Monday, August 21, 2017

Guess 3 times the charm

Yesterday I competed in the Michigan Titanium for the third time. The first time was in 2014, which was the catalyst for starting this blog. I was training and completed a full distance ironman aquabike. I skipped a year to just have a summer of fun. In 2015 I decided to do a half distance ironman aquabike. This year I planned to try running again and complete another half Ironman distance triathlon. I hadn’t done all three disciplines since Spirit of Racine half ironman in 2008.

I started up my run training again hoping for remain injury free. But 8 weeks into my run/walk training I developed plantar fasciitis. Never had it before and I can say it sucks. Having flat feet seems to make me more prone to the injury. I tried rest but it kept flaring up every time I went to run. So I decided to switch to a half aquabike. That’s a 1.2 mile open water swim and a 56 mile bike. 

I toyed with the idea of challenging myself further and doing it on my fat tire bike. I would have no problems making the cut off times. But as the race got closer, I decided that would be pretty grueling and opted for riding Vermonster instead.

More Injuries

About a month before race day my elbow started to flare up again. It’s called golfers elbow but basically tendinitis. It hurts all the time. I had a cortisone shot back in December and the pain went away but now it’s back. Not only is swimming and biking hurt but just daily life. But like many athletes, I have a very high threshold for pain. So I block it out as best I can until I can have some downtime after another cortisone shot.

I’m thankful to my friend Margaret who introduced me to KT tape and did her best to tape me up. She was kind enough to come over Friday night before I left for Michigan to retape my elbow. In exchange I gave her time in my compression boots. Ahhh, the little things in life.

Otters Just Make Things More Fun

This year a group of my Otter friends decided to sign up for this race. Distance varied from Olympic to half IM aquabike to half IM triathlon. It was great to have them around as we are such a supportive group. Always ready with a laugh, word of encouragement or just a hug at the end of the race. I’m truly blessed to have the Otters in my life.

The Race was On

If you recall last year we were plagued with tornadoes touching down during packet pickup and horizontal rain the last 10 miles of the bike course. This year was better. Sunday was hot, humid, and not a cloud in the sky.

As I warmed up for the swim, to my surprise, Dare2tri’s Operations and Finance Manager, Amanda, wandered over to say hi. We had no idea one another would be there. I wouldn’t see her again until the end of the race when she found out she took 2nd place in the aquabike. Awesome job!!

The swim was uneventful. Just a beautiful calm lake…well calm before 800 athletes churned up the water. My swim time was right on target. I wasn’t sure how I’d do since every stroke was painful. Out of the water with a smile and off to the strippers. They whipped off your wet suit in seconds and on to T1. There I saw Michelle and my new friend/rack mate Bob. My transition times are not the fastest but it takes time to do make up, mani pedi and dry my hair. Yeah right.

Off on the bike course. As in previous years my legs needed time to “wake up”. But finally this year I had an “AHH HA” moment when I looked at my elevation map. The first 8-10 miles is mostly uphill. No wonder my legs were talking back to me. No time to spin your legs and get your heart rate under control. But since this was my third time on the course (little change from previous years) I pretty much knew what to expect. Lots of rollers so spread out that you never got enough momentum going down the hill to get up the next one. You were always slogging up the hill.

At around mile seven I caught up to one friend and sung to her as I went past. Since it isn’t draft legal I couldn’t hang out and chat too long. About mile 10 my legs were talking to me nicer than before and I could keep a good pace. I had a target of 16.5-17 mph avg for the course which in my head was doable. For about the next 8 miles I’d play cat and mouse with a few riders until one woman passed me in her aero helmet and USA tri kit with her name on it. She became my rabbit for a few miles until we hit 3 Mile Rd.

Why they still put us on 3 Mile Rd is beyond me. With all the roads in Michigan they continue to put us on what I call Moon Crater Rd. It was so bad this year that they stationed medics at both ends of the road PLUS had extra SAG coverage to help tend to flat tires. I did not see it but others told me one woman was taken off in an ambulance.

I decided to take 3 Mile Rd slow as not to flat or worse crash. I also decided to use the whole road to maneuver around the holes, cracks and craters. To make things even more interesting, this road includes a 13% grade uphill which means you hit it going back for a traitorous downhill. As I got to the uphill I shifted to an easy gear because I needed to be able to maneuver around people walking up and the Angels pulling a disabled kid in burleys up the hill. It took all my bike handling skills to get through that.

The loop at the farthest point of the ride was uneventful. I continued the cat and mouse game with another rider as well as paying homage to the place I flatted last year. Also I cursed the chip and seal bumpy road that slowed me down.

I hit 3 Mile Rd on the return route and took it slow down the 13% grade and was forced to ride all over the road yet again. It was about this time I was wishing for Chris my fat tire bike so I could just fly through this crap without a care in the world. Thankfully my race was only one loop. The poor full distance folks had to do this road twice in each direction. Ugh.

There was one last turn before the long stretch back. As I rounded the corner I felt silly and asked the cop holding up traffic if this was the margarita bar stop. He looked totally taken off guard and mumbled “I don’t think so.” It gave me a chuckle and a little extra boost to keep going.

Around mile 49 I “chicked” an 18 year old guy. For those of you that don’t race, ages are put on your calf. So you know the person’s age that you pass or that passes you.

The last couple of miles I found my final rabbit. I saw in the distance a bright yellow helmet that I thought belonged to one of my friends. I picked up the pace even more and went after that rabbit. It’s all mind games out on the bike course and finding rabbits is my favorite game. I was thrilled to see my friend as I caught her about mile 55. I gave her an encouraging greeting and told her lets finish this strong. I think I became her rabbit as we raced to the end.

I got to the finish line because my race was swim, bike, DONE. My friend that came in with me still had a grueling hot 13.1 mile run. At least I could welcome her off the bike and cheer her as she started her run.

I ended my bike at 16.7mph avg on my Garmin. Strava of course knocked me down to 16.6mph. I was pleased with the results especially when I saw 7 PRs on my Strava feed. I took 14th out of 26 in the aquabike. They only do it by gender, not age group.

Very happy to be done!

Not sure what fueled me

I always struggle with my nutrition as I don’t like to eat on the bike. It also didn’t help that the roads were bumpy and you didn’t want to go one handed for too long. So all I had on the bike course was one bottle of Tail Wind and 3 Skratch energy chews. Not 3 packages of chews. Actually 3 chews. But somehow I didn’t bonk and I finished strong. I dodged a bullet there.

I did come home and enjoy some Lou Malnati's pizza and my compression boots. Truly heaven. 

Malnati's pizza and compression boots. Heaven after the race!


As after every season I reflect on my training. I just can’t thank my Otter family enough for their support and friendship. It takes a very special group of people to get me out of bed at 445am three days a week, drive 20 minutes (sometimes in the dark) to swim in a lake. But no matter how tired I am, it’s always worth it.

I also owe a big thank you to all my old and new cycling friends who keep me company on literally 1000s of miles. You make it fun.

As for next year, not sure what I’ll do. I’m not too keen about returning to MiTi unless something is done with the bike course. It just gets worse every year. It’s a shame because it is an amazing venue and great volunteers. I just might have to do another summer of fun. Honestly, it’s not a bad way to spend my time.

Enjoy the ride,

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