AMMBR recap and reflection

It was a hard day today... It was physically hard, it was mentally hard and emotionally draining, to say the least.

I have to admit to overconfidence going into this season. I had ridden a metric century before so I am in better shape than most people. I know what pain is and how to deal with it (or so I thought).

Let's backtrack to the beginning of the year. I am working full time and I decided I did not want to do Wildflower... not my type of event and not my type of lodging. Why cycle and not run is a good question and one that I don't know if I'll be able to answer any time soon.

It was a short season, at least it felt that way, and it was a humbling learning experience. I no longer believe I can do things cold and without preparation. I've learned to place a higher value in training and in learning to listen than I did before this event.

Don't get me wrong, the ride itself was beautiful. At the top of King's beach or coming down from Spooner it was wonderful. It just wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, if you can ever consider a century ride an easy under taking.

It also made me think a lot about mental strength or as Macca puts it how to embrace the suck. I hate to admit it that pain, fear and uncertainty caught on to me... my brain was just not there for the toughest part of the course.

At first I was pissed that my mentor even suggested that I get on the van and sag to the top of spooner. In hindsight it was the right call and it was one that I grew more and more comfortable with as I drove up. If I hadn't then the risk would haven physical and for the rest of the year just remember how long you took to recover from your ankle injury.

Once you get past that ugly and sad period of just pure anger it gets better, it made more sense to ride from the top of Spooner and be healthy about it rather than run the risk of hurting yourself for the long term and not just screwing up AMBBR, but for PG and SDTC as well.

Attitude wasn't the best either. I talked to one of my Triathlon coaches about it and he pointed out one little thing: if you think you're going to fail at something you most likely will. Part of the mental game is to never doubt that you can do it, whatever "it" is. When I did PG last year there wasn't an ounce of doubt in my brain that I was going to make it; even when Drew asked me if I was ok, my mind was completely set on finishing the race.

Thinking I wasn't ready for AMMBR gave me an out and, whatever the reasons why I took it, I used it.

After I was able to put the SAG ride out of my mind, I can’t really deny how exhilarating it was to come down Spooner towards the finish line. I decided to pay the price and push hard down hill (are you supposed to stop when you come to a parked cop in motorcycle?) and how much fun I had overall.

I had a wonderful team, coaches and mentors. I don't think I would have made it as far as I did if it wasn't for them.

Now to transition back to the comfort zone of the tri team. More on that later 😀

The search for sunrise comes full circle

Has it only been 3 years?! It's feels like it was yesterday that I was at a Info meeting in Palo Alto deciding that yes, that I was going to do a triathlon and that I was going to do an Olympic distance race!

Today was our kickoff meeting and the more things change the more they stay the same indeed. It was so cool seeing all the familiar faces and giving those hugs that I thought I would never give again...

there is always the sadness of the people you don't see. When I heard the honored hero speak I couldn't help but remembering and missing Jim Delaney tremendously. Yes, life goes on but the world is a little sadder and a little more lonely because of him having left us.

I have a lot of goals and objectives but I'll just open with two because the season is long and because I have to start somewhere

I want to get my time down to 3 hours (maybe 3:10 is ok) This is not hubris and pride. This is my way of setting a challenge and motivating myself to push hard because the bigger goal is still ahead. I'm starting to get the bug of the full Ironman for 2013 but I need and I want to know that I can make it at a shorter distance before I do this crazy thing called Ironman. This is also my way to finally accept that breaking my leg was a setback not the end of the world.

I want to have fun and enjoy the ride. The longer I've been outside training looking in to what my friends are doing how and why they are doing it the more I realize that I need to enjoy what I was doing.

This doesn't mean I wasn't enjoying the team in Georgia but, sometimes, I questioned if just training was a good enough reason to stay

Here we go (race day and report)

so don't sit back and watch the days go by
are you ever gonna live before you die
and when things fall apart
the world has come undone
leave it all behind
leave the loneliness alone
you wait forever blind

so come on and leave the years
when you watched the days go by
come on and leave the fears
that you were afraid to find
cause while you wait inside
the days go by

so all the memories fade
and the days go by
forget the lonely yesterdays in mind
I know it's never gonna be the way you like
I know you don't wanna think about the endlessness you find
you wait forever blind

Lifehouse -- Days go by

Well... The day you've been waiting for is finally here. It's about two hours from wake up time and the beginning of the roller coaster that is race day for me. I don't know how I feel: part of me is scared shitless and another part of me is eager to go and get this puppy over with so I can look forward to IM Arizona with the Iron Team.

