Sunday, April 21, 2013

Napa Hits Full Triathlon: A TRI-ing 140.6 Day! (April 13, 2013)

"If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, triathlon must have taken Him completely by surprise." P. Z. Pearce

"It’s important to know that at the end of the day it’s not the medals you remember. What you remember is the process – what you learn about yourself by challenging yourself, the experiences you share with other people, the honesty the training demands – those are things nobody can take away from you whether you finish twelfth or you’re an Olympic Champion.” – Silken Laumann

Napa Hits Full Triathlon: A TRI-ing 140.6 Day!  (April 13, 2013) 

So, I have done some crazy things. . .some questionably stupid...Deciding to do the Napa Hits Full Distance (an ironman distance) Triathlon a week after doing the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run is definitely one of the stupidiest crazy idea I've ever come up with.  I do blame Ralph Keith in part for instigating the stupid crazy idea.   He was to do the event with me but backed out a few days prior to the event.  Napa Hits Triathlon also had a really good deals last winter if you signed up for the Napa Hits.  Deals hard to turn least for me.  So, I signed up...

In the months leading up to AR50 and Napa Hits Triathlon, I trained for both events.  Most of the training was running focused but I did work on my swimming and a bit on my cycling.  Though, I probably could have done more on the swim and bike.  But, I figured I had good endurance, I should be okay.  

I had wanted to get an Ironman-distance triathlon under my belt.  To clarify for those not in the triathlon world, Ironman is a branded event.   Ironman is a special branded event.  It consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2  mile run (yes, a marathon at the end of all of that).  There are triathlons that are the Ironman-distance but they are not called Ironman's because the Ironman people aren't putting it on.  The trouble I find with Ironman events is that they are SO expensive.  I found the Napa Hits Triathlon to be affordable and they had a special deal for their full distance triathlon that was hard to resist.  So, I signed up. . . .to still swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles.  And while not an Ironman, still going the distance of an ironman!  

The training and things were going pretty well leading up to the event.  But, I finished AR50.  AR50 did a number on my body, especially my knees.  Then, I started thinking my plan to do the Full Triathlon was quite stupid.  Really stupid.  I got really nervous the days leading up to the race.  Craig had asked if I considered downgrading my race to the Half Distance.  I said I thought about it but no, I was going to do the Full.  Call it stubborness, stupidity, or just plain crazy, I admit to all three but I had set out to do the Full, I was going to try.  I had done a half-ironman-distance last year and knew that was doable, I wanted to see if I could do a Full Distance.  


On the Friday before, I head out to Lake Berryessa with my friend Linda (who was signed up for the Half).  We get our race packets which included stickers galore!  Stickers for the bike, our swim caps, our transition bags, to make our running bibs, our wristbands, etc. . .  We also attend the pre-race meeting as Mark Wilson, the Race Director, discusses the course, the race, etc. . .  He also gives us all his cell phone number to be shared with friends/family members in case of emergency.  

After the meeting, my friend Linda goes up to Mark to ask him a question.  He is very friendly and asks for both of our names and shakes our hand.  I find (and will learn throughout the race) that he is different than most race directors.  I find it nice that he is so friendly and wanting to know who the racers are and seemingly want all racers to have a great race out there and to finish.  

After talking to Mark, we head to the transition area.  We each have our own designated transition spot with our own little stool, and cubby box to rack our bike and put our stuff.  Different than the open bike racks which are racked according to first come, first serve.  This is different but nice.  Kind of neat to have a little area with my name on it.  Linda is lucky that she has her transition spot right next to the porta-potty.  She seems happy about that.  

After leaving our bikes, we head out to Fairfield.  We enjoy a pizza dinner (my regular pre-race meal).  Then, we head to the motel where we get out gear and stuff together.  I drink a beer as is my pre-race ritual.  Then, we head to bed hoping for a good night's sleep.  There are some noisy teenage kids about and our upstairs person is stomping around.  But, we eventually fall asleep.  

At 4 am, we get up, get on our gear, and head back to Lake Berryessa. . . 

At Lake Berryessa, we each set up our own transition area.  I am deciding on what fueling things I will need for the different "legs" and in transition.  So many things to think about, I get even more nervous about things.  With the help of Linda, I put on my temporary tattoo race number on my arm and leg.  Then, I wander over to see my friend Mary (who's doing the Half) get ready.  

