Oh, yeah, in case you hadn’t figured it out, I’m not doing Austin 70.3 next weekend. As much fun as it was going to be fly all the way there, completely exhausted, after no training for three weeks, all stressed and tired from Steve having a broken leg and stuff, and have a terrible race, the weekend before the wedding — I decided it wouldn’t be as much fun as not going.

Kinda sad, since both Kristen and Kristin are doing it and it would have been fun.

I decided this around mile 4 of the San Jose Half-Marathon, which was not a great time to decide I just wanted to be done. (And, really early in a half-marathon to start having the “I want to quit”/”No, don’t quit yet” debate.) After I stopped about 10 feet before the 10K mat, I sat down on the sidewalk for a little while. When I got up, I was covered in sweat and tears and snot (ok, that’s a lie, I didn’t cry until I got back to the car), and started walking the 1.75 miles back along the race course to my car.

I passed thousands of people on my way back to the car, all still running. Usually, when you clearly have dropped out of a race, everyone who sees you asks are you ok/what’s wrong/do you need help. But, whatever look I was giving off, not one of the thousands of spectators said a word to me while I walked back to the car.

And, then I was done.

Race Report: Oh, Right.

People always ask me ‘ohhh, how’s the Patch going?’ and I really ought to have a super awesome answer that also makes them feel appropriately annoying, because I just don’t know how many times I can say 1. there is no “the” and 2. busy.

So, yes, I finally put together an ok half-Ironman-distance race last weekend, but I haven’t really had much to say about it, because, oddly enough, life didn’t stop after that. Shock.

Big Kahuna was on Sept. 11 — side note: as we were all standing on the beach before the start, people are like pumping themselves up and jumping up and down and yelling “Go Lauren” and “Team in Training, yay!” and this girl next to me (in the exact same super peppy, cheering voice) goes: “Yeah, Sept. 11. Never forget! WOOOO!” I couldn’t (inappropriately) stop laughing.

It was a fine race. How is work? Fine. How was the race? Fine. How is wedding planning? Fine.

Turns out, I know how to swim. Who knew. Swam my ass off – just crazy hard the whole time. After the 50m of hard swimming, head down at the beginning, I realized I was pulling away from the people around me and looked up. 50m in, there was a girl already 20 feet ahead — that was the closest I was to her all day.

I swam hard, just really hard, thought my arms were burning off the whole time. Why? Because, for some reason, I had this giant fear that the girls behind me would catch me. No idea why this was such a huge fear, probably some emotional issues , but I was just terrified they would catch me. This is probably the same fear that terrifies me when I’m even close to an interval on the track – I prefer to be significantly under the interval, so I don’t have to be scared I won’t make it.

Came out of the water second. Ran up the sand, crossed the timing mat, ran up the ramp and looked at my watch. 29:15! Sweet, I must have been like 28:40-something. Nope, I officially crossed the mat in 29:00. Sigh. But, second fastest swim of the day and I felt good about it.

I got on the bike second. I came off the bike second. Not a lot happened in between. (I actually had no idea I was second. Somehow, all the spectators missed the girl in first. I missed the girl in first. So, I was convinced I was winning, no worries, until I started the run. Oops.)

I hit the turnaround on the bike in 1:13. I finished the bike in 2:36. If you can do math, you would think I blew up — and, I mean, I probably did a little — but, really, you turned around and almost got knocked backwards by the wind. The super smart and not at all annoying guys who were riding by me (ok, just one guy, who stayed behind me and then sprinted from wheel to wheel and then drifted backwards and then sprinted onto the next wheel that passed, was really annoying) kept standing up and pushing into the wind. Hmmm…

I started the run strong. I ran strong for awhile. Then, I stopped running strong. I was running along ticking off 7:15 miles – which was fine – and I was on pace to go like 4:47 and I was ecstatic. I even promised myself if I went under 4:50 I would just be done for the year. Then, in between a 7:00 mile and a 7:40 was an 11:30 mile. That didn’t seem quite right. I want my damn 3.5 minutes back!

Even if the mile 8 marker was off (it was), I stopped running anything resembling 7:15 miles shortly after that. I didn’t even really know it. The last coherent thought I remember is “And, then my legs gave out.” (Yes, most of my thoughts during races are of the narrative variety directed at an unnamed third party). Then, it’s just sort of a blur. I kept “running” and I kept “pushing” and hoping somehow another mile marker would be off in the negative direction and I’d still come in under 4:50 — it never happened, the stupid run is like 13.5 miles and slow, not that it’s any different than it’s always been every year — and eventually I made it to the beach and then eventually I made it through the sand to the finish.

