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Journey To the Finish Line

PR's, toddlers, hopes and dreams; I'm always running after something

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swimming

Training for Life, Motherf*cker (4/24-5/7)

April 24-April 30

Monday – treadmill tempo/yoga. 1 WU/3@7:23/1CD. Bryan had to leave for work earlier than usual so I drug the twins upstairs with the promise of some IPAD time to get my tempo run in. Miles walked on the treadmill after, and then we all hung out while I stretched 🙂

Tuesday – swim/ride. 2525m swim/9.6 mile ride. Starting to finally get used to getting up at 4:30am….kinda. My last kiddo of the day canceled so I hopped on my bike for 30 min after work and tried not to get hit by any cars. I’m kidding. I wasn’t close to getting hit. 

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Wednesday speedwork. 3x 1 mile repeats with WU and CD – 6 miles total. My computer still wants to autocorrect this to spadework. One day I might just leave the correction. It was a very warm evening and we got kicked off the track because of a soccer game, so I ran on the trail. I made the mistake of trying to run at 50-60 degree pace in 80+ degrees and completely bombed the last repeat (7:01, 6:57 7:31), which just goes to show you that if someone sends you  an email with suggested pace changes due to temperature, you should probably actually follow it. 

Thursday swim – 2500 meters. Still really early in the morning. Still torturous. 

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Friday long run. 9 miles@ 8:49/mile. It was already 75 degrees when I started. Ugh I am so not ready for summer. 

Saturday long ride/run. 25.36 miles @ 19.9mph/3 miles (2@ 8:20, 1@9:06). My legs could still feel the effects from the previous days long run. Even though the pace wasn’t fast the heat makes the long runs feel that much more tiring. So, it took me a bit to warm up and get them going, but I stayed with a smaller group even pulling a couple times without hearing too many sighs (not that I could have heard them anyway). Afterwards, I ran an “easy” 2 miles with John which turned out to be more like tempo pace for me given the temps, and then one actual easy mile, so I could round out April with an even 100 miles. 

Sunday rest day

May 1 – May 7

So I’ve decided that to avoid burnout (and injury) over the summer I’m going to train 3 weeks with a focus on speed at 7-8 hours per week followed by one cut back week doing whatever the hell I want. So welcome to week “whatever the hell I want”

Monday easy stroller run 5 miles @ 9:25/mile. Apparently so many runs I’ve had to stop and pee with the kids that Miles frequently asks me if I need to go. Today he didn’t, but I did need to stop….and then miraculously Abby did and so did he. Go figure. 

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Tuesday – swim/trainer ride. 2625 meters/30 minutes trainer. I actually got to swim on time this morning, but still didn’t come close to finishing the work out in its entirety. In fact, I picked the WRONG lane, and was lapped frequently. #guppy.  On the plus side, this was the first post swim work day that didn’t feel 80 thousand hours long. The bike was nothing to write home about, just trying to get some time in because I knew I wouldn’t be riding much more (ahem – at all) this week. Afterwards, the twins and I went for a walk, where Abby insisted her skirt wasn’t too big.

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It’s not too big-uh!

Wednesday speed. 6 x 400m with WU/CD. 5.25 miles total. I drug my poor unsuspecting neighbor out with me and now she won’t talk to me anymore. Kidding. But she may never run with me again. My splits were faster than they should have been because my quads were sore for 3 days, but I hit one split at a sub 6 (5:57)!

Thursday row. 4100 ish meters/25 minutes. Yeah, you read that right. I used a rowing machine. So I drove from Charleston to Virginia with a friend and flew home Thursday morning. They happened to have a rowing machine in their spare room so I jumped on at 4:30 am (which, insanely, doesn’t seem all that bad anymore) to get a quick easy workout in. 

Friday – rest day

Saturday 10k race plus short cool down. Definitely not my best thanks to some asthma and side cramp issues but it was still a fun race and I had a blast (recap to come).

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Sunday easy stroller run. 3 miles @ 9:25/mile. This run included bribery because my kids are now old enough that they want to run and walk themselves more than they want to be pushed. I’m wondering if my stroller days are numbered. 

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Training For Life, Motherf*cker (4/17-4/23)

Last post I wrote about how I wasn’t really training for anything, and Amy said she heard somewhere that if you’re not training for a specific race you’re “training for life”. That sounds better than “training for nothing” so we are going with that.

Monday – tempo run/ride. 1 easy/6 @ 7:35/1 easy.  8 total. The speedier runs in combination with the biking and swimming are a little easier but overall my legs still feel tired much of the time. I hit the paces but not without a few rest breaks, even with a temp below 60. 30 minute trainer ride/6 miles I needed to get my bike to the shop for a cleaning and to see if I needed new tires so I hopped on the trainer after the run so I’d at least get the 2 rides in. I’m not even going to share how slow I was going

Tuesday swim. 2500 meters. The swimming will get easier, right? RIGHT?

Wednesday speed. 6.25 miles with 5×1000 between 6:25-6:33. This run went surprisingly well. It was warm, but not TOO warm (around 75).

Thursday swim. 2800 meters. At some point I’m going to get used to getting up at 4:30 am right? RIGHT? I mean I’m not even trying to be an Ironman right now. I must be nuts.

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Friday long tempo. 8 miles @ 8:09.  The goal was 7:50 so that tells you how this run went. I did the first mile easy and then tried to pick up the pace, which went ok for 3 miles and then I was done. I tried one easy mile and the picked up the pace again, but my pace was 10 seconds off of goal so I ran the last two at my future goal marathon pace (8:15) and called it a day.

Saturday rest day

Sunday ride/run brick 25 miles @ 18.9 MPH. There was a larger group at this ride and I took it easy for most of it, but pulled for a couple segments at between 20-21mph to get a little speed in. 1.13 miles @ 8:35/mi. 

 

I’m Training for Nothing (4/10-4/16)

I’m not really training for anything, and it feels kinda weird. I still have a 10k in early May in mind, but it’s really going to depend on how warm it is. I guess I am “training” for the Charleston Sprint series?

