I drove east until I saw bright bright blue sky's. The santa ana winds have been acting up this week. Therefore it was HOT (95+) and very dry. I am a minority in the fact that I prefer humidity over dry heat. (Guess that's a good thing, seeing as though I'll be on the Big Island in 8 short days). I thankfully had company for my last longish ride. Just before my last 15minute tempo effort I cracked...bad! I was tired, maybe a bit dehydrated and dying from the heat. I was just ready to be done. My training partner had a strange way of motivating me, and I hammered out the last effort.
We couldn't down the fluids fast enough after our transition run. My legs were tired, but I held onto my prescribed pace for the entire run. I didn't look so good after!

We couldn't swim in the morning, so after stuffing our face with my favorite Swami's Cafe grub we hit the beach. I had severe food coma! So first I got in a quick power nap. Seriously if they left me there all night I would have been just fine!

Surprisingly the swim was awesome. The water temp was great. Speed suits or bikini's?

If you ever wonder why it is I am scared of swimming in the ocean out here, here's your answer. This is what you see when you look down:

NOTHING! And when you can't see what's beneath you your mind can play some pretty awful tricks on you!

It's ok to be really tired right now, right? I remember making a few calls to Roch last year around this time. I expressed how exhausted I was even though the volume from the past week was much less. He assured me that fatigue is delayed. Therefore, what you do in the days and weeks prior will not leave you exhausted immediately. Fatigue can also linger until the body has ample time to recover. This morning I listened to my body and enjoyed a "no legs" morning. The fog denied me from the ocean so I hit up masters. Thankfully all that's left on the schedule for today is college football and a much needed massage!
...and I'm happy to report that Michigan added another check to the win column. GO BLUE!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Once, ok. Twice, no way!

This is just too ridiculous to not share!
SO much time, energy, love, sweat, and sometimes tears goes into Ironman training! When it comes down to race week there should be little to worry about other than the R's: recline, recover, relax (body and mind)! In order to do all of these things you need a place to elevate your feet and sleep.
I took care of this task months ago. Just over a month ago I found out the condo was double booked (partially my fault...but only partially). Long story short, the owner was NOT NICE and I was screwed out of my planned Kona retreat. Thankfully I found another condo. Score. Today I called to request another night there. I provided Mandy with my reservation number. From there the conversation went something like this:
"Is this Caroline?"
"Oh, your reservation was canceled. Right?"
"Ah, NO! It better not be."
"Yes, I remember that condo becoming available and I was able to book someone else there."
"What? Is this a cruel joke. I'm staring at my reservation confirmation. And my credit card was charged."

I warned Mandy that I was going to lose it if she couldn't take care of this. She apologized and quickly went to work on a solution. Unlike the first owner she possessed the Aloha spirit. I mean, come on! Seriously?!?! Who has their condo canceled not once...but twice!?!?!?!?

Condo reservation #1: Kona Reef
Condo reservation #2: Casa de Emdeko
and the my final kona resting place:

If you're going to Kona you might want to double check your reservation. And try to hold onto that Aloha spirit! It'll all work out.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nervous? No! Just Excited

My thoughts while training this weekend can be summed up as follows:
1) The next time I see that many miles on my odometer I'll be on the Queen K looking forward to those Launch shoes and 26.2miles.

2) The next time my legs carry me that many miles on foot I'll be in the energy lab excited to make the final push for the "hot corner" on Ali'i Drive!

This week I have a few awesome workouts planned. It's time to back off on volume and reestablish a little speed in the legs. I also have a full day off planned. Yowsers, not even a no legs/swim only day! But a full day off. Kona must be close :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wrapping it up!

This entire week is full of "finals." Sunday was my final long long run. This Saturday I'll get in my final long ride. Today was my final long track workout. At this point in the training I wouldn't have made it through these workouts alone. Today was no different! Thankfully I had some great company for round one of the workout: 3x2miles. Then it was time to crawl inside myself and tough out 3x1mile. I was pleasantly surprised that I got faster and faster as the miles went by. A great sign! I also had a little help from my new favorite shoes.
Brooks released an absolutely, positively, awesome new shoe! The Launch. Welcome to the family! I'm in LOVE! It's a lightweight racer that still has enough shoe for my injury prone self to race with.

During this final week of long workouts my mind began to wonder. It wondered to an amazing place: the Hawaiian Ironman course! During Savasana at yoga I was overcome with emotion as I envisioned turning the hot corner and heading towards the finish. Since qualifying for the Big Dance I've wondered if I'd be able to rekindle that "I'm living my dream" feeling that I felt for 26.2 miles last year. Those amazing emotions were what powered a run split I really hope I can repeat. In that moment my motionless body was overcome with indescribable excitement. It's pretty awesome that in just 22.5days I will RELIVE this dream.
Enough said...time to put a few more deposits into the bank!

