Ironwoman Dreams

If I can do this, anyone can.

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Finding No Meaning: A Training Story

Easter holiday time, no matter what your religion, can be a good opportunity to refresh: to make new goals or re-double our efforts toward the ones we set earlier in the year. Life happens pretty fast, and, if we don’t take these chances to pop our heads up and assess how we’re doing, like any open water swimmer can tell you, we can end up way off course.

However, while we assess our goals, we should also take a moment to  ask ourselves: are we packaging our goals with a degree of self care and objectivity?

I ask this question because most athletes that I know work very hard to achieve certain goals. In working toward a goal, taking measurements, striving day after day, we tend to grow emotionally attached to our goals. While these emotions become attached to goals, they are often deeply rooted within ourselves, frequently attached to certain perceptions we have about ourselves, the same perceptions that create inner monologues and value judgements based on what we do or don’t do. These perceptions have been honed over time, and I have yet to meet a person who lacks any. Still, it’s what you do with these perceptions and feelings that have a profound affect on your overall well-being as you work to reach your goals.

A few weeks ago, Coach Mikey had us doing my least favorite breathing exercise: 50 yd breathing every 3, 50 yd breathing every 5, 50 yd breathing every 7, 50 yd breathing every 5. Even though I can do 25 yards without breathing at all, somehow, the counting trips me up, and I find myself gasping for air after the second 50.

Stopping for a second to look up at Mikey, I shook my head and said, “I don’t know why I can’t seem to handle this drill.”

Mikey, completely unconcerned, looked at me briefly, and said, “Don’t make it mean anything.”

Oh. Okay. I shrugged off my concerns and kept swimming, caring less about how crappy I was at the drill, and moving forward, relieved from the burden of over-thinking, without much emotion toward it at all.

But that moment was poignant. Her words were like an arrow plunging straight into the roots and earth of every problem I ever had. Hadn’t I always made pretty much everything mean something? Hadn’t I always related every goal and every interaction with other people to some deep insecurity or value judgment of myself?

While racing, every DNF, while I gave my best speeches about how I tried my best and that’s what counted, somehow, deeply, meant that I just didn’t have it in me to be a real triathlete, that I was foolish for thinking so. While at work, every time I tripped up during a big presentation meant that I just didn’t have what it took to be successful. While dating, every guy who wasn’t in the right place to have a relationship, I secretly thought, “…with me.” Sense a theme here?

I have attached so much meaning to tiny, little blips in the grand scheme of things, that every time I have not been absolutely perfect has threatened to rip down the grand scheme of my life. In reality, the stakes are not that high. Furthermore, stumbles and blips are natural, and can sometimes mean, counterintuitively, that  you ARE making progress.

So, lately, when I’ve caught myself getting wrapped up in those emotional roots over a tiny blip, I pop my head up, look around, take a deep breath, and keep swimming.

Waves have their ups and downs. Keep on swimming!

Waves have their ups and downs. Keep on swimming!


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The “Raw”, But Poignant End: A Diet Story

I feel like I am being a bit misleading, writing about the end of my intended two-week raw diet at what would be the actual end of my two-week raw diet, when actually, my two-week raw diet was only one week long. Why? Well, apparently, detoxing after doing an ironman isn’t as good of an idea as I had thought.

Trying to run after an Ironman distance race is an experience. Even when you feel fit and healthy, and like you can actually run a distance, your body surprises you by breaking down mid-way through, or going at a pace much slower than what you’re used to doing. Combine that with a low carb, lower protein diet, and it’s definitely not a good situation. Even now, I struggle to go a full hour, both mentally and physically, and to go at a 9-10 min pace is, at times, laughable at that distance.

I read through one of my favorite raw athlete’s blog FAQ when trying to figure out whether I should continue going raw, and discovered that he took a full year off of training after going raw because, he said, that the detox symptoms were just too intense. I knew I was making the right move by cutting things short.

The good news is that I DID get something out of it. My appetite is regulated, and my monstrous desire for sweet and carby snacks has gone away. My daily energy has returned and my mood has shifted to a much more healthy and upbeat one. I no longer wish to hide from the world and cry, which is awesome.

