Friday, December 1, 2017

Running with the Turkey

Back in 2010, while visiting my husband's family for Christmas, I decided to register for a local inaugural 5K, the Turkey Chase in Bluffton, South Carolina. My dear sweet husband HIJACKED my race by deciding to run with me. He TRICKED me into running with him by breathing so heavily I thought he might die of a heart attack only to totally destroy me at the finish line with a Usain Bolt like sprint! (You can read the full recap here.)

The following year, I went back and snagged my 5K PR (that still stands...but I really think the course was a little short). I remember that day well...and with the experience I have now, I KNOW I could have run harder on that day. I didn't understand what it meant to be hyper-focused and I didn't understand what it meant to truly be uncomfortable. Oh how I wish I was in that kind of shape again.

In 2012 we didn't travel to my in-law's for Thanksgiving. In 2013 I was 2 months out from IMLT and 2 months away from having shoulder surgery so I didn't race it. In 2014 I was dealing with a weird "injury/not injury" in my leg as well as working toward a "Grand Slam" finish, so I didn't race it that year either. (Grand Slam is a local challenge where you run 3 50Ks and a marathon within a few months of each other.)  In 2015 I was two month out from IMChoo and, I didn't know it then but, I was starting to have symptoms of what I would be diagnosed with about four months later-Autoimmune Encephalopathy, so I didn't race it that year either. Last year I was very out of shape and Dwayne was in very good shape since he had just finished his own IMChoo so I watched him race it.

When we made the decision to go to my in-law's for Thanksgiving I told Dwayne I wanted to run the race but I wanted him to run with me. He is training for Rocket City (marathon) and he was told my his coach (NOT ME!) to run a VERY easy 6 miles that day. His brother had decided to run the race (as his FIRST 5K in like 25 years!!!). I knew if Dwayne didn't run with me, he and his brother would try to kill each other by racing. My running (which is 100% walk/running) has been very up and down so I knew it was just going to be a "fun run" and I can think of nothing more fun than running with my husband. He (reluctantly) agreed.

The weather is a little iffy that morning, colder than usual and a little rainy. I knew when I woke up I wasn't feeling 100% but I was really looking forward to the race. I love the course, well, the whole town! The race has grown A LOT from just over 100 people that first year to almost 700 registrants this year (655 finishers)! We got there and got signed up and then waited in the car to keep warm. A little bit before the race, naturally, I had to get in the port-o-potty line which was taking FOREVER. I had JUST enough time to take care of pre-race business and get over to the start line before the scheduled start time.

I'm guessing there were some pre-race announcements that we couldn't hear because the race was not actually starting on time but we had no idea why. As we were standing around (near the back since I knew I was going to run slowly), I looked around and was very saddened to see about 75% of the people around me had earbuds in. I won't get up on that soapbox right now, but I will say I wish they were strictly prohibited in races for many reasons and leave it at that.

As we were just about to get annoyed, the race started and we were off to a nice jog while Cedric (Dwayne's brother) quickly pulled ahead. We passed the road the course used to turn right on and Dwayne remarked that they must have changed the course since it's always just a little short. Two blocks later we were met with a VERY LARGE group running back toward us!! My first thought was that a big group had decided to quit the race!! My second thought was an overwhelming irritation that a race director thought it was a good idea to have an out and back in the first 1/2 mile of a 5K with over 600 people on the course!!

And then we found out that somehow we were ALL going the wrong way and that turn we thought we were supposed to make early on was STILL the course!! ((We found out after the race that JUST as the lead vehicle took off a truck pulled in between that vehicle and the runners, completely blocking off the runners so the leaders went straight until they were stopped and turned back around!!! I think it was in that very moment that Dwayne decided it was okay to be running "for fun" with me! Unfortunately, that decision wouldn't remain strong. About a minute later Cedric passed us again. He was MUCH further ahead when the race got turned back around. I know Dwayne really wanted to race him but he stayed back with me like he said he would.

I have been starting every "run" off with a warm up walk, but on this day I just took off at a slow trot thinking I would be perfectly fine. I was for about SIX whole minutes! That's one of the longest run intervals I've had in a long while so I was dismayed when I felt like I needed to walk because my shins were KILLING me. From then until about the last 1/2 mile I battled my stupid shins. I knew they were really fine because when I would walk they would loosen up and not hurt. But I wasn't "able" to run more than about a minute at a time and my walk breaks were sometimes 3 minutes long!! My poor husband was smiling on the outside, but I'm sure he was seriously regretting his decision to run with me on the inside.

