Monday, December 26, 2016

Patrick's Ironman Arizona Race Report (November 20, 2016)

How do you capture “your first time?”  How do you remember it all, much less put it into words? Well here goes - and it's long (which is why, in part, it's taken me more than a month to write it).

Packing for a race that’s out of town is nothing new – “just bring it all,” obviously - but it always makes me anxious. What if I somehow forget that *one* critical thing?! Well that’s why we have race checklists silly, but still.

I spent most of the week before the race planning and double planning. I had todo lists for each night and the race - and even for each transition! – starting Tuesday night.  I wasn’t leaving anything to chance. If I forgot something during the race – like sunblock before the bike like in Arizona 70.3 – it could make for a loooooong day.  Packing lists, shopping lists, even things to do each day before gear drop off. I was going to be ready.

Just some examples. I'd put them all, but it'd be 10+ links.
  • Friday checklist here
  • Saturday checklist here
We left LA Friday morning and got into Tempe mid-afternoon. Checked in to the race and the hotel. Unpacked and starting going through my checklists. I felt surprisingly calm given what I was about to undertake.

Saturday morning, I got up and went over my "Saturday before drop off" list and headed over to the park. Winnie and I were supposed to do the practice swim, but I didn't want to get my wetsuit wet the day before the race (maybe it wouldn't dry in time, maybe it'd be cold when I put it on, blah blah blah) and when Winnie and I met up, she told me we'd have to do at least a 700. I wasn't feeling that either, and opted not to get in the water. Obviously I can swim a 700 but I was really nervous about keeping every bit of exercise in me for the next day. Besides, we just swam in the lake a month ago and it was super warm. How different could it be?? (here's where I pull you aside and say "<-- pay attention to that part")

We dropped off our bikes and dropped off our gear - leaving my stuff always freaks me out (see above about "what if I forget something") - and I did a couple practice runs going from transition to the two bag areas so I knew where my bags would be located.  Then we met up with Steve and Glendale - our unofficial IMAZ mentors - got some pictures, last minute advice, and then headed off for food. It's weird prepping for a race like this having never done it because you question every single thing you are putting in your body. I usually eat anything, and a lot of it, but I was hyper focused on "plain rice, chicken, maybe sweet potatoes." Boring AF but safe.

Then I went back to the hotel and went over my remaining Saturday and pre-race checklists and just tried to kill time. Waiting is sometimes the hardest part. Well, if you aren't counting the 2.4 mile swim, the 112 mile bike, and then the marathon, then waiting is the hardest part.

Race Day
Sunday morning I got up at 3:30. I hadn't slept well - who does? - and started going over my pre-race checklist. I had added "at the bag" items to the checklists so I'd remember everything I'd need to add to each bag when I got to the park.  I woke Latisha up and we were on our way.

I walked over to the transition area with Winnie and upon seeing everyone there, I got honestly excited; I wasn't nervous. VERY weird for a race. I just had this feeling of 'I can do this. It won't be fast, but I can do this."  I went through my checklists - really, these things were a life saver for my sanity - and met up with Winnie, Latisha, Alice, Jesus, Joyce, and Veronica for some last minute goodbyes and good lucks. We bumped into Mike Pajaro and Laura Kern who also wished us luck and then Winnie and I started the long walk to the swim start.

Inspirational temporary tattoo

I left Winnie at the 1:30 corral and moved to the 1:20 corral, just trying to stay calm and relaxed. People on the whole were very conversational and friendly. It eased the tension a bit. Then the gun went off for the pro males, then, pro females, and then we started our slow walk to the bleacher entry to the water.

I was actually in really good spirits at this point.

I start my watch and jump in. HOLY FUCK STICKS THE WATER IS FREEZING. WHY DID I WEAR A SLEEVELESS WETSUIT?! ok ok, calm down. It's just cold. you're fine. BUT IT'S REALLY COLD. you'll be ok, and you've got an hour plus in here, so deal with it. calm down. OK. OK. oh neat, my wetsuit has an air bubble in the chest. It's super floaty. It's like I'm swimming with a buoy. Hey self? yes. I gotta pee. ok, so pee. But I'll have to stop swimming.  Will you? Try keeping your arms moving, but relax everything else. ok ok. I'm doing it!! I'm doing it!! I can pee and swim at the same time! yes, congratulations, you're able to piss yourself.

That happened a couple more times over the course of the time I was in the water. The swim was relatively uneventful other than the two or three times I had to swim over people that I didn't realize were right in front of me (because their caps were black instead of the bright green or pink and they had seeded themselves too aggressively) but mainly I spent the time focused on remaining calm and relaxed.

I came to the bleachers, a volunteer pulled me out of the water, I hit my lap button (an hour 10?! I went too fast. Oh shit) and then looked for someone to peel my wetsuit. You can see in my pictures I was pretty confused by this whole process.

Which way do I go? This way? Body says that way. But head says a different way.

I jogged through transition (seeing Mike and Laura cheering for me as I went - very cool), got my bike bag, and went into the changing tent. I spent a chunk of the time just trying to warm up, calm down, and not forget anything. Thankfully I had my checklist in my bike bag. :) Checked everything off, got my bike, got to the mount line and got underway.