It is also time to slow down and remember why I'm doing this. For all the honorees I met in California: Eric Robinson, Doug, Jim Delaney, Todd, Karen, Carol, Don Flemming, all the other California honorees and all the honored patients in Georgia you guys continue to be a source of strength and inspiration. Steve Ybarrola, my college professor and friend, who I recently discovered was diagnosed with Leukemia, you're always foremost in my mind, thoughts and prayers.

This race is also important from another reason. It's the first race I've done without the direct support of friends and the team in California.  I moved to Georgia right at the time of recomitment and while I was sure I wanted to do a 70.3 race I wasn't 100% sure that I was ready for such a drastic switch. It was never about whether I could do it or not; I knew that I'd finish even if I had to crawl across the finish line but it was all about finding out if I was really as passionate about triathlons and the challenges of endurance sports as I thought I was while in California. It's easy to be passionate about something when it's easy to do it and you have tons of people pushing each other to accomplish the same goal but it's a completely different story when going to group track or swim practice means a 1 hour drive each way (particularly when you don't have a car) or you're pulling 30, 40 or more miles on the bike on your own.

I got myself to Atlanta and carpooled to Augusta... I was already sick with anticipation. Were my long runs long enough? Will the swim be too difficult even in a river swimming downstream? Will my legs cramp up as they did for Big Kahuna last year?  Will I be able to hold on in this humidity? There were hundreds of questions running around my head.  At some point I had to remind myself that the answers were on the water and the road, I was just going to have to wait and find out.

Race Report

The morning of the race is usually one where I don't sleep much and tonight wasn't any different. I was up by 2am and tried to go back to sleep... fat chance, I think I started reading instead. Room mate and I had agreed on a 4am wake up call.

The setup for Augusta is very different than any other race I've done. The swims a down stream river swim so the swim start is far away (1.2 miles)  from transition. I'm also not used to having to drop off the bike the day before... Guess I'm too possessive 🙂 I also realized that I carried my only pair of  (prescription) glasses with me to the swim start...  time to get creative and swim with them on my jersey pocket under the wetsuit (thanks for the idea, Chris)

The Swim

Friends an I walked to the swim start to find that mother nature had decided to so spice up the race with rain. I was hoping that it wouldn't last long but I also knew it wasn't going to make a difference... This was my race and my time to prove to myself that I could do it. To me there is something so liberating when you realize (again) that this is not about anyone but yourself.

We jumped in the water and had a minute or so before the wave started. The current started pulling us and I found myself far further forward than I wanted. Then the horn blew and we were off. The swim felt really slow and sluggish... Thought I had really blown it. When we got to the end I looked at someone else's GPS (he had started about 2 or 3 waves behind me) and it said 31.51... Which meant my time was under 40! Now it's a downriver swim but it's still faster than the 43:26 that I got when did 1500 at Pacific Grove.

Legs cramped a little when in the water but it was manageable. The swim felt like it had taken an  hour, not the time it did. It was also the first time I had to deal with wetsuit strippers (get your minds out of the gutter, please) and it was weird to have people getting you off the wetsuit and being faster at it that you ever hoped you would.

Now onto the bike


I'm so thankful to have done the bike course before... That, among other things, saved my ass. The rain didn't stop, quite the opposite. It felt like hard spring rain in California while training for Wildflower. It rained really hard and I don't think there were many people who were ready for it... I know I wasn't.  I've rode in the rain before, in California during Spring it's impossible not to, but I was only wearing a singlet and tri shorts, that's new.

The course felt a lot shorter than it did during practice weekend. It may what felt like 10 to 18 degree difference between practice weekend and race day. Or it may have been the fact that I did do the cycle course earlier during training.

The colder temperature may have been the reason why I was cramping really bad at about mile 30. Managed to bike through the cramps but I was kinda worried about what was going to happen on the run. It didn't help that my legs locked up when I dismounted the bike, painful enough to make me stop and spend a few seconds questioning my mental sanity.

The guy at transition told me to walk it through and, as painful as it was, he was right; as soon as I started walking my legs came back, sorta.


I'm always scared of the run. Not to the point of not doing it but to the point where I'm wondering how much pain it'll cause this time. Training runs are starting to be comfortable but I'm not comfortable transitioning from one long workout to another and then to another (which is essentially what a triathlon is)

My quads and hamstrings were so tight that it was painful, but not finishing was not an option. Can't remember where I saw it but this is one of the things that kept me going was if you think that triathlons are painful, try chemotherapy. I also kept thinking about how lucky I am to be able to do triathlons: I'm healthy, have the resources and have the desire to do it... The only person who can stop me fro achieving my goals is me.