Further, I’ve decided that I’m going to do Wildflower Long Course again next year, and work on having fun and being fitter, faster and stronger. I’ve started to re-add Pilates to my life, and maybe I’ll do some kickboxing, just to mix things up in the off-season. I’m holding off on any marathons until after Wildflower. Next year, I may do Catalina again in November, followed by the Avalon 50-miler in January. I will always and forever be a runner at heart. Now, if only my body would recover so that I can be one for real again…*sigh* Patience is a virtue.


So, Then What? A Training Story

Yesterday’s challenge: A 4/2 brick, four solid hours on the bike, followed by two on the run. It was two hours short of the epic 5/3 brick, which is going to be our last big workout before we taper for Vineman.

Our small group of Viners gathered in Westlake, headed by substitute coach, Pete, who was a participant this year, but who has been a TNT coach over the years, as well as a seasoned triathlete and Ironman himself. Our team of coaches were in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, helping and cheering for our fellow teammates as they completed their journey to becoming Ironmen.

The course Pete designed took us up and over Potrero Rd hills, through a few Cat 5 climbs, and then looped onto Agora Rd, where we met lots of little climbs and rollers along the way. As usual, the pack pulled away from me, at a 20+ mph pace, early on. Spinning at 17-18 mph up Potrero, I felt the ever-yawning stretch between me and the group pull my heart downward. I was last…and alone…again. The panic began.

The course felt like climb after climb, after climb, which didn’t afford me many chances to speed up or maintain a higher pace. My breath remained quick. I got stuck at every light, it seemed, and made a wrong turn and had to walk my bike back across two crosswalks to get back on track. Then, I discovered that my front wheel was loose, and my rear wheel had the brake pads knocked out of alignment. Some older guy stopped and talked my ear off about fixing bike wheels (everyone’s an expert), and, then, finally I got back along my not-so-merry way.

Watching the clock, I could see how much valuable time all of the stops were sucking up. According to me odometer, I was going along at a 15-16 mph pace, but, overall, I was barely over 11 mph, nearly two hours in. Plus the climbs seemed to suck me into a tar pit of slowness. I would watch as my pace slowed to 6 mph up some of the rollers, and I knew that it was a shortcoming in me, because none of my teammates where spinning that slowly up the hills. I started hyperventilating.

Does this mean I suck? Am I not going to finish the bike on race day? Will this amount to yet another DNF?

The thoughts raced through my mind. My breathing staccatod and unnatural, rushed in and out of my lungs. I couldn’t seem to control it. I wrestled with the air, trying to take deep breaths, to keep my muscles oxygenated, but I couldn’t seem to regain consistent control.

At the 40-mile mark, I looped back into the parking lot, where Pete asked me how I was doing. I told him I wasn’t doing great, emotionally. He told me to quit worrying about everyone else and about my overall mileage, and just to get out there and ride my bike.

I tried. I worked on keeping consistent and fast-ish pacing. When I saw one of our faster riders heading in from a longer loop that the one I was on, I made it a goal to keep up and keep pace with her for the stretch of road that we were on. Keeping up with her gave me a slight burst of confidence, at least for a short stretch.

Shortly thereafter, we headed out on our 2-hour run, back up Potrero, with some consistent climbs as the heat overhead began to rise. Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty good on the run, and I kept a consistent 9-10 min/mile pace for the first six miles, but Gatorade bottles were depleted by mile 6 and I was quickly becoming dehydrated and upset because of it. I began to walk more to conserve my energy and sweat, since I didn’t know where the heck I’d see Pete next.

By mile 7, I saw Pete and got refilled, along with an extra mini-Gatorade bottle to swig on. While my run pace remained fairly consistent, I took quite a few more walk breaks in the heat than what I normally would have done. In the end, I finished 11 total miles in just under two hours, which, for really hilly and hot, I guess is acceptable.

After practice, Pete had a talk with me. Reason #555 why Pete is amazing is that he doesn’t sugarcoat what you need to hear, and he honestly cares.

“You have got to stop the negative self talk,” he told me. “I’m serious.”

He explained that the negative self talk, above the physical aspects of the race, would be the thing to hurt me. As history had shown, it wasn’t exactly helping my life. I just didn’t know how to get rid of it.

He told me that I needed to find something to replace it with, something that felt true to me, that didn’t feel trite or contrived. One thing he said that he does when times get tough on the bike and he starts to go to that negative place, he reserves one special phrase that doesn’t often get used when we talk to ourselves. He says, “I’m proud of you, Pete.” Just like that. Out loud.