I spent a good chunk of the first half hour on the bike telling myself to calm down and back off. This had been Steve Kern's advice to me - "no matter how easy you think you're going on the bike, back off a bit." I knew I was just aiming for completing it, so I wasn't too concerned that everyone in the entire race was passing me. I also had to pee, and being very excited about my new peeing-while-moving accomplishment from the swim, tried to do the same on the bike. Well, moving your arms and relaxing your pee muscles is WAY easier than moving your legs and relaxing your pee muscles. Wasn't going to happen (and good, because peeing yourself out of the water and on your bike is just gross.) so I pulled into an aid station, pit stopped, and was back on my way.  I say all this because "low and slow" was my mantra for the day. "Do whatever you need to to be comfortable" which meant stopping if I had to, eating if I had to, walking if I had to, etc etc. Thankfully this also helped minimize the actual need to do any of that. I spent the first loop mainly taking it all in. A woman right before the swim had told me the Beeline on the bike was an 11 mile ride out, and that actually helped me during the race estimate how far I had to go each leg.

Towards the end of the first loop, I was getting a little concerned because I hadn't seen Winnie at all. Was she ok? Did she get hurt? She isn't slow, so I definitely should have seen her after the turnaround. Nothing I can do about it, but I hope she's ok.

After the first loop I hear and see Mike a Laura cheering for me again. They were so great throughout the day. I start back out, thinking "that wasn't so bad. 37 miles? I can totally do that 2 more times."

37 miles down, only *sigh* 75 to go.

Five minutes after the halfway point of the second loop, Winnie calls out going the other direction. Whew, she's ok and if I'm five minutes after the turn around, that means she's only 5 minutes before the turn around, that puts her only about 10 minutes behind me. Whew.

I stop at special needs, applied more chamois cream (my ass started hurting about 15 miles in. I still had a looooong way to go with a hurt ass), ate a bar, and resumed the ride.

At the end of the second loop, I see Mike and Laura again (yay!) and I start back out thinking "oh my god. Another 37 miles?"   

By this point, the crowd on road had started to thin, even more so by the time I got halfway through the third loop.  Then I started to get a little bummed. "Everyone else is done" kept creeping into my thoughts. I had been averaging 16mph, which is really slow for me, but had stayed there so I had something for the run.  I thought, "I have 18 miles to go, at 16mph, eff me that means I have another hour and probably 10 minutes on the bike." *sigh*

Bored bored bored

I finally pull into the finish area, seven hours after starting the bike. Easily the longest I've ever been on a continuous ride. I jog through transition, see Latisha and give her a kiss, and go into the changing tent. Again, going through my checklist and a guy comments "you got a checklist in there? That's a great idea!"

I wrote in some inspiration after printing this.

Well yeah bud, that's why I did it. I put my running stuff on and head out.

If you've read my posts before, I lament the run. I die out about a half mile in and just have a terrible time. I think part of that is I start out running a good pace, look at my watch and get nervous I'm going too fast, so I back off, which in turn kills my momentum.  This time, I wasn't going to let that happen.

I started on the run "just going for a jog." I didn't let myself look at my watch, I just ran as comfortably as possible. Not slow, not fast, just comfortable. This was key. AND HOLY SHIT I FEEL GREAT! I mean, I'm tired, sure, but nowhere near as tired and run down as I have been in the half IMs I've done.

I get through the first mile and I start walking to read my first card. *pause* Given all the trouble the run has given me in the past, I asked people to write me inspiring or funny things so I could read them on the run. Latisha - bless her - collected them all and laminated them so they would survive the sweat and water I will inevitably dump over my head. All in all I had ~30 so I figured I'd read one every mile or if I needed additional inspiration.

Soooo many great motivators!

*unpause* The first one was from my parents.  It said "Go Patrick Go!! Imagine you are wearing your yellow cape - you are like the wind! You are fulfilling your childhood dream -- you ARE a super hero! Love you." *pause* when I was a kid, about 4 or 5, I ran around my house all the time in this threadbare, ratty yellow blanket pretending I was a superhero. My mom says I called myself "underwear man" but I dispute that. *unpause* So now I'm in the middle of my Ironman and start tearing up. Nope nope nope! Let's start running again! So off I ran, feeling great albeit choked up.

Early in the race (because it's still daylight)

Repeat this for about 25 more miles.  Actually, let's pause around mile 6. I was feeling super unwell. My stomach, I mean. Thinking I would need to stretch my custom hydration out until I got to my run special needs bag, I made my hydration super concentrated. Even though this has worked fine in training, I hadn't spent so much time relying on it (i.e., during a 7 hour bike ride and an hour-plus run) and at this point, my stomach was super queasy. So I stopped and tried to ... take a break, but to no avail. TMI ahead... you've been warned... turn back... basically I just farted a bunch - like A LOT - but felt WAY better. I tell you this, dear reader, because not only was Nov. 20th my first Ironman, it was also my first time trying to poop (albeit unsuccessfully) in a port-a-john. So now we've shared that.