Evidently, I slowed down a lot. I was like 5-6 minutes behind the girl in first at the turnaround; I ended up 13 minutes behind her. But, I had NO idea I was slowing down that much. I couldn’t really see my watch or read it. I couldn’t add. I was fine, didn’t end up in the med tent or anything, but man, I hate the last four miles of these things.

This is me at the start of the run. I don’t even remember going over this bridge. At first, I thought this must have been near the end because I have no recollection of it, but I’m still wearing my glasses, so. And, also, what the fuck is up with my run:

Apparently, along with running faster, I also need to work on not running like a gimp.

This is the only good picture of me from the race. It’s my ‘I can see the finish and I will not fall down before the finish line’ look:

I went 4:52 and came in second. Which is fine, solid, satisfying to put together an ok half after a year of trying to come to grips with a significantly longer race. (Though in all fairness to myself, I probably would have put together an ok half at Steelhead, there just wasn’t a swim.)

And, it was nice to remember that oh, right, I’m not completely, totally awful. I’m just used to racing with girls who are good enough to make me feel like I’m completely, totally awful.

But, it would have been nicer to have run 4 minutes faster.

SF Tri at Alcatraz: A Race Report

I would like to make a statement for the public record: if the three or whatever age group girls who beat me took their elite licenses, which I know they’ve all qualified for multiple times, it would have been a deeper and more interesting women’s pro field. Just for the record.

SF Tri at Alcatraz is a totally, completely, not at all the same race as Escape from Alcatraz back in June. Except that they’re basically more or less the same course with a few changes. Oh, and this one was less crowded, I’m pretty sure cheaper, and they had waffles and Ghiradelli was a sponsor — so, why it didn’t sell out is beyond me.

The race started with us diving off the boat after the longest hesitation ever. (Uh, did that loud cannon mean go? Why are they yelling go? No one else is going, should I go? Etc.) And it became clear pretty quickly that the swim was going to be rough.

I swam ok and with the other girls for a little bit. Then I got water instead of air a few too many times in a row and smacked in the face with some waves and the girls were gone. It was pretty choppy, so once someone was gone there was no seeing them. In fact, there was no real seeing anything. Instead of having the current with us like you usually do on this swim, we had no current or were actually fighting the current at some points. And then the wind moving against that on the surface was creating a lot of waves.

For some people, I think, it was just a hard, slow swim — probably those that have more experience, technique and, I dunno, substance, or that don’t know any better. But, for some of us, it was like 47 minutes of getting punched in the face. I was getting tossed around, swallowing water, going nowhere, and really thought I was just never going to make to shore. There was a boat to the right of me with a light flashing (I guess because it was so shitty out they wanted to make sure you could see it) and more or less the only thing that stopped me from waving the boat down was that I didn’t want to be the only pro that got pulled from the swim.

For reference, I swam 13 minutes faster last year and 18 minutes faster back in June.

And the people I expected to come out of the water with all finished 2-3 minutes ahead of me. So, I spent the rest of the race figuring I’d never catch back up.

I had, supposedly, the fastest T1 (go me!) but that seems sort of unlikely. The results also say I had the slowest T2 — but I’m pretty sure I was sort of dazed and slow at both, so.

Then, I got on my bike and just stayed 2-3 minutes behind the girls I expected to come out of the water with. I wasn’t biking awful, but I wasn’t biking great either. I averaged the exact same wattage for this race that I did for Steelhead last week, where the bike was almost twice as long, so oops. I was very up and down, which means mostly down. I just don’t know my Olympic distance pace anymore — I kept slipping back into Half pace. I made it almost out of Golden Gate Park before Courtenay caught me, which was farther than I think I made it last year – improvement or something!

I really thought I was biking alright and just couldn’t make up the deficit from the swim, but the results suggest I was actually biking pretty meh. Good thing I didn’t know that.

