Thursday, December 2, 2010


Alright, so a month later I'm finally getting to it. :) Kyle and I went on a California Adventure for our honeymoon. You can read all about it on our Wedding Blog and check out some of our pictures. We had a great time traveling around CA. Thanks to everyone for the great wedding gifts to help support our trip!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wedding Bells!

So I got hitched! :) Kyle and I tied the knot on October 16, 2010. To see more pictures visit our wedding blog: Wedding At the Sea, or see my facebook page.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Only to fall back down

Familiar? It just so happens that I haven't written in 3 months. Then I write. And talk about the accident. And what happens? I crash again. Same shoulder. 2 weeks before the wedding.

It's just so stupid. Life and random chance. So here it is:

Thursday night I was following Kyle on the pacific hwy as we were going up to Hillcrest to meet some of his friends. I looked away for a second, hit a bump, look back and I'm heading straight towards a giant curb. I scream. Slam on my brakes (I tend to over use my front break). Fly over my handlebars. Almost land on my feet, and then I look up. A fricken telephone pole. Right there. Right shoulder straight into it. Tears.

So that's it. Bethany and Chris come to pick us up. They put the bikes on the top and what happens next? They run over my front wheel. So my bike survives the crash, but not the car ride.

Frustrated? Yes. It's not nearly as bad as last time, and last time wasn't nearly as bad as Erin's. I think I'll be fine for the wedding (for dancing at least)...and hopefully for the honeymoon. Climbing! Tandem riding (although I can make kyle do all the work there).

Planning is coming along. Missing Kyle already. He's out to sea until the Tuesday night before the wedding, which is also the same night my mom gets in.

Don't crash your bike.

It's just so stupid. Life and random chance.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Almost Married!

So the last post was my engagement. :) That was almost 3 months ago. What have I been up to you may ask? Nothing. Well nothing on the triathlon front.

It's weird for me to write this, but here it goes. I got burned out. Ironman took away any triathlon life I had left. I trained so hard and with so much focus for one race and one date. For nine months. I have postpartum.I did a few races, (Carlsbad...which I didn't even report about! -won my AG) and SDIT, but with very limited training in between. After Carlsbad I found out I needed to have surgery for my Crohn's Disease, so after that, and the recovery (with no activity allowed) I got complacent at doing nothing.

2 Surgeries in the last year hasn't made my life any easier (both issues have come back) and it makes me wonder why I pay so much for healthcare when modern techniques don't seem to be working. Getting myself healthy and happy should be priorities, but instead have been pushed under the rug because of work and life.

So what have I been up to? Work. Ready? - Within a day we were told we were going to move the shop. And we had to be out in 5 days. An entire bike shop. With 3 years of (forgive my vulgarness) *shit piled into every nook and cranny. Oh, and the last day happens to be less than 2 weeks before the race that we happen to put on. Oh, and the owner and his fiance who also happens to work here are then getting married 2 weeks later. Oh, and yeah, then I'm getting married 2 weeks after that.

Great Planning.

Suffice to say I didn't get much ME time during that time (now). Much less sleep, Kyle, exercise, good food, family, friends, relaxing or anything else time. It was work.
One of those work related events was the San Diego Triathlon Classic. One of my favorite and least favorite times of the year, somehow we pulled off another great race. It was another year, another successful event that went and out-did itself again. Thanks to our hard work. It's great to see so many people out there racing and having fun. Enjoying the fruits our our labor. Unfortunately one of my best friends got hit by a car during the race. After beating Macca out of the water. I have never felt so sorry for someone and so helpless. She is strong and is a fighter. She's having shoulder surgery soon and has a long road to recovery. She is in my thoughts always. Best of luck with your recovery, Erin.
As a race director, you love to see happy volunteers, like this young lady above who handed out finishers medals all day! (Thanks to all my awesome volunteers!)

And you hate to see what happen to Erin, happen. You feel bad for the guy who cuts their foot on a rock in the water. You rush to get an ice pack for a lady who slipped on the sidewalk. When I heard that it was Erin who was hit, I couldn't stop crying. I somehow had to pull myself together to make sure the rest of the race was holding together. Get more cups to that far aid station! Who's getting the awards to the stage? Where's the pizza? Make sure there are volunteers at bike out! All while she is the only person I'm really thinking about. Watching Steve ride back to transition was heart breaking.

For all who care; it was the driver's fault (obviously). He did a u-turn through cones onto the bike course. She hit the driver's side rear door and broke the glass. She has a grade 3 shoulder separation. She's been a swimmer her entire life and this will be the longest time she has been out of the water.