Back to the story. I get back on my way and things are pretty good (other than my previous stomach troubles). Run to an aid station, walk it, read a note, repeat. Around mile 10, I ran into Steve Kern as he was walking up the lone big hill on the course.  It was his second loop of the run, so he only had ~5k more to go, but he walked with me nonetheless for a bit. After about 4 or so minutes of chit chat, he headed off the finish, and I picked up my pace a little bit and kept going. I started my second loop and realized, "oh wow, this is literally the furthest I've ever run" (I'd only ever done a half marathon before this), which was in and of itself, kinda cool because I still felt great and generally positive.  Speaking of "feeling great," throughout the rest of the run, Mike would periodically appear and check in, asking me how I felt. My response was always "great" but secretly it was always "better" when I saw him and the gang cheering. That said, the rest of the run was what you'd expect a marathon to be - a lot of steady, uneventful running.  

As I approached the finish chute, I told myself "enjoy this, you've earned it."  I tried to give the person in front of me space so they could have their moment in the spotlight to themselves, and make sure no one was behind me so I could have mine, but as we turn the corner to actually go in the chute, the guy in front of me broke off to talk to some people. I couldn't - I wouldn't - stop, so I jogged past him. Picking up the pace was actually a bad thing. Because upon picking up the pace, and seeing the lights, and hearing the crowd, and seeing hands out for high fives, and OH MY GOD I'VE DONE IT, I started running. I couldn't help it. I just ran 26.2 miles? You wouldn't know it because my legs felt FANTASTIC. I HAVE ALL THE ENERGY IN THE WORLD. And then I hear Alice and Latisha and Mike yelling my name and I see them and speed up even more. I can't help it! Everyone's there cheering FOR ME.  And then Mike Reilly says "Patrick Myers of Los Angeles! Come on home Pat, you did it buddy!" and DAMN IT, I *DID* DO IT. And I start tearing up. I'm totally going to ugly cry and they're going to take my picture of my stupid ugly cry face and that's going to be my Ironman picture for forever.

Ugly cry face

Well, it happened. And they did. And that's my face. But I almost don't care because holy shit, I'm an Ironman.

There's more to write - about how Latisha met me after and swapped out my gross hat with my Ironman hat that I bought at Vineman 70.3 but wouldn't wear until I finished the full because I thought I'd jinx it, and how Winnie finished about 15 minutes later and we ate a lot and got massages from volunteers and how all our support people (Latisha, Alice, Joyce, Veronica, Jesus, Mike, and Laura) were just amazing and patient and waited for us while it was drizzling, and how Latisha had already gotten my bike and all my bags and had taken them back to the hotel so I wouldn't have to worry about anything after the race, but honestly, I will never finish this if I keep adding so we'll end here. This was my story.

I'll close with this: After Arizona 70.3, I was done for the season; I didn't want to be an Ironman. I was burned out and had had a miserable race. But the full? Well, I had such an incredible experience, supported by so many amazing people (especially my I-can't-say-it-enough amazing wife), I would absolutely do this again.  But Winnie would have to do it too. One team, one dream!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Race Report: Winja's IRONMAN ARIZONA (November 20, 2016)

"Far better it is to dare mighty things: to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." - Teddy Roosevelt


Never in my life have I wanted something more than I've wanted this. Where do I even begin?

(Warning: this is going to be a huge wall of text. I thought about splitting it up, but if I ever want to come back, I want to know that I can find everything in one place!)


I took Thursday off from work so I could decompress and pack. In the weeks leading up to the race, I had so many thoughts running through my head. I was stressed beyond belief. My fingers were peeling and I was developing a rash on my hip that was slightly raised and spreading as the race neared. I was a hot mess.

I spent most of the days leading up to the race writing a detailed list of things to pack. I checked and cross-checked everything I needed, and I even compared my list to Patrick's. I didn't want to over-pack, but ended up over-packing anyway. I mean, who doesn't want to bring their whole house with them when they go for a race in another state?

I left for Arizona at 5am on Friday - AZ is an hour ahead, so despite leaving early, I felt like I arrived late. I checked into the hotel (one I wasn't allergic to this time!) and left for the expo at Tempe Beach Park.  Signed my life away, listened to an athlete briefing, and met up with my college friend Alex at the True Rest booth!

Later that evening, I met up with a few athletes from Cal Tri to get a course walk-through (Thank you, Darrell!) and then headed out to a neighboring city to meet up with one of my favorite people in this world: My grade school teacher, Mrs. M. It's hard to explain how much I love this woman, but she has been such a pivotal part of my life. She nurtured my love for reading and writing and has always been so supportive of all of my endeavors. I'm so glad I got to spend a bit of time with her on this trip.

Saturday morning, Patrick and I had planned to test the waters at Tempe Beach Park, but when we arrived, there were so many people and a mandated 700 yard swim that we kind of looked at each other, shrugged, and went to get our gear to check in.

We dropped our bikes and gear bags off, and met up with fellow Disney team members for a group picture before race day!

Glendale and Steve were so instrumental in helping us prep for IMAZ! They answered all of our questions and walked us through every scenario possible when it came to the race and prepping for it. Thank you again, Steve and Glendale! You guys are the best.