Because, somehow, I managed to stay sort of positive — like not really positive, but positive for me. I started running still completely convinced I was just never going to make up the deficit from the swim, but I was running faster and faster. I just wanted to actually fight for it, I wanted not to look stupid, I dunno. I just didn’t think about it and then I realized I was gaining on a bunch of girls ahead of me. I passed a girl and realized I was actually in the money! Usually, at this race, I just want to shoot myself on the long uphill up to the bridge and I slow down and I get passed and whatever, but I passed this girl and another age group girl at the top of that hill and I just kept thinking ‘make it stick,’ so instead of collapsing into a crying ball I pushed it so hard up the rest of the hill and caught a few more age group girls.

Then, I ran scared. Pushed it the whole way, convinced I could hear someone coming up behind me.

So, it wasn’t my best race ever (my best race ever hasn’t been in a few years), but it was a pretty big improvement internally. For how shit the race started and how bad it got at some points, I didn’t just give up and mentally walk it in. And, I finally ran fast at a race. AND, sure I was still close to the last, but my splits (you know, minus the swim) were almost in the mix. So, I felt like things are starting to come together.

And, I love TriCal. I used to think they were “the man” when I was at Cal and we did random collegiate races put on in pools. But, now I realize WTC is “The Man” and TriCal is awesome. They put on good races, they take care of the athletes. No 16-year-old Asian high school kid made me a waffle at Steelhead — I’m just saying. And this is never a problem.

Steelhead and Chicago: A Race Report

My trip to Chicago and to race Steelhead 70.3 started with me showing up to the airport and the woman at the desk said my flight was delayed and I would miss my connection. But, no worries, she was going to stick me on a direct flight leaving in 30 minutes. And, rush my bike down to the plane. And, take me through the back entrance to security to get there on time!

On the way back, I was also going to miss my connection. I had a two-stop flight Chicago -> SFO (ugh) and only a 25 minute layover and getting in at 11 p.m. But, the mean woman on the phone said I couldn’t change to the direct flight leaving 45 minutes later because I booked with a Rewards ticket and there were no Rewards seats, blah, blah. But, when the flight was delayed an hour and half and that meant I would miss the last bus from SFO to Marin, I asked the woman at the desk could she please, please put me on the direct flight getting in over two hours earlier. No problem!

Lesson #1 from the weekend: You might as well ask.

Lesson #2 was the basic lesson of long-distance racing, but I finally fully appreciated it: There will be ups and there will be downs. Push the ups as much as you can because they will pass and don’t worry about the downs too much because they will also pass (hopefully).

I tried to share that lesson with a guy who was stretching at the top of a stupidly steep hill on the run. He did not appreciate the wisdom.

The whole rest of the race weekend was just awkward.

I hung out with my parents — not awkward — and we drove from Chicago to Benton Harbor, got there about 10-15 minutes late for the pro meeting. But, I couldn’t see anybody I recognized, couldn’t figure out where the meeting was, why didn’t I see any of the other pros? Why was I standing at a normal race talk with hundreds of people? The only person anywhere that I recognized was Heather Jackson (not because we’ve ever met, but because she’s fast and I’ve seen her win stuff). So, I ambushed her and had a really awkward conversation — awkward on my part, she was perfectly nice.

Me: Hi, uh, sorry, you’re Heather, right?

Her: Yeah

Me: Hi, I missed the, sorry, I’m Kelly, Hi.

Her: Hi. *shake hands*

Me: Uh, I missed the pro meeting I think?

Her: That meeting right there — *the regular big race talk*

Me: Sorry, uh, no, the pro meeting? I think I missed it?

She told me I didn’t miss much, where to get my stuff, etc, but I still couldn’t figure out how I could have missed the whole thing in just 15 minutes. Then, I looked at my phone — “The Time Zone on your phone has been updated to Eastern Standard Time.”

Oh. Shit.

Had another awkward conversation with the registration people.

Me: Hi, sorry, I didn’t know there was a time change, or, uh, I knew, but I forgot. And I missed the pro meeting.

Her: No problem. Do you know if you missed anything important?

Me: Uh?

Then, the crazy storm started dumping water.

Since, I missed the meeting, I didn’t know we were almost definitely not having a swim and doing 30-second time trial bike starts (huge perk to not having the three-second pair starts the age-groupers had). So, I imagined a run-bike-run, or a swim in the 7-foot waves, or a bike-run in the pouring rain, or crashing on the wet roads – Did I need to buy rain clothes? Maybe another pair of running shoes? Should I change what I eat? What if we do do the swim?