Obviously I have a little personal experience with a similar injury. (although mine was way less severe, and I was at fault). But I'm back.

So Fri-Sat of the race I had a 41 hour day. It was crazy. I went out to wine steals with Erin M after the race and had a blast. Sunday morning I woke up early and swam under Erin H's name at the Sharkfest. It was fun to get back into the ocean. Without a wetsuit! I some how managed to swim the one.whatever miles across the San Diego Bay in a decent time. I actually exited the water with the lead swimmers...and I walked across the finish line. Little did I know that if I had ran, I would've won. It didn't matter anyway, I disqualified myself for racing under another person's name. (as a race director, you'd think I'd know - well I did, but it meant a lot to me to race for her).

What else? Planning a wedding. It's going to be a small ceremony on Sunset Cliffs and reception in our back yard. Basically a celebration with our family and friends and a big party. It's hard planning a wedding on a budget and with a 3 month time period, but I've somehow made it work. Hopefully it comes together on our big day. Kyle is out to sea until right before, so that'll be interesting as well. Such is the life of a soon to be navy wife. :)

So it's been a crazy month...only to get more crazy once the guest start to arrive in less than 2 weeks! Bachelorette party is 2 weeks from today. Contact my sister for more info. Sure to be good times.

Here's a look back at this summer.Kyle singing the marriage license. Kyle cooking his finest (oatmeal) on a (very hot) trip to J-Tree. Mission Gorge climbing.

We also went to Big Bear/Holcom Valley/Lake Perris over Labor Day weekend. I had 2 days off in a row, so we took a vacation up there. Beautiful country. We climbed, bowled, went down an alpine slide (awesome!!), swam in a warm lake (finally!), climbed, and got closer.

So it's not all bad. :) I have a great fiance helping me along the journey of life. I've learned that running, biking and swimming didn't define who I was and it's okay to take a break. Even if it's half a season. I will be back. Don't get me wrong, I miss Kermit dearly. He's currently at the shop waiting his turn patiently.

I've learned that work cannot dominate your life or it will become your life. I am back on track and moving forward. Very much looking forward to some "me" and "us" time on our Honeymoon!

Looking forward to being beautiful inside and out on our day. I LOVE my dress. :) Looking forward to the craziness that is to come...because it's all good! Looking forward to celebrating with my family. Most of all, I'm looking forward to spending the rest of my life with my best friend Kyle.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Kyle John Wills, (baby beluga, my sherpa, my best friend, my favwit) proposed to me on Sunday afternoon, July 4th, 2010 at the lighthouse on Cabrillo National Monument.

Kyle had 4 days off for the holiday weekend and no duty days. This NEVER happens. And of course, I had to work the entire weekend, besides Sunday, when the shop was closed. Kyle gave up his weekend for me...and the lack of a capable climbing partner. Friday I left work a little early since I worked Thursday on my day off. We went to Mission Beach for one of his co-workers birthday. We road our bikes down and had our own fun and even jumped in the ocean. Saturday I sherpa'd him to a bike race in Mira Mesa, then I worked and went out for girls night.Sunday morning we slept in and had a lazy morning for once. Again, this NEVER happens. We managed to get our butts out of bed around 11 to accomplish something. We had no firm plans but to get out on our bikes. We headed to the end of Point Loma for some hill repeats on the tidepool hill. I've done this ride a thousand times (MCS shop ride), and he's gone a couple times by himself...but we've NEVER gone together!

He'd never been to the lighthouse so we rode up there and got off our bikes to check out the view. Apparently Coronado was the only town that could afford to pay the sun to shine. It's been a pretty gloomy summer in San Diego, but today it was different.Then he was down on one knee and asked;

"rachel anne gordon, will you marry me? I will love you forever, but you have to promise me you'll never slow down."

Of course I said yes (and I promise) and he slid the ring on my fat finger (we just got done with a sprint finish to the guard shack) and looked for someone to take a picture.I was glowing. It was a gloomy day, but we were both smiling brightly. To "seal the deal" we went down the tidepool hill and climbed back up. No slowing down. :) I professed, "I just got engaged!" to a couple of random cyclists along the way.
I had invited our friends over for a BBQ so it became an impromptu engagement party for us. :) As always, good conversation and great food. Jake, Erin, and I (and kyle and katie this year) stayed late and again watched the fireworks from the rooftop.
I called work and asked to switch days, so Kyle and I could celebrate our engagement. We drove out to Idylwild on Sunday night to climb on Monday. We had a blast enjoying each others company, out in the forest, hiking, climbing, camping, eating, and swimming.I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.
P.S. The ring is GORGEOUS! I can't stop looking at it. (He ain't bad, either!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

SDIT report

Alright, I know everyone is looking forward to the engagement story...but I started working on the SDIT report last week and am finally getting around to finishing it. Ring post to follow soon. Promise. :)

Here it goes. Racing. After 2 months of "recovering." I gave it all I had and here's how it went down.