I started swimming with the YMCA Masters group last week (I skipped the recap) but only swam once because of weather, so this week was the first week of getting up at 430 am both Tuesday and Thursday. Ya’ll, I am a morning person, but 430 is EARLY. 430 is still night time.

So what I’m planning through the summer is to keep up my tempo/speed/long runs probably 3 weeks out of the month and then do one easy week. I’m going to swim twice a week and ride twice a week. My focus will be mostly on running and swimming so my bike is going to take a backseat this season. But really, other than Kiawah my races are only 12 miles. This week was tough because I’m trying to add a good amount of swimming (2500m or more) twice a week in addition to riding AND my speedier run workouts.

Monday – tempo. 6 miles. 1.25 easy/3 @ 7:23/1.75 easy. This went fairly well, though I warmed up a bit longer than a mile so it threw my pace off for the faster part. I took one rest break and ran a 7:21, 7:17, 7:18.

Tuesday swim/strength 2500m swim/15 min leg workout. There was a big focus on kicking for the swim workout but I figured since I was wearing fins I didn’t need to worry too much. Then I got home and decided a 15 min leg workout was necessary, which I paid for dearly later.

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Wednesday  speed (ish). 6 miles with 4 x1200 and 400 recovery. I woke up and my quads were a little sore, which is never a good sign. I felt ok during my warm up, but once I started my 1200’s I knew I was going to be throwing my pace goals out the window. I was shooting to run them in a 6:42. I ran the first in 6:44 (not bad) and the second in 6:41, but thats only because I literally stopped and rested halfway through. The third was a 6:58 and the fourth a 7:10 – slower than my last 5k average page. My legs were just totally trashed.

Thursday swim. 2500 meters. 4:30 comes really really early. My legs were still tired. I felt them all day.

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Friday long. 9 miles progressive. 8:00 average. I woke up Friday and my legs were still tired, but at least no longer sore. My goal for the day was supposed to be 8 @ 7:50 but after Wednesday I decided to start easy and see how it went. The last thing I want to do is end up injured. So I started at a 8:35, ran the second and 8:20, and decided to try an easier progression. 8:35, 8:20, 8:12, 8:00, 8:01, 8:00, 7:49, 7:35, 7:23.

Saturday ride/run 25 mile ride @ 17.6 MPH/1.7 miles @ 8:56/mile I joined Tammie on her long ride, which was my first of the season. I’ve hardly been on the bike at all this year, honestly, and it was nice to get a good easy long ride in.

I took zero pictures this week, so if you’re still reading I’m impressed.

My Year in Running (and Triathlon) – 2016

Yeah, so it has been a long time since I’ve published a blog, and the vast majority of them this year were sparse, and fitness related. Part of me wonders if maybe the time has come to end the blog, but regardless I want to post my summaries of the year (fitness and not fitness) because it has been nice to read back on them.

1. My main goal for this 2016 was: to finish a Half Ironman, turned into a full Ironman, thanks to some pushy encouraging friends and a beer.

2. My Running Shoes: Mizuno Wave Inspire, changed to Wave Rider and the On Cloud by December

3. Favorite running gear item of 2016: Still the Garmin

4. Playlist screenshot: Too lazy for a screenshot- so here are my top 10 most played songs (usually while running)

  • The Weekend – Starboy
  • Twenty One Pilots – Heathens
  • Macklemore – Dance Off
  • Cutting Crew – I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight
  • Unspoken – Higher
  • Rasmus – In the Shadows
  • Katy Perry – Rise
  • Genesis – Land of Confusion
  • Marilyn Manson – Personal Jesus
  • Rachel Platten – Stand by You

5. Number of races- Break it down:
5k – 1 standalone (Nexton Cocoa Cup)
10k – 0
Half – 1 (Sweet Tea Half Marathon)
Marathon – 2 (Disney and Myrtle Beach Marathon)
Triathlons – 6 ( 3 James Island Sprints, 1 unofficial olympic and one Ironman)

 

6. Most difficult race & why: The Ironman, because it’s an Ironman.

7. Favorite fun run: none this year

8. Favorite course: eh, no favorites.

9. Race I want to run again: Nexton and Sweet Tea (no, not the Ironman, at least not anytime soon)

10. Best bling/shirt from a race: Beach to Battleship pajama pants!

11. PR/PB: Marathon – 3:45:08, Sprint Tri – 1:15:55, Ironman – 13:30 ish (the recap explains the “ish”)

12. Longest run: 26.2 miles

13. Out of state runs: Ironman race in Wilmington, NC

14. Total miles 

  • Run: 1, 184 (could finish around 1200)
  • Bike: 2, 555
  • Swim: 107

Just for fun (though not sure how accurate this is), Garmin says I’ve burned 207,000 calories. I’ve traveled 3,851 miles between everything, and spent over 430 hours training!

15. Favorite motivational/inspirational quote of 2016: To accomplish something extraordinary, one must have an extraordinary dream. A goal so high, a journey so demanding, that its achievement to most seems impossible. IRONMAN is a statement of excellence, passion, commitment. It is a test of physical toughness and mental strength. IRONMAN is about persevering, enduring and being a part of something larger than ourselves. It shows the heights that can be achieved when we push beyond our boundaries and go the distance to earn the title… IRONMAN!

16. Lessons I’ve learned: You can make time for anything if you want it badly enough.

17. Injuries I battled and overcame: NONE this year! WOO HOO!

18. 3-5 Most inspiring people: List their blog, twitter or instagram-wherever you follow them:

As lame as this sounds, I can’t pick just 3 people this year. I was inspired by everyone training for the Ironman with me.

19. Favorite place on social media to connect with runners: Facebook

20. 2 goals for next year: 1. PR the Half Marathon 2. PR the 5k (I’m good with some shorter races for awhile!)

You Are An Ironman (Race Part 2)

3 hours.