They announce for the racers to clear the transition area, I look all around for Linda but everyone looks the same in black wetsuits and blue swim caps.   I am a little bummed that I did not get to see Linda to wish her luck on her first half.  But, I am glad I have Mary with me to start off with.  Her husband (my running husband) Scott is also there to support her, me, and other friends.  Scott asks me how I feel.  I tell him, I am okay.  I just plan to get through the swim, get through the bike going a moderate pace, and then the run is the run.  He gives me some encouragement as I head out into the water.  

I feel okay and as ready as I can be.  

The Triathlon

6:37 a.m. - "all set up and in my wet suit.  heading out to the lake for the swim starting at 7 am"

The 2.4 Mile Swim

I stand on the shoreline with a giant crowd of other racers in wetsuits and blue swim caps.  The half and full distance are all starting together.  The hear the countdown. 3-2-1. . .the horn blows and everyone goes running into the water.  

I run into the water and dive and start swimming.  I am never a fan of these mass starts with swimmers going every which way.  I swim on the left side and staying a bit wide from the pack not wanting to get knocked around.  I get a bit of anxiety being around too many swimmers flailing the arms and kicking around me.  

I swim towards the first buoy and after a bit, I feel I have let myself go too far to the left the group.  I try to swim closer towards them but also towards the buoy, which is hard to see as the sun is in the same direction.  I eventually get closer into the middle of the pack and turn pass the first buoy.  

I feel pretty good that I am swimming in the middle of the pack.  I have always been the back of the pack swimmer, if that.  I have been working to get a little faster with my swimming so I am not always one of the last ones out of the water.  I continue swimming.  Another swimmer keeps bumping into me so I try to swim behind him and just follow him.  He's easy to site than the buoy.  

I turn around another buoy and start swimming towards shore.  I stop and look behind me and see a fair number of swimmers behind me.  I feel pretty good though I know most of the swimmers are folks doing the half triathlon.  I think about how far I have come in swimming.  Three years ago, I was just swimming in the open water for the first time and could hardly go any distance.  I think about telling my swimming friends Myron and Shawn as to how I am able to finally swim 2.4 miles.  I feel pretty good and swim along.  

I get to shore and scramble out of the water and run around a red buoy and head back into the water.  I dive back in.  Most of the swimmers that were near me are running up into transition.  I have to go swim a second loop.  There is no one around me now.  

The sun is really bright and in the same direction as the first buoy.  I cannot see it as the sun is in my eyes. So, I just swim towards the sun hoping I am swimming relatively straight.  I feel a bit of anxiety not being entirely sure that I am swimming in the right direction.  I see a boat go by me.  The boat makes the water around me go up and down.  This causes my stomach to turn a bit.  My stomach starts to cramp up a little. Things are not feeling so good.  

I look back and see one swimmer behind me.  I continue on.  My stomach is tightening.  I need to go to the bathroom.   But, I am stuck in the middle of the lake.   I keep swimming towards the sun.  I eventually reach the buoy and turn.  I am hoping now that the sun isn't in my eyes, I can swim better.  

I go along for a bit but the boat passes by jostles the water a bit and this freaks me out.  I flail a bit in the water trying to catch my breath.  I can feel a bit of a panic attack happening.  My heart is racing.  A kayaker sees me flailing about and paddles near me to see if I am okay.  He offers to let me hold on to his kayak while I catch my breath.  I say I am okay and try to swim some more.  I remember my wetsuit helps me float.  I remember to flip over and tread water.  

I try to swim and get into a nice rhythm.  I try to swim and just let myself calm down but it is hard.  I am getting anxious in this water.  My stomach cramping on me is not helping me calm down and just swim.  But, I make some movements forward but I have slowed down a lot.  And, it is not so good I keep stopping.  I try to breast stroke a bit.  I swim back stroke a little too.  But, I feel so slow doing that.  I go back to swimming freestyle.  I can only swim a few strokes before stopping.  The swimmer behind me passes.  

