Monday, May 15, 2017

70.3 TRI turned to 69.1 DUO - Gulf Coast Half Ironman Panama City, Fl 5-13-17

Long post…… But I don’t want to forget a single detail… besides this is my diary….. I’m certainly not a blogger to tell you how to cook, sew, run, etc.  I like to write down my adventures so I can look back at them later on in life… it helps with the memory. :>)

I’ve said it many times over the years that every single race is different.  There are always different challenges whether it be the weather, personal health, race issues or a number of other things.  For me, this race had a couple of different challenges.  First, my body has been giving me fits lately.  Lots of issues with what I hope to just be sciatic or arthritis, but will find out after my MRI this week if it’s something more serious.  Second, my mom typically travels with me to the “bigger” races and due to my dad’s recent health, she was unable to leave him.  My daughter was hosting a baby shower for a best friend, so she couldn’t go with me either.  So I hoped the hubs would go even though he hates the race scene.  However, he couldn’t get off work which left me going alone.  I typically don’t mind being alone.  I have often traveled alone to many things over the years.  However, it is nice to have some support on the “bigger” races.  A half ironman is not a small task.  I knew it was going to be difficult and even more difficult not having a support person.  I debated on just not going.  I even debated on asking a couple of friends, but with it being Mother’s day weekend I didn’t want to disturb their family plans.  The race was in Panama City, Florida and meant two nights in a hotel. 

After debating for days I was reminded of something someone told me once…… If you are having a hard time making a decision on something, try to fast forward in your brain and think about which one you would regret more.  I knew after all my training that I would regret not going.  I had put in hours of training over the last 12 weeks.  Plus I was looking forward to an ocean swim.  I had done a practice swim one time before in the ocean and it was wonderful.  The water was so clear.  I was hoping for the same situation for the race.  And I knew there would be a couple of people at the race from other towns that I know from the races I might run into.  Thankful for the group that trained in Wiggins that I’ve gotten to know.

I got an early start on Friday heading to Panama City.  I wanted to get to the hotel, get unloaded, make it to expo fairly early, and get my bike checked in by the required time that afternoon.  The weather had begun to change.  All week at the beach the water was so pretty and calm.  Friday that all changed drastically.  A rain storm blew in and the waves begin to rise.  Pictures of the clouds on Friday.

When I went to check in my bike at transition, I went to go check out the swim area.  Several racers were standing in the sand looking out and discussing how bad the water looked.  Here’s a picture…

 You can't even see the buoys that are already out in the water.

Notice the people standing looking out..this is where we would come in from the swim and run up the beach about 1/2 mile to bike transition on race day.

You could barely see the buoys they had put out due to the waves.  A couple of people had on their wet suits and were attempting to practice swim.  They were all coming back in saying how bad the waves were beating them up and it was going to be a really bad swim if something didn’t change overnight.  Now I began to get NERVOUS!  I tried to tell my brain to not think about it.  Just leave it to God.  Tomorrow will be a new day.  I decided to not practice swim and went back to my hotel.  I unloaded all my loot that I had got at the expo.  Here’s a few pictures..

 Our shirts

Swim cap

All my loot... love the beach towel!

 another it

 A small cross body backpack.. love it!

 The strap .. :>)

 My bib

The good old timing chip to be worn the left ankle.

 And then I knelt beside the bed and prayed.  I prayed for strength, courage, and for either gills or skills because I knew that swim was going to be tough.  One friend had told me to have peppermint candies in transition for after the swim because she had gotten so sick at the full ironman ocean swim, so I made sure I had them in my bag. 
I rechecked all my gear and called it an early night.  I tossed and turned awhile before finally falling asleep.  I could hear the waves crashing out my room.  The wind and rain was pretty bad outside.  I just kept praying … calm waters at 6am.  That’s when the swim was supposed to start on race morning.