That was about all the sleep I got the night before the race. Although I went to bed around 9:30, I laid in bed for at least an hour, mentally going over everything I had packed. I had expected to be nervous about the race itself but was more concerned about whether I had forgotten anything or something going awry in the wee hours of the morning. The plan was for me to take Tracy’s car and park it at the convention center, text its location and leave my phone and anything else I didn’t need there so the rest of the group doing the half could get back without walking after their race. Suddenly, I worried about finding parking, wether the garage would even be open, I hope and oh crap, I should probably take cash to pay for the garage.

Silly. Well, except for the money part – that turned out to be smart.

I woke up once in the middle of the night and tried really hard not to look at the time, but I couldn’t help myself – just in case I had overslept somehow. I hadn’t. It was 1:30am, and then I was up for at least another hour.

My alarm went off at 3:45. I have never (nor will I ever again) shot out of bed so quickly at 3:45am.

I checked the weather. I know this is going to sound shocking, but it was still windy.

I put on my tri kit, and a long sleeve shirt and jeans on top. I had actually forgotten to pack extra clothes for the morning of so I just wore my jeans. In my morning clothes bag was my breakfast (a clif bar and a fig bar but I was too nervous to eat yet), water, goggles, wetsuit and swim cap, and I carried this bag and my run special needs bag with me. I threw some extra stuff in the car for my planned “bike again” and drove down to the convention center. There was plenty of parking, and yes the garage was open. From there I walked to the nearby Hilton and as luck would have it, happened to be walking up as Tammie was walking out, so we caught the shuttle together around 4:45.

I am still too nervous to eat. I’m looking around at others on the bus who seem, at least on the surface, pretty calm. I catch a glimpse of someone’s timing chip on his ankle and suddenly am washed with a wave of panic.

My timing chip. I. forgot. my. TIMING. CHIP. I am trying really hard stay calm while I tap Tammie on the shoulder and tell her I realized that not only had I forgotten it, I hadn’t given the damn thing a second thought after throwing it in my bag on Thursday. I thought I had dumped everything out but apparently hadn’t, and was so busy thinking about bike prep, food and supplies that it completely escaped my thought. So I’m mentally wondering if I can get by doing this race without any record of it, but then I realize that anyone trying to track me would likely panic as I had no way to contact anyone to let them know.  Luckily, I was sitting next to a very nice man, and this wasn’t his first rodeo, who calmed me down by saying that they’d have extras at the transition areas.

HOW THE HELL DO YOU FORGET YOUR TIMING CHIP?!?!

So the bus drops us off at T1. I take my hydration over to my bike and then roll it over for an air check and some lube since it had rained the night before. I have to suck up my pride then and find someone to ask if they have any spare timing chips because I’m an idiot, and luckily they have a whole box. I feel temporarily better that a whole box has got to mean that I’m not the only wierdo who forgot hers. Later someone makes an announcement about spare chips so this makes me feel almost normal.

Tammie and I run into Bill and Dena while dropping off my run special needs bag. Dena drove down to spectate and since we still had some time before the last shuttle left, we packed in her car and cranked the heat for a bit.

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I forced myself to eat some of my breakfast and after about 20 minutes we headed back towards the shuttles that would take us to the swim start. We stood in line for a few minutes and then boarded a PARTY BUS!

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This thing was complete with ceiling lights so those of us in the Summerville group danced around while everyone looked at us like we were nuts. The bus drove us to about a quarter mile from the swim start so we had to walk. There was some light wind but it was chilly since the temperature had dropped. All of the full athletes were gathered and changing into wetsuits. I made myself finish my breakfast, drink some water, and then changed myself.

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The walk to the start was chilly, mostly because the sand was cold. 14713727_10207510215500457_6628604959014918790_n

The water temp was about 74 degrees, but since the air temp was 50, the water felt fantastic.

The Swim

Distance: 2.4 miles

Goals: A – under 90 minutes. B – don’t die.

The swim is considered a “mass, rolling” start, so when the cannon went off I hung back for awhile to let all the faster people get head of me. I was nervous prior to crossing the timing mat, but once it did it was game on, and I was surprised to find that the swim was actually enjoyable. Yes, I did kick a few people and yes I got kicked a few times also, but I  never panicked, stayed calm, and tried to stick close to the buoys. The problem with that was that everyone else was trying to do the same thing so the areas near the buoys were much more crowded. I was nervous about the buoys being to my left since I sight to my right, but with so many other swimmers it was really impossible to get too far off course.

The swim is a straight shot down the channel, a left turn, another straight shot and then a small turn to the finish. I remember I had a hard time following the buoy colors. I knew yellow was the first few of the full distance and they turned to orange once we hit the half start. I thought red was turning but I swam straight past one. Then after we did turn I remember wondering how I managed to get  SO FAR to the right of the buoys – well it turns out they were angled instead of a 90 degree turn (which shortened the course some) so at least I wasn’t going crazy. Other than some mad wetsuit chafing – I didn’t practice swim with my tri suit on which was a BAD MOVE, and the wind once we made the turn – the swim was….dare I say it? Fun. Who’d have thought?

Swim Time: 1:12:36

T1

Goal: none really – I’m not here to win so I just took my time.

The exit required us to climb up a ladder and onto a dock where volunteers were helping pull us up. I expected my legs to feel jello-y but they weren’t bad. There was what felt like a long run to the transition area, with a stop at the wetsuit strippers. I had to stop and watch for a sec to figure out what I was supposed to do (lay on the ground and its pulled off inside out) but it was still way faster than it would have been had I tried to do it myself. After that I stood in the warm shower for longer than I probably  needed to, before heading to get my bag and into the changing tent.

So, note to self: next time just leave the wet bra on. I was worried about being cold with the wind but the extra effort to put a dry bra on a wet body was – well, comical. I flashed the whole tent for at least 2 minutes while I struggled to pull it down, until a nice volunteer offered to help (thank you!). I completely changed into dry clothes, wolfed down a peppermint patty (this worked wondered for the salt water taste!), dropped my bag off and headed for my bike.

T1 Time: 14:30

The Bike

Distance: 56 miles

Goal: A – 3:15 (but only if I could stay in Z2) B – don’t die. 