I hear my garmin beep alerting me that I have swam 2 miles.  I realize I will be swimming my longest swim today.  And, this is hard.   I should have trained more on the swim.  I am regretting not training more on the swim.   2.4 mile swim is the equivalent to a marathon run I think.  I guess I am hitting the swimmer's "wall."  I just need to get out of this water.  I am also getting cold.  I can feel my hands and feet are getting cold being in this water for so long.  My arms are getting tired.  And, I am a bit surprised as to how anxious I feel.  I thought swimming in the crowd gave me anxiety.  I guess I have gotten used to that.  Being alone in the water is giving me anxiety too.  The kayaker is nearby and has been watching and following me.  He can tell I am struggling.  I do not want to have him tow me in.  

I make the last turn and start swimming towards the shore.  Swim, stop, swim, stop, etc.  . . . As I get closer to shore, I notice three kayakers hovering around me.  I ask one if I am last.  I feel like I am last.  He says there are two or three swimmers behind me.  You're not last, he tells me.  You're doing pretty good.  

I then continue swimming on.  I stop and look up at the shore ahead.  I then hear Scott and another voice yelling "GO Helen!!"   Alright, I am almost done.  I swim and finally, I reach shore.  Thank goodness!  

I climb out of the water and to my surprise, Mark (the race director) is standing there.  He gives me a hand and shakes my saying good job or something.  I am out of it so not quite hearing what he is saying.  It is kind of odd but nice he greeted me out of the water.  

As I walk up to transition, I see Scott cheering me on.  I am so wiped from the swim.  I am not scurrying up to transition as I should.  

I finally get into transition and get my wetsuit off and toss it on the fence next to my bike.  I then head to the porta-potty.  

Afterwards, I throw on my WAV cycling jersey.  I am trembling with the coldness of the lake.  I throw on my AR50 Finisher's jacket. It is lightweight and should be a good windbreaker.  I eat a GU and drink a little bit of a coke.  I pack up my pockets to my jersey with some GUs and other things.  And, I get ready to ride.  

I send a quick text to Craig and fb/twitter world.

9:07 a.m.  - i survived the swim.  barely.  never happier to be on land.  

The 112 Mile Bike

I get out of transition and clip into my bike.  I am cold and my stomach is still a bit unsettled.  But, I know in a bit, I will settle into the bike and things will be okay.  In a triathlon, I move from my weakest sport to my strongest sport.  Swimming is my worst.  The bike will be better for me than the swim.  I know the bike.  The bike will be good.  The bike is also where I usually make my way from the back of the pack to the middle.  

I ride out of Chapparal Cove and make the first turn onto Pope Canyon Road.  I hit a hill and start climbing.  The hill is kind of a steep one to start out with.  My garmin says 12% grade.  Geez.  Not much time to warm up before climbing.  

The first steep pitch is the worst of it.  There are more hills but not as steep.  While shifting at one point, my chain drops.  I stop and put it back on and rolling in no time.  I continue to ride along the road.  Mary passes by me in the other direction and we yell towards each other.   I continue along.  My stomach is a little unsettled but my cycling legs are feeling pretty good.  I am keeping a pretty good pace and I am climbing decently as well.  

In not too long, I hit the first turn around and rest stop (15 miles out).  I use the porta-potty there.  I grab a bottle of Heed to put on my bike then I head off.  I start passing some people but looking at their numbers, I see this is just the back of the folks doing the half.   

After using the bathroom, I feel my stomach is finally settling down.  I feel whatever anxiety I felt in the water is passing away.  I am finally getting into my cycling groove.  I ride along through the beautiful countryside of Napa Valley.  I pass a few more folks and just riding along pretty well.  I am keeping right on target with my target bike pace.  On my way back, I see another cyclist, an older looking man, riding with a CHP motorcycle cop behind him.  I presume he must be the back of the pack and the cop sweeping the course.  

As I ride back Pope Canyon Road to Knoxville Road, I get to descend the first hill I climbed.  I love descents, I am good at them.  I go flying down pass the camera person.  I fly by a person with a sign that says "Go Anonymous Person!"   This makes me chuckle.  

I hit the juncture at Knoxville Road (mile 30) and toss my Heed bottle and grab a water bottle.  I am keeping my momentum going.  They have another out and back on Knoxville Road now.  There are more hills but nothing too steep.  I am starting to get warm now.  I manage to take of my jacket while riding and stuff it into my jersey.  

