Monday, August 11, 2014

Iron Girl: Pleasant Prairie Sprint Triathlon (My 1st Tri EVER!)

I started out Saturday morning feeling like CB..
I wanted to go cycle outside and do one last OWS before the Triathlon Sunday, but wasn't feeling it. After hitting SNOOZE a few too many times I got out of bed and rode to Lake Michigan. By then it was too late for a decent cycling trip due to the marathon training groups/crowds, so I tried to cycle hard to the Lake to compensate for it.
It was a beautiful morning and I was slightly more excited to swim after seeing the sunrise.
I went without wetsuit because the water was a "warm" 72 deg, and because I wanted to practice swimming without it since I wasn't going to be using it for the race.
The water was choppy, like crazy chaos choppy with 2-4' waves, and I just wasn't into it, so I swam for 11 minutes and then went home to pack before taking the train to go meet KIM.
My trusty knobby tired, 15 year old Hybrid looking nice on the rack.

Packet pickup was a breeze and I found a decent place to rack my bike. I also tried to ignore the bikes on my rack and look for other distinguishing landmarks so I would be able to find my bike easily during the race the next morning.
Luckily I was in the middle row, about halfway back in front of a large light pole. SCORE! Super easy to remember where my bike was.
"You mean I have to swim from THAT shore to THIS shore??"

We got up early to head over to Pleasant Prairie. I was a bit nervous by this point because I wasn't just running, or going to the pool, but I was now about to swim, bike, and run consecutively and had to ensure I was on point with setting up my transition area + remembering all my essential items for each discipline.

It was overwhelming. I really didn't know what to expect.
Sunrise over the Rec Plex, Pleasant Prairie.

I set up my transition area and went over it 20 times. I envisioned what I would need for each part of the race, and tried to keep it simple. I stuffed my snacks, gloves, sunglasses and chapstick inside my helmet and stuffed my socks inside my shoes so I wouldnt forget anything.
My sweet Specialized hybrid ready for its 1st triathlon and 2nd race ever + my transition area.

Once transition was closed we began the LONG walk to the other side of the lake for the swim start. I was getting more and more nervous at this point. I really had no idea what to expect for the swim. And the thought of getting kicked, caught up in the crowd, running out of breath IN THE MIDDLE OF A FREAKING LAKE was super intimidating.

I tried to remain as calm as possible because worrying and thinking of "what ifs" is just a big waste of energy and takes up valuable mental space. I thought about why I was participating in this race and how I wanted this day to go.
Completing a triathlon has been a goal of mine for a very long time. I used to watch my daad participate in Tri's back in the day, and was always inspired. I get teary eyed every single time I watch an Ironman on TV. (Half and Full Ironman races are on my bucket list too).

When I got peroneal tendinosis/itis for the 2nd time and decided to give PT a try, I promised myself that I would remain active and try to keep my fitness up as high as possible while rehabbing the cankle. I started cycling a ton, and eventually added in swimming. Soon after I got the brilliant idea to put all this cross training to good use and scratch "complete a triathlon"off of my list. Since I was usually training for a fall marathon, I never felt it was a good idea to compete in a triathlon for risk of possible injury.

So funny that once I was injured, I decided to give Triathlons a try.
3+ months ago I had a decision to make: either be depressed I couldn't train for another marathon in my favorite time of the year to run, or make the best out of a bummer of a situation. I chose the latter. I cycled my ass off most weeks, and forced myself to swim and didn't run for a while to let my cankle heal. This triathlon was going to be a celebration of being patient and smart.  Plus I was really needing to do something competitive even if I wasn't going to "race", since I miss running and the electric atmosphere of a race so much!

My only goal for this race was to have fun.
I have to swim to the other side of this lake?!?! 

I chatted with Kim and Bobbi pre race and  got a little silly waiting around for my wave to start.
Awkward pose a la "Style" bloggers.

15 minutes before my wave I went into the water to warm up a bit. I swam a little and hung out in the water visualizing the swim. I knew the 1/2 mile swim was going to be a huge challenge for me and knew i needed to stay focused and calm for it to be a success.
Having a blast with Kim and Bobbi pre race.

I lined up for the swim on the far right (slower traffic on the right...)but near the front. The horn sounded and a myriad of purple caps ran into the water. I felt ok at first but within a quarter mile I was starting to feel like I was suffocating so I started my hybrid doggie paddle/breast stroke to calm myself. It was in the middle of the lake I had a "come to Jesus meeting." I was starting to panic. I was in the middle of a F*cking lake, couldnt touch bottom, and was fatigued. I wanted out. NOW. But I used my special jedi mind tricks to calm myself, HTFU and carry on.

By the half way point or a little later, I regained composure and was able to get into a nice rhythm of 10 strokes, 5-10 breaths while doggie paddling. I started passing purple caps, and some folks from the wave in front of me, and the wave that started 10 minutes ahead of me! CRAZY.
It was ridiculously encouraging to start hearing the cheering of the spectators- which signaled I was starting to get close to being done. I turned around and saw the shore I had come from was getting further away. When I finally touched bottom with my hands I stood up to walk out of the water and head into T1. When first stepped onto the sand I started crying.