The first bit of the bike, though twisty, wasn’t bad. I got on the bike to realize that I had forgotten to eat the sandwich I had packed in my transition bag, so I was already a little behind on the nutrition, but I couldn’t really grab it out of my pocket because of all the turns. There was one section in particular everyone was warned about – at mile 1 and again at the end we had to ride over grates on these bridges. I had thought I might stop and walk but ended up following the crowd and just rode over slow and steady.

The bike course didn’t provide much scenery, but from what I understand, it was the part that was cut out that was supposed to be more country-like and scenic. What we did involved riding on a major highway, over a couple overpasses, down an off ramp and then an out and back on a long 4 lane road.

What ended up being significant about the bike was the wind. THE. WIND. WAS. AWFUL. I knew to expect a tough bike when they predicted wind but just didn’t fully grasp what that meant. We battled 16-18 mph headwinds and cross winds with gusts up to 27 mph. At one point on an overpass, I was seriously scared I was going to get blown over. Battling the wind also made it really difficult to use my salt and my nutrition because I had to try to reach back to grab it during a break in the wind without knowing when another gust was coming. The course was relatively flat save for the overpasses, but with the wind I really struggled to keep my heart rate down. I literally just could not do it. Every time I managed to I had to go up a hill or battle a headwind and it would shoot back up again. At one point on the long stretch of road I actually put my bike gear into the little wheel, hoping that would help. It didn’t. In fact, I looked back after the race to see there were points where I was only going 10mph. TEN. FREAKING. MILES AN HOUR.

The bike course had two aid stations – one at mile 27 and one at mile 43 or something. I rolled through the first, grabbing a gatorade as I rode by (talent!). By the second aid station I really had to pee so I dismounted there and waited in line. There were unfortunately only two porta potties so I was there for almost 10 minutes. However, the ride back was freaking fantastic – all the headwind we battled for 40 miles was now at our backs, and just pedaling easy I was hitting 25mph at some points.

The bike dismount was a cluster fuck. Seriously. Even as my first Ironman it was just bad. We had to dismount on the middle of hill and run with the bike over this poorly covered gravel. I almost twisted an ankle, but was trying to “hurry” because I could tell the guy behind me was wanting to go faster.

Bike Time 3:36:37  (thanks wind)

T2 

I did another full change here, because running with bike shorts would have felt like running with a diaper. I asked for a bandaid for some under arm chafing and that took a few minutes, and again had to stop and use the restroom. Then, the run out of transition was ridiculously long, or at least it felt like it. 

T2 time: 10:12

The Run

Distance: 26.2 miles

Goals A: 4 and a half hours. B: don’t die

My plan for the run was the run the first 3 miles and do a 3/1 run/walk for the rest. In retrospect, I had a few issues here. First, I forgot to take an ibproufen before the run started to get ahead of the soreness. I know this isn’t a recommended method but I only use it for marathon races and not in training. Second, for a person from South Carolina who has to drive 45 minutes to get to a hill thats worth a damn, this course was NOT flat. And since it was a double out and back this meant we went up and down the hills 4 times. Third, it was warm. It was 60 something, which to many is not warm, and for SC standards is not warm either, but unfortunately I warm up VERY quickly exercising so anything above 60 is too warm. It also didn’t help that we were now running the marathon mid day instead of evening. But, I thought that since half the bike was cut, I’d have energy left in my legs.

I was wrong.

By mile 1 I was already hot and really wanted to lose my shirt, but had heard rumors Ironman doesn’t allow you to go shirtless so I kept it on. By mile 3 I had passed two women without shirts so I took it off, which helped but I was still warm.

The race course ran through downtown Wilmington and past a street of restaurants where many of the spectators gathered. From there it headed towards and looped through a nicely shaded park before heading back the direction from where you started. So the first half was not shaded but the second half was. The nice things about this double out and back were plenty of well stocked aid stations (1 each mile) and the fact that you’d see other athletes and family members 4 times.

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Kisses for Miles

My first three miles were already slower than I hoped they would be so I knew from the beginning my chances of finishing in 4.5 hours were unlikely. By the time I started run/walking ( I was also walking through aid stations for water so I wouldn’t get dehydrated) my averages were in the high 10’s. Soreness and tightness started to set in at about mile 10 and I was really looking forward my run special needs bag with my ibproufen and chips in it. The first loop literally takes you right by the finish line before having to turn around and go back out, which sucks, but there were enough people cheering that it wasn’t too demoralizing.

I reached the run special needs area and yelled out my bib number, but something happened at some point in the transportation of the bags and mine simply wasn’t there. I glanced around for a minute or so trying to see if it had been misplaced before finally moving on without it, but I was already tight and sore so I knew this second loop was really going to be a challenge.

I managed to run/walk (with some extra walking and a couple bathroom breaks) up to about mile 17. I walked most of mile 17. I remember commenting to myself and others that I couldn’t believe how difficult this marathon still felt even with half the bike course cut. Somewhere around mile 18, Tammie caught up with me. Tammie and I have done many training rides, runs and swim together, and are similarly paced in the run so I was REALLY glad to see her. She walked with me a bit longer while I told her about my special needs bag debacle and it turned out she had two ibproufen on her, so I happily took them. At that point she was also run/walking so we continued on together. Somewhere around mile 20 the ibproufen started at least taking the edge off so the run part of the cycle didn’t feel so awful. At this point in the race I was averaging in the 13’s since we were run/walking and walking through all the aid stations, grabbing as many potato chips as I could manage. I also took a sip of coke and red bull here and there which was risky since I didn’t train with it, but gave me a surprising little jolt of energy for a few minutes.

Tammie ended up being my life saver for those last 8 or so miles – the company helped keep my mind off of my sore muscles and I was able to keep moving faster than I would have if I had been solo. Ironman does not allow any music at their races either which has always been a huge help to me.

After what felt like forever we finally reached the last few miles of the race.I started to worry about wether I’d have the energy to attempt the “bike again” and she reminded me not to worry about that just yet. We shared stories about fearing death on the overpass, riding over the grates, getting kicked in the swim, how much the wind sucked but also how we couldn’t believe it was almost over but OH MY GOD this final downhill HURTS. We debated a bit about how we should finish and ultimately decided that since we had spent so much time training together, we should cross the finish line together.