As I ride down Knoxville Road, I see Mary then Linda pass by in the other direction.  We wave to each other.  I am glad I get to see them briefly on the bike.  Though, I am a little envious that they are nearly done with their bike ride and will be running soon.  I still have a long way to go before I get to run.  

I ride along going up hills and down hills.  Not very much flat roads on this road.  I am feeling pretty good.  I pass more people along this road, usually as I am climbing up a hill.  I get to the next turnaround in good time.  

Then I ride back to the start.  I feel happy I seem to making good time on the bike.  Though, I can feel my legs are getting a little tired of the hills.  

The bike course is doing a 56 mile "loop" twice.   I arrive back to Chaparral Cove and head to the turnaround point.  The race gave us special needs bags which would be dropped at the bike mid-point and the run mid-point.   So, I head into there looking forward to getting stuff out of my bag.  And, to my surprise again, Mark (the race director) is standing there greeting folks on the bike.  

I roll up to him and unclip.  He greets me by name and gets me my special needs bag.  He helps hold my bike while I grab things out of my bag.  He chats with me a bit.  He asks me if this is my first full.  I say yes.  I have done many races and this is the first time I have talked to the race director.  He seems interested in knowing me (and the other racers).  It is surprising at first but quite nice.  A girl who finished the half triathlon walks out and starts chatting with Mark.  She brags about how she did her half marathon in 1:37 (or something crazy fast like that).  Wow.  I still have so much farther to go.  

I unload my jacket and few other things.   I eat a granola bar.  I see another bag has a coke in it.  I think to myself, man, I should have put a coke in my drop bag.  I had brought coke but left it in transition.  Oh well. I think I will be okay.  As I put on my sunscreen and get ready to ride out again, I see another man roll up. Mark greets him.  The man says "I'm done."   He says he's not feeling very good and has decided to drop.  

1:06 p.m. - 56 miles on the bike.  feeling a little better now.  climbing legs are tired.  heading out for the 2nd bike loop!  

I then ride out to do the 56 miles all over again.  I ride down the road and turn onto Pope Canyon Road again.  I know there's a big climb coming up.  I turn, shift, and my chain drops.  Again.  I stop and put the chain back on.  A SAG vehicle pulls up to me and asks me if I am okay.  I said my chain dropped but I am okay now.  He asks if it's been happening a lot.  I tell him it's the second time.  He wants to help but I don't want to waste time having my bike checked out so I tell him I'm okay and wave him off.  

I continue onto the road and up the steep hill again.  I am climbing along okay and then my left quad starts to cramp up.  Oh, it's painful!  But, I can't stop mid hill.  So, I stand up out of the saddle and try to get myself up the hill.  As I descend, I try to stretch the leg out a bit.  

The day is getting warmer now so I try to consume more fluids.  I eat a gel and hope the cramping will go away. I also pop some peanut m&m's.  I now pay careful attention to when I am consuming things now.  Must be good with my fueling.  

I continue riding along.  I start to not feel so good.  The heat is bothering me.  The wind has started to pick up too.  A head wind.  Not fun.  Also, my right foot is starting to burn a little bit and I can feel it starting to blister as well.  This is not fun.  There is no one around me either.  I feel miserable.  Why is this so hard?  I have ridden double centuries (rides much longer than this) and the Death Ride (with way more climbing than this), why does this feel harder?!    My cycling legs should not be this worn out at 60 miles in!  

Then, I think it.  Quitting.  What if I quit?  Would it be so bad?  This is pretty awful right now?  I am supposed to be enjoying myself not suffering like this.  What if I quit?  I could just end my bike ride now.  That would not be so bad.  How can I not make it to the run?  But, what if I quit?  I could just end it?  How could I do that?  

Quitting.  Why am I thinking about quitting?  I have never thought about quitting.  What is wrong?  Why is this so hard?  I begin to cry.  My feet are hurting now.  I feel awful.  I think about Craig.  Maybe I should call him.  He will tell me I am doing great and to keep going.   And, if I do quit, he will understand.   What if I quit.  But, I won't understand.  I won't be okay with it.  I cannot quit.  I cannot quit.  I want to quit though.  I want to.  I cry more.  