The rest of Saturday involved picking up boyface from the hotel, lunch at the Original ChopShop (so good!), life-sized chess, Jenga by the pool, prickly pear sorbet, and a hearty italian dinner before packing my special needs bags, watching the first few minutes of the USC/UCLA game, and heading to bed.


We got up before the sun rose, and made our way to Tempe Beach park in the morning. Traffic was much worse than when I did the half - probably because we left much later this time, and probably because there were more athletes. Jesus dropped me off and I walked over with Patrick to the transition area. We put our nutrition into their correct bags, and then met up with everyone again for pre-race pictures :)

(Thanks to Joyce, Alice, and Veronica for the pictures below!)

By this time, I've asked Patrick maybe 2 or 3 times what we got ourselves into. My adrenaline is pumping, and I'm telling myself that if I'm already at the park, I may as well start the race and see how far I go.

We say our goodbyes to everyone and I realize immediately after I get into the chute that I've forgotten to take my pre-race pills. :( What if I get tired during the swim?! What if not taking my vitamins in the morning leaves me at a deficit?! Patrick leaves me to go into the faster swim corral (his goal was a 1:20 and my goal was a 1:30) and I'm left in a sea of strangers, wringing my hands together as the cannon blows for the first wave of pro men at 6:40. I see puddles on the floor and my first thought is that people are peeing in their wetsuits. Gross.

The cannon bellows two more times: once for the pro women, and once more for the start of our age group waves. 15 minutes pass and the line slowly moves so we can get into the bleachers and from there, into the water. I make my way down the stairs and jump.

My face is immediately met with a cold splash of water. MUCH colder than I anticipated. IT'S REAL. We're in this! I keep my arms at a steady pace and let them carry me out. At one point, I'm kicked in the face. My goggles are fine but my cheek stings a little. I look at my watch 10 minutes in and IT'S IN TRANSITION MODE. Somewhere along the way, another person must have hit me and triggered my Garmin to move to the next step. I spent the next few hundred meters wondering whether or not to stop and re-start my watch or suck it up and leave it in transition mode so I could salvage the rest of my workout (I'm a little obsessive compulsive) - In the end, I leave it.

The swim overall wasn't too bad - it was faster than I thought it would be, and there were so many people in the water that I didn't have to worry about getting lost. The only downfall was that some slower people seeded themselves in faster corrals, so I had to swim around them or navigate to avoid them. The yellow buoys turned to red on the way out (red meant there was a turn), and red turned into orange to mark the return trip back. The final red buoy signaled another turn toward the bleachers, and the neon orange shirts that the volunteers were wearing were a sight for sore eyes. An hour and 25 minutes after I started the swim, a volunteer held out a hand, told me to grab it, and yanked me out of the water.

Slightly disoriented, I was directed to the wetsuit peelers, who unzipped me and had me sit on the floor as they pulled my wetsuit off. I ran to get my gear bag, and then headed into the warm change tent.

Without a doubt, the volunteers are the best part about this race. They're nice and accommodating and are willing to deal with problem people (like me)! I had to remind myself to slow it down and remember that I was in for the long haul. I pull on my sleeved jersey, but then ask the volunteer how hot it is outside. She tells me that it's ok but that it will warm up. She also tells me that everyone else is wearing sleeveless, so I peel off (key word 'peel' because I am still soaking wet) my jersey and attempt to pull on my racing top.

I get stuck. My volunteer (bless her) helps me pull my top down, and packs my pockets with everything I need. She takes the extra stuff, jams it back in my bag, and wishes me good luck! I run out for my bike.

At this point, all I can think about is how tired my arms are from the swim. How the hell am I going to make it 112 miles on the bike? I mount at the line and start to ride out. I see so many smiling faces, and for the first time, I catch my favorite people in the world: Joyce, Veronica, Alice, and Jesus. They're calling my name and their familiar faces are all I need. I stick my tongue out, the tired arms are suddenly fine again, and I'm ready.

The bike portion is 3 loops. The first loop is great - I'm averaging 16 - 17 mph and I feel good. As I climb up beeline, I see a guy wearing a lumberjack jersey. It reminds me of the one that Jesus wore when we first started dating (go ahead, insert heart eyes here), so I speed up to tell the guy I like it. When I catch up, I realize it's John! - John and I had ridden to San Diego together in May, so it was great being able to connect with him, even though it was only for a minute or so. He had my bib number written on his wrist so he wouldn't forget to look for me on the course. He told me to have fun, slow it down, and pretend I was on a beach cruiser in Newport.

Me and John!

When I turn for lap 2, I hear someone call my name and I felt like lap 2 is going to be just as easy as the first lap was. But the climb 10 miles into the lap drains me. The winds were blowing sideways, and at times they were head-on. I start to feel unmotivated and just keep reminding myself to drink water and aim for the person in front of me. I stop for special needs around mile 60 and the nice volunteer who helps me makes a joke about how much food I had packed and how indecisive I was because I couldn't choose what I wanted to take with me. He held my bike while I stretched, and the stretching made a HUGE difference.