I have to say running a race "for fun" when you are hurting isn't fun no matter who you're with. As we got closer to the end of the course I finally started warming and loosening up so I was able to "push" just a little at the very end. My sweet husband held back and let me cross the finish line before him. We came in 525th and 526th out of 655 runners. Because of the mishap at the start though, they didn't have actual awards. Some people, like Cedric (who came in 83rd by the way) ran almost 4 miles for the 5K! Dwayne and I we just slightly over at 3.26 miles.

My goal for next year, that Dwayne has NOT agreed to (and says he will NOT agree to), is to do either IMChoo or IMLou with Dwayne. Training for the race and completing the race, prepared and feeling good, is a DREAM to me. He did 99% of my training runs for IMChoo with me and I loved (almost) every minute of it. (I didn't love it when he would run up nasty hills like it was nothing, taunting me every step of the way...but I sure loved every other minute of those runs!) That is my idea of a most excellent way to spend a day!!

He says we have to wait and see what happens. I'm registered for the LR marathon in March and we are both registered for IMChoo 70.3 in is Cedric!!!! Dwayne knows I'm not doing as well as I need to be to even think about starting to train for an Ironman. But I think the real reason he won't agree is that he knows he can't keep up with (trained and ready) me. He needs to do this race with me because Cedric is planning to sign up for one in 2019. We'll be the cheering team for his first one, but after that, the race between the DeBardelabens will be ON in 2020.

Thanks for stopping in and sticking around.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Floaty Pants

I was part of a relay for August 70.3 over the weekend. I have so very much to say about this race....

A year ago when Dwayne was doing his IM, my brother-in-law (Dwayne's brother) decided he would start training for an IM. He had already been strength training for well over a year (EVERY DAY!). He had been getting on the spin bike as part of his workouts but didn't own a bike. He also wasn't running. He was* a Marine but he basically doesn't have cartilage in one (both?) of his knees. I cautioned him but did I mention he was* a Marine...and he's a DeBardelaben. He started shopping for a bike and started running. He felt great at first but quickly realized that you really do need cartilage to run comfortably. Luckily that realization came about the time he found a bike he loved so he shifted his focus and started riding. A lot.

Sometime in the spring he had the idea for the three of us to do a 70.3 relay. The idea was that we were going to do it for FUN. Obviously Dwayne would run and he would bike which left the swim for me. 1.2 miles...not really a problem. I'm not sure how we arrived at the decision to do Augusta, but I had heard that race has a fast swim so I was happy. I put together a training plan that would have me well-prepared. Long story (full of ridiculous excuses that really don't matter anyway) short, I didn't train for this swim.

At all.

Like really didn't train.

Some people will say "Oh I didn't train for this triathlon" but they really have been swimming/biking/running all along. Maybe they didn't do any speed work or they didn't put in all the time they thought the should have, but it's not like they didn't do any running/biking/swimming.

I checked my Training Peaks account and see that in the last YEAR I have logged about 7 miles of swimming...and at least 90% of that was with fins and was drills not actual swimming. Before Frantic Frog (AKA Calm Frog), the last time I swam at all was June 7th. When I say I didn't train for the swim, I really mean I didn't train.

I meant to. I planned to. I thought about it. But I just didn't. I had heard that race "ALWAYS" has a wetsuit legal swim and it's downstream, point-to-point, with a STRONG current. ( wasn't ws legal last year,  but that was just a freakishly hot day that was completely out of the ordinary...) Everyone said I would be able to FLOAT and make the cut off in time. And this was supposed to be for FUN!! I told myself I didn't have to train to have FUN so I just didn't. After all, I'd have the security of my wetsuit.

Well...the week of the race the weather turned hot. Talk on the Augusta 70.3 Facebook page revolved around water temps. The rules are that wetsuits can be worn "legally" if the water temp is below 76.1....between 76.1 and some hot water temp that I can't remember a wetsuit is optional but you aren't eligible for awards. But I figured since we were going to do this race for fun, I could just wear my "floaty pants" and we just wouldn't be eligible for awards. (Floaty pants are wetsuit shorts, they are considered a wetsuit for the rules but they aren't as hot.)