I continue to ride my bike thinking about quitting, crying, and cramping.  I then tell myself, just get to the turn around point.  Get there.  Stop and reassess.  Then, I have to ride back.   That's what I will do.  Just go a few miles to the rest stop.  Take a rest.  

In a few miles, I get to the rest stop.  The aid station worker is great.  He offers me drinks and gels.  I wish I had a Coke right now.  I wish I had real food to eat.  I grab some sports beans and stuff it into my jersey.  He can tell I do not look so well so offers his stool for me.  I politely decline.  I see how he is just sitting out here in the heat, in the middle of nowhere just to be there for me and the others.  I am grateful for the people that do this for racers like me.  I do not want him to see that I have been crying so I wipe my eyes and nose.  I just tell him I need a moment.  I take off my cycling shoe and pull out of the insert.  Hoping to have more space for my foot.  

I stand there for a minute or so.  I text Craig telling him how I am struggling now.  Then, I get back on the bike.  It is just 15 miles to the next stop.  I just have to get there.  Not think about quitting.  just think about the next point.  

2:28 p.m. - 71 miles on the bike.  this is harder than all the doubles i did before.  i'm fighting cramping, crying, and the urge to quit.  I need a coke!  

On the bike I go, I ride along.  Slower than the first loop but moving along.  My foot feels some relief.  I drink more Heed and eat more gels on a regular basis now.  Watching the clock and reminding myself to take such things.  

As I ride along, I hear my phone jingle.  A text message from Craig.  He tells me not to worry and just to keep pacing myself and that he loves me.  This makes me feel a little better and I keep going.  After awhile, I return to the juncture to head out for  the last out and back.  

This time, I stop at the aid station.  The aid station worker gives me some gels and a new bottle of Heed.  I look briefly at my phone.  Facebook comments flash on the screen like text messages.  I catch a couple glimpses of messages from friends cheering me on during the day.  It always helps.  But, at this point, I see a message from my friend Paul saying "Get your head right Helen! Even if your body hurts, your mind doesn't have to. Stay positive! Tell yourself "this is what it feels like to succeed, to endure, to achieve!" Embrace the pain, bring it with you to the finish! Good job!!!"

Paul's words really move me.  He is right.  I need to keep going.  I need to stop thinking about quitting.  I need to just finish this bike ride and the run, I know I can do.  I also remember when I talked to my friend Mitch about his 100 Mile Run experience.  He said you will go through a range of emotions and learn a lot about yourself.  This is what I am going through.  This is a low and I will come out of it.  And, I will not quit.  

I then ride out for my last out and back.  I start to notice a lot less riders around me.  But, I start to see a bunch of cars pass me with bikes on them.  These must be the half triathlon folks finishing up and leaving.  A few vehicles that pass by honk and cheer me on, some ringing cowbells at me.  This is nice.  This is better than the jerks that drive by trying to run me off the road.  

About halfway out, I am riding along, I see Linda's vehicle drive pass me.  Then, the next car honks at me.  I look up and see my friend Lisa waving at me as she drives pass.  I smile at her.  It is nice to see a couple friends.  It has been lonely out here.  I also wonder how Linda did in her race.  

I continue riding along and eventually reach the last turnaround.  I get off my bike for a bit to give my feet a break.  I am sore all over.  My bottom is sore from sitting in the saddle for so many hours.  My neck and back ache.  I tell myself I should have put more time in the saddle before today.  I can feel my feet blistering on the bottom of my feet.  I take a moment to refuel.  The last stretch is ahead.  I thank the aid station worker for being out there.  He is very kind and encouraging to me.  

A van pulls up and the lady asks if so-and-so has come by.  The aid station guy says he is not sure.  The van appears to be a support van for someone.  I wish I had a support van.  

4:42 p.m. - at last bike aid station, mile 98.  slow going. . .but still going.  can't wait to be off the bike!

I ride back and see the 100 mile marker.  Just 12 more miles to go I tell myself.  Just keep going.  I think about how this would be a great day if I had chosen to do the half instead of the full.  I did great on the first swim loop but not the second.  I did great on the first bike loop but things really unraveled in the second loop.  I wonder how things will go on the run.  But, I know for the run, my friend Kelly is coming.  She is coming to help be there for me for the second half of the run.  That will be helpful.  