So we did.

Run Time: 5:08:30

I had this vision of some major fist pumping crossing the finish line, but we ended up slowing down a bit to let a half finisher cross before us (though we still ended up in each others pictures) and honestly? I was pooped. I was still ecstatic, but also pooped. And also very glad to be done….well, almost done.

Total Time: 10:22:25

The Bike Again

Tami and Tracy, who had said from the start that they’d be happy to help me if I wanted to attempt this trainer ride, were there at the finish line to congratulate me….and ask if I felt like getting back on the bike.

I said I needed a few minutes to think about it.

I stuck around and hugged Bryan, the twins and my parents, and thought about whether I really wanted to attempt getting back on the bike with the way my legs felt. I decided it was worth trying, because I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t at least attempt it. So Tami and Tracy went to get and set up my bike trainer while I fetched my bags and bike. This ended up taking a little longer than it should have because I got my bike and walked it back to the finish only to realize that my run bag was in the same area as the bike so I had to walk back again. I pushed the bike to the trainer area, which was a TV station parking lot that overlooked the finishers chute.

I changed back into my bike clothes, grabbed my drinks and snacks and got back on the bike. It was 6:45 pm.

By the time I finished the race my watch was almost dead. So I did a mental calculation that had I been on the road (assuming no wind) that I would likely complete the 56 miles in around 3 hours, so that is how long I aimed to ride on the trainer.

Surprisingly the first hour, albeit boring, didn’t feel bad. Tami and Tracy left to get dinner. My parents stuck around for a bit and then eventually left themselves to help Bryan with the twins at the hotel, though they said they’d be back. I chatted with the guy next to me (Dave) awhile, played on my phone, took a selfie, and watched the finish line.

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At about an hour in my parents came back to keep me company, and many of the Summerville Tri group trickled through to say hi (and you’re crazy). A random lady (and Heather) offered me pizza, which I happily took because at that point I was sick of PBJ. Heather’s floating head also stopped by to offer support.

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The Ironman race itself closed at 9pm and all was quiet for a few minutes until someone at the Base salt tent kicked on some music for those of us still pedaling. I’m not sure how many people ended up coming up and completing the distance on the trainer – I think there were about 20 there when I started and I heard about 50 total. Many, if not all, were like me and determined to get the full mileage of our first Ironman. 

My mom also took this gem of a photo:

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Watching an Ironman is tiring

Around 9:15 my legs were shot. But I had spent 2.5 hours on the damn thing and I wasn’t about to stop now. I texted Tami and told them to come pick me up at 9:45.

Around 9:30 I started looking at my watch about every 30 seconds.

Around 9:35 I joked that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get off the darn bike without falling.

Around 9:40 I was pedaling with nothing but sheer determination.

By 9:43 I had already looked at my watch another dozen times.

At 9:45 over 14 and a half hours after that first step into the water, I was finally done. I was finally an Ironman, both by the race’s standards, and my own. 

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After a short celebration and congratulations, I loaded myself and my stuff into the car with the help of Tami and Tracy. We arrived at the house and I was kind of in a fog and it was like the whole day just hadn’t processed yet. I hugged everyone (because Tami’s friends are awesome), ate, and sat in the Jacuzzi tub before bed.

It turns out I was locally famous – well kinda:

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It honestly took me a couple of days to really process the whole whirlwind of a weekend.

Training Totals (in Miles)

Swim: 91.77

Bike: 2462.26

Run: 550.66

Training (and race) Thoughts: As far as race day plans go I am happy with how it turned out. Of course it didn’t go perfectly but what does? What I did feel like I nailed was what I chose with respect to nutrition (PBJ and fig bars on bike, applesauce and later chips on run and alternating one bottle gatorade and one bottle water on bike and mostly water on run). I didn’t once have any stomach issues or any need for the Immodium or Pepto I packed. What I could likely change is the schedule or frequency of it – i.e. eat more often. Or maybe take salt more often. I nailed staying hydrated as I used the bathroom before and after the swim, once on the bike and 3 times on the run. What I’m unsure about is if the soreness during the run was the result of a nutrition or salt issue or just a I’ve been exercising all day issue. I hit my A goal on the swim and my B goal on the bike and run, and overall my goal was just to finish, so done.

Plan wise – overall I liked the Be Iron Fit plan and would use it again with some minor tweaks. I feel like it emphasized the bike a bit too much and I would take a couple of the 4-5 hour rides (there were like 8 or 9 of them) and make them longer bricks to get some more practice running on tired legs. Otherwise, the plan worked.

A few weeks separated from the event all that went into it now, it really hits home how training for something like this seriously consumes your entire life for over half a year. With that said, it CAN be done with some good planning, support and time management skills, even with small children. The triathlon community is probably one of the most supportive groups of people. I once wondered whether I’d really fit in and now my group feels like my family. Every single one of those people, wether tacking the half or full, trained hard, laughed, cried, swore and supported one another all the way through. By far, this was the most challenging thing (physically) that I have ever done. I had heard people say that training for and completing an Ironman changes you. I am most definitely not the same. An event like this was WAY out of my comfort zone, but I really feel like now that I have conquered that I can figure out almost anything. Also, man my family is awesome, and what the heck do I do with all this free time?!!?

I AM AN IRONMAN!

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear” – Ambrose Redmoon

I Want To Be an Ironman – Race Weekend Part 1

Dang. 6 and a half months of training, tracking, falling asleep at 8:30 and eating all the food on the planet, and race weekend is here.

Thursday 

Admittedly, even 48 hours after the news that the bike was shortened pretty drastically (from 112 miles to 50 miles due to residual flooding issues), I was still bummed. A few people in the IMNC Beach to Battleship Facebook group had talked about the possibility of additional post race road or trainer miles , and I was glad there was still an option, even though it wasn’t the same. I woke up and posted an update on Facebook about my plan to swim, bike, run and bike again, saying that it would make a good story to others and for the twins later on about handling change and thinking outside the box. I did this partly to get myself motivated by this idea, and packed my trainer among my things. I managed to shove all my stuff into two bags and felt pretty accomplished about that.