I had never said that to myself, especially while riding my bike. I’m hard on myself, I suppose. All people attempting the Ironman are. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be here, I guess. I was willing to give that phrase a shot.

But then, what of the fear? The anxiety that always came with every ride. I felt like, although I was getting stronger on the bike, so was everyone else, and that I would never catch up to them. And that, somehow, the team was a marker for how I was going to fare in my race. Pete had me look into the face of my fear: What if I didn’t finish? What then?

Surely my life wasn’t over. I could try this again another time. I could be more patient with myself and more forgiving–to go from non-triathlete to Ironwoman in 8 months time, that’s quite a feat. Especially for someone who was never very athletic or coordinated.

More importantly, I could look at where I started, and how far I’d come. I could think back to all of the times I fell while learning to clip in, and of that epic day in Palos Verdes, when I climbed up all of Hawthorne without stopping. Those memories of how I conquered my fears, those feelings of triumph, I earned those. I went from shaky newbie triathlete to someone who swims, bikes and even runs with more confidence than ever before. The things that I can do today make me a stronger person, a forever changed person, and, in the end, I don’t need a medal to prove that I am an Ironwoman. I am today, and maybe I’ve always been one, deep down inside.

So what if I don’t finish the bike? I am proud of myself anyway.


Being Your Own Superhero: A Training Story

I saw “Man Of Steel” this past weekend with my Ironteam buddies, on the Friday night before our long Saturday practice. Good lord, that man is attractive! — Sorry, I digress. It’s actually kind of hilarious how, after all of this training, even fictional superheroes don’t seem to impress me as much as they used to. This whole experience has changed me forever.

Still, I felt that familiar lump in my stomach while prepping my gear Saturday morning for our longest bike ride to date: 90 miles. I worried about what sort of pain and mental anguish I would encounter today. Lets face it, because every ride thus far had given me some kind of grief, I wasn’t naive about the possibilities. I hoped for the best, told myself to “just enjoy yourself” but had to prepare my mind in case the bad stuff came.

Right before we took off, Coach Amy pulled me aside and said, “Your assignment for today is not to think about what anyone else is doing. This is your ride. It doesn’t have to be all fun, you’re going to have to work hard, but just try to enjoy as much of it as you can.”

The lot of us all started out, as usual, in a pack, but everyone’s quickly sped away from and passed me as I wheeled up the hills. Something felt weird to me, like I had less power in my legs than usual. It was early on in the ride and I just could not gain any momentum.

My inn thigh and glute began burning. As the ride progressed, this burning became cramping.
What is wrong with me? I whimpered to myself.
Why do I suck at this?
Clearly, Amy’s assignment had gone out the window. I was wheeling and cramping and whimpering myself into Self Flagellation City, Population: 1.

Ding! A stupid cyclist’s bell interrupted my pity party. I scootched to the right to let him pass.
Ding! Ding! Ding! He didn’t move forward, but pulled up alongside me.
“How are you doing?” It was Coach Jason.
“I’m cramping,” I whimpered.
He asked me where it was and when it started, and asked me if I could ride to SAG, which was another mile and a half up the road. The cramping was searing and horrid. I focused on pedaling with my left, non-cramping leg until we got to the SAG stop.

Jason made me stretch several different ways before I hopped back on the bike, telling me to pull over and stretch if I felt the cramping again, rather than try to ride through it. I ended up pulling over to stretch about every five miles for the first 50 or so miles of the ride.

The pain was a slow build, from a subtle burn to searing pain over the course of a sustained climb. It felt like a devil’s paw gripping around my glute and thigh.
“Ow! Ow! OOOWWW!!!!” I screamed over and over again, with such a venom and ferocity while climbing a gradual incline to Los Posas along the PCH, that I even scared myself, not to mention probably a group of cyclists who had stopped to enjoy the ocean view in a little gravel lookout area near the side of the road.

I hated the pain. I hated my bike. I hated everyone on my team for being naturally fast. I hated myself for being slow. I hated that I couldn’t get any faster, no matter how hard I tried. I was beside myself with anxiety and anger.

The ride to Los Posas seemed to take forever. When I finally got there, I stretched again, ate a Bonk Breaker, and took a moment to snap out of crazy hysterical mode. I was going to finish this ride, no matter what it took.