I had just accomplished something that 8 weeks ago scared the shit out of me.

1/2 mile Swim: 18:57
-32/112 AG
-333/1049 OA
The whole run to transition I was full of emotion- elation that I just completed the swim!

Transition 1 went as well as I expected. I took my cycling gloves and tried to brush the sand off of my feet with them before putting on my shoes/socks. I stuffed my snacks into my pockets. Put my helmet and sunglasses on, and put some body glide on my legs/tailbone and bike seat (just in case my leg would chafe again).  I grabbed my bike and ran to the transition exit.

T1: 2:28
-37/112 AG
-328/1049 OA
The bike also went as expected. I tried to keep my distance and ride 4 lengths behind the person in front of me if I wasnt passing them. It was a little strange to be passing people, and being passed at the same time. The course was full of rolling hills but nothing too crazy. There was also some wind, but I dont think it impeded me at all. Around mile 3 I realized I had left my cycling gloves in transition.. Oh well.

At mile 4 I ate my chia squeeze pouch. Around mile 8 I ate a fruit bar. I drank half of my bottle of Osmo. I was pushing hard because I had very low expectations for the run due to the cankle and wanted to give a good effort and wreck my legs.

Before the race I had anticipated I would hold a 15-16 mph pace for the 12 mile ride.*

12 Mile Bike: 42:22, 17mph*
-55/112 AG
-472/1049 OA

*Later on I was shocked to see I averaged 17mph. I thought 16mph would have been a stretch on my knobby tire hybrid. Kim and I were speaking later on about this and her Garmin read 11 miles. My cyclometer which was spot on at mile 5 had registered 10.95 miles. So averaging 15.5 for 11 miles sounds a lot more plausible than 17mph. I know in years past people have questioned the distance of the bike course in this race. Clearly it was short of the advertised 12+ miles. But I don't care all that much... 
I dismounted my bike and ran it straight to my transition spot. took off my helmet and threw on my race belt and ran out of T2.  This was super easy especially since I didn't have to change shoes.

T2: 55 seconds
-3/112 AG
-21/1049 OA
I started running and my legs felt like jello. My original plan was to walk/run the 5K. After a few minutes I looked at my timex (yup, going old school here since my Garmin is useless on the bike/swim) and saw 3:00. I debated starting to walk, but I was feeling good and my ankle was feeling fabulous. So I continued running not having any idea what pace I was going, but kept it relatively easy.
Photos by Bobbi

The course went around the lake and had a small out and back portion on gravel. I took water at the aid station and also on the way back. It's probably the first time in a while I've actually taken water during a 5k. But I was SOOOOO thirsty and hot. The first mile was 7:45! I forget what the subsequent miles were but I was constantly reminding myself to keep it easy and not over do it. 
I was fully prepared to stop and walk if my ankle started escalating. Miraculously it felt normal. Like pre injury normal. At mile 1, I realized if I kept around an 8:00 pace I could potentially break 1:30 so I kept chugging along.   For the 5k it seemed like 97% of the participants were walking which was mind boggling to me. And that was awesome because I must have passed 200+ people during those 3 miles many of them being the 30-34 age groupers! Yep, the competitive side of me started coming out... lol.
I LOVE this photo that Steven took (Kim's Husband). 

I kicked it in to the finish and saw Bobbi, Steven and Kim spectating, and felt like I was gonna hurl, luckily I didn't. I received a medal, turned down chocolate milk, took a water and headed back to where they were spectating.

5k run: 25:08 
-5/112 AG 
-53/1049 OA
Kim and I post race, She KILLED it on the bike portion of her relay!!

I felt super foggy once I finished.  I was actually more excited that I had completed the 1/2 mile swim than the entire race because I knew that the bike/run would be a piece of cake and that the swim would give me the biggest challenge. (It didn't disappoint!)  Completing a triathlon has been on my radar for years- and to finally accomplish that goal felt so satisfying. At the same time the competitive side of me was all "but if I learn how to swim much better, had a road bike, and could actually run..."  Eh, I'll save that for when I am 100% healthy and for when I buy a road bike. Im not overly enthusiastic on signing up for another triathlon right now.
Some things I would improve on should I ever TRI again...

I think my fueling overall was ok. I ate a fruit bar brand: "that's it" and a chia squeeze 45 minutes pre swim. I ate another "That's it" bar and another chia squeeze pouch on the bike. I also drank half my Osmo during the bike portion. I realize now I should have drank a lot more, because I felt pretty depleted and dry like a toast for the run. I also should have taken some salt tabs because I got a raging headache a few hours later that took entirely too long to go away after taking 2 aleve.  I should have known better than to not take salt if I was working out in the heat. I will remember for next time...
While we were waiting to get let back into transition (they don't let you in until all the bikes have returned) the final lady arrived on the bike. The crowd erupted into applause and encouraging cheers for this lady as she got ready to start the run. When she left for the run everyone started cheering again for her. It made me tear up seeing the camaraderie for our fellow triathlete. I later saw on the IG Pleasant Prairie facebook page that she had finished- it was her first triathlon.