Training for Ironman: Endless months of dedicated work
Training for SDIT: what?

Packing for Ironman: A week ordeal. Checklists galore
Packing for SDIT: 9:30pm Sat night, also a bit race morning

Pre-Race Ironman meal: Spaghetti
Pre-Race SDIT meal: Velveeta Shells and Cheese

I signed up for SDIT way back in January I think. I did it so I'd have something after Ironman. Because I knew I'd have no focus immediately following the date that I had been looking forward to for over a year. May 1st. I can't tell you how many times I verbalized that date. But what's beyond that? I knew that I'd struggle to get back, and that this race would be okay to "fake my way through" to make sure I didn't completely fall off the horse...although I came close.

Sunday morning came a relaxed wakeup call. The race is 1 mile from my house, so I set the alarm for 5am. Kyle dropped me off at transition and he drove downtown (separate start and finish areas) and biked back to where I was. I set up my transition area and went out for a quick spin on Kermit to make sure he was shifting okay. Well he wasn't and the chain dropped. Serious point of frustration. Black fingers. Getting ready with the Tri Flo. Long T1 run causes for stuck wetsuits.
Pre-race picture with Erin. Similar one from last year. Erin and I did a quick jog to the porta potties at the swim start, back to transition, into wetsuits, back to the swim start, back to transition for anti-fog for the goggles, back to the swim start. Good enough warmup for me.
Unfair transition areas and far away porta johns really make you think as a race director, this is what not to doThis picture will forever make me laugh. Having a bad day? Break out this pic. Apparently, Brian hadn't figured out how to use Amy's camera. Laughs all around.
In the water for our 7:15 start. Behind the men 60+, Clydesdales, and Challenged athletes. Thank you Koz. I got to the line, put my feet up behind me, and floated till the gun went off. Surprisingly, the swim was uneventful. The waves were 5 min apart, so I had clean water for about 150 yards before I started weaving around the pack ahead. No pink caps in sight, I must do this all by myself. I was alone the entire time and didn't have Colleen there this year to guide me through, as she was up in Idaho for IM CDA.

Out of the water, delusional as usual. I hear my name many times...I know this is going to be a great race. All doubts gone. I love local races. TCSD is great and with all the swim coach volunteering I do, I've developed a reputation and I've met alot of people.
Into T1 I begin to rip of my wetsuit. I stop to take off the bottoms, as I know I have a long run in front of me to get to my bike, and when all the water drips out of the suit, it's glued to me. Taking it off earlier is always better.

So it's Kermit's time to shine. This course is my "home course" as our weekly shop rides from Moment Cycle Sport follow the route. I know every bump in the road, every pot hole, every hill and descent. I know where to shift. I know how hard to push so I don't blow up. I know this course.

I drank an entire aero drink of water and 3/4 of the bottle of powerbar endurance drink. In 50 min. I drink alot. Having the straw right in front of me, it's very easy and tempting to drink, and I'm also very used to it.

Before the dismount line I decide I'm going to try something new on race day. Thoughts I know I shouldn't have, but what the heck...I'm out here having fun. I slipped my feet out of my shoes and pedaled to the line on top of my shoes. I attempted a leap off the bike and smiled as I landed firmly on my feet. I didn't fall! Woot!

Into T2 I felt pretty good. Put on my running shoes and race number and I was out. I knew there was 1 girl in my AG (Christina Jackson, would've been 4th pro...seriously? she won the desert tri as well) who passed me at the very beginning of the bike. She was the only one. So, running. I left the garmin at home (last minute packing? It was charging overnight...oops) but I think it turned out to be a blessing. I was focusing solely on my lean, technique, turnover and hangin on. From the pictures, it looks like I was barely hanging on. :)

I kept getting messed up as to where I was in the run. 2 miles only? Wait, wasn't that the 4 mile sign? Sweet! I asked a guy what time of day it was and somehow calculated that I may make it under the 2 hour mark. So I put my head down and dug deep.

Thoughts through my where is this coming from? You have Ironman legs remember? Remember, this is less than 1 portion of the run in St. George...and there are NO hills. Turnover. Breathe. F'ing go!