Mile 50-75 found me able to go a bit longer between stretches, about every 10 miles. I saw the majority of my teammates on the home path, back to base at around mile 70, hour six for me. They all finished 90 miles in the time it took me to finish 70. Wow, I am terrible at this, thought the bad student me.

I was out there, completely alone, and, strangely, there was something wildly freeing about that. I had no one to keep up with, no one to chase, no one to worry about on that course but me. And you know what happened? I flew! Well…no…I didn’t fly, nor did I cycle insanely fast on PCH hills, but I averaged about a 15-16 mph pace on the way back, with stop lights and stopping to talk to Jason (he was worried about me and drove back to find me). It was fast for me.

When I got back to Zuma Beach, my teammates had already run and were relaxing in the parking lot. They cheered when I came back in. Sure it felt a little bad to be so far behind, but overall, I felt accomplished. I didn’t quit. I kept going. And I even ran for an hour afterward!

In the end, I discovered that I’d paced overall at over 12mph. While that’s a pretty slow overall pace, my constant sustained stops and the occasional stoplight add up. Best of all, to finish Vineman, I’ve calculated that I need to keep an overall pace of 13 mph or more, so, as long as I stay consistent, I have got this!

This is the lesson in which I learn to quit worrying about other people, that my accomplishments are my own. I rescued myself out there, I found my inner Woman of Steel, dug deep, and kept going, in spite of all that the Dark Lord of Pain could throw at me. I say, who needs a superhero when you can be one yourself?

20130617-211635.jpg I kind of like this Superhero persona (better keep it under wraps)!

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Losing Faith: A Cycling Story

Anaheim to San Diego: 80 miles. It’s the longest I’ve ridden so far. I was half dreading, half looking forward to this ride, thinking that, somehow, maybe, my body would make a breakthrough and my legs would propel me at a steady pace all the way down the coast.

When we arrived in Anaheim, my teammates buzzed excitedly about the scenic journey ahead. Some had ridden the route before, while others, like me, had no idea what to expect. I hoped that, at least, we wouldn’t get separated.

We started out on the bike path near Angel Stadium. For a while, I stayed with the pack, but, little by little, they began to pull away. I piled on the gears and spun furiously, trying to keep up, but, even at 16-18 mph, I was no match, and I was beginning to tire with no real warm up. My speed dropped to 15-16 mph, and I trailed behind.

The bike path ended at the Pacific Coast Highway, where my paper directions told me to follow South. I headed down the road alone for a while, until Coach Quinton and my teammate, Bobbi, caught up with me. We followed the road up and down rollers, through stop and go traffic, and to the first SAG stop at Mile 33.

I guess that I had held out some kind of hope that more of my teammates would be waiting at the stop, having dropped off from the furious out of the gate pace they began with. Only two teammates remained when I got there, everyone else having done what they needed to do and rolled out already. I was beginning to feel like a huge loser. I could feel the defeat loom over me like a suffocating dark, smoggy cloud. My heart sank into my cleats as I clipped in and rode on.

Just before Camp Pendleton is a long stretch of false flat, a slight incline that caused the pressure of my saddle to multiply. My breath quickened as I tried to pedal through the searing pain. I whimpered slightly, pedaling by campers, who gave puzzled looks as I passed with my pained expression. My pace was about 14.5 mph, as I tried to keep from having a total meltdown.

Everything hurt by the time I rolled through the military base, a long stretch of un- scenic territory that seemed to last forever. Quinton remained about 100-200 yards ahead of me as I pedaled furiously to keep up. Looking down at my watch, I knew that I wasn’t going to make the cut-off time that the coaches had planned, and that I was going to be the only one on the team who wouldn’t. Me, the stupid, stupid slowpoke, I was thinking. I am not an Ironman. I wasn’t cut out for this.

It was then that the dam burst. First I started whimpering, which led to pathetically weak sobs, which broke into full-on wailing. I didn’t even care if anyone heard me. I couldn’t stop. I cried to all of my frustrations, all of my failures. I grieved with such sorrow all of my hopes and dreams of the last year. They fell to the speeding ground, with my tears. I failed. Now to finish this stupid ride, I told myself.

