Monday, September 24, 2012

Becoming a triathlete

If there is one thing that I have learned in the past three weeks, it's that life is short and you should live life to it's fullest.

I spent the summer following a beginners triathlon plan out of Triathlete Magazine's Guide to Finishing Your First Triathlon.  This is an excellent book if you are at all looking into competing in your first triathlon, I highly recommend it. My goal race was not until April 2013, but the idea was to follow the plan and see if I could at least get the 6 workouts in a week the training called for. I chose to do it over the summer knowing that if I could get the workouts in or get close to getting them all in when both kids were home, I could for sure get it done in the Spring with them in school. For the most part it went well, there was only one period over the summer (the height of swim team competition for my daughter) where I fell off the training wagon, luckily I had enough of a base built that I picked up where I left off with no problems.

Two weeks ago my friend Molly asked if I wanted an intro to open water swimming. Of course I did! While my first tri was going to be a pool swim, I knew if it went well I would want to try one with an open water swim also. We swam at Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton and did a quick bike ride that happened to be part of the bike course of many of the tri's that take place in the area. It was a great day and really built my confidence.  It built my confidence so much that I decided I wanted to do the Tri that was being held there two weeks later. I kept this idea a secret while I really pondered it. Finally, a couple of days later I sort of threw the idea out there. Since it seemed to be received well by those whose opinions counted the most (Molly and my husband) I signed up. While I never had a "what the fuck am I thinking?" moment, I did realize that this was way out of character for me. I plan everything way in advance (obviously, I started training for a tri 9 months ahead of time). The idea that I signed up for a triathlon 10 days prior to the event is kind of funny for anyone who knows me. But I also knew that I had trained all summer and I felt fairly confident that I could cross the finish line.

All of four people knew I was doing this race. Mostly because I didn't feel comfortable putting it out there and I wasn't sure how I would do. I also was so busy in those 10 days with other things that I really did not have too much time to actually think about it or freak out about it. I did thankfully, with the help of Molly write a race plan and write out a gear list to be sure that I had everything I would need. Let's just say I'm an over packer in general and the same applies to racing.

Trying to sort it all out

 I had goals that I hoped to meet overall and for each leg of the event. In general I knew what I could swim 400 yards in time wise in a pool, but I  also knew I would be slower in the open water with a wet suit and having to factor in the run from the beach to transition. I hoped to finish somewhere somewhere between 10 and 12 minutes. For the bike, I looked at some of my recent rides and the Duathlon that I did in May, I targeted an average speed of 13 mph for the bike. I know, I'm slow! For the run, I had no idea what to expect, I knew I would not be running anywhere near close to my 5k PR time, I knew the run course was difficult but I was still hopeful for a decent run, I was targeting a 10:45 overall pace.

Race morning came and the alarm went off at 4:30am. I was planning on getting to the race site when the gates opened at 6am to try and get a good spot in transition. I arrived at about 5:55am and Molly was already there and said transition wouldn't open until 6:30am. One of those little details they had left out. Shortly after Mary Sue arrived. They must have grown tired of the growing number of people trying to get into transition because they finally opened it up. Molly scouted a great rack very close to the bike in/out and the run out. It was a great spot. We got all of our gear set up before most of the masses arrived.

Best two people to race with! 

With transition all set up I headed out to see if the swim buoys were out. they were not, but it sure was pretty.

I walked through the swim in and chose the shortest route from there to my transition spot. Then mentally walked through the bike out/in and run out. After that it was time to get body marked! I had no problem remembering my bib number but had to stop and think a minute about my age!

 After that it was time to put the wet suit on and head over the athlete meeting. We were given some instructions about the swim, basically if you touch a lifeguards surf board or jet ski they pull you out and you're done. Okay, there is something for me to worry about since my sighting is not the best, try not to accidentally swim into the surfboard thus ending your day. there were some instructions about the bike course and a portion where no passing would be allowed. Okay, going to try and remember that one.

Yes, a little giddy for my first triathlon

Eventually it was time for all of us to make our way over to the beach. They had the first wave of 50+ age group swimmers in the corral and ready to go. We actually thought they had been sent off when we saw some swimming so we got in to do our warm-up. It was only when were done with our warm-up that we realized they had not been sent off. Hmm, okay we hung out in the water for a while because it was warmer there. After what seemed like a really long time we got out of the water and discovered that there was an issue with the bike course that was trying to be resolved. Finally at 8:30am a half hour after the first wave was to go off we got the word that we would be starting at nine due to some changes in the bike course. They had to cut out an entire section due to some construction that had taken place the night before. We were advised the course would now be 10 miles. Okay, fine by me, can we just get started! I wasn't panicky, but sitting around for an extra hour sure made the excitement dissipate.