My mom took this picture of me getting ready. She took like 10 pictures, but I wasn’t smiling in them, so she told me to smile:

And then I spent the rest of the night worrying that the guy, whose house we were renting from Airbnb, would steal my bike or kill me. Not that he was anything other than totally nice and helpful and the place was super cheap and convenient.

In the morning, it was official: no swim.

The extra 30-40 minutes of sitting around would usually be, again, awkward, because I become convinced all the pro girls hate me and think I’m stupid and slow and that I shouldn’t be there anyway. Not that any of them do. But, everyone was very cool and fun and welcoming and all those other thing.

Then, I had to cut a bunch of people in line for the bathroom because I’d been standing there for 20 minutes and not moving and it was getting close to my start and I started freaking out. So, you can add all those people to the people who actually do hate me and think I suck and am stupid.

The race, by comparison, was fine.

Everyone passed me on the bike, which sounds super depressing, but wasn’t. We started at 30-second intervals and since the majority of pro girls bike in the 7-10 minutes faster than me range, most of them caught me. But, I knew that and it actually gave me something to focus on and think about when they passed and try to keep them in sight. I held the gap on most of the girls who passed me (ie. if they were on pace to put six minutes on me when they passed and only ended up putting five on me — well, small victory).

The crazy winds that cancelled the swim were still crazy on the bike. And there were lots of turns, so you kept unexpectedly coming into a headwind. I actually struggled the most with the shitty roads, had a hard time pedaling through so many bumps and cracks. I fell apart some at the end, but less — I think — than at Vineman.

I tried to eat more than Vineman too, so we didn’t have another collapsing disaster. I got down about 800 calories, but was throwing up a little almost constantly. My stomach hurt so much, so eating any more was just not an option.

The throwing up a little in my mouth frequently didn’t end when the run started. The only two girls behind me passed me in the first two miles and I felt terrible, so shitty. I couldn’t down a gel.

If I felt this bad four miles in, how was I ever going to finish?

Went through all the usual: I don’t need this shit, why am I even doing this, I suck, why don’t I find satisfaction in a nice hobby like stamp-collecting.

But, then, oddly, it passed.

Mile 6 actually dropped back down to a reasonable time and I felt optimistic. Still couldn’t eat and was still feeling a little nauseous, but all I had to do was just keep going, it didn’t have to be fast, it just had to be forward — not a brilliant mental strategy for success.

This is me pushing it as hard as I could the last 1.5 — for like a blazing 7:50 mile.

It’s also one of the few pictures that doesn’t look like a squat shuffle.

So, I finished in 4:18. And, I was dazed as shit and burning up even in the cold, windy weather. But, I was ok and that’s on pace for a huge PR if there had been a swim — so, at least it’s progress in the right direction.

Now, I just need to figure out how to eat more without throwing up. And, I need to stop getting in my head on the run and run fast. And, I need to pick up my feet when I run, so it doesn’t turn into a shuffle quite as quickly. And, I need to like go faster. But, still, right direction.

Headed to Tahoe Soon

We were watching old episodes of Glee yesterday and the incredibly annoying, patronizing episode went on and on about loving yourself and one girl – who supposedly was not hot – v. another girl – who was supposedly hot. Except like it’s TV, so everyone is relatively hot.

It’s really annoying when we all pretend one person in TV or a movie is super hot and one isn’t, but really you’re never going to look like either of them.

The episode was also super annoying because in order to love yourself evidently you have to acknowledge something about yourself that you hate. Don’t hate yourself? You’re obviously lying, you not-hot wierdo.

Raced the Tiburon Triathlon this morning: super short, super fast.

I swam hard, hard and tried to stay with the front guys. But, since I’m not that fast, I never bothered to find out what the course was. I’ll just follow everyone in front of me. No problem, except the really fast guys dropped us hard and then it was me and two other guys leading everyone else. We swam into a bunch of boats and all started looking around, no buoys, no nothing, no idea. “Where did you lead us?” I said the to guy and he was like “I dunno.”

Obviously, we made it out.

Biked hard — thought it was definitely faster and harder than the other time I did this race, but it wasn’t.

Tried to run hard, wanted to run 6:00 miles and I was close but then I started to throw up. Not just a little either, which I can deal with, but like full on about to double over and just start hurling everywhere. So, I slowed down and this 14-year-old went past me. And I ran like 6:07 miles instead.

Slower than before, but ok. Hard. And nine guys beat me.