Let's circle back to the "he's a DeBardelaben" comment I made earlier. Short and sweet...I don't know if you've noticed that with my husband or not (cough cough, laugh) but DeBardelaben men are COMPETITIVE. Like REALLY competitive. (Maybe the women are too, but all of the DB men I know are.) When I told my husband I wanted to wear my floaty pants he just about came out of his skin. He said he would just do the swim instead.

Really?? This man that made post after post about his near-drowning experiences? This man who swam about 1% of what I did in the last year? This man who HATES the swim? All because me wearing floaty pants would mean we had NO chance of making the podium? When we were supposed to be doing this race for FUN??!!  He even told his brother that me wearing floaty pants would DQ us from the race. (No, that's not true; in case you were wondering.)

I explained that we had NO CHANCE at the podium with me as a swimmer so floaty pants or not we were NOT going to win. I had every bit of faith in the men's abilities but I had NOT trained for this FUN thing we were about to do. I told them if they really wanted a shot then Dwayne needed to swim because at least he's fit. He's been running A LOT so cardiovascularly he's in much better shape and (at least in theory) he should be able to swim a faster time than I could. The boys decided they's rather have me do the swim (without floaty pants) than for Dwayne to swim. They said it was like buying a lottery ticket. If you don't buy one you truly have NO CHANCE of winning...if you buy one at least there's a chance. (

They didn't want to truly have NO CHANCE but they really didn't care if I didn't have a "fast" swim as long as I finished under the cut off.

That was very freeing. I didn't feel like I NEEDED the floaty pants and I was confident I would be able to finish the swim in less than an hour and 10 minutes. I figured I'd finish in about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the current.

I'll have to make another post about the other interesting things about this race...but because of the way it's organized my wave (relays) didn't start until 9:27!! That is so stinking late to start a race!

It's supposed to be an in-water start. They have everyone get in the water, holding on to the dock, then they blow an air horn to start that wave, sending waves off every 4 minutes. I knew I was going to be slow and I wanted to be closest to the middle of the river to get the most current assist. So I ended up waiting to jump in after they blew the horn. Turns out I was just a little faster than a few people so there was some contact with other swimmers at first until we all spread out and found our own paths.

I was worried the water would feel really cold (it was 77*). But it was just about as perfect as it could have been. It was river water but it didn't taste muddy like some rivers do. After maybe 200 yards or so I found myself behind a guy who was side stroking and in front of a woman who was on her back. I swam a little and then breast stroked a little, every now and then flipping over on my back to take a breath. Nothing hurt I am just NOT in shape. I told myself it's very much like walk/running. I feel good when I'm running, but I can't do it for very long. And it really doesn't matter how slow I go, I still can't go for long.

Every time I would stop swimming a kayaker was right there asking me if I was okay. I never worried that I wouldn't make it. I never felt like I needed assistance, but it was nice to know they were there.

I kept side stroke guy and back stroke girl in sight. It was funny to me that we were all swimming close to the same speed. At one point I saw the wetsuit swimmers coming up. (They started after the relayers, one at a time.) I tried to draft off some of them, but I just didn't have it in me to stay with any of them. At the halfway point I looked at my watch...20 minutes! I was very pleased. I didn't really know if I could hold the same "speed" (using that word to mean pace here since there was nothing fast about what I was doing) but I figured my estimation of 45 minutes was going to hold true.

At one point I stopped and looked to see how much father I had to go and I couldn't really see buoys up ahead. I looked around a little and realized I was very close to the FINISH!! I wasn't really tired and would've really liked to just keep going but since that wasn't an option I told myself to try to swim harder.

It didn't work.

You can't give more than you have to give and you have to train to have it to give!

But when there was about 200m to go I put my head down and forced myself to not stop again. I had to slow WAY down, but I didn't breast stroke anymore and was able to pass side stroke guy and at least one wet suit swimmer who had passed me earlier. As I neared the exit I kept expecting my hand to hit the bottom. (I always swim as far as I possibly can.) But when I saw someone stand next to me and saw how shallow it looked, I popped up. I'm SO GLAD I did because I think if I had taken one more stroke I'd have scraped my hand on the cement ramp! (The water was opaque, I had no idea it was a cement ramp, and no idea it was so shallow were I was.) When I stood my watch showed 40 minutes! I heard later the current was A LOT less than it usually is, but it was a really nice push given how many breaks I had taken.