By the time the third lap rolls around, I am drained. I wasn't looking forward to the slight uphill on Beeline Highway, but I was definitely looking forward to being off the bike. When I got to the top of Beeline, 18 miles into the lap, I knew it would only get easier. 96 miles turned into 100, and 100 turned into 112, thus concluding the first century I had done since July. I was SO happy to be off the bike.

When I got to the dismount line, a bike catcher took my bike from me and I went to grab my bags.

I'm all smiles in the picture above, but I'm suffering on the inside. The first thing I said after the above picture was taken was "My ass hurts and I'm so fucking tired." By now I'm 114.4 miles into the 140.6 mile journey. A marathon sits between me and the finish line. Alice, Joyce, Veronica, and Jesus were at the transition watching me make my way into the change tent. I'm rude and I think I'm on the verge of cussing someone out at this point:

IRONMAN changes you. I love these people with all my heart but they are the last people I want to see in that moment. If words could caption what this picture says, I'd say there's an F-word in it somewhere. (Sorry guys. I wasn't myself in that moment.)

In the tent, I meet Heather the volunteer. Heather is the shining beacon of light who brings me back to... well, me. She coaxes me to sit down as she pulls my running shoes out of my bag and offers me Carmex. Guys. It's like she speaks Winnie or something. She asks me how I feel and if I'm cold or hungry. She's exactly what I need in that moment, and she gives me a hug before I head out.

When I run out of the change tent, I feel like a new person. I'm so excited to run!

The cheer squad is out in full force, and it feels so good to feel my legs again. My first mile clocks in at 9:07. Oops. I'm too pumped. My second mile slows down to a 10 minute pace, and I feel good. I think to myself, 26 miles? Cake.

Fast forward 2 miles, and I take back my earlier thoughts. As I make my way along the water, my pace slows down significantly. I keep looking out for my friends. They're my motivation to keep running. I see Mike Pajaro and he runs alongside me for a minute or so. I see Patrick and I call out his name! He's in the zone and says a quick hello as he continues. The sun sets quickly and I'm becoming demoralized again. It becomes a slow trot. I stop at all the aid stations and I chomp on some grapes and pretzels as I see them.

By mile 15 my stomach is in so much pain. Too many grapes. Too many pretzels. WAY too much coke. I stop it all and stick to water. I keep looking out for my friends. I need something to look forward to. I run by a few cheer tents and Glendale is smiling at me! He runs with me for a little bit and tells me that I'm sooo close. He's with me until I see my support crew again and we're at mile 17. 9 more miles to go.

I pull the cards I had my friends write from my back pocket and hold them in my hand. I tell myself that I'll read them when I need motivation. My eyes are blurry and I can't focus though, so I read a few here and there... One from Kevin, one from Chris, one from Andrew, one from Anna, a few from Betty, from Diane... they're all so motivational. I tear up as I read them because I feel like I'm not just doing this race for myself. So many notes from so many people.

At mile 19, I see Mike again. His smile is so bright that I can't help but smile back. I tell him that I'm tired. He tells me to keep trucking on. I tell him I'm delusional. He tells me to keep moving. I'm so close to being done! The number of miles dwindle down and I have 6 left. I tell myself that I do 6 all the time! 6 turns into 3 and I tell myself that I can do 5ks in my sleep. 3 turns into 1 and the road is empty. Where is the finish line?! I'm waiting to see people and the streets are bare.

I hear noise. It's soft at first, but it gets louder and louder. I see bright lights and the M-Dots on the carpet. I see Jesus. I see Alice. I see Veronica. I see Joyce. I see a finish line. I slow down to let the woman ahead of me get her moment, and then I'm beaming. I raise my hands up and I hear Mike Reilly say, "Winnie Jaing, from Rosemead, California.... YOU'RE AN IRONMAN, WINNIE! BEAUTIFUL SMILE."

... And I'm done. A volunteer catches me and asks me how I feel. I tell her I'm so happy. I tear up.

At this point, I still haven't processed what I've accomplished, but I know that I'm done.

Soooo attractive. 

 I'm hungry. Patrick and I head to the medical area and I scarf down 4 slices of pizza. We get massages and we come back out to meet everyone. Pictures. SO many pictures.


I can't even begin to thank everyone who played such a pivotal role in my Ironman training: From the weekend practices to the Q & A sessions, the race spectating, and the bitch-fests that you all had to endure...

Thanks to all of my training buddies, in big and little ways: Bryant, Jarrett, Kevin, Letty, Fernando, Brandon, Robert, Mike, Colette, Kien, Emmanuel, Jared, Bree, John, Ruth and Peter, Alisa, Karla and Marshall, Alfie and Jack, Laurie (can't forget my Soulcycle buddies), and Marcos

To my Marvel team, for being SO supportive at all times, especially: Diane, Chelsie, Kathryn, Natalia, and Stef

My friends, who listened to me whine about waking up at 4:45 in the morning and train until 9:30 at night: Jaime, Jonathan & the RHS crew, Stephane, George, Diane, my Ladies of the List (especially you, Kenni!)

My amazing swim coach, Mike Lucero of Golden Road Aquatics - thank you for always believing in me! Disney Tri Team, for giving me something to focus on and something to fight for.

Steve and Glendale, for shedding light on the race itself and answering all of the questions I threw at you!