Vineman: A Race Report

No, this race report does not have pictures. Yes, there were lots of people taking pictures, but I don’t know who they are and I didn’t get any.

So, Vineman — actually lots of fun, right up until it started sucking.

Last year, I did Barb’s Race as my first half (Barb’s Race is the same course as Vineman but two weeks later; I had done Big Kahuna the year before but the swim was cancelled, so). I was hurt at Barb’s Race, coasted in on the bike, fell apart mentally on the run, walked a lot. Since then, I figured I had an ok solid effort at Oceanside in April, I’d gotten the not walking thing down, and I had trained more too, so I was sure Vineman this year would be a huge improvement.

But, I’d also been a mess the last two weeks, so was counting on some race magic to bring it all together.

I actually had a lot of fun before the race. Actually enjoyed myself in transition and at the expo the day before — which never happens, I hate that shit. But, you know what would have been more fun? Going faster.

Swim – 30:23. Very meh.

It started out super rough, like Olympic-distance rough. And, with girls on both sides of me and in front and on top, I didn’t look up or think for the first 300y, just swam hard. When I did look up, the girls feet in front of me were gone. Damn. There was another girl next to me for a long time and I was swimming ok to stay with her, then in a shallow area she did some dolphin dives and all of a sudden was a body length ahead. I never caught back on and she eventually caught another girl ahead of us. Damn. After that, I just became heavily focused on how goddamn hot my legs were in my wetsuit, how much I wanted to just float in the nice river, and whether or not I actually wanted to get on my bike after this. Kristin caught up to me on the way back, which was probably good, because it made me start swimming for reals again. And we came out of the water in the exact same time, with a lot of girls I usually swim with ahead of us.

T1: 1:44 — actually not bad. Maybe I should just go pro in transitioning. Most importantly, I was totally optimistic, thought I’d swum ok, joking around. No problem.

Bike: 2:42:05 — Well, sigh, an improvement?

I really pushed the first half — well, I tried. About 30-40 minutes in, Kristin and this other girl who had come out of the water right with us passed me. But, they didn’t just fly past me, which is usually how that shit goes down. Then, another girl caught up to us too. We were all kind of near each other (like within sight) and I was so excited; I don’t think I’ve had anyone to bike anywhere within my vision since my first for real pro race. This is awesome! I’m amazing! Etc, etc.

Eventually, the girl who had caught up to us started to put some distance between, so I passed the other two and tried to keep her in my sight. She dropped me, but I put some distance between me and the two girls behind me. I was feeling great, I was doing great, this was amazing. Then, my legs started to give out.

The last 40 minutes got really nasty. I was barely holding on to super low wattage. I would stand to go uphill and my legs wouldn’t hold me. I was trying, but I had gone too hard for some sections at the beginning and was just toasted. And I really, really had to pee. And I wasn’t keeping a lot of food down.

But, that’s fine, I was still doing good, it’s still going to be a solid race. Just get off the fucking bike and start running.

T2: 1:27. Spur of the moment decision to do my first ever flying dismount and it worked! This race was going great!

Run: 1:52:03. Ugh. UGH.

Ran a 6:50 or something first mile. (Side note: Beth was coming in on the bike as I headed out and cheered for me and I was like shit, was that Beth? How far behind me did she start??!) After that, it was all 7:15s. I felt like I was running harder than that and pushing it, but there were man, a lot of hills. That’s ok. No problem. Just put together a solid effort and you’ll still have a huge PR, you’re still beating a handful of people, you’re having a very solid race. I felt great, I looked good (if I do say so myself) and I had NO WORRIES. I was completely confident I was going to run like a 1:35-1:36.

Even as the miles went on, I was completely confident. I felt totally strong.

Then, we looped around the winery at the half way and it was finally flat on a trail, so I tried to pick it up, swore I was running faster and I ran a 7:40. Hmm, ok, no problem, it was on a trail, maybe it was slower. Drink some more Coke, push it, all you have to do is head back the way you came now. Still, totally confident, feeling fine. Then, I ran an 8:00. And I was STARVING. Shit. Then, I started to feel slow and heavy and slow, ran another 8:00. Ok, OK, that’s ok, you just have to hang in there, it’ll still be fine. Only like four miles to go.