Saturday morning the alarm went off at 3:45am and I could still hear the waves and wind.  It was not your normal beach sound.  It was much stronger.  I told my mind not to worry…..God is in control! Have faith…. Just get dressed and get to transition to set up.  I left the room by 4am heading down to transition.  Upon arriving at the transition gate where you get marked with your race number and age, a man started announcing that the swim had been canceled due to water conditions.  He said it just wasn’t safe for us to swim.  People around me began chattering like crazy.  Some were so happy it was canceled and others were fighting mad.  The ones that were mad were saying it should have been left up to each racer to decide if they wanted to conquer the water or not and not the race director.  I stood in line and listened as each person had their own view of the decision.  I wondered if my close friends were there with me what we would be saying about the situation.  I hated it for the first timers.  I can’t imagine how I would have felt if the swim had been canceled at Augusta after 9 months of training and 30 stitches in my calf.  I would have been devastated.  Once inside the transition area I put my bag down by the bike and decided to go look at the water.  Mind you it’s 4:30am and you really can’t see very well, but I wanted to look.  Plus he announced that he would give directions on how we would start the bikes shortly so there was no need to rush to get ready. 

I was shocked that even the jet skis that were trying to bring in the buoys were flipping over in the waves.  It looked like a washing machine agitating.  At that point, I was thrilled the swim was canceled.  As I was standing there a lady starting talking to me.  She was from Pensacola and said she had done the race there many times.  She loved ocean swims.  She then told me that she’s a good swimmer, normally swim the distance in under 30 minutes and had swam on Friday to see how the water was once you got in and she too was concerned about making the swim cut off time, which is 1 hour 10 minutes the water was so bad.  She said she told her husband if they didn’t cancel the swim someone would probably drown on race morning.   Again I thanked God for them cancelling the swim.  I heard several say that the local weather channel said it wasn’t just the waves, it was the under tow that was bad out in the water.  There were red flags up all weekend saying the beach was closed.  However, you still saw a few people going out knee deep trying to play in the water. Ha

The buoys they were removing from the water.

Finally daylight and bikers are ready...

They finally started announcing how we would start on the bikes.  One at a time! It was going to take a long time to get all of us out on the course.  I was glad I was number 533 and not 1533.  The bikes started out going directly over a crosswalk that went across from the beach to the other side of the street.  The cross walk was not very wide.  I assume this was one reason they started us one at a time.   I also noticed that from number 1 – 600 or so was all women! The men had higher race numbers.  I’m not sure how they numbered us, but the more I looked around all the women on the row where my bike was at were all in the age group 50-54.  When I went to the porta pottie which was where the guys were at they were all fussing about how long they would be there before they got to go out on their bikes.  Which turned out to be cool for me because all the fast guys literally passed me coming in on the bike.  They were amazing to watch and I bet they flew by me going 40 mph!  I had heard the bike route was totally flat.  That was not true. LOL  This was the first year that ironman took over the race.  It used to be the same distance of 70.3 miles, but was not owned by ironman.  Well, ironman had changed the bike route due to a new bridge being open.  So we had a couple of climbs to make during the 56 mile bike ride.  The wind was so very strong! There were times I thought the wind was going to pick up my bike and threw me down on the ground.  I was shocked that when I reached the turnaround at mile 28 that I had maintained around a 19mph pace.  I ended up with a really good bike time.  A new PR for me on 56 miles.  Yeah me… however, when I unclipped to get off the bike, my whole right leg caught leg cramps and I could barely walk!  My leg was like one big stiff log!! I just stood there a couple of minutes before I was able to go across the bike timing mat.  It was awful!  Here’s my bike stats.