Tami picked me up around 8am and we began the drive towards Wilmington, where I talked a bit more about my disappointment in the race changes (even though I understood why they happened). Luckily, Tami was very understanding about the whole thing and assured me that if the full distance was what I wanted, she would do whatever she could to help make sure that happened, because Tami is awesome. A few days prior, she had taken a super obnoxious picture of me with my swim cap and googles on, sticking my tongue out and blown it up to make a giant head on a stick, posting pictures about its preparations.

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“Power T can’t stop taking selfies”

At one point I started to ask why she couldn’t use a normal picture, until I realized it was normal.

We arrived around noon after a lunch stop and “checked in” to our “hotel”. We actually stayed at an old giant victorian house called the McEachern House . Click the link to see some pictures – it was amazing. We headed to the grocery store and then met her other New York friends staying with us (Kelly, Linda and Tina – Tracy and Rie from Summerville joined us later) before we headed to the Athlete Village to check in and attend the athlete meeting about bus times, transition and race day information.

Each half participant received a drawstring bag and each full participant received a bag like the one pictured on the right. I was told this was a ” dry bag” and I could use it for Kayaking – because I do so much kayaking. 🙂

It was here that we learned that the bike course had been extended to 56 miles – allowing the half distance racers the full race and the full distance racers an extra 6 miles. Hey, I’ll take it. It was also here that I learned that the CEO of Base Salts, Matt Miller, had set up an after race trainer ride complete with music and hydration in the parking lot of a TV station that overlooked the finish line, so there was a way to finish the last 56 miles for those who wanted to. I had still been hoping for some road miles, but this was definitely better than nothing.

After the meeting the rest of the group met up and headed down to the dock for ….well, I forgot what it was called, but there was free food, and I was hungry.

The evening ended with a walk back to the house (only a half mile from the packet pick up) and spent it with the ladies on the giant porch, including a yummy dinner (yes I had just eaten 2 hours before) – a nice relaxing night I needed a great deal after the last 6.5 months.

Friday 

Friday morning, luckily, was pretty low key. I walked back to the convention center late morning to check out the Ironman store and bought a jacket, hoping I wasn’t cursing myself doing so before the race was over, but because the distance was shortened the full race stuff was 25% off and I got a good deal. Not wanting to spend too much time on my feet I walked back (ha) and started to get my race day bags together.

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Typically, full racers get 5 bags:

Morning clothes bag: where you put any clothes you want to keep that you are wearing race morning to stay warm. These are returned at the swim start.

T1 bag: where you put all of your bike supplies. Mine included clothes, shoes, helmet, chapstick, body glide, non perishable nutrition, socks, heart rate monitor, a peppermint patty (for the salt water taste), a couple TUMS (just in case), sunglasses, inhaler and arm sleeves.

T2 bag: run supplies. Mine included shoes, extra socks, another change of clothes (I’m not winning so I wanted to be comfortable), body glide, chapstick, race number and belt, nutrition, a couple ibproufen, tums, pepto chewables (just in case) and another inhaler.

Bike Special Needs: we did not get this bag since the bike was cut short, but in case I decided on the trainer ride I stopped for extra hydration and snacks and made my own special needs bag.

Run Special Needs:  This was a small bag for me. You don’t get these items back, so I included a couple ibuprofen, pepto, tums, extra socks (in case of blisters) and a small bag of potato chips.

We also get a bib and race number stickers to put on your bike and helmet.

Putting it all together is quite the feat.

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I was extra thankful to have Tami around, who has done FIVE of these, to throw in tidbits like put all your stuff in ziplock bags in case it rains, cut the corners of the bags so the water can drain, trim the bike numbers so they don’t chafe your legs, write your number on the bags in sharpie and tape over it in case the stickers get lost, oh and maybe clean your bike off.

Power T helped too.

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And I dressed fashionably to pin on my running bib number.

 

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what? I don’t run like this?

This is also about the point where I began obsessively checking the weather. Anyone living in the south knows this summer seems to be never ending, and the weather at this point had still been unseasonably warm. Luckily, a cold front was due to come in that night. What I didn’t realize was that cold fronts often bring wind with them. At the time (ha, million times) I checked the winds were predicted to be anywhere from 13-16 mph and while I knew wind on the bike would suck I began to seriously worry about choppy water on the swim.

I shouldn’t have checked.

Around 1:00, I walked back down to the convention center to drop off my running gear bag, and take a group picture. While we waited I checked the weather. No, it didn’t change.

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IMNC is apparently uncommon in its practice to have two separate transition areas. I’m told most Ironman branded races (or maybe most all) have run and bike transitions in the same area. In this case, the run transition was near the convention center and the bike transition was about 20 minutes away near the beach. After walking back to the house and eating lunch, the group packed our bikes and drove to the bike transition area. Tami and I both agreed on the ride over that the logistics of this race (and I have nothing to compare it to) were stressful, but it is what it is. The irony here is that every recommendation I’ve read says to try to stay off your feet as much as possible the day before, but between everything I ended up walking over 5 miles anyway. I checked the weather again. Still windy.

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Finally the bike is racked and ready and all bags were dropped off except for what I needed to take with me in the morning. At this point its about 4pm and I’m mentally exhausted, so when we stop at a grocery store I stay in the car and talk to Bryan about his and my parents travel plans (and check the weather – still windy) and we head back to the house to eat, have a drink and rest. The drink was much needed after all the stress of the logistics and worrying about the swim, and between that and some helpful advice on how to handle waves should there be any, I felt better. I still checked the weather though (windy).

Guess what else the weather predicted? A 20% chance of rain. Twenty percent. And guess what it did around 6:00 for about 90 minutes? Rained. On. All. Our. Stuff.

Because of course.

My dad was nice enough to pick up Tami’s bullhorn that she had left at home (and had come in oh so handy during the Palmetto 200) and they stopped over to drop it off around 8:00, so of course I had to use it.