Both Beths went by me at some point in there. I didn’t feel too bad about myself, since they’re fast 😉

But, then I started to wobble. I started to drag my feet, couldn’t pick them up, things got kind of hazy and out of balance. I ate a cookie and ran a 9:00 mile. Ok, fuck.

Then, I tripped. It was a small trip and usually wouldn’t be a problem, but I had no balance and was pretty wobbly. I went down hard and was slow to get up, but I got up and started shuffling again. All the hills seemed like they had gotten huge and I couldn’t pick my legs up. I was trying to focus, but my eyes just kept rolling up in my head and I felt like I was going to pass out. Hell, I sort of thought passing out would be nice – because then getting me back to the finish would be someone else’s problem.

Then, I fell down again. I was just really wobbly and out of balance and the change in stride as I headed up hill (which sounds really stupid) threw me off. I sort of lost my momentum and wobbled and tipped over and fell in a heap. This time I was slower to get up. Some volunteer said she’d get me water and then she started running back to the aid station and in my head – I shit you not – I was like oh, that’ll take her a really long time, I shouldn’t wait, I should keep running. So, I got up and started the wobble-shuffle again.

I made it over that hill and down and around a corner and then I fell over again. I just couldn’t stay upright and couldn’t balance. Some 40-something guys were running the other direction, so a bunch of them stopped. They told me to lay down and picked my feet up and started pouring water on my head. I mumbled something along the lines of “I keep falling down” and “I’m fine” at the same time and they said ‘No, no, you’re in no condition to finish.’ Someone running by said they’d get the motorcycle to come back at the next aid station, at the two mile to go sign. And, I thought, two miles, only two miles to go. And then I thought, why is the sky spinning. Hah.

They said wait right here, the motorcycle will come get you and then they continued on with their race. So, I rolled over and stood up and started wobbling/shuffling again. The motorcycle came and asked if I was ok and followed me for awhile and I mumble mumbled.

I saw Hailey’s husband Mark at the aid station right ahead and for some reason I focused on him. He was going to make everything better. I just wanted to be able to tell someone my body was quitting on me; I didn’t want to have to think about it or solve it. I may have been wallowing a bit.

He said something along the lines of ‘stay strong, you’re almost there’ and I said something like ‘I keep falling down.’ He made me stand and eat some random handfuls of whatever was there (I think Hailey passed me then) and then I started “running” again. There were so many people out of course I knew and they kept cheering and yelling for me to finish strong and I felt so embarrassed and I couldn’t really see them either. I was still so dizzy and stumble stumble. Then, I could see the mile 12 aid station up ahead and just one mile to go. I grabbed another handful of Oreos and more or less closed my eyes and ran as hard as I could in not a super straight line, which was like a 9:00 mile. And then they took me to the med room and they DIDN’T EVEN HAVE IV’s, which I had been dreaming about.

In retrospect, the ok parts were still slower than I felt like they were while I was racing. Why can’t I bike faster than a 2:40? I should be able to – hell, I did at Big Kahuna. I’m pretty sure I’m biking harder than in past years and going slower. Very discouraging. Honestly, my bike set-up is definitely not as aero. I was getting away with much lower wattages and faster times, because I had a hella aggressive position. BUT, that position also got me very hurt and kinda crippled for a year. So.

Why aren’t I running faster either? I don’t know. It seems like my problems on the run aren’t running problems, they’re end of the race problems. Whatever leg was last, I would be struggling with. I’ve managed to lose all my speed from being good at shorter distances, but not yet gain enough endurance to be good at longer ones.

The blow up so loud it was heard around the world, well, I didn’t eat enough. I just didn’t. That’s why I had to pee so bad and that’s why I got starving and that’s why I stopped being able to see straight. I was having a hard time keeping food down, which I thought was fine, no problem, but turns out I only had like 400-450 calories the whole race.

The biggest downer is that I really, really had to pee (because of all the not taking in enough sodium to balance out all the water). Everyone told me I should just pee while I was running – which involves just peeing on yourself – and not stop at a port-a-potty — it’s what the pros do, evidently. I figured if I had to pee I would just pee and if I didn’t then I’d be able to hold it. I think, though, most people when they pee while running they only have to pee a little bit, but I like reallllly had to go. Around mile 7 or so, I was still moving pretty well and I didn’t want to lose momentum, so I just peed on myself and it was a MESS. Huge mess. Total disaster.

IF I had known I was going to take 17 minutes to do one mile, I would have fucking stopped and taken the extra minute to go to a port-a-potty.