I walked/ran the best I could. I'm stubborn enough and prideful enough not to accept defeat lightly or gracefully. Even if I had to fucking crawl the run I was going to finish the event. It got close but the thought of Steve finding out he has leukemia and all the encouragement I felt during the 13.1 miles made it worth the effort.

Usually during runs my mind wanders all over the place. It amazes at being in a run course for a triathlon and the fact that I've made it so far. It groans at the fact that we are not done and it's grateful when we run across the finish line...

I have to thank Darren for jogging with me the last few yards before the chute. I don't think I can put into words how much it means to see your teammates waiting for you to come through and how loud their cheering really sounds when you're tired and you've asked yourself for about the 100th time why did you agree to do this.

I actually ran down the chute... if I was going to finish I was going to do so strong and proud. I can't begin to describe in words how much it means to have teammates who are cheering you when you're at your lowest... And how much it lifts your spirit up when distant friends take the time to keep track of your race and send so much support that you can feel it clear across the country

After The Race

I felt strange after the race. My body was cold after being in the same, wet, clothes since the swim started a little before 8 this morning; My mind was giddy, I actually completed an Ironman 70.3 race, now I can goof off before starting the next stage of my endurance sports career... more on that later.

I did things ass backwards. After I finished the race I went to the hotel, took a shower and only then I went to pick up my stuff from transition and the day bag. Then it was to say thank you and have my beer to celebrate the team's accomplishment and then a drink to celebrate my birthday 🙂

I was so tired that I was a party-pooper and went back to my room before the after peaty really got started... I was in bed by 8(!) and only woke up once before actually waking up a little after 5am on Monday where the picture below was taken as I haven't gotten my medal yet (apparently I took so long in finishing that they had ran out 🙂 ) so my friend let me borrow his for the picture.

Lessons Learned

There's alway something to take away as lessons learned. The list is much shorter than I thought it'd be... I think I'm finally learning.

Bring a jacket even if you don't think you're going to need it. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. You got this awesome TNT alumni ride jacket.... Use it.

Shot Blocks are a good nutrition base... You do need something solid like a couple power bars or bonk breakers to go along with it.

Next bike is getting a speed fill bottle in addition to the one in the aero bar and the ones in the bottle cages. You can never have too many water bottles in a a long ride 🙂

Even though they would have gotten soaked at about mile 2, arm warmers would have been nice. Don't know if I can get used to having something around my wrists while cycling but it's something worth trying.

Continue working on your run... You will break 7 hours in a 70.3 race.

Thank You

The way I see it, I have nothing to prove, nothing to fear and nothing to lose. I nailed my peak event for 2010 – .... To cross another finish line 9 weeks later is the gravy. Gravy is good but not necessary. I’m out here racing because I want to, because I get to, because I can.

Can you think of any better reasons to race?

. . .

If you ever think you can’t do something, just look to your peers to prove you can – chances are someone is out there doing something that makes the impossible seem possible.

Elizabeth Waterstraat

It definitely takes more than one person to run a (half) Ironman race.

To all the coaches in California both past (Tom and Jill) and present (Drew, Larry, Tate, Jana, Jenn and Ivy) thanks for giving me the initial push and not letting me slack when I wasn't feeling like training or when I quit when close to the goal.  Thank you for motivating me to push further and harder than I ever thought I would.

Thanks to the TNT staff and coaches in Georgia (Mary, Mike,  Darren and Beth). Thank you Jessica for not laughing at me when I emailed you right after recomittment saying "hey, I'm moving from California to Georgia and I want to join you guys for your half-iron distance event."  Thank you for all the support before, during and after the event.

To to all my TNT teammates.  You've made the past year as part of TNT in both coasts an experience that has shaped me and made me grow in ways I wasn't expecting but most certainly welcome.

As I said earlier...  all the TNT honorees I've spoken and shared with have been and continue to be examples of courage and determination.  We will help find a cure!

To my mom who, despite all her complaints, called me on Sunday and then again on Monday and both times her question was how did you do? How are you feeling? Mom, you've always been the enabler and the one who pushes me to do things when I'm not feeling like  it. Now that we're no longer next to each other, I have to take some of that initiative for myself. Thank you for being the model that is worth following.

And finally to all my friends who have been so supportive, particularly to the triathlon ladies in California (Sue Ellen, Marci, Laura Breiten and Katy Robinson), Drew, Stephanie, Sara,  Laura Planting, Whitney, Mark Hopkins, Peter, Keeley and anyone else who I may be forgetting (and I deeply apologize for any omission). Thank you for all your support at a distance.... It means the world to know you still care enough to write and cheer me up.

What's Next?

Right now I'm at the chill stage. Scheduled a 90 minute massage for 10/10 and intend to go back to working out with a trainer to (re)build core strength and flexibility.