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's in the bank!

Isn't it funny that when ironman training gets "exciting" during the long long hour weeks, the blog entries stop. All of a sudden there seems to be little to blog about. What's there to say; I've been riding and running miles on end. Some might find it hard to tell that I'm still loving it. My face constantly has a look of exhaustion, while my body is looking ahead to the IM taper. But overall the workouts have been going extremely well. I'm riding way better than I was last year, and my running is right there also. I am insanely impressed with those who can put together sentences and thoughts to keep up their blog during these big weeks! It all makes me wonder how on earth I did all this last year while working a ton to prepare for a trial that was set to go last October.
This weekend included a few excellent workouts. I can't say thank you enough to those who joined me for the hours-o-fun! Although my ocean swim buddy's dropped the hammer (and in turn dropped me) it was kind of fun. Sadly, the water isn't as clear and warm anymore (I am really looking forward to getting to Hawaii!). Once out of the water I watched the guys jump into the hot tub while I rode off to meet Andrew and Jason to cruise some east county climbs. Sadly I had to take on the transition run on my own...but at least I enjoyed 6+hours of training with great company pushing me along.
Sunday was my biggest run before race day. I was once again joined by a group of awesome athletes. I went to the ranch run to get an early start. To my excitement a half dozen others stud runners had the same plan. I had company for 2 of my 2.5 hour run! Score!! Thanks Beth, Becki, Gina & Meghan! 19miles in the bank and only 4 more to go later that day. Knowing monday was massage day made it a much easier to get out the door for the second run.

I've made some tremendous deposits into the bank, but probably the biggest reason to celebrate this weekend was, without a doubt, the Wolverine win over the fighting Irish! Our true freshman QB from San Diego came through in a big way! I wonder if he heard the hundreds that gathered at our alumni bar out here cheering for him?!?! GO BLUE!!! HAIL TO THE VICTORS!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Highs and Lows

Ironman training brings with it so many emotional highs, and typically a few low moments. There are way too many workouts stuffed into the months before race day, and they can't all feel awesome. This was a big weekend for me and for the most part it was glittered with emotional highs and reason to smile.

I returned to a similiar long ride I did at this point in my training last year. The whole ride felt considerably different. Different in a GREAT way! I've visited Palomar Mt. several more times this year, so that climb wasn't nearly as bad.

I remembered everything about this ride last year. I remembered how awful my legs felt, how I didn't know if I'd make it home, AND I remembered the great company who joined for the ride last year ;) I was determined to have that much fun again. After making our way up and over a few more mountains we had about 4hrs in our legs. Instead of an easy ride home we headed straight into a stiff unrelenting headwind. I loved it and insisted on staying out front to battle the wind the entire way! (funny thing, the only cyclists I saw way out in East County were those training for Kona. While we soaked it all in and chalked it up as great training conditions, most others stayed away from the excess heat that's settled in to SoCal). It was indeed the furthest I've ever ridden in one day! And to do so with a smile (or should I say without bonking) was encouraging!

The next morning I didn't feel so great. My legs were fine, but I had an awful headache. Oh and I really didn't want to sit in the saddle again. But I got 'er done. It was just one of those lows that we have to get through. Thankfully it didn't last long because when it was finally time to get my ass out of the saddle for the t-run things quickly turned around. I couldn't slow down, or wipe the smile off my face! As Kona gets closer I experience more and more flash backs from last years run along Ali'i and the Queen K!

The other highlight of the weekend is how warm and clear the ocean is. I don't know why I even bother going in before August. It sure is easier to enjoy ocean swimming when you can see what is (and is not) under you. Couple that with the 76+ water temps and ocean swimming can be down right fun. Slowly, but surely, I'm getting over the whole leg cramp episode that overcame me during last year's Ironman!

I hope the clear warm water sticks around until I leave for that beautiful crystal clear Hawaiian water!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hail to the Victors

There are few, VERY FEW, things that will keep me from watching my beloved Wolverines storm through the tunnel and onto the field at the Big House! Previous coaches have had to plan my schedule around Michigan football games. For the next 5 weeks training takes priority over college football. Kona must be very special! While the Maize and Blue get the 2009 season under way tomorrow I'll be climbing the biggest mountains in San Diego County- one after another, and another, and another. Tomorrow we'll leave before sun rise for an epic 125(ish) mile ride. A group of us did this ride last year, and we're at it again. One thing this ride does is make any ironman bike course seem easy. To add to the mix we're experiencing a heat wave in San Diego. Perfect! I love it!