I had seen the exit earlier and knew it was up a good little hill. I had planned to walk up that hill and then run around the transition to get to the relay area but race mode kicked in and I ran up that little hill (okay, I jogged) and then never stopped running all the way to the transition area!! I'm going to guess it was only about 1/5 of a mile but I was very proud to be able to keep running the whole time.

It was strange to be coming into transition and not be getting my shoes on to get on the bike. I found myself sad that it was all over and I remembered, again, just how much I dearly LOVE triathlon.

Yes, those are house shoes. And, yes, that's Dwayne's brother, Yes, the same parents.
I made a vow then and there to never do another planned event without preparing/training. I ENJOY racing. Doing an event for fun is fine, but I have A LOT more fun when I'm prepared and ready. It would be like going to Disney World without doing any research at all. There are like 5 parks, and I don't know maybe 500 rides and shows to choose from. It's fine if you have unlimited time, but that's not realistic. I would have knocked at least 10 minutes off my swim (if not more) with training. I wouldn't have gotten to laugh with the kayakers, or see the people on the bridge, or the clouds in the sky. I would have had a different kind of fun.

For me it would have been more fun.

We came in 14th out of like 92 relays. It wasn't all because of me. We might have been able to move up to 11th if I had trained...but still not close to the podium.

In the end, I'm really glad I didn't wear my floaty pants.

I might have married the name, but I'm a DeBardelaben too.

Thanks for stopping in and sticking around.

*For the record, once a Marine, always a Marine. is relative. Some people think it's fun to do those crazy Spartan races where you crawl under barbed wire and scale big walls. I do NOT think that sounds fun AT ALL. Some people would have had a blast in the floaty pants just relaxing to the finish. But my brand of fun involves training and being as prepared as I can be.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Calm Frog

In mid-May I signed up for Frantic Frog. It's a sprint tri (400m swim, 25K bike, 5K run). I was feeling very hopeful about training and feeling like it would be a good goal race for me.

The race was yesterday....

The last time I logged a swim workout was May 31st. The last time I was on my bike (not the Spin bike) was June 11th. Combine that with being about 25 pounds heavier. You might think it would have been a miserable experience. But I had a GLORIOUS TIME!!!

I had to borrow a tri kit since none of mine fit. The race was wetsuit legal. Ordinarily I wouldn't even consider wearing a wetsuit but I'm going to be doing the swim portion of IM70.3 Augusta next weekend. It's a wetsuit legal, point to point, downstream swim. I have to borrow a wetsuit for that one since mine doesn't fit so I figured I would try out a borrowed one for this swim but instead I wore some "lava pants" I bought for training. They are wetsuit shorts and they are AWESOME!!

Getting ready for this race on Friday was pretty comical. All of my triathlon stuff was spread out all over the place since I haven't done a sprint in 3 (4?) years and haven't done a triathlon since IMChoo in 2015. I couldn't even find my cycling glasses. I almost forgot my goggles. It was like I was doing it for the first time!!

My birthday was Thursday. Usually we celebrate by going to dinner but I decided I really wanted to have a non-food related thing so we went to the Escape Pod Friday night (SO MUCH FUN-I HIGHLY recommend that place!). On the way there a friend of mine sent me a text wishing me well for the race Saturday and she sent this video:

Let me tell you I SOBBED and SOBBED just before we got to the Escape Pod for my birthday celebration! But it was a really good, cleansing sob. It was just what I needed to let go of all the anxiety that was building up as I was getting my stuff ready.

When I signed up for this race I put a link on my FaceBook page. This race registration site (runsignup) has a thing where if someone signs up using your link you get money off your registration. Well a couple of people signed up from my link. One of these friends was going to be doing her first open water swim triathlon! As race day was getting closer I was starting to think maybe I had made a mistake signing up for it. I even contemplated not going. But then my friend asked me if I wanted to ride over with her. She has a vehicle big enough for 2 bikes and gear, and my house was close to being on her way from her house to the race site. I said yes knowing that would mean I couldn't back out.
classic pre-race pose

She showed up at 5:15am and we headed off. I'm sure I was just as nervous as she was but we kept telling each other it was going to be a lot of fun.