I'll slowly start picking up distance swimming, running and biking.... not too hard or too far but enough to keep my body from going to hybernation before January 8.

January 8th or thereabouts I'll start training for IM Arizona 2011! I am still determined to do an Iron Distance (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycling and 26.2 mile run) race before my 40th. May as well start doing it now 🙂

The week before

D-8. Long Ride (20 miles)

It was another awesome ride. It took me this long to put my nutrition in order. If there's one thing that I like about Carrollton is the variety of rides you can plan for a given distance... It felt like I was riding back in California with all the shade and the breeze.

Can only hope that temperature stays in the 80s next weekend.

Song(s) for the day: Uncharted, Sara Bareilles

D-7 Long Run (5 - 7 miles)

Ended up doing the 5 mile option. I think I'm finally learning to pace the run. Except for the first mile or so where according to my iPhone GPS I was doing a sub 8 minute mile (!) I managed to stick between 10 and 12 minute mile for the whole run. I was amazed at how well I felt after the run. No unusual pain and muscles were tired but not sore when I got home to my cold shower.

Trying to decide if I want to purchase a belt to carry my race number for the run

Song(s) for the day: These are the days (Jo Dee Messina)

D-6 EZ Swim

It was a short and weird swim today. It was short but it also brought a lot of thoughts to the front of my mind. How many times do we stop and are thankful for having the options and chances that we do?

How many times do we stop and just be thankful for being healthy enough to take the beating of triathlon training and racing? I know we all put ourselves through an insane amount of pain and we look forward and welcome it.... We take for granted that we'll be healthy and that we'll be able to push as hard as humanly possible.

How many times do we stop to be thankful for having the means to train and participate on a really expensive sport? If you start adding the cost of stuff then it all adds up to the scary level... and I'm not talking of top of the line gear. For that you better have a sponsor because the bikes can be as expensive as a car.

How many times do we stop to thank God for the people who have shaped our lives... And appreciate them while we have them with us

Song(s) for the day: Just the way you are (Diana Krall)

D-5 EZ Bike/Run

D-4 EZ Swim


D-2 On My Way To Augusta

D-1 Last Minute Things And Inspiration Dinner

Packing is a bitch. Even more so packing for triathlons... I always think I forgot something and, even if I didn't, the level of added stress is not what I need when I'm trying not to freak out about a hundred other things.

On the other hand it's helped crystalize the fact that the event is here and that, ready or not, I'll have to do my best I can.

I am back to 90% committed to Iron Team. Not just because it's one of the biggest challenges I've attempted but also because the cause is worth the effort. The people whom I know who are barreling or have battled cancer deserve my best effort to fund a cure. Those who didn't make it deserve to know that it'll never happen again.

I'll do another post for race day 🙂

Different Perspective

Triathlon Mass Swim Start

Triathlon Mass Swim Start

Racking up bikes for triathlon

Racking up bikes for triathlon

Tirathlon Cycling Madness

Tirathlon Cycling Madness

About this time in the run is where I start asking myself why am I doing this?

About this time in the run is where I start asking myself why am I doing this?

Sometimes all you need is a kick in the ass, a reason to be ashamed for being such a wuss, and validation for what you're doing. I had all 3 today... The kick in the ass was a 40+ mile ride followed by a short run; the reason for being ashamed is this blog written by a mom to her 3-year old son who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia earlier this year and the validation was feeling that I wanted to do it all over again.

Last week's training was really crappy and I felt disappointed and questioned if I really wanted to do this as it's taking a lot out of me in the emotional department. I'm still homesick and I don't think that's going to change any time soon. Just as I still miss people and places in Chile almost 20 years after I left I'll always miss people and places in California...

The pictures above are a reminder of why I do this beyond wanting to help LLS. It's fun and it's challenging and I've got yet to figure out where my limits are and whether I can push through them or not... plus I keep reminding myself that I'd do IronTeam before I turn 40; there's not much time left... I'll be 37 by the time IM Arizona comes around.

Then there's the people I'm doing this to honor. as much as it is a challenge for me it is also meant to honor those people who have fought and some who continue to fight cancer... people whose courage amazes me in ways that are impossible to explain with just words.

I've always said that I'm a better person for having shared my life and my training with them. It is now up to me to continue honoring their lives and their efforts.mPerhaps the hardest thing to see and learn about is when little kids going through chemo and radiation for blood cancers... The latest one to cross my way is Cooper's Diary; a blog written by a mom for her 3 year old son who was diagnosed with Leukemia earlier this year.

Credits for pictures used (in order of appearance)

All pictures taken from Flickr