Knowing that I'd be riding through the game tomorrow (don't worry, it will be recorded and viewed upon my arrival home) my parents and I enjoyed an awesome Caroline Style Ann Arbor tour while I was home.

The stadium is under renovation and looks awesome. Oh the memories this stadium holds!

No visit to Ann Arbor is complete without frequenting my favorite eateries! First up: Pizza Bob's for my second favorite food group...The Chipatti food group of course (chipatti = fluffy wheat bread filled with salad. The secret is in the dressing!!!). Mmmmmmmmmm

My favorite food group of all? Frozen yogurt of course! No one knows how to do hard served fro yo like Ann Arbor's Stucchi's Creamery!

I really need to open a Chipatti, frozen yogurt shop in San Diego!

I'll have to watch the game a few hours after the fact, but epic Kona training makes it well worth it. Good Night, and GO BLUE!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My old stomping Ground. Breakwater Half Ironman Race Report

This past weekend I had the opportunity to race in Michigan. This is where my triathlon obsession began. Back then races consisted of a few hundred athletes where everyone knew each other and the competition remained amongst oneself in an aim for self improvement. Six years ago I moved to San Diego for law school and found myself living in the triathlon mecca! There are more advantages to living in San Diego than I can list, but I was grateful for the opportunity to remember what racing was like outside the craze filled town of San Diego.

The evenings were ridiculously cold while I was home. I prepared myself with a few "toughen up buttercup" talks and was ready to tackle the elements. Air temp at race start: 48. Water temp: 67ish. One benefit of the smaller races: you can sit in the car with the heat blasting until 5mins before the start. But eventually the wet suit was on and I was ready to return to the MI racing scene!

Swim: I spent the week trying to figure out why I swim so much slower in open water as compared to the pool. Without getting into it, I believe I found some answers and tested it out on Sunday.
Another cool thing about smaller races: the spectators could line the docs and follow us around the 2 loop swim course....and take pics.
The start:

I think my time in lake MI was time well spent. I felt great in the water and killed the swim with a new PR. Too bad the swim had to be short. 23mins is just a bit too fast for 1.2 miles. I came out of the water about 4mins ahead of any other girls. Me exiting the water, while my dad told me I was the first female out of the water without another female in sight.

Bike: This portion can be summed up in one word: FREEZING! As I ran out of the lake towards T1 I noticed my parents smiling and cheering. I also noticed that each had winter coats over their already warm weather layers. I couldn't get my heart rate over 145 for the first 40 miles. I wish I could use the excuse that my legs were tired and hurt from the previous weeks of training, however I couldn't feel them! Nor could I feel my hands when trying to take in fluid. Thankfully the sun was out. Bummer that it didn't have any warming effect.
The bike course was slow. Not only did it consist of continuous steady climbing, but we also had to run with our bikes out of T1 for about 10mins (up a flight+ of stairs). So much for a PR on the 56 miles. Instead it was the slowest of the year. The wind, cold and hills made for a much tougher course than I expected.

It was hard to motivate because I really didn't see many people out on the course until mile 40. Or maybe that is when I started to de-thaw and become aware of my surroundings.
My pace was slow, and I wasn't mentally into the race. I tried to quiet my mind and remind myself this was about putting in a solid training day.
With 15miles to go I knew there wasn't a girl within 10mins of me. I ran (down the stairs) and back into T2. The announcer told me I was the first female. Still no one other girls in sight.

Out onto the run course

Run: I was happy with my decision to bring Garmin along for the run. My goal was to settle into 7:20-7:30 pace and hold until mile 11. Without Garmin I would have become a bit lonely out there on the long out and back course. I set a new run PR. I had a bit in me at the finish but hit a strong head wind with 2miles to go. I crossed the line to take my first overall win in half ironman distance race.
A few images from the run course:

Although I froze on the bike and really wanted to call it quits, the day was a success. The best part was the overall feeling out there on the race course. The atmosphere was much more light hearted than most races I typically do. With that came more smiles and "good job" "you look great" "go get 'em girl" comments amongst the athletes. It was downright FUN!

The finish was a line in the grass

And I was the first female to cross the line

I was even asked to do a quick "winner" interview

Accepting my bottle of wine (wearing not one hoodie, but two!). Funny thing, the wine was from Cali. There are so many great vineyards in norther MI...but like me, the wine was shipped all the way from California.

It was great to return to the scene where my passion for triathlon was born! And great to share another race experience with my parents.