Two Thoughts About the Dipsea

1. If the handicap system was accurate, wouldn’t a 20-something guy win a proportionate number of times — instead of never?

2. Even though the committee that controls the Dipsea is a little insane and leading into the race, you start to feel like this kind of power-tripping can’t be worth it, once you’re running it is. For just one reason: you get to do all that shit you always wanted to do as a kid but weren’t strong or fast enough to. Wanna run full speed downhill and launch yourself off a rock? Go ahead.

Here’s my favorite picture so far from the race, where I’m trying to leap the ditch onto Highway 1:

When I was running down one of the long downhill stretches on the road with another girl, we passed this little 6- or 7-year-old girl running with her mom. As we passed, the girl started running faster and she clearly wanted to come with us. But her mom stopped her.

“Slow down, slow down. Be careful,” she said. “Remember, we don’t care.”

Life: A Race Report


I raced Napa Valley sprint and won. And Morgan Hill and it hailed. And then Alcatraz this past weekend.

This picture kind of sums up that race:

I actually dove off the boat. Yay me! And then I was swimming, swimming as hard as I could to stay with who I thought was Charisa, but she just slid away from me. Fuck. I think I said a bunch of other swear words in my head. My arms were killing me and I couldn’t figure out why I was swimming so shit. My whole race was already over. I suck, I suck, I suck. Oh, look, there’s another pro girl! Maybe I don’t suck!

The other girl started heading too wide and the current was so strong I didn’t want to get swept past the beach. So, I watched her go and swam straight. I was pretty proud of myself for actually making a decision instead of just following the pro girls around like a scared lemming. She swam way to the right and came back and we got out of the water around the same time. AND, we did it under 30 minutes! Not too bad for me.

I did some ‘shit where is my bag,’ ‘shit I can’t get my wetsuit off,’ hopping around and then ran what felt like the longest transition run ever.

When Charisa caught me not even two miles into the bike, I was determined to stay with her. Determined. It worked. For like 100 feet. She did end up having an amazing race, so I guess that just wasn’t happening.

I kept pushing the bike and I knew I was having a good race, because I made it all the way to the Cliff House before seeing the first guy headed back. And I got all the way to Golden Gate Park and never saw any of the women on the way back. I’ve never been able to do that before!

There was some stupid stuff — braking on turns when I didn’t need to, not drinking enough, dicking around too long trying to open a pack of chews — but it was a pretty good ride.

I headed out on the run just 3-4 minutes out of the group of girls that were 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th. But, I got into my head then. There’s no way I’m going to run the same speed as them, much less 3-4 minutes faster. I just need to have a nice solid run. Just don’t blow up. And that was ok for a little while. But, obviously, you have that kind of attitude and you don’t last real long.

This was when I looked good:

I made it almost to the top of the stairs before seeing Andy Potts (or really hearing him) headed back. I pushed the downhill hard. And then we got to the sand. I came to almost a stop. They wouldn’t let us run down to the water’s edge; we had to run in the deep sand. It turns out my running form is not conducive to running in deep sand — and by that I mean because my run form sucks. I drag my feet a ton, I don’t pick them up, I don’t take big enough strides, my ankles and knees collapse in. It got ugly. Every time I looked up the turnaround wasn’t any closer.

At the top of the sand ladder, a girl passed me. I hung with her. I passed her back on the downhill and tried to make it stick. We hit the single track trail, though, and it was a solid line of people. That picture above — imagine it just filled with people running up. I was running behind two guys, there was no where to go, no way to go any faster, and it was fast enough. On the stairs down, the girl passed me back; she did some crazy weaving, jumped in front of someone, down a bunch of steps, in between people and was gone.

For 10 seconds when we hit the bottom, I tried to catch back up, then I just wanted to lay down and go to sleep. My arms hurt so much, they just hung there. I realized I was NOT running fast – not sure when that happened. Why wasn’t I done yet? I suck.

Another girl passed me with half a mile to go. I watched her go. I don’t care much when amateurs pass me in a race. Probably a bad attitude, but I figure they started behind me, so even if I pass them back, they still win. Either they’re really good or I’m really sucking, so nothing to do about it now. (My attitude needs work.)

With 400 meters to go, another girl passed me. I even swore out loud. I thought I might cry. I had nothing. How did the race fall apart in the last mile?