Mike Pajaro, for chasing after me and running with me and cheering for me when I was delusional and thought no one was around. 

Alice, for so much more than a caption can handle, but most importantly for training with me and for being there on the big day. For waking up super early with me and racing with me and encouraging me to be more than I am. 

Joyce! For being there for my first EVERYTHING: my first tri, my first half, my first full! For making signs for me three weeks in advance, for taking care of me and anticipating my next steps before I even know what they are, and for being so supportive of everything that I do. 

Veronica, for being the best friend that a girl can ask for. For schlepping it out all the way to Arizona just so you could watch the sun rise and hear that I am tired ONE MORE TIME, even though you hear it from me every morning. Think about where we were two years ago and where we are now. I have so much love for you. And! I'm taller than you in this picture! 

Patrick, for agreeing to sign up for this with me in the first place. What started out as a stupid idea actually came into fruition, and before we knew it, it was too late (and too expensive!) to turn back. Thanks for meeting me at 6am for bike rides and for running into the sunsets at Griffith Park with me. Thanks for freaking out with me and pushing me to work out more. Thanks for driving out to Oceanside to watch me run for 10 minutes and for creating a sign where the letters fell off. And for racing Vineman with me. And IMAZ 70.3. This season wouldn't have been as fun without you. 

Jesus. I don't even know where to begin thanking you. Thanks for ALWAYS challenging me. For reminding me that I am racing for no one but myself. Thanks for believing in me, for waking up at 3am in the mornings with me, and for coming to my big races with me. Thanks for going on training rides with me and guilting (ok, "motivating") me to work out. You put a smile on my face and you have a hold on my heart. 

And a big thank you to people who wrote me the notes to get me through the latter half of my marathon: Robert, E, Baggies, Henry, Ashleigh, Katy, Chris, Kathryn, Alisa, Jared, Boy, Anna, Andrew, Patrick's Parents!!!, Coach Mike, Marcos, Mama Hong, Isabelle, Natalia, Norris, Sharktato, Bettay, Jax, Pi gu, Anthony, Amanda, Annabear and Ginnybear, My favorite Floridia Jillian, Kevin, Vee, Twin Pop, Patrick, Amanda, Alice, Jaimebug, Kendyl, Boyface, Bob, Leland, and Cindy.

All my love and all my thanks. Completing this IRONMAN means that I can handle just about anything. xoxo

Friday, November 4, 2016

Patrick's Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon Report (October 30, 2016)

I forgot I had even signed up for this until the Thursday before it. I only knew because I got an email with "important race weekend info." They usually only send those to people that are doing the race. *scrolling through emails* Aww crap, I did sign up for this.

Race Day
Winnie said "I'm tired from Trick or Tri and feel slow today. Let's run it at a 10:30 pace."

I don't know what part of my brain blocks out that Winnie never actually means this, or if she means it, she is *terrible* at executing on it. But, being tired from a four hour trainer session the day before, I agree. 10:30 would be a fine, nice and easy jog.

Winnie proceeds to run sub-9:00/miles for the first four miles. Dammit.

I finally get her to slow down a bit and by this point (around mile 5) my right pinky toe is pissed.

I grit through it and we finish. I check the toe and I have a massive blister. It's a combination of bad sock choice and being tired so I had shitty running form. Good to consider come IMAZ when I'll be exhausted from the rest of the tri. The rest of my foot is tired from compensating for my toe, so the next day my whole foot is sore. It's fine now, but again, something to keep in mind.

Run time: 2:09:35

Patrick's Arizona 70.3 Race Report (October 16, 2016)

As I get ready for IMAZ 140.6, I had one goal/mindset going into IMAZ 70.3 - treat it like a low and slow brick workout and assess at each leg, "could I go back and do that again?"  This mindset turned out to be *key*.

General comments
We stayed at the Graduate Tempe. It was close to the venue (about a mile away) and had a pretty comfortable bed.  The room was a little small, but overall a great option. The attached restaurants were quite frankly disappointing - food and was mediocre at the diner and service was initially terrible at the bar - but as a hotel, it did the job.

The day before
I had been kinda freaking out about the bike course for the 70.3 based on the map. It had a lot of 180 turns and I was expecting a crashfest, so Winnie and I did a preview of it to see what we had signed ourselves up for.  As it turned out, it wasn't going to be as bad as I thought. It was hard navigating the course by car because of the 180 turns and they have you going the wrong way down some streets.  Indeed, as Winnie said in her race report, it took us longer to preview that than the 140.6 course, but driving around and getting a feel for the area calmed my nerves somewhat and by the time we finished, I felt that this was going to go a-ok.

The night before
"Just a brick workout" notwithstanding, I couldn't sleep. I tried going to bed at 9:00, knowing I'd have to get up at 5:00. I tossed and turned all night. I probably only got about 3 hours of actual sleep. Less than ideal.

Day of
I finally admitted sleep defeat around 4:30 and started getting stuff ready. I ate my traditional pre-brick-workout breakfast of a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Cranberry Breakfast Bar and got LT up at 5:10 to drive us over there.  Unfortunately the entrance to the parking garage from Mill St is hidden and they had blocked off the roads for the race, so we took a looooooong detour/pre-view of the bike course trying to get back to the parking garage. We got there about 5:30, which was eating into my set up time because we had to be out of transition at 6:15. Less than ideal.