I think about how I am signed up to do Vineman in late July.  I am not sure I want to do another full after this.  This is pretty brutal.  I am not sure I ever want to go through this again.  I like the three tri sports but not particularly fond of all three together.  And, I can hardly wait to be off this bike.  

I feel a little disappointed that I am behind expected schedule.  But, I still have a good amount of time to run.  Oh, I can hardly wait to get out of my cycling shoes and into my running shoes.  I plan to put on my compression socks too.  Running will be good.  Running, I know best.  Being on the bike has been miserable.  I cannot wait to be done.  

As I ride along, just a few more miles to go, I see a car pulled over oddly on the side of the road.  I ride by it and look and see my friend Kelly sitting in it.  She gives me a big smile and waves.  This really lifts my spirits to see her.  She came out here early.  She turns her car around is driving behind me as I finish the last few miles.  

I ride back into Chaparral Cove towards the transition area.  I see Mark standing there.  He yells out my name cheering me on.  There is a small crowd of people on the left spectating and they give me a cheer as I roll in.  

I get into transition and feel grateful to be off the bike finally.  I throw off my cycling gear and throw on my Java Joggers shirt.  I pound a can of Coke.  So refreshing!  Kelly comes running near my transition area cheering me on.   I tell her it's been rough.  She says some encouraging things and tells me about other friends who wish me well to.  This is nice.  I also catch a glimpse of messages on my phone from many other friends.  

I put on my compression socks and feet feel so much relief going into my cushy running shoes.  Oh, this is good as I slide my feet into my running shoes.  

5:45 - off the bike.  had a coke and ready to run!  

The 26.2 Mile Run

Out of the transition I go, I start to run.  I feel good to run.  Just me and my legs now.  I run out of Chaparral Cove.  Mark cheers me on and tells the crowd, "This is Helen!"  And the crowd cheers me on.  I think what an awesome race director Mark is.  This special attention he gives people, not just the front runners but everyone is really nice.  

I then head out running.  I know there are not too many people behind me.  I thought there were more cyclists behind be earlier but they had disappeared.  I remember seeing the one guy quit.  I wonder if others quit on the bike as well.  The course was tough with all the hills.  Then, the hills and wind. 

I run along.  The run is not so flat either.  Rolling hills.  But, nothing like the hills I run on when I do trail running so it does not bother me too much.  I run at an okay pace for about four miles.  Then my stomach starts tightening up.  Ugh.  What is up with my stomach today?  I had some issues a few weeks ago but I thought things had settled back to normal.  

My stomach bothers me now and I really need to go relieve myself.  There's a porta-potty at mile 6.5 (the turnaround) they say.  I run a little bit thinking I can at least get to there.  No, i can't.  I look and find some bushes to go behind.  I then run there and relieve myself.  

Okay, should be better now.  I run about a mile.  Stomach starts turning and tightening again.  Good grief!  My legs feel okay running but my stomach is just unsettled.  I get to mile 6 and see the aid station.  I use the porta potty.  I rid myself of my fuel belt.  The guy gives me a cup of chicken broth.  It is warm and comforting.  

I then run about 1/2 mile to the turnaround.  A CHP patrol car is sitting there.  On the way back, my stomach bothers me again so I use the porta potty again knowing I won't see another one for awhile.  

I start to slowly run along for a bit but my stomach continues to bother me.  So, I start walking.  I walk up the hills and run off and on down the hill.   Before the race, I bought a new hand held water bottle which has a pouch big enough for my cell phone.  I can also see messages clearly on it.  I see all these messages from friends encouraging me along.  This really keeps me going.  

I start to walk more than run.  I give Craig a call while I am walking along.  I tell him how it's been a long, tough day.  I am so happy to hear his voice.  We talk for about a mile.  

As I walk/run along, I notice how pretty it is around me.  The sun is starting to set.  Lake Berryessa is on the side of me and it looks really pretty at dusk.   Then, it slowly starts to get darker and darker.  I thought I would finish the first half of the run before dark but it does not seem like that is happening now.  I don't care about the time so much anymore.  I am just going to keep going, even it if takes me forever.  I still have stomach issues so have to stop a couple times to relieve myself.  I feel like I have wasted an hour or more of my day with going to the bathroom.  Ugh.  