Then, I realized she was a pro. I wasn’t in last. I didn’t suck. I couldn’t let this go by. I couldn’t. I had to fight for it.

I started sprinting. She started sprinting. It looked like this:

Then, like this:

I ended up 12th pro. I was 12th last year too — but this year’s 12th was a lot better race actually. It was a big improvement over last year and the year before that. But, not as big an improvement as it should be.

And, then it was my birthday.

Oh, and Steve and I got engaged.

Busy life.

Ok, Whoa. A Race Report.

Ok, Whoa. I sit on my computer every day and type, type, type. Evidently, that typing hasn’t been on this blog. Shocking.

(I said that to one of my high school runners today, who said he was tired after running a bunch of hard intervals. “What?? That is shocking.”)

But, you don’t care about that. You want dirty details about Oceanside.

Yes, I finished. Yes, I finished last in the pro field. Yes, I kinda thought I would finish last, but no, I did not think it would be that goddamn slow. If I had done the time I thought I was going to, I wouldn’t have been last. So.

On the plus side? Eh, I spent a lot of time thinking about the positives. You can’t be a huge downer for that long in that long a race or you won’t finish, so I had a whole conversation with myself in the middle of the five hours about how it was a slow, windy day for everyone. (It was.) About how everyone has bad days sometimes and you just have to keep going forward. About how it was my first actual half with the swim, bike, and run, without being injured and deciding to do it anyway. (As with the previous two.) And, for the first real one, 5:09 isn’t totally terrible. Maybe. I guess.

I swam with Charisa – which was the plan/goal, since she’s a better swimmer than me. Actually, I was swimming right next to her, then I was swimming in front of her and Lauren and a couple other girls, then I was flailing around by myself getting sort of seasick and lost, then I finished exactly with Charisa. You’d think we’d have swam fastish then. Nope. 31 minutes.

Got on my bike and quickly watched Lauren and Charisa and another girl who’s name I don’t know ride away. In retrospect (ah, Monday night quarterbacking), I probably should have at least tried, maybe a little to go with them. But, I’d never really done this before and I didn’t want to explode and I thought I needed to ride my own race, my own speed, focus on nutrition and finishing. So, I rode by myself for a long time. Another girl passed me. She stayed in sight for a little while, then she was gone. About halfway, another girl passed me and at that point I was pretty much in last.

But, I really thought I wasn’t doing that bad. I was holding the wattage I wanted to hold. I was eating — or I was trying to after throwing up twice in my mouth and swallowing it back down. I was on pace at the halfway for like a 2:38, which would have been great. I had no idea that the second half was that much slower than the first.

The second half of the bike felt like it was entirely uphill and into the wind. The parts that weren’t uphill just felt like they were. I struggled. But, I actually held ok watts, just not awesome. I definitely slowed down. I rode by myself, until I would get passed by a group of age group guys from behind (always in a group), then by myself some more, then another group of guys. And, so it went. I just wanted to be off my stupid bike by two hours in, but there was still so much left.

At some point, I will stop thinking about how long the race is while I’m in it and how if it was an olympic-distance I would already be done. Eventually, I will stop comparing the amount of time I’ve been racing to how many shorter races I could have done in the time.

Natalie and Michelle were coming to watch me on the run, so I wanted to get out on the run course and find them — it became a goal. And the first few miles of the run I was so happy to just be off my bike. I think I ran a 6:15 in there somewhere. But, mostly, I was running 7:10 miles or so.

I saw all the girls on their way back. And, I was totally out of the race, yes. But, I wasn’t as totally, disgustingly behind as I became convinced I was during the bike. I felt ok. Considering. Of course, then I slowed down some.

Even though I told myself you’re not allowed to slow down from mile 6 to 9. Even though I made myself promise to push it. I hit the 6 mile marker and it’s not even to the turnaround for the second lap yet and you have to do the whole thing all over again and YOU’RE NOT EVEN HALFWAY. There was about two miles I thought I was going to quit and I slowed to 8:05 miles or something. Ugh.

Then, all of a sudden, I was past that point and it was only five miles left and I tried to push those last miles. I would have sworn to you my last three were as hard as I could go; yeah, they were like totally 7:50 miles.

So, I didn’t walk — that’s a rule for this year. And, I finished my first whole, for-real, not-injured half. And, there will be more. But, first, there will be more training. And volume. So, I stop thinking how goddamn long that is.