Quinton was far enough away that he hadn’t heard my sobfest. Once through Camp Pendleton, he pointed out that we were quite near the final SAG stop, which was only 15 miles from our final destination. Getting to SAG was an ordeal, as we had to navigate through a busy port town, with hoards of beach goers streaming toward the water. Starting up into traffic, my wheel accidentally caught Quinton’s and I went down, scraping my knee a tiny bit (of course), right in front of lots of people(of course). I cried a few frustrated tears, and carefully wove through cars to the parking lot, where I got some refills on water and a cookie.

The last fifteen miles were slow torture, with tons of dangerous beach traffic, rough roads, and tons of stop and go. I just need to get there, I just need to get there. I ridiculously chanted to myself, over and over. My seat was starting to hurt again as we hit the last couple of miles on a false flat, my legs ached, and I was emotionally quite worse for the wear.

Everyone else on the team had gotten to Pizza Port, our final destination in Solana Beach, and had already changed clothes and ordered food. Even as teammates and coaches high-fived me, I felt like I was being patronized. In my mind, I had failed. I was the worst one. The worst cyclist on the team. I didn’t deserve a high five.

“You just rode 80 miles,” Coach Holly said to me. “Don’t take away from that.”

Yeah, 80 miles at a 12mph overall pace, I thought to myself. Tears continued to roll down my cheeks. I felt like an ungrateful brat, but I didn’t care. Riz saw my tears and gave me a hug. It amazes me that my coaches still believe in me, even after I am continuously left in the dust, even during my best efforts. I want to believe, but the faith I had in the beginning is running out of me. Will my best ever be good enough?

I can’t help but be left with this sort of heartbroken feeling, like all of this is for nothing. It’s not like I am not going to try still, but I just wish that I could receive some sign from my body to have a little bit of hope.

P.S. It really was a beautiful ride. Sorry I don’t have pictures. I was too busy pedaling furiously or boo-hooing to take them

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Moving Targets: A Training Story

The past 7 days have tested me again. Here we are, three months before my big race, and I have had moments where I felt completely broken. Last week, I biked 75 miles and ran for 60 minutes afterward, but was so exhausted that I skipped out on my ocean swim and 15-miler the next day, instead opting to go home and sleep for a few hours, and then, later, I made a feeble attempt at running, only seven miles along the beach.

I felt determined to pick things back up again, but, every workout, my limbs felt weighted, and I struggled against them, from sluggy swim, to burdened, burned-out bike, to ragged run. Finally, on Friday morning, I felt a break-through on the swim, a sudden burst of power that hadn’t been there in ages. My arms and torso pulled and twisted in unison, leaving me gliding through the pool like a regular sea creature, through endless 300s, speed drills and pacing drills. I left the pool that morning thinking that perhaps I’d gotten back that mojo I’d lost in the last few weeks.

We knew Saturday would be hot, and that there would be 80 miles of hills to climb. On top of everything, my knees had been a little achey all week from last week’s hilly bike ride. I asked to take the alternate “below the waist injury” route that the coaches had devised, which skipped the Cat 4 climbs, but still included several Cat 5 climbs. No biggie, considering what we’d been doing.

I clipped myself in and headed out on the route, keeping a high cadence and letting the morning air chill what little arm I had peeking out between my warmers and my sleeveless tri top. I looked down and saw that I was going at a good 18-20 mph. I felt okay, like, maybe I could get through this thing without crumbling, or feeling too much pain. 35 minutes in, I wasn’t feeling that sentiment as much. My leg power reverted back to its mid-week faiblesse, and I knew this whole thing was going to be a struggle. I felt cyclists whom I was perfectly capable of passing, or, at least, staying in time with, zoom by me. I gritted my teeth, turned up my gears, and pushed harder, but my bursts of power faded and became less intense as the sun began to turn up the heat.

As I continued on, struggling against my own physical weakness, I noticed that my new Adamo saddle was also beginning to bug me. Adamos are lauded by many triathletes because they have a cut-out in the front, and no nose, so there is nothing to violently smash and chafe a person’s more sensitive areas. However, they are both wider and a bit harder than your average bike saddle, and their positioning forces a person to sit on the sit-bones, as opposed to the mid or front of the saddle, which takes more than a bit of getting used to. Their site’s FAQ specifically mentions that the body must adapt to the saddle, and that it takes several rides to “build up” to comfort. Well, my body was not used to it yet, and the saddle uncomfortably dug into the crease where my thighs met my body on either side, as well as ground into my sitbones. After a while, it would go numb, and I would have some relief, but a change in position would leave me aching again.