Finally it was our turn, my plan was to swim to the right of the buoys so that I wouldn't get swum over and just in general try to avoid the melee. In hindsight, this was a poor choice. Apparently everyone else had the same idea! I had to run through water further than I would have liked because that's what the women in front of me were doing, I finally found a spot and just dove in. I was not panicked at all and I didn't feel like my heart rate was super high but in general I was uncomfortable. I started to breaststroke because I was wedged between two people who kept stopping. Note to self: this is why people swim over other people. Every time I would try to swim freestyle I was getting whacked, I looked up to see that the person in front of me was swimming back stroke and this was causing a problem for me, the person next to her saw her and said "oh, good idea" and started doing backstroke also, now I was wedged behind and between backstrokers. Not good, I actually slowed down to get out from my predicament and started to swim closer to the buoy to make the first turn. This was much harder than I had anticipated. I was doing way more breaststroke than I wanted, but every time I started swimming freestyle I kept getting water up my nose from all the splashing that was going on around me. At some point I realized that breaststroke was going slow and felt physically more difficult than freestyle. So I tried my hardest as I made the last turn to just do freestyle. Of course I got knocked around to which one woman actually said "sorry!" Which made me laugh and smile. Then I got clocked good but composed myself looked around and saw that we were close to the beach. I hunkered down and swam hard all the way until both my hands were touching the sandy bottom, I knew I passed several women who were wading through the water while I swam, so thank you Molly for that tip!

I exited the water and was a mess. totally exhausted. I walked up the beach until I could get the top half off my wet suit off and then jogged up to transition. Got to my rack and took my suit off and sat down, yes I sat down to put socks and shoes on, it was just easier and probably faster since I was shaky. Put my helmet on, sunglasses and tried to find somewhere to toss my wet suit that wouldn't hinder anyone else. I also had to put my garmin on and start it since I don't have a multi-sport watch. It took extra time but I wanted to wear it because I wanted to be sure I maintained my goal paces for the bike and run. Out of transition I clipped in pretty fast considering I'm still a newbie with the clipless pedals and was off. I passed one person coming up the hill out of the park and headed out on the straightaway. I was told to go easy for the first 3 miles to let my heart rate calm down and get comfortable. I ended up not needing that much time. I felt pretty good early on and started following my nutrition plan on the bike. I was passing people on the bike, okay mostly people who were on mountain bikes or hybirds, but at least I was passing people. I also got passed but I was riding faster than my goal pace and feeling very comfortable so I was very happy. Since it turns out we were riding the same course that Molly and I rode 2 weeks prior, I knew the bike would be shorter than 10 miles. If I remembered correctly it was more like 8.5 miles. As we approached the only other hill on the course I was ready to power it up, sadly the women in front of me were not and were having a difficult time shifting. I ended up having to go into the lane to pass them, but was pretty happy to pass a couple of women going up the hill, when I looked down I realized I was still in the middle ring! Take that hill! After that I knew it would be an easy ride back into transition. As we came back into the park I passed a couple more cyclists coming down the hill, unclipped and dismounted and ran into transition.

Once in transition another athlete asked where the run out was, I turned around to point it out to her and then lost my own train of thought and tried to rack my bike on the wrong rack. Luckily I realized that was not my towel on the ground and headed down to the next rack. Took off my gear, threw on my shoes and the thing that took me the longest was resetting my watch to run. I grabbed my visor, race belt and gel and ran out of transition with it in hand. Once on the course I put my visor on, race belt on and shoved the gel in pocket. Another great transition tip from Molly! I had taken in good fluids and chews on the bike to fuel for the run, the gel was a just in case scenario knowing the run course would be difficult, let's just say I'm glad I brought it. Shortly after starting the run course there is a fairly large hill. I took one look at it and knew I would be walking it. At this point I was exhausted but I also knew I had it in me to walk the entire run course if I had to and I would still finish my first triathlon. As soon as we hit the top I started to run again. there were a few more ups and downs and at some point I decided taking that gel might be a good idea, so I did. I do believe it helped because I finally found a nice run pace that I could manage. It wasn't my goal pace, but I had ended up having a better bike pace then planned so I figured it was okay if my run pace was off, plus we did start an hour later than planned and it was getting hot. There was one last hill and then it was all flat. My body was really happy with that and I found a pace I felt I could hold. I told myself to run until mile 2 and take a short walk break, which I did. I could tell by the mile marker signs that the course was going to be short based on my Garmin. So I knew that that I could make it in without another walk break. I found that happy pace, I knew I was negative splitting my miles and that sounded good to me. A big downhill and then the final stretch. The course photographer was there yelling at me to sprint for her, so I did! Ugh, okay I sprinted too early and did not have much left for the finish line but I still had a huge smile on my face!