My new "race day/workout" hair.
This race used to be run by a local guy and it was a good sized event. That guy announced he was going to be stepping away from directing it so a race management company took it over. They changed transition, the bike course and the run course. They changed post race food. The feel of the race was completely different. Not bad but different. I think that actually helped me a good was like doing a new race instead of one I'd done a couple of times before.

We got checked in and set up and then I walked through transition a few times. Dwayne showed up to spectate which really helped to calm my nerves. I got to tell SEVERAL first timers to just stay relaxed...which was really me saying that to myself.

An athlete I coach was there to do this race. She has come so far and is really doing well. It felt very weird to know she was going to SMOKE me on the course...sad and happy all at the same time. In the past when I would race I would pick competitors who I knew were right about my ability level (usually a little better) who I would "target" to race. I remember the last time I did this race I was less than a minute away from winning a frog in a box. I was really torn up about how close I was and how little things that happened through the day kept me from being on the podium. I knew there was NO CHANCE of even coming close this year and I had been telling myself leading up to race day to let go of competing completely.

Letting of of picking a person to race doesn't mean letting go of trying to do my best. It's part of who I am. But my goal was to honor my body and to give all I had the ability to give for this race on this day.

white swim cap is me
As we lined up for the swim I was battling nerves and taking my own advice by telling myself to "just relax"...and just like that it was time for me to jump in. As soon as I hit the water I got a nose full of water and a foot cramp! I was able to start swimming and very quickly realized I was swimming way too fast. I took a couple of breaths and then mostly settled in to a nice rhythm. I have a horrible habit of only breathing right when I am nervous/tense so I forced myself to breath left a few times and tried to get into a bilateral breathing pattern but I kept reverting to right-only. At least it gave me something to focus on! It seemed to take forever to get to that first turn buoy. What's funny is that when I look at the times and distances, that first section was the fastest and shortest. When I made the second turn I was headed back. That's when things began to click. Probably about 1/3 of the way on that last stretch I was able to relax and just swim. I found myself wishing it was a longer swim! (I'll get that next weekend at Augusta!)

When I got out of the water Dwayne was there taking pictures. I instantly starting thinking about the bike and all the nerves I had just finally let go of on the swim came rushing back.

*huh, I was "jogging" back to T1!
Before the swim Dwayne asked me about my lava pants. They are hard to get on just like a wetsuit so he was asking if I was going to be able to get them off easily. I told him they are VERY easy to peel off. I was walking (yes, walking, not running(*) into transition, I realized the tie was stuck. I wasn't knotted but it just wouldn't come lose. I had a mini panic because there was no way I could pull them down. As I came into transition Dwayne was there and I told him it was his fault it was stuck because he had asked me about it! I took a nice deep breath and relaxed and it untied!! I started telling myself "I love this, I love this, I love this"....I got my shoes and helmet on, grabbed my bike, walked out of transition and got on my bike.

For the first few minutes on the bike I wondered why I was there but then I reminded myself--I LOVE triathlon!! And then I saw my friend on the side of the road. I asked if she was okay. When she said she didn't know I stopped to help. She had dropped a chain. I got it back on for her, made sure she was back on and going and then I headed out. I guess if I was a REALLY good friend I would have stayed with her, but I didn't. I had planned on making a video of the whole bike portion of the race. I had my GoPro attached to my bike and had planned on turning it on when I was in T1. I forgot until about 2 miles in. The bike was fairly uneventful. I got passed early on by several people and I passed a few people. I went slow at times and fast at times. (My fast times were riding down hill with a tailwind, but whatever!) Coming back into the park I saw a guy who was running with his bike. I asked if he was okay and he said he had popped a tire! He had to run about 3/4 of a mile with his bike in socked feet! In the final stretch of the bike I found myself wishing I could ride longer. My legs were tired and I had concerns about the run, but I really wanted to spend more time on the bike.

Coming up to the dismount line I started reminding myself how to clip out and telling myself which way to lean so I didn't fall over! When I got off the bike my pelvic area was ON FIRE!!! I felt like I could barely walk and all of the nerves I had let go of on the bike came rushing back as I starting thinking about the run.