 Stats by 5 mile increments... oh and I forgot to start my watch until I was out of the crosswalk.. ha

Overall bike stats... first time I average 17.8 for a race.. whoop whoop

Once I hung my bike back on the route, I debated on even trying the run (half marathon distance).  My right thigh and calf was like in convulsions.  My muscles were as hard as a rock.  I told myself to just walk the first mile and maybe it would loosen up.  So I headed on out on the run course.  The run course was 3 loops around the town.  Thank goodness there were lots of people along the course to cheer you because I wanted to quit.  I would jog a tad and the cramps would come back so I’d walk.  I finally made it one loop and honestly I was thinking there was no way I could do 8 more miles.  I have never wanted to quit something before like I did at that moment.  I kept telling myself mind over matter, but it wasn’t working.  I moved over to the side of the street and started stretching.  I don’t know if my spine issues were causing all the cramping, the steroid shot I had the week before, the heat or what, but I was about to give up! That’s when my little angel appeared!  Her name was Ashley! She was a 28 year old from Ohio that was just starting her first run loop.  She stopped and asked me if I was ok and then told me to just walk and she would walk with me.  I begged her to go on and run.  She just laughed and said she wasn’t feeling it in the heat.  She had also recently done a full ironman and said her body still wasn’t recovered from it so she was happy to find someone to walk with.  I kept telling her to go on and she said she would wait and run her last loop since I’d be in at the finish at that point since I was 1 lap ahead of her.  We had a great conversation.  I’m not normally a chatting person.  That’s my friend Serina.  She never meets a stranger.  I’m different.  I tend to remain quiet and reserved.  Ashley was so easy to talk to.  We talked all about her races, her husband, her job, her dogs, her family, etc.  Time went by pretty fast and I was so very glad!  I hugged her when I turned in towards the finish line and told her I’d see her when she came in.  She really was the sweetest thing! And I got to see her after she crossed the finish line.  We both congratulated each other on a hard task.  Many people were having cramps.  It was like an epidemic.  I saw ripped guys bent over stretching due to cramps.  Maybe it was mostly the heat.  Who knows.. but I was glad I had finished.  Here’s a couple shots at the finish line:

It's a great feeling once you reach that red carpet... you know you are entering the FINISH LINE!

Typically I don’t hang around too long after the bigger races because I’m ready for a shower and NEED one.  You don’t want to smell me after 4-7 hours of racing. Hee Hee However, the Edgewater Resort had a huge pool which was right beside the bike transition area and also where they were going to do awards at 4pm so many, many athletes were sitting in the pool or on the side of the pool with their feet in the cold water.  I decided to join them.  It felt AWESOME!! I needed that cold water on my muscles.  I started sitting on the side and eventually went all the way in up to my neck.  Oh the water felt great. 

I got to listen to so many conversations about the race while in the pool.  One guy that had done Kona (you qualify for that you are FAST) three times even said the right decision was made on the swim and he even said the bike course was tough.  Made me feel good about my times on the bike.  :>) 

So we didn’t get to swim the 1.2 miles…… but as one person said… heck we still had to do 69.1 miles and that is no small feat.  He went on to say that the swim was the easiest to him (I’m not sure I agree with him), that most people can backstroke 1.2 miles, it’s the 56 on a bike and the running 13.1 that is the hard part. LOL  For once I do agree that it was definitely the hard part for me at this race.   I limped to get my bike out of transition after sitting around the pool for around an hour and loaded it up. 

As I sat in my hotel room which had a window that I could see out while sitting on the bed, I reflected over the race.  Check out my view…

this is from Sunday when the water seemed much calmer.  If the race had been one day later, I believe we could have swam that 1.2 miles!

 Beautiful sunset Saturday night to remind me once again... God is GOOD

Therefore, again I say.. EVERY race is different.  You never know what challenges you might face.   I hope when you are faced with them you will either have that will power to push through or you’ll have an angel save you.  I was blessed to have Ashley appear during the run segment of the race.  God certainly knows what we need when we need it.  Often during the half marathon I was hearing the song in my head by Lauren Daigle, “Trust in you”.  

 I wanted God to remove that mountain of cramps, but instead he was saying just trust me… you’ll finish.  I praised him for that finish when I was done! 