I have to say that with exception of the swim, I think I had a smile on my face the entire time, even through the difficult run! I recently joined Forward Motion Race Club and hadn't had the chance to meet anyone yet, but got so many shouts of support on the course from other race club members that it just totally made my day and kept me smiling.

I'm so pleased with my results. Even with not being able to hold the run pace I had hoped to, my swim was in line with my goals, my bike was better than my goal and I felt good about being able to negative split the miles on the run. Overall, I'm really pleased with how I performed for my first triathlon. It also means that I can go into 2013 confident that I can do the Moraga Triathlon which will be an easier swim, more difficult bike and probably equally challenging but longer run.

Many thanks to Trisports who without their support may have never even considered doing a triathlon! My good friend Molly for always being ready to answer any question I may have and basically coaching me through my first triathlon! Mary Sue for bringing champagne to the race for me, everyone needs a friend like that! Many thanks to my family for giving me the me time to do all of this crazy stuff!

Final Stats:

Swim: 11:17
T1: 2:21
Bike: 34:51
T2: 1:13
Run: 31:35


55/90 AG
285/437 OA

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Let's ROC (AKA Run to Break the Silence)

I should have taken an after picture, we were a mess. 

This is my third year in a row of doing the Ovarian Cancer Run in Sacramento. And I think this is the third name change of the event. I noticed a couple of months ago that the race was now being backed by a new non-profit that also focuses on education and early detection of Ovarian Cancer. It looked the format was all going to be the same so I convinced Scott to run it with us this year.

This event is always fun but it's kind of a love/hate relationship, because it starts at 5:30pm in Sacramento in September. It's difficult to eat for an evening race and I mostly focus on just trying to get enough fluids the day of. I felt like I had hydrated really well since I couldn't make the drive to Sac without having to stop to use the bathroom.

I've told myself over and over that this is not a race that I can earn a 5k PR on. the course is awesome and flat but the late day and heat always play a factor in my performance. I calculated out what I would need to do for a 5k PR and made a mental note of last years time.

As soon as we got out of the car at the race site I had the doom and gloom feeling. It was really hot. I don't know the exact temperature, but I think it was somewhere around 95-97 degrees. I already felt that suffocating feeling in the air. As we made our way over to the start we lined up about 3 seconds back from the start line. There are a lot of walkers at this event so it's important to get in front of all of them. After a last kiss goodbye we were off. I was keeping an eye on my watch and I was running an 8:30 pace which I knew was too fast, but I had also set my watch to 5 minutes of running and 1 minute walk intervals to factor in the heat. I thought maybe I could hold that pace during my run intervals with the 1 minute of walking to recover. Yeah, that lasted for basically the first interval. My running pace slowed down and I as I approached the 1 mile marker I knew there would be no 5k PR (a silly thing to even let come into my head) but I could still earn a course PR. I walked through the first aid station took a couple of sips to try and cure the ridiculous dry mouth that always accompanies this course and dumped the rest on my head. Back at it. It was just so freaking hot and the course meanders through sun/shade the entire time. By this point my interval plan was not working at all, I was getting a side cramp and I still had cotton mouth. I started having to walk more and as I approached the last aid station I managed to drink about 1/2 of it and dump the other 1/2 on my head. It's at this part of the course with probably .65 miles to go that you begin to just not give a shit. It doesn't matter what goals I set or what I would like to do my body just says please stop torturing me. My heart rate was really high even when I was walking and I started to get a tingly feeling in my arms. Hmm, that can't be good. I started doing shorter intervals to make sure that I was really physically okay, I didn't want to collapse at the finish line. I knew how much further I had to go and I was sad because I thought, crap, I'm not even going to beat last years time. As I made the final turn to head in with .10 miles to go I started to run again. There are very few races where I have nothing left to give at the end, but I had nothing. Nothing left for a sprint and barely enough to just get there. I spotted Scott on the side lines and he was cheering for me and trying to motivate me to run faster and I just shook my head "no" at him. If I tried to go any faster someone would be picking me up off the asphalt. I tried to just focus on being steady and consistent as I came in. I managed a 6 second course PR, far from what I had hoped to do but there is always next year.

This run is like childbirth, I must block all of those painful memories out because I always forget just how difficult this race is.

The one positive to this race is that there are a lot of walkers which always help your stats! I pulled off a top 10 in my age group with finish time that is 4.5 minute off my 5k PR.

Final Stats

10/54 AG
109/657 OA

Scott had a great day
6/27 AG
29/657 OA

Saturday, September 15, 2012

One last farewell

We have felt a pretty deep layer of sadness at our home over the past 10 days. It felt pretty much like everything was on hold until we get through Thursday. I had a huge to do list piling up but my one and only task was to get through Thursday so that we could honor a man who made the ultimate sacrifice.