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Tracy – what are you doing in the bathroom??

Around 8:30 we all headed upstairs to finalize things and hang out a bit before attempting to sleep. This meant taking ridiculous pictures.

 

We all went to bed around 9:30. I  called Bryan and then attempted to sleep – after I checked the weather (guess what? still windy) and set and re set my alarm a half dozen times. Because I might have set it wrong the first 5 times.  I never sleep well the night before races and this was no exception, in fact, this was probably the worst night of sleep prior to a race I’ve ever gotten. It’s also the longest distance, by far, that I’ve ever attempted and the longest I’ve spent training for a race, so I guess it was to be expected.

Nighty night (and to be continued).

 

 

I Want To Be an Ironman – Weeks 29/30

I got behind the last couple weeks.

WEEK 29

Monday run/ride – I moved my swim because I had a MUCH needed massage scheduled. 45 minute run/4.73 miles/9:33 average/54 degrees. I’m finally starting to see a *little* recovery and speed back, though still far from where I was. 60 minute ride/15.6 miles/15.6 MPH/62 degrees. This ride was slower because of debris from the hurricane and the fact that I was looking around to see what kind of damage my area had.

Tuesday swim. 60 minute swim/2500 meters. I drove to DJ before work this morning to get my swim in. I’m glad I didn’t have to do this much this season as its a pain in the butt. I as late to work.

Wednesday run/ride. 45 minute stroller run/4.57 miles/9:53 average/57 degrees. The twins and I rolled around an area behind us with lots of trees and power lines still down. One house had had a tree on top of it. 😦 45 minute trainer ride/9.53 miles/SLOW I stuck a movie on and hopped on the trainer once we got home. Not much exciting to report here.

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Thursday swim35 minute swim/1550 yards. I joined a small group for a last open water swim and practice with the wetsuit. The water was a bit choppy at first and I struggled. I almost quit twice. And I still suck at sighting far away – I ended a whole house to the right of where I was supposed to. But hey, its done.

Friday long run. 60 minute run/6.47 miles/9:22 average/57 degrees. FINALLY I was able to run a couple miles with an average under 9 (8:45, 8:53) and still stay in zone 2. I run/walked the rest as per my plan.

Saturday long brick. 2 hour ride/36.77 miles/18.1 MPH/64 degrees. 30 minute run/3.16 miles/9:30 average/70 degrees. The LAST LONG WORKOUT! The ride was fine but the run was hot and I bitched about that most of the way. Haha.

Sunday – rest day

Total Time: 8 hours 35 minutes

Distance Traveled: 83.04 miles

Training Thoughts: I honestly don’t remember. But probably something along the lines of HOORAY!!!!

 

WEEK 30

Monday run/ride. 45 minute run/4.8 miles/9:25 average/59 degrees. I took the dog with me for this one. My asthma was acting up and struggled for the first 1.5 miles. Stopped at home for an extra puff of my inhaler and continued on. 60 minute ride/17.1 miles/17.1 MPH/64 degrees. Usual route, nothing to report.

Tuesday swim. 45 minute swim/1750 meters. This ended up being quite the interesting day. I ran into traffic and then  a train trying to get the pool and my swim got cut short. Later that afternoon the official email came out from Ironman saying they had to REALLY shorten the bike course because of flood damage from the hurricane. I shouldn’t have been shocked in hindsight, but I was, because per a Facebook group I was a part of many had been told that if nothing else, there was a alternate route plan in place. Well, apparently not. The bike course was shortened 62 miles, leaving us full participants with a distance just over the normal half distance. I was crushed. Not mad, just really disappointed. I was thankful my kid I was seeing after I saw that email still has difficulty reading emotions, because I was a mess.

Wednesday ride/run quick change. 45 minute trainer ride/9.1 miles/12.1 MPH. 15 minute run/1.72 miles/8:44 average/63 degrees. Honestly the last thing I cared about was this workout, but I did it anyway. I basically said fuck it on the run and ran as hard as I wanted to for part of it.

Later that day, people began talk of possibly finding road to ride on for the last 56 miles or possibly setting up trainers for those who wanted to finish the whole distance. While this was certainly not what I hoped for, it was nice to know there was an option. I contacted Ironman about transferring to another race, but was told this wasn’t allowed.

Thursday run. 30 minute run/3.2 miles/9:37 average/62 degrees. Still not feeling very motivated but I woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep so I took the dog for a run. I also headed up to NC with Tami today, and packed my trainer, just in case. I did learn today that there *was* apparently an alternate bike route plan, but the state nixed it.  Athlete check-in and briefing.

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Friday – rest day. Dropped off bike and run transition bags and racked my bike. We did learn today that they added another 6 miles to the bike route, making it 56 miles. Hey, I’ll take it.

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Saturday : race day.

Sunday: Ow.

Of course, a full race post is forthcoming, however I feel like its going to take some time for me to gather all the pictures others took to put a post together.

 

I Want To Be an Ironman – Week 28

It’s TAPER TIME!

Technically, this week is more taper-ish. Although the workout totals are cut down by 2.25 hours, which should seem significant, when you’re already up to 14 it doesn’t feel like as much as you’d think.

I am, unsurprisingly, still tired.

Monday run/swim. 60 minute run/6.2 miles/9:47 (ish) average/64 degrees. Oh hooray its finally COOLER outside! I split my run again and did 2.6 miles with the dog and 3.5 with the twins. I’ve never been more excited to see an average under 10. Seriously. 60 minute swim/2500 meters. I swam faster this time, but thats because I was tired and wore fins for the whole thing (shhh).

Tuesday – ride. 60 minute ride/17.42 miles/17.4MPH/68 degrees. Not much to report here. Still tired so took it easy. This is also the day that South Carolina really started getting panic-y about Hurricane Matthew. My final kid of the day called and told me they were evacuating the next day and wanted to cancel. This turned out to be a good thing, because it took me the next hour to fill up my gas tank and get money from the bank in case we decided to stick it out and lost power for more than a couple days. Schools closed for the rest of the week and I obsessively checked the weather.