Here we goooooooo
I was in the second wave, which was a nice change of pace; usually I'm in one of the last waves. I get in the water and it's pretty warm. Winnie said the race director called it at 75.1, juuuust wetsuit legal. But water temp doesn't really affect me once I get swimming so I don't mind either way. The first wave goes and we get into position. After a while and the gun goes off. My "brick workout" begins.

I swam pretty evenly, just trying to mimic what I expect to do for the full. Nice and easy, very relaxed. The water was murky AF though and I literally couldn't see my hand if my arm was fully extended. No worries nothing to see anyway.

I'm swimming along around the 400m mark and have a good amount of space between me and anyone else in front or on either side. Then it happens, something that's never happened in any of the triathlons I've done: I got kicked in the face. Luckily, it was pretty light and pretty square, so it mainly just sealed my left google really well to my eye socket, but it was certainly a jolt. After that, I made sure I was paying better attention to people around me.

Even though I swam pretty evenly and calmly, I exited the water and didn't see anyone else from my wave in front of me. I wasn't trying to go fast. *shrug* Regardless, I felt great coming out of the water. Could I go back and swim that again? Yep, definitely.

Swim time: 34:26

(Turns out it was a slow group. I finished the swim 18th out of the age group with that 34 time, whereas I was 37th at Vineman 70.3 with a 3-minute-faster 31.)

Again, just a brick workout. I took my time, dried off, and got myself ready for a nice and steady bike. I'm not rushing out of T1.

T1 time: 4:26

Aw crap, I rushed out of T1 and forgot to apply sunblock. Sonofa...

The bike was not bad. Pretty flat and felt pretty good. The 180 turns were actually very wide due to AZ's 6 lane roads and there were only 1 or 2 hairpins (which he had to do 3 times).

About 1/4 of the way through the second loop, I noticed a weird, regularly timed *thwapping* sound. I thought it was the brake against my front wheel or that my wheel was out of true. I kept looking for the culprit to no avail. It was driving me a little nuts and I was little scared it wasn't safe, so I got off my bike and checked. I just couldn't find it. So weird. I figured I'd just ride and figure it out later.

About 3/4 of the way through the second loop, I noticed my bike computer between my aerobars was drooping. Thinking its velcro had stretched or something, I went to tighten it and realized that my right aerobar was wobbly and loose. Like "I hope this doesn't come off!" loose. I pulled over to fix it - hey, brick workout so who cares about time - and realized the bolts that were loose were actually buried in a part of the bar that I couldn't get at without taking apart the whole aerobar assembly. I figured it was safe enough and kept riding.

As I finished the second loop, I started to get bored. Yeah, I'm worried about this *thwapping* sound and my aerobar coming off, and hey, I still felt great, but damn I was bored. So I sang a song. Over and over and over.

About halfway through the third loop, I realize "that *thwapping* sound is pretty regular and goes away when I coast." I look down and realize it's the inside of my shoe rubbing against the crank arm. I pull my foot away a little as I pedal and, yup, it's gone. Whew. Nothing to worry about after all.

Even though the temperature is climbing into the 90s now, I pull into T2 feeling pretty good, aerobar still wobbly but intact.  Could I go back and do that again? Yeah, probably. Bored as hell, but mechanical issues not being a factor, sure.

Bike time (including two stops to check stuff): 3:04:05

Still singing my song. I take my time, even putting on Injinji toes socks. They take a little while to get each toe situated correctly, but soooo worth it.

I go to the sunblock booth and get lathered up.

T2 time: 5:26

Coming out of T2, "Yeah, just a brick work out. This is great. No problemo. Feeling all right."

[0.5 miles later]

"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?!"

I don't know what happened but I died. Hard. It wasn't a "my legs are tired;" I just felt totally drained. I didn't bonk because I could still move my muscles, I just didn't want to move them. My brain said "nope, I'm out. I'm not giving you an ounce of inspiration or motivation. You're a dick for making us do this and I hate you."

The entire run was a battle - just like Vineman - of "jog to here, and then I'll let you walk a bit." It was an excruciating, defeating experience. Several times I said to myself "I'm done. My season ends here. I don't enjoy this. I don't want to be an Ironman. Eff this noise."

But I didn't give up. I gritted through it and finally crossed the finish line. I knew I shouldn't talk to Winnie because I didn't want to discourage her by bailing on the rest of the season and our #OneTeamOneDream.

Could I go back and do that again? Let's just say if you were in arm's reach, I'd have murdered you right then and there.

Run time: 2:36:57

Overall time: 6:26:00

Thankfully, LT is super supportive and made me feel like not-a-complete-and-utter failure. And there was a trailer there that just blew cold water vapor through fans, so that helped with the now-93-degree temps and my mood a skosh.

Later that night, LT and I met up with one of my college buddies and his wife that live in the area for dinner, which was great, so I was pretty mellow by then.