It starts to get dark and little eerie in the dark.  I do not have my lights right now.  So, I follow the double yellow line in the middle of the road.  I run a little.  I walk more.  I run a little.  I walk more.  I hear random noises and it kind of creeps me out to be alone in the dark.  

I eventually make my way back to Chaparral Cove.  I hear Kelly cheering for me.  I then run in towards the finish line.  The tough thing about this course is that it is two out and backs.  I have only done the first out and back.  I run up and see my brother there with a camera.  I stop near him.  He says "Is this it?"  I say no.  I am only halfway done.  I still have 13 miles to go.  Mark is there and cheers me on a little.  

I go to my drop bag and get my headlight.  I then start walking my way out of Chaparral Cove.  I tell my brother I am sorry but I will be finishing A LOT later than I had anticipated.

My brother and Kelly walk out of Chaparral Cove with me and down the road with me for a bit.  I forgot to put new batteries in my headlamp so the light is a bit dim.  Kelly uses her phone to shine more light my way.  We chat a bit as I trudge along.  

At the aid station, I eat some chips and oranges and drink some chicken broth.  I am so done eating gels.  After a couple miles, my brother heads back to the cove but Kelly continues keeping me company.  She chats about our friend's wedding she attended earlier and about other things.  She is really enjoying being here for me and helping me along.  I tell her a few times how grateful I am to have her there.  And though I do not have much pep in my voice, I am ever so grateful she is there.  

I run a little bit but walk more.  I just drag one foot in front of the other.  I am so tired.   My head feels light headed.   I feel a little faintish.  But, I keep going.  

10:10 p.m. - 18 miles on the run course.  not  running.  Kelly is keeping me company.  just trying to keep one foot in front of the other.  

We move slowly in the darkness.  I grab an extra light at the aid station since my headlamp is pretty much dead.  I continue along.  The sky is clear and filled with stars.  It is a rather pretty night.  Kelly and I check out the stars.  

As we move along in the darkness, I start to notice blue and red lights flashing in the air over a hill.  I tell Kelly that is the turnaround.  I know there are cops sitting at the turnaround point.  And sure enough, over the hill, I see the turn around.  I look at my watch figuring out how much time I have to finish.  I need to finish by midnight.  I will need to pick up the pace in order to do so.  

We hit the turn around.  The cop says on his loudspeaker "Good job!"  I then start a running shuffle back.  Last 10k to go.  

We shuffle run a bit.  At one point, one of the cop cars goes flying pass me.  The bright headlights of the cop car light up a big hill ahead.  Aww man.  It's easier when I cannot see the hill.  When I get to the hill, I have to walk up it.  

As tired as I am, I am aware of the time and that I need to keep moving to finish in time.  I see a couple walking together in the dark.  Another racer behind me.   A little bit later, I see this sweet girl from Colorado running along with a car behind her.  We had seen each other a few times throughout the race.  She knew she was the last person and looks like she's moving along well to finish.  

We continue running when I can along.  I walk some more.  I feel so tired.  I want to lay down in the road.  My head is light.  My body is exhausted.  This has been a long long day.  

Kelly asks me if this is the hardest thing I have done.  I say yes.  I say this race has tested me.  Really tested me in a way I haven't in a long time.  It is the only race I have ever thought about quitting.  Kelly asks me what was the last thing I had done that really tested me like this race.  I think for awhile and say I think my first marathon.  Not saying the other endurance events I have done were not hard but I knew I could and would finish those things.  This event has tested me in the swim, on the bike, and now on the water.  And, it has not been easy.  

I also tell Kelly about how neat the race director and the race crew has been.  I make a point to express thanks to each of the workers at the aid stations as I head back to the finish.  They all express pleasure for being out here for us.    

Kelly asks me if I would do this again, I say I don't think so.  Kelly asks me what is my next challenging thing I want to do.  Without any hesitation, I say Western States 100.  I also tell her I want to run a 100 mile race, possibly this year.  