What I found really interesting about this race was that it was full of all body types, all fitness levels, all ages-  everyone going for the same goal. People you wouldn't expect to be fast (solely based on appearance) were kicking major ass and flying by more "fit" looking people. It was incredible and humbling. Everyone was so encouraging to each other-  I lost track of how many high 5's I gave out on the 5k during the out and back portions.

I really feel like I couldn't have picked a better first triathlon to participate in.
This weekend I'll remember forever. I got to spend time with good friends and got to challenge and show myself that I can do anything, even things that scare the shit out of me!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Birthday/ Lollapalooza hangover

So if going to The Aviary and the Beer Camp Across America wasn't enough, we continued birthday celebrations into the following week. Monday was a delicious dinner at Tapas Valencia, followed by a surprise party for the birthday boy.  I've never organized a surprise party before and it turned out wonderful! So much fun was had. Maybe too much fun and beers and pinball that lasted waaaay too late into Tuesday night (or early Wednesday morning) but who's keeping track?
Wednesday night we went to "Jazzin at the Shedd." It was fun seeing the animals in a more relaxed environment. I mean we walked around lamenting on how sad the animals looked with wine and beer in our hands. It was fun, really.
My favorite attraction at any and all aquariums are the Jellies!
The sawtooth shark even came out for a rare swim around the tank.

Thursday was a much needed rest day only to be followed by 3 days of LOLLA.
We kicked off the start of Lolla in proper fashion- with shitty Bud Straw-ber-itas. Cheers y'all.

Only to be followed up by my worst nightmare. A near panic attack at the first show.

I hate crowds. I hate people bumping into me. I get ragey. And I should have known better than to stand halfway back in the Iggy Azalea show. Suddenly we found ourselves completely surrounded with more people pushing to get to WHERE?!? because there was NO ROOM! I felt like I was drowning. I had to get out.
Iggy Azalea set
And we pushed our way through the crowds to get out.
More Iggy
After my freak out moment at the Iggy set, we decided to stay out of the crowds and enjoy the music and headed to a much less rowdy Interpol concert set.

We saw Lorde from a safe distance. She was AMAZING!
Next we saw Sander Kleinenburg. I liked their electronic music a lot.
And to wrap up day 1, we saw the Arctic Monkeys.

Day 2 came up waaaay too fast.
We watched: The Districts and Jungle. Both of which I've never heard of prior, but were good.
Then we listened to some Wildcat Wildcat before heading to RatKing.
Ratking was full of energy. We enjoyed a few of their songs before heading to watch Kate Nash.
We had VIP tickets. THANK YOU L. Which meant ALL THE DRINKS AND FOODS, a covered viewing area, and air conditioned bathrooms. Oh, it also meant we could use the shuttle service to get from one end of the park to the other. We only used the shuttle service once.


We saw Gramatik in a monster dust cloud and ran into Pete B.
We caught some of Nas before finishing out the day with Spoon.
Day 3 was probably my favorite.
We started out watching Kongos. They had a huge crowd which was surprising since it was so early in the morning.
Just as Kongos were finishing, we were finishing up our drinks and tacos in the VIP area to head out into the herd to watch the next group when it started POURING FREAKING RAINING.
Like torrential crazy downpour. I was so bummed because after researching Bomba Estereo in the morning, I really wanted to go up to the stage to watch them perform. I figured, the crowd would not be nearly as crazy for this Colombian rap/pop/electronic group as other groups performing. 
And it rained and rained and rained. And Bomba Estereo was killing their set with some awesome tunes. including an awesome verison of "Pump up the Jam."

And with 10 minutes to go the rain stopped and we went up to the stage.
The energy of this group was amazing. Their music was so fun.
Bomba Estereo was my favorite act out of the 3 days.
I was initially bummed that I only recognized 5-8 bands out of 100+ on the Lolla lineup a month ago.

But after researching many of the bands, and going to the Lolla concerts I found many more groups to add to my play lists.  It seems like a festival like this would be a great place to discover "new to you" bands. At least it was for me. I know Bomba Estereo will make me cycle faster and eventually run faster with their sick beats :)
Sunday was full of rain, and after watching Cage the Elephant and some of the Avett Brothers, the sky opened up again and showed no signs of stopping. We decided to take off and go home.
It was an amazing weekend with wonderful friends and great music and too many sweet memories to write down.

And I learned that despite my extreme aversion to crowds and wanting a seat in an air conditioned theater, that Lollapalooza is super fun.  Gosh, the people watching, the diversity of the bands, and the whole atmosphere is just something so crazy cool (and super difficult to put into words to effectively describe the experience.) You just have to go and experience it with an open mind.
Until next year, Lolla.