The build up to the finish line is great. Random homeless man who always comes out and cheers your number, tourists wondering what's going on, and then the line of spectators. I have no memories of seeing or hearing anyone. Again, delusional. I look horrible in every picture. I crossed the finishline and felt relieved it was over. Any longer and I may have walked to that line.

1 other girl in my AG passed me in the middle of the run and I couldn't remember seeing any others. Besides that, there were A LOT of 30 year old's passing me. Tough AG for sure. Results were posted, and who knew?! Under 2 hours and a podium spot!

Shout out to all my training buddies who had great days. Noko, Jake, Erin, Stacy and Beth...who showed up to her first Elite race. (One less 30 year old passing me on the run). Thanks always to Kyle, my favorite sherpa.TLC kids. Thanks Coach Brian for trying your hardest to motivate me the last 2 months. We both went through a post IM depression I think. :) It's good to be back.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

begin again

I can't believe it's almost been 2 months since St. George. (And a month since the last post). I've been pretty uninspired. This blog has been primarily about my triathlon journey, and there hasn't been much of either lately. Till last week.

First, lets take a quick peek back at what's been going on.
Previously I've been:Climbing at the new (awesome) gym with Kyle.Cheering on my favorite new road racer. (and doing a little racing myself!)And winning cash money baby! (well..a check'll do)We've been cooking, cleaning, organizing (and messing it all back up again). Kyle took me out to Mission Gorge for an outdoor climbing session one afternoon. Friends had a going away camping part at Lake Cuyamaca for Evan. I've been uber busy at the shop. And I've put a lot of time into swim lessons. (Not to mention, still volunteering for TCSD).

I started coaching under Brian at Triathlon Lifestyle Coaching. It seemed like a good fit for me since I'm all about swimming smarter (with better technique!), not harder. As the swim coach, I give technique lessons to the clients and offer private one-on-one sessions as well as group open water swim technique based clinics. It's been going really well and I'm looking forward to my next (sold out in 36 hours) clinic on July 8th. I got a lot of positive feedback from my first session and look forward to hosting them all summer long. Email me for details if you'd like to get a group of friends together for some swim instruction!

As for the training. It went a bit like this:
Brian would send me a plan. I'd think about doing it. And all of a sudden it was the last day of the week and nothing got done - besides a lot of floating around in the hot pool at the Y - swim lessons! I road my bike a couple times. Kyle did his first Great Western Loop (and I was holding up the rear). I missed Cookie Monster (Parlee) but I found myself back on Kermit. I ran 4x (now 5 after the race today) since my marathon at St. George.

* Random 2 mile run a couple weeks ago.
* 3 miles at the aquathlon (racing...and wanting to die!).
* 3 mile and 2 mile sessions this week as "race prep." Those two runs actually gave me confidence for the six I had to run today, as they both were a bit quick (for me).

I have been using the Garmin sparingly (with no HR fact, I can't seem to find it at the moment) and not uploading it...sorry coach. I've been swimming in the ocean. I raced the Pier to Cove race only to get my butt kicked this year. I swam the first aquathlon, and did the entire swim/run for the 2nd (without a timing chip...I really didn't need to know that run time) Masters workouts? Hmm, I showed up to noon masters last Thursday. Sprint day?! Seriously, off the blocks, sprinting. 8x100. Fastest 100? 1:08. I'm sorry to all my non-swimmer triathlete friends and clients. I do not mean to cry about my "slow" times, but that is damn slow. I have no speed. I have this uber long ironman stroke that can go on forever (probably at a 1:10/100 yards pace)...but I just couldn't get the turnover or the lungs to survive the workout. Epic fail, but I had fun doing it.

So I was thinking last night about my impending race today. Okay, I've put in a solid week of work. *insert laugh* A run on Mon and Tues. Great Western Wed. Moment Ride (SDIT prep) and masters swim on Thurs. Absolutely nothing on Fri/Sat...not because I was resting, but because I didn't have time! (Huge ANNIVERSARY SALE at Moment Cycle Sport this weekend...ends Tomorrow! - stop by)

So much dread, so much expectation, so much unknown. What I did know? It's going to hurt. What I didn't know? How good I actually felt!

So I'm "back" sort of. I'm back to running. I won't say enjoying running. But not really dreading it...we'll call it feeling accomplished. I'm back on my bike, and back in the water. Just in time for summer. I'm finding myself back on a path that hopefully will become consistent training.

Race report to come soon. I promise...I'll begin again.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Rachel Gordon, you are an Ironman!"

So, what now? I got to hear those famous words from Mr. Riley's voice as I crossed the finish line of a 6 month journey. Now let me tell you about that little journey, and why, 3 weeks later, I still stand by my statement.