I kind of wish I hadn’t waited too late to register for the half in Chattanooga so I would maybe have 2 official “70.3 distances”, but happy having one 70.3 and one 69.1 under my belt.  I didn’t want all that training I put in for Augusta (my first) to go to waste and get two while I had a good base.  Training for a half ironman takes a lot of time.  You must spend most every weekend doing a long run and a long bike.  Not to mention the countless hours during the week swimming, running, & biking. 

Now I plan to take off a couple of weeks and also see what this MRI shows.  I’m trusting GOD to let me accept whatever knowledge we learn from the results.  I hope I can continue to run, but I know there is many more important things in life.   I think my body needs a break anyway.  I’m not signed up for any big races until November and it’s just a half marathon so maybe by then I’ll be as good as new.  OR .. know I know I can walk a half... as long as there is no time limit.. :>)  You know me... I'll be doing something...some where... it's not my norm sit still long. :>)

Probably one of the coolest medals I have.  Guess I can tape over the 1.2 swim part. :<>)

Oh Lord you've been good to me! I thank you every day for allowing me to do the things I've done.  Amen

I leave you with one more awesome song... BTW I LOVE KLOVE radio! 

Even If... Mercy Me.. click link.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Natchez Trace Bike Ride

I was first introduced to this bike ride last year.  I LOVE it!  You have the option of a 25, 50, 62 or 100 mile ride.  Last year I did the 100.  It was awesome, so I wanted to return this year.  I originally signed up for the 62 mile, which is the "metric century" according to Frank, but I backed down to the 25 mile ride.  I've had some problems lately with my sciatic nerve so decided it would be best to back down to the 25 the week before the ride my husband volunteered me to babysit without checking my schedule therefore, I needed to be back in Hattiesburg early that afternoon to watch the grands.  I was actually glad for the excuse.  LOL  I did want to do the longer distance, but knew that I needed to cut it short.  Frank, Krista, & Charity were doing the 25 so it worked out perfect that we could all ride together.... which meant Frank would drive and I could ride... even better. :>)  

This is us before the ride.  Jennifer another friend that was doing the 50 mile ride captured our picture before she headed out.  

Here is a picture of our swag bag... lots of goodies.

They said during the announcements that there were around 750 bikers.  It sure was a ton of bikes.  It was very slow and crowded when the ride started because all the bikers are all crowded together.  I never clip in because I basically keep one foot on the ground rolling my bike until we get out of the park and on the road where you can finally put some distance between you and the other bikers.  

I knew Frank would stay with Krista and I needed to practice pace since I have a TRI coming up this weekend.  I weaved my way around several bikers until I was open.  I didn't really know how many bikers were ahead of me that were fast because we had started in the back of the pack.  I did know that the route for the 25 miles was an out and back route on the same road.  So I would be able to see how man bikers passed me on the way in to judge where I was at.  It's not a race, but still the competitor inside me wanted to know.  

I eventually was all alone on the road.  The two bikers that had been several yards ahead of me soon disappeared in the sun and no one was behind me.  I kept looking at my watch as I approached mile 12 looking for the turn around.  Soon I was at mile 13 and no turn around.  I started getting worried that maybe I had missed a turn in the sunlight and that was where those 2 bikers that were ahead of me disappeared.  I finally stopped at mile 15 and got off my bike on the side of the road.  I stood there debating on turning around and heading back or what to do.  I was so confused.  I was sure when I looked at the map that it was an out and back course.  I finally decided to turn around and head back.  I barely got a few yards and all of a sudden a group of 4-5 bikers topped the hill heading straight for me.  So I turned around again.  One of the guys that reached me asked where is the turn around and I said I have no idea that's why I turned around.  Then all of a sudden the 2 bikers that were ahead of me started heading our way going back in.  They had just turned around at mile 16 (that's where the turn around was at!).  I had not studied the map well enough to know that we went out 16 because when we came back into the park we turned in on a different road to come inside the park.  Now I was aggravated!  I had been the only female behind the leaders and I had turned around and lost my lead! I could have kicked myself.  Remember this is still not a race, but It felt good knowing I was the first female.  So I picked up the pace and put a little distance between me and the few that had caught up with me.  I knew there were 1-2 girls in the group.  I didn't want them to pass me.  However, on the last mile one of them caught up to me!  I could hear 2 bikers behind me for like 1/2 mile.  They were drafting on me.  I didn't want to look back and slow down so I kept going. 