Side note....back in 2014 when I was doing the Grand Slam, during/after Dizzy 50 I started having on-again/off-again pain in my pubic area. I can't fully describe it except that it HURTS. It doesn't seem to be muscular. My daughter researched and thinks it might be pudendal neuralgia which really seems to fit. I went to the doctor last week about it (before she looked it up) because it was flaring back up. He referred me to a spinal doctor but I haven't gone yet. The pain mercifully went away leading up to the race but when I got off the bike it was the worst I've ever experienced. And yet, I was happy. I was about to get to go "run" and I only had one more thing to do to finish my triathlon!!

I had one of the longest transitions I've ever had (okay...maybe not, it was 1:50...I'm thinking I've taken longer than that before...). I couldn't find my speed laces so I actually had to TIE my shoes!! GASP! When I got them on and grabbed up my race belt and turned to run out of transition I COULD not run. It hurt so bad to just walk I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to finish.

And then I remembered my own words...JUST RELAX. Breathe. Walk. When I got outside of transition I stopped and tried to stretch. But stretching never seems to help at all (increasing the chance it's that nerve). So I just starting walking (VERY SLOWLY). I told myself I certainly wasn't going to quit, so I needed to MOVE toward the finish. After about 3 minutes I tried to jog but that made it hurt worse so I walked some more. The more I walked the less it hurt so I was able to finally start jogging a little bit. My heart rate and breathing never really got too far out of hand (especially for a race) but my pelvic area and my legs were my limiters. That made me INCREDIBLY happy!! I saw a lot of people I know and got to tell a ton of people "GREAT JOB"!! My athlete was running VERY strong and looking exceptionally good!

There was a guy who had passed me in the final mile of the bike who I played leap frog with on the run. (Not literal leap frog, but he'd pass me and then I'd pass him.) He was a fun guy. He was high-fiving people and cracking jokes. Super nice guy. When we finally made it to the turn around we both cheered!! On the way back I saw my friend and was so relieved to find out she didn't have any more bike troubles. I told her I knew she was going to catch me and pass me but I wasn't going to make it easy for her! (I can't not compete...) The nice guy was ahead of me and I was losing ground to him.

I passed a guy at some point and he told me he was going to try to stay with me as we jogged along. We came to a little down hill so I told him, "I'm going to stretch out my legs a little on this downhill -controlled fall and then I'm going to walk at that turn up ahead". He said okay and stayed right with me. We walked a bit and then jogged a bit. And then I said "Okay, we are going to run to the aide station and then we can walk again for a bit"...and it hit me...I didn't know this person. He's not my athlete. I'm not coaching him!! I apologized profusely and told him I just can't help myself! He laughed and said it was more than fine that it gave him goals. So we ran, then we walked and then we caught the other guy. I told him he should join us. We started running again and passed a guy walking so I told him to join the band of brothers, which he did!!

at the finish
When I got to about mile 2.5 I finally hit a good zone. There was an Ironman up ahead of me (he had a tattoo) who was running my speed and I just disconnected from everything except the back of his head. It was GLORIOUS!! I found myself wishing I could just keep running all day long. I felt myself speeding up but I just couldn't hold on. I realized we had lost fun guy and walking guy, but the other guy was still there. I told him "I'm going to walk to the next little sign and then I'm going to start running again..." He asked me if we were going to run at the NEXT sign, or the one after that...I said "I think the one AFTER the next one!" It was fun, we were in this together. We were going to finish strong together. I told him I usually have a good finish link kick but I didn't know if I could bring it out or not. I said if he wanted to beat me across the finish line he needed to leave me early. He told me where he was going to start running harder and I told him I was going to chase him.

my run/finish line buddy
I never caught him but he didn't leave me either so I was THRILLED!!! When I crossed I knew I had given all I had to give while honoring where I am right now. That is SUCH A GREAT FEELING!! I was very sad it was over, and relieved it was finished.

My finish line friend came up and gave me a big hug. I found out his name is Kendall and we got a picture together.

It turned out my athlete won second in her age group but I missed the award ceremony when she got her frog :(.

My pelvic area feels better today so that's REALLY VERY GOOD. I'll be going to the spine doctor next week. I'm not sore anywhere and I feel exceptionally good today!!

I think the video was right...HERE COMES THE COMEBACK!!!!

Thanks for stopping and sticking around!!!