I was up at 5:30am on Thursday to get ready for Kenyon's funeral. We are so very fortunate that my Mother-in-law was able to come and take care of the kids and the midweek routine so that we could be on the road by 7:30am.

I myself have never been to a law enforcement funeral. I remember sitting at home and watching the service on television in 2009 for the four OPD members who were killed in the line of duty. I cried through the entire service as I'm sure so many did. While I had a good idea what to expect nothing could have prepared me for the amount of support that would be shown on Thursday to Kenyon to honor his sacrifice and his life.

As we headed out we ended up behind a Stanford Sheriff patrol car that we followed all the way up. Once we got on 80 the over passes were filled with Fire Fighters and Police staging for the procession that would come past. The Officers saluted every patrol car that passed by.

Shortly after we passed the staging area where the limos were lined up for the family. I was in tears already at all of this show of support and we weren't even there yet.

Traffic started to back up onto 80 as we all tried to make our way to The Mission. We were now behind a convey of patrol cars who all had their lights on in a show of respect, more tears. As we got closer we passed a side street that was filled with Highway Patrol cars lined up and ready to join the procession. I just was in awe, I have never in my life seen so many officers and patrol cars, it really just took my breath away. As we approached The Mission we saw this on our left side.

And this as we pulled into the parking lot.

Once we arrived we tried to find a spot to sit. Priority to inside seating was given to Contra Costa office employees and Golden Gate Division, the two areas that Kenyon worked. After that priority was given to allied agencies who had responded that day. We were lucky to find a spot and sat and watched in awe at the great distance that so many departments had traveled to pay their respects. There were officers from as far as Alaska and New York and everywhere in between. Every where I looked I was overwhelmed with emotion.

I was not expected to be so moved by Commissioner Farrow's eulogy. While I thought I had prepared myself as best I could for the emotions I would feel, nothing would have prepared me for Officer Tyler Carlton to get up and speak. I can't even begin to imagine what this man is going through. His courage and strength to get up and speak about his partner and share with us his feelings is beyond anything I can put into words. I hope he knows that he is a hero to all of us for his brave actions that day. The entire room gave him a standing ovation after he said goodbye to Kenyon.

There were so many great stories shared that day and they filled the room with laughter and tears. I think Chief Becher summed it up best when she said "I've never known how my heart could be so broken and so full at the same time." It was amazing to hear the stories of that fateful day and the countless people who came to his aid. An intensive care doctor who happened to be traveling in the other direction and made it over all 4 lanes of the freeway to come to his aid. This doctor would later become Kenyon's primary physician at John Muir Medical Center. All of the people who stopped to help and all of the first responders on scene that day made it possible for Kenyon's entire family to say goodbye as well as for his organs to be donated.

The most important thing that I pulled from Thursday was when Kenyon's oldest son, Alex got up to speak. Seeing and listening to him speak about his Father gave me this comfort that he is going to be okay and he is going to go on and do great things with his life.

At the conclusion the vast amounts of CHP and allied agencies lined up to salute and say their final goodbye's to a hero.

RIP Kenyon, we will never forget.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sad day

I don't talk about it much, but I'm married to a Chippy. I remember the day 14 years ago when he told me he wanted to get involved in law enforcement. My response was "I'm not marrying a cop". Fast forward to today and he's a Sergeant with the CHP, and obviously I did indeed marry him. I've always been proud of him and his accomplishments, there have been many along the way. In the beginning people always asked me if I worried. I think I spent a lot of time living in denial. There were some scary things that happened, but I always found out after the fact when he was home safe. I also trust in him and the training he received from one of the most respected law enforcement agencies in the US.

Today with two young children I find comfort in the fact that he is currently off the road working in other capacities for the department. But no matter what you do, tragedy is always lurking around the corner.

Yesterday we were hit with the heartbreaking news that an officer from the Contra Costa Office and a friend was shot during a routine traffic stop. A routine traffic stop on 680 in the Walnut Creek/Alamo area. I won't post much more than that since the investigation is under way, and in the days and weeks to come more will be revealed. I will say, it was senseless and tragic. It's beyond my ability to comprehend why people disregard life in this way.

I'm thankful for our CHP family, we will pull together and support his family, that's the CHP way. You might be wondering how you can help, if you are, thank you. In the days to come I'm sure there will be more information on how you can directly help his family. The best way you can help our Chippy's is to support the organizations that support us. The 11-99 Foundation is a very important foundation that provides assistance to members of the California Highway Patrol and their families in times of crisis. The term 11-99 is the radio call signal that an officer needs assistance, it's the most dreaded call signal an officer can hear. Another great organization to support is the CAHP Widows and Orphans' Trust Fund.

Thank you for all of the thoughts and prayers for the officer and his family. Thank you for the calls and messages to check on our family, it means more than I can express.