Before we left the next day, I was already planning how to tackle the full IM in a month.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Race Report(s!) : Winja's Trick or TRI and Rock N' Roll Half Marathon (October 29 and 30th, 2016)

This weekend passed by WAY too fast. I feel like I didn't get enough time to catch my breath and when I did, it was time to go to work again. This weekend was a big one - It marks the last few races I'll do before we head down to Arizona for THE BIG ONE.

I'm sure there will be at least one more post before then, but in the meantime, lots to cover in terms of the two events that I did this weekend!

TRIck or TRI! (October 29th)

My heel has been bugging me lately (Plantar Fasciitis works in mysterious ways - as in, it doesn't like to heal the way it should) and I've been hesitant to work myself out too much in fear that I'll hurt myself before the race. Does this count as an injury? It's definitely a developing one.

I got up rather early on Saturday morning (around 3:30) and got to the Santa Fe Dam around 4:30. Since transition wasn't going to be open until 5, Marcos and I spent time in the darkness talking  about his Ironman (IM Maryland) and race prep. I've found that over the course of the last few months, talking to people who have done a full really helps in terms of calming my nerves.

Transition opened and we were allowed to set up wherever we wanted. I chose a rack closer to bike IN because I didn't want to run with my bike whilst tired. It turned out to be very beneficial, as it meant finding my pace for the run while still in transition. :) So many of the Disney Tri Team came to represent, and we were all able to rack together!

Thanks for the picture, Harrison!

Thanks for the picture, Abel!
The race itself was straightforward: An Oympic distance - one mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run. I was in the third wave and started my swim with women aged 40 and below. The water was murky but warmer than the air was outside, and I couldn't complain because there were no waves in the water. It was a perfect swim at 29:20.

Thanks, Abel! Running out of the water with my wetsuit half off already.

Transition was quick, and I left on the bike a few minutes after. The ride was nice: 3 loops along the San Gabriel Bike path - fast and quick with a little headwind on the ride back each time.

Thanks for this gem, Harrison!
The ride was probably the fastest consistent ride I've been on: I averaged 18.1 mph for the three loops. Probably a good thing that it was flat :)

Got off the bike, and transition this time around was even faster - I was probably only in transition for a minute or so. 6 miles isn't too much, and the run was quick. Sometimes I wish I could run a little faster, but I was consistent and finished without feeling tired at all. Goal achieved.

I finished!
Thanks for the picture, Chan!

Thanks, Kien! My legs look SO ripped in this picture :)

Thanks, Kien!

We had pancakes after (Colette and Emily were on pancake duty and I got to make one of my own), and left soon after to pick up my race packet for RnR LA.

Alice and I took the metro to the LA Convention Center - it was surprisingly easy and we had no issues - though it seemed like EVERYONE was there for a different reason: Stan Lee's Comic Con and League of Legends were taking place at the same place. I'm never opposed to people watching, so I had a great time.

Picked up my packet and headed back. I knocked out early - triathlons take a lot out of you!

Rock n' Roll Los Angeles! (October 30th)

Alice was planning on bike-leading the half, so I hitched a ride with her and we got to LA Live by 5:45. The race was set to start at 6:45, so I met up with Patrick and we grazed over a game plan. The funny thing is - for every half marathon we do together, I tell him I want to target a 10:30/mile plan. We never hit 10:30. Like clockwork, I suggested we do a 10:30, and like clockwork, Patrick laughed and agreed, knowing 10:30 was out of the question.

We were in corral 6 (of 22 corrals) and had a rolling start - the waves were so fast that within a minute we were already on the course. The first four miles were very steady - mid 9s - Patrick was trying to stay consistent, but I think whenever I run in races with others, I get super competitive and always want to run ahead of the people I see. Patrick threatened to hold me to a 10:30 pace, but we did really well - He kept it very consistent and I... I was very spastic. I tend to push myself harder on hills (I have a backwards sense of rationalization), so every hill it was a "bye, Patrick" and I would meet him halfway up and keep running with him.

Around mile 8 my heel started acting up. I'd pause and try to stretch it but by mile 11 I was kind of hobbling and putting more weight on my right foot to lay off my left. (At the moment I have a splint on my leg to allow for the scar tissue to form correctly.) We finished strong (Patrick and I have a saying when one of us starts to fall behind), but Patrick told me that we'd hang back and not speed up, and AT THE LAST SECOND speeds up, blows past me! - and finishes ahead of me. Not cool, Patrick!

The half was GOOD. Really good. I felt strong and I didn't feel tired. I felt like I could do so much more, which is saying something considering I did an Olympic the day before. I needed this weekend to prove to myself how prepared I was, and I'm glad I did it.

We headed over to the beer garden, where Michelob Ultra was serving up after-race refreshers.

The Mowglis were playing the after-race show, and while I'm a fan, I didn't think I would know as many songs as I knew!

 Everyone was still running, so they played to a mostly-empty crowd. I'm gonna call it "intimate" because I literally had the best time dancing by myself. Technically it wasn't dancing because I was seated on the floor with my legs strewn and wiggling the upper half of my body.

Jared saw me from the distance, and his reaction?

Had to stop dancing to save face. :)

Great friends, great fun, great race.

10/10 would do it again.