Wednesday – swim/ride. 60 minute swim/2400 meters. I got up EARLY for this one, because as luck would have it, the new masters swim team in Summerville kept the pool open JUST for masters swim since everything was closing down for the hurricane. I forgot I need to allot more time for talking though, because I ran out of time and swam a bit short. Oh well.  45 minute stroller run/4.56 miles/9:53 average/66 degrees Although not THAT many people had evacuated by this point, the run still felt a little creepy, partly because it was such a  nice day outside but we all knew what was looming. I think it was Wednesday that the forecasters changed the track where the eye was pretty significantly off the coast. To be on the safe side I bought water, batteries and some non perishables before heading to work that day.

Thursday long ride. 3.5 hour ride/61.24 miles/17.2MPH/64 degrees  I hadn’t planned to do another long ride on a weekday but with the hurricane threatening to strike over the weekend and the next two days off work because most of the southern part of the state was shutting down, it seemed like a good day to get it in. A small group came along. We were supposed to ride 4 hours but the whole ride was windy and it was the worst on the last 20 minutes back to the car where we were going to refuel so we all cut it short. (I did 20 more minutes to make it an “even” 3.5 hours) On the plus side, it was good practice in the wind. I continued to check weather obsessively. By today, the forecast was much worse – the eye was expected to track not far off the coast, though as a Category 2 at least and not 4 anymore. I spent most of the rest of the day prepping by cleaning out the area  under the stairs in case the winds got bad, so I counted that as my missed half hour.

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We are either dedicated or totally insane

Friday long run. 2 hour 10 minute run/12.6 miles/10:20 average/73 degrees The pending storm made this yet another hot, humid and sticky run. Apparently those days were not over.

Saturday/Sunday rest days. Technically I still had my quick change workout left but I opted to skip it. The storm started hitting late Friday night through late afternoon Saturday. At one point, they were predicting some possible 100+ MPH winds but I don’t think we ever ended up with gusts that high. I did see where someone recorded about 65mph, and I know we had sustained winds of 30-40 MPH for several hours. Interestingly, areas like Columbia and into Fayetteville NC almost had it worse than we did with the way the storm ended up hitting. It made landfall not far from Charleston. Charleston did of course flood, as did some areas in Summerville. There were downed trees and power lines. Some houses were damaged or destroyed. It was a serious storm but luckily not a Category 4 like Haiti and the Bahamas experienced. We were lucky. We had a leaky window but no other damage. We did hang out under the stairs for a bit but more because it was fun and not because we had to. In the end, I was tired from several days of not great sleep and anxiety about the storm, so I rested.

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Hanging out in “Narnia” (under the stairs)

Total Hours: around 11 including hurricane prep (I’m cheating a bit here)

Distance Traveled: 105 miles

Training Thoughts: FINALLY we are at a place where the training hours start to go down more significantly. The hard part is REALLY over. I am hungry still all the time but I am tired of about 90% of food because I’ve eaten it so much.

On an unrelated note, the twins’ Halloween costumes showed up this week which I was REALLY excited about. Miles refused to put his on, so I did.

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Nemo grew a bit

 

I Want To Be an Ironman – Week 27

Peak Week (s) 3 of 3.

You guys,  I am seriously tired. Everything is tired. My pinkie toe is tired.

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Monday – run/swim. 58 minute stroller run/5.5miles/10:33 pace/70 degrees. For the life of me I could NOT keep my heart rate down, even using a run/walk. I jumped into nearly zone 4 during the run and could only recover to 2 during the walk, and my zone 4 pace was like a 10 minute mile. For the love of pete. 60 minute swim/2500 yards. I did another workout with alternating sets of drills and 300s. Each 300 got progressively slower. I’m told this is normal.

Tuesday ride/swim. 60 minute ride/16.9 miles/16.9 MPH/72 degrees. Honestly, I’m getting tired of all the workouts. The runs more than anything because of the heat but everything is taking more self talk to get my butt out the door. 60 minute swim/2500 yards. This swim was a bit faster at least, but have I mentioned I’m tired? Because I’m tired.

Wednesday run. 60 minute run (32 solo/28 stroller)/5.8 miles/68 degrees. I actually managed a sub 10 min mile average the first half (9:46) but slogged through the second half with the kids (10:40), because I was (wait for it…) tired.

Thursday long ride. 5 hour (4 hours 53 minutes technically) ride/82 miles/16.9MPH/75 degrees. Thursday is not normally a long ride day, but Tammie, who is also training for this insanity, was going to be out of town this weekend and had to move her ride. Riding this long solo is no fun so I shifted my work schedule to ride with her. I made it home and had 20 minutes to shower and change and leave for work (I made it). It was warmer than originally predicted (surprise surprise) but overall not bad. If I can average that speed for the Ironman I’ll be happy.

Friday – long run. 2 hour run/13miles/10:25 average/67 degrees. Cooler weather seems like its FINALLY making its way here. Tammie and I did a 3/1 run walk after the first two miles. The first 45 min or so was humid and slower, but once the humidity broke the temp actually dropped for a half hour or so which improved our average to a 10-10:15/mile until it started to warm up for the day again. It was nice to not slog through a wet washcloth for once. I celebrated the last long run of the peak weeks by accidentally sending my parents and husband an SOS message when I  was trying to turn my music down on my phone.  Afterwards the twins and I took a cool down walk with the dogs, where I was talked into some time on the swing and they stole my bath.

As it was the last day of the pool season also, we headed there after work, where as usual they spent more time eating than swimming.

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Cracker Tongue

Saturday – rest day

Sunday long swim. 2 mile swim/53:25 (thank you current). One of the regular ocean swimmers and members of the Folly Beach Open Water Swim group so nicely put together a simulation (or stimulation, depending on who you ask) swim for the group. It was a nice point to point swim with kayak support and a wetsuit trial. It was salty.

Total Time: 14 hours (including some walking)

Miles Traveled: 129.35

Training Thoughts: IT IS TAPER TIME THANK YOU JESUS I AM TIRED!!!

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