 Well, as soon as we turned into the park the path narrows and weaves around sharp turns heading in to the finish.  It's also a walking path in the park so we were having to weave around walkers with dogs.  She passed me just as we went inside the park and I tried and tired, but could never get around her with all the obstacles we were weaving around.  I later learned she is from the area and knows the route well.  So she beat me in.  However, I had a great time with a good pace.  I was happy.  

I quickly changed my clothes and waited for the others to come rolling in to the finish.  I got a shot of Frank and Krista...

Krista is doing so good on her biking! I'm so proud of her. 

I love these two! 

We got a group shot before we headed home. 

Jennifer, Amanda, Krista, Frank, ME, & Charity

Our funny pic... Love this group! 

Everyone loved the ride.  Even Jennifer who is typically just a runner said she has a new thing ... BIKING :>) And let me just say.. SHE SMOKED THAT 50 MILER!

Frank.... the friend that takes care of us all! Don't know what we would do without him.

My medal.  

Oh and since I didn't change from the 62 mile to the 25 mile till that morning their computer was all messed up.  After the ride they still had me in the 62 mile listed as 1st.  ha  There is no way I rode 62 miles in that time.  The lady said they were having to fix several people's info, so we went ahead and headed on home.  Yesterday we got a link to the "official times"... well guess what? They have a woman listed as the overall rider in the 25 miles! But none of us that did the 25 miles saw her pass us going back in.  They show her as 7 minutes ahead of the two guys I saw.  I'm not sure the results are "final" after seeing that info.  People have still be posting on their page that there are errors in the results.  All I know is I was ahead till the end and then I let a lady squeeze by me. Darn it.. ha  I am actually happy.  My pace was good and my body did good on the ride.  I do LOVE this ride! The Natchez Trace is beautiful!

Now on to rest, focus and prepare for this weekend.  Saturday is going to be a LONG day! I hope to survive the ocean swim at my TRI.  I feel once I'm out of the water I can make good time on the bike and then if I have to walk most of the half so be it.  I just want to cross that finish line within the time limit.  After this race, I'm taking a break for a couple of weeks.  I don't have another race until July and it's a short DUO.  I'm also seeing a doctor in Jackson who has ordered new MRIs on my lower back and neck on Monday.  I haven't had an up to date one in over a year on lower back and 4 years on neck..and with my pain lately he wants to take a look to see if something has changed.  I'm hoping nothing major is wrong.  I was told when I had my neck surgery that due to my age, DDD, etc. that I'm at a high risk for the disc above and below the ones they fused to go out next. :(  So prayers are appreciated.  I have a passion for running and would love to be able to do it until I'm 100. :>)  

I have faith that all will work out according to God's plan for me.  The bible says so. :>)

So until next time.... Happy Trails to you. 


Monday, May 1, 2017

South State Track Meet (Mississippi) & Quadburner 4x4 relay all rolled into one day

 MHSAA South State Meet 5A

Date: April 29, 2017
Place: Gulfport High School

Brooklyn Brown is my niece! :>)  Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! She's the South State 5A Champ in the 2 mile.  Boy....wish I could run 2 miles in 12 minutes! I was so amazed and so glad I got to go watch her! She's only an 8th grader! Last year she placed 3rd in the State meet.  The girl from Hattiesburg, which was 2nd place, and a girl from Oxford (north champ) beat her by 10 seconds.  Both are seniors this year, so they will be ready to run hard at State again this year.  She will face them again this coming Saturday at the State meet.  She looked so at ease running.  Never looked like she was struggling.  Finished the race looking like she had more in the tank.  Here are a few pics from the race.  