We move along in the darkness, under the stars. . .I think it is too bad Ralph isn't out here with me because we could be trudging our way on the run together.  Then, I see the bridge, I know I am close. I start to pick up my pace a bit.  Midnight is getting close.  I can do this.  I have nearly done this.  I can hardly believe it.  I can feel it now.  

We cross the bridge and head towards Chaparral Cove.  I run in towards the finish line.  I pick up my pace.  I am in full stride now as I head into the finish line.  My brother is taken by surprise as to how fast I am running now.  Oh, I can smell it.  

I hit the grass and turn left towards the finish line and in I go.  Sprinting to the finish now. . .

Finished!!  Before midnight!  

16 hours, 54 minutes, 57 seconds!  

11:57 p.m. - the race beat me down good but it never broke me!  I finished 140.6. . .just before midnight and not last!  


In the end, I was the last person to finish the race.  I do not know what happened to the people that were behind me.  I saw some behind me but watched those behind me slowly disappear.  But, I now there were 70 registered and about 60-something started the race.  But, they said only 37 people finished.  And, I was #37.  But, I am happy I finished.  I know I would have regretted it if I had quit when I wanted to.  Oh, I happened to get second in my age group though.  

The things I have learned: That was a stupid idea.  Stupid but doable.  I should have done more swimming training, especially in the open water.  I should have put more time on the bike.  While I may have done long endurance cycling events before, I had not put a lot of time in the saddle lately and I needed that.  It probably wasn't the best idea to do a full distance triathlon a week after running 50 miles but I don't think that really posed that much of an issue.  My running legs were feeling okay during the run.  My stomach had issues all day long so I need to figure out ways to remedy that.  I have learned that having a support crew out is so important and know I cannot accomplish these big crazy stupid things I choose to do without having people there supporting me.  

Will I do it again?  At first, I thought no.  But, after further thought, I think I will do another one...but better trained.  And maybe next time, NOT a week after running a 50 mile race... ;-)  


Thank you to HITS Triathlon for putting on a great event with great support.  Special thanks to all the crew at all the aid stations.  They really helped me through a long, tough day.  Extra special thanks to Mark Wilson.  You are quite a special race director.  I have done many races and have never had a race director so me so much personal attention and care.  I sometimes feel the attention is usually directed at the winners of the events.  But you gave that attention to everyone, be it the front, middle, or back.  This is why I would recommend to anyone to do a HITS triathlon.   

Thank you to all my friends for sending out wonderful messages my way all day long.  And, I thank ALL my athlete friends for your friendship and how you have helped me become an athlete in the past three years.  Just three years ago, I was trying to train for my first sprint triathlon.  I could barely swim, bike or run.   

To my swimming friends, it is still a struggle in the water for me but I have come a long ways since that first time I freaked out in Folsom Lake.  Thank you swimming friends for helping me along especially to the Sacramento Swimming Enthusiasts and Myron and Shawn.  

To my cycling friends, thank you for all the rides to make me into the cyclist I am today.  I thought back to my first triathlon where I spent an hour to ride 12 miles.  I got stuck on a hill (a small hill to me now).  Special thanks to Jeff and Javier for all you do for Hammerin' Wheels.  And, special thanks to ALL my WAV girls!!    Thank you Linda and Mary for being out there with me!  Congrats on your half finish!  

To my running friends, I thank you for making me into the crazy runner I am today.  Special thanks always goes to my Java Joggers, my family.  Also, to FTR, who have really turned my craziness up a notch in the past year.  Thank you Paul for the message that would help me out of my bad patch during my bike ride.  And, extra special thanks to Kelly for coming out there for me.  

Thanks Ralph for putting stupid crazy ideas into my head.  I may not like you during the crazy stupid event but I appreciate you inspire me to do crazy stupid things and I somehow manage to finish the crazy stupid thing!  Thank you and I am glad I have you as my crazy stupid friend!  

Thanks to my brother Jimmy for coming out there to pick me up and cheer me on!  And, for just being the most awesome brother!  

Thanks to Craig for being the best boyfriend and always supporting me in my stupid, crazy endeavors even when it worries you a little bit.  Thanks for making sure my bike is good to go before I do the event and making sure I have everything I need before I go.  Thanks for cheering me on during the event as it really does help me keep going!  I love you and am so grateful for all your support in my crazy stupid things.  ;-)  

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