After the first 26-mile loop, I had a feeling that two more rounds were going to be tough on me. By the fourth Cat 5 climb, my knees were unhappy. I stopped at our SAG point, grabbed some water, and met up with Coach Dave, where I told him that my knees were bugging me. He told me to cut myself off at two loops, and, disappointed as I was, I agreed that today just wasn’t my day. Tail between legs, I hopped back on my torture device, and started the slow wheel back home. Meanwhile, my right foot started to hurt, right where the pedal sat, under the fourth toe. At first, it was tolerable, but, by mile 45, it was killing me! I began whimpering as I pushed my foot and pedal up the hill. That was that. I phoned up our rescue SAG person, and he came and scooped me up, defeated and miserable.

I still managed to get in an hour run immediately afterward, but I felt so disappointed in myself that I hadn’t been able to complete 80 miles with the rest of the team. Well, not everyone finished the whole thing. Some had worse days than I did. Still, I have yet to have an amazing bike ride. I don’t even know what that feels like.

Jason suggested that I stop mashing such heavy gears, focus on my quad strength and my technique, which I will attempt in the near future. Still, I worry about making my cutoff at Wildflower if I go that route. I know mashing is bad for a person’s knees, but, if that’s the only way I know how to go faster, how can I train myself the other way in time for a tough race? It’s a concern, that’s for sure.

The next day, we gathered in Santa Monica for our regular ocean swim session. As we got up to the water, I choked, remembering the high, scary waves that had occurred last time I found myself in that big body of brine. Coach Quinton stayed with me the whole time, making sure he was in my line of sight as we navigated the smallish waves on the way out. I found it hard to catch my breath in the chilly water, but, eventually, I was able to keep going more than a few strokes at a time.

Before I knew it, I was out of the water, exhausted, but feeling accomplished that I didn’t let my fear get the best of me. Finally, we were onto the run, and I was feeling ready for the 17 miles we were about to accomplish.

Our coaches planned the route along the CicLAvia To The Sea event, a city-wide block party in Los Angeles that ran from Downtown L.A. to Venice Beach. What a sight for L.A! No cars, just people of all ages and races out enjoying the weather on bikes, rollerblades, and on foot. As we ran along sidewalks in our purple TNT gear, random folks would shout, “Go Team!” from the crowd in the street. It felt like some kind of crazy, reverse-world marathon!

The sun was working overtime that day as well, as we ran up Venice Blvd. My Nuun-filled water bottles were sucked dry by the time I got to SAG at Mile 6 (and we had stopped at a Taco Bell to refill them and go to the bathroom at Mile 4), and I was down to very little by the time we neared Fairfax, our turnaround point, two and a half miles up the road. Luckily, one of our teammates, Rob, came to the rescue, offering us ice pops, ice and water to fuel us forward on the next leg.

By the time I got back to Kris, my bottles were again drying up. I refilled with more Nuun, which wasn’t my typical long run electrolyte (I’m a Gatorade gal on a long run), but I’d thought, “I’ll be fine. I have two GUs and a Stinger waffle–what could go wrong?” Not even a mile out of our last SAG stop, I felt it happening. My legs slowed down, my eyes felt droopy. I was bonking, hard. Wuh-oh! Luckily, I still had Gu #2 stashed away. I slowed to a walk, and sucked it down, along with some sips of Nuun. I hoped it would get me through the last five miles of the run.

About ten or fifteen minutes after my Gu shot, my energy returned for a bit. My pace picked up and I managed to get in some conversation as I continued forward. The initial burst of energy flagged a bit by Mile 14, where I took a couple of early walk breaks to get through the rough patches. The last mile, my endurance returned, and I finished strong. All in all, I finished in under three hours and ten minutes, and, with all of the stopping (stop lights, SAG stops, bathroom breaks), the crowds, and lallygagging, and bonking because of the heat, I think that wasn’t half bad.

Afterward, a teammate and I stood in the ocean for a bit to cool off our legs, a natural ice bath. What a weekend!

Sometimes I think that I’m not getting any better as an athlete, because of these hardships, but, as Coach Quinton put it to me this weekend, “You’re trying to hit a goal, but the goal post keeps moving, the training keeps getting harder. So, you are getting better, but you won’t know it until your race.” I sure hope he’s right!

Here are some pix:

[All photos are credited to Paiwei Wei]