Walking to the Start line

She realizes she is going to win! :>)
I'm just so dang proud of her!  Way to go Brooklyn!  

It was a long day sitting in them football bleachers, but well worth it!  The boys were amazing.  The bleachers filled up when it was time to watch the boys in the shorter distances.  Boy they could fly!  One of my friends son won the 2 mile race for the 6A division.  He's an awesome runner.  His dad grew up with my younger brothers! Here he is... Hayden Shows...  6A 3200 Champ.  He has on the blue socks. :>) 

So after a long day at the track meet, I headed on over to Bay St. Louis about 35 minutes from Gulfport for my own relay that would start at 5:30pm.   It would be the 2nd race in the Quadburner series this year.  Typically each race is a duathlon, but this one was a 4X4 relay.  Each person had to run 4 miles.  It's a lot of fun.  We run on the sidewalk directly beside the beach, so typically it's an awesome view.  I failed to mention earlier in my track meet info that the day was very WINDY and HOT!  The temperature was 82 degrees with bad wind.  Also extremely muggy and humid!  The forecast was calling for a rain front to come in on Sunday and hammer us with rain. 

 I only thought the wind was bad at the track meet! Once I got to the beach area for the relay that's when I realized just how bad the wind really was that day!  The waves were rolling over with tons of white caps.  Sand was beating against our legs.  At times it was so bad it felt like ants biting me.  I had no idea how we were about to run.  Everyone was talking about the wind.  I grabbed a quick picture with my partner Frank as we picked up our race numbers.

Soon most all of us were there so we grabbed a group picture.

Not sure why Daniel is loving up on Frank.... hee hee  Ashley was unable to run due to a stress fracture so Kathy had agreed to step in and be Jennifer's partner.  I was happy to see Kathy back out at the races.  She's been remodeling her house and taking a break from racing recently.

Daniel kept telling Krista he was going first.  She wanted to go first also so they finally flipped for it and he won.  Notice he's so happy with his #1 finger :>)  He kept saying he was #1 .. 

Love this couple! 

Frank ran first for our team.  I waited patiently for him to come in dreading my turn.  Along with all my sciatic problems I've been having lately, I was dreading that wind and sand.  The runners coming back in from their first loop were talking about how tough the run was coming back in against the wind.  Soon Frank was back and I had to start.  I was surprised I was able to run for the most of the 4 miles.  Maybe not running all week and just walking had helped some.  Frank grabbed a couple shots of me coming back in across the finish line. 

Thanks Frank for the pictures! 

My legs were covered with sand.  I felt like I had sand from head to toe!   I couldn't wait to get home to shower, but first we had planned to go eat.  We ended up at the Blind Tiger right down the road and it was fabulous and I had a such a good time with my friends!  I had the royal reds and they were amazing!  Here's a picture. 
The corn and potato cooked with the shrimp were sooooo good!  Bay St. Louis is a quaint little town! So cute.  Live music was playing at several places.  I bet it's packed during the summer.  

Here's a few pictures of my loot from the race.  Love the groovy shirts!  

The front of the shirt and our visor that we got also for registering early. 

The back of the shirts.

I had to get a picture with Kbyrd in our groovy shirts! 

and here's the medal:
If you notice these medals have a hole at the bottom... that's because there is a bigger medal board that all the medals from the series will fit onto.  I try to do 4 of the 5 races to complete my big medal board. :>)  

So that's basically a wrap for my weekend.  I had planned a 3 hour bike ride on Sunday, but due to the monster rain front that didn't happen.  Guess I needed a down day.   Hope your training is going well.  Remember.. we all have bad and good days.  You are not alone.  Join a group of friends that exercise for support.  I love my support group!  I couldn't make it without them! 


Sunfish FAIL 7-14-18

There is always a first time for everything they say....  Well, for the first time I went to a race out of town and after arriving re...