I'm never doing that again.

For six months of my life, I wasn't me...I was all about me. I was Rachel in training. My primary thoughts each night were: How'd I feel today? What's up for tomorrow? What do I need to pack? How many calories do I need for this workout? What time am I waking up, again? Me, me, me.

And I lost track of more important things in life. I didn't speak to my family often enough. I didn't speak with anyone, really. My email updates to my college roommates were infrequent. It took a toll on Kyle and I. I had no energy to waste, and I was in a constant state of Ironman. I didn't even have the time or energy to do basic tasks. Laundry, dishes, cooking.

Whoa, that got dark. But during winter training, that's what happens. It's dark. You find yourself training alone because everyone else can be fair weather fans, but you have to fit it all in. Thankfully, I wasn't alone often. I do have great (crazy) friends who were up for anything. And for them, I am thankful.

I am most thankful for Brian, my coach. Another shot out to this man, who did most of the thinking for me. All I had to do was wake up. His coaching practice, Triathlon Lifestyle Coaching was a great fit. He did understand my life, and eased up when life really got in the way. I can't imagine doing it any differently. I never would've made it to the start line injury free, or that prepared. I followed his plan to the best of my abilities, to almost a T. And I showed up at St. George ready for a long day. Ready for 13 hours. His prediction. And just like San Dieguito half marathon, I beat him to his prediction.

I do not regret my decision to sign up, train, race. It wasn't that dark. In fact, I loved the experience. I loved getting my body back to where I was after my freshman year training trip. I started to enjoy running. Okay, maybe not running, but the positive effects running has on my body. I loved proving myself wrong so many times on the limits I once previously set for myself. I love that now, most everything will seem easier.

So why am I never doing it again? Why not do an "easier" course to prove how hard SGIM was? Because I don't think I could. I trained my butt off for this race. I followed that plan. And I showed up as ready as I could be. These are my thoughts:

If I do an easier one, I'll slack. I'll tell myself, "Oh it's easier, you don't have to do all those hill repeats. Oh, it's easier, you can slack this workout." Then, because it's easier, I'd have a faster time goal. And although I may beat my St. George time, I know I wouldn't be satisfied, because I let myself down in training.

So. Check. Done. Off the list. I got my tattoo, and forever I will be an Ironman.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ironman St. George: Run, Salt at any cost, RUN!

Well, I'm almost there. 4 more laps. Up then down on each lap. That's 4 more ups. You CAN do this. I take a physical once-over. Hamstring, uh a little tight, not bad. Hip, mmm doing alright, stride feels equal. HR, 170s out of T2, but falling. Good. Temperature, you are hot. Get some water. I look up and see Brian and my roommate Katrina at the turn onto Diagonal Rd.

"Oh, Hi Brian! I'm doing alright. I threw up on the bike, I got a drafting penalty, my chain dropped, my wheel wasn't on, and oh oh! I peed on my bike. I feel like I'm forgetting something, but I feel great!"

As I run past, he gives me this look best described like this: wtf are you talking about? ok, uh, keep running. uh, are you okay? um, wow, information overload. - All that in 1 look. I think he managed to actually say, "you look Great!" which was much appreciated. If I looked great and felt great, then I must be doing alright. Now I must keep my head in the game.

And before I knew it I was at the first aid station. wet. cold. sponges. y.e.s. I have a problem with overheating on the run and I'm constantly pouring water over myself to stay cool. At Ironman, the run aid stations are about every mile...and are WELL stocked. This isn't called the "catered marathon" for nothing. I grab two sponges and put them in my straps. Ahh the coolness against my skin is refreshing. Thank you.

I think I got passed by a man with one leg around this point. WOW, that guy is awesome. (His other leg was amputated above the knee, and he had a prosthesis running lower leg). I got passed, but I was also passing. This wasn't going to be a typical race where I don't pass anyone. Especially if I play this smart. Your race, your legs, keep checking in.

wow, nice lean!
Chatting with Kyle about the bike "issues"

Most of the race is a blur. I just kept chugging along. I saw my mom, sister, Kyle and grandma somewhere around the 3rd aid station for the first time during the race. It was a huge help having my Ironcheersquad out there all day. Kyle ran along side me barefoot as I again went through the play by play of the bike. He ran with me for a bit, and I let him go as I kept on up the hill.
As I was checking in, I noticed my quads were getting a little tight, on the inside, near my knee. I looked at my salt reserves, and they were low. Did I miscalculate, and not pack enough? Okay, time to ration, I guess. Here is my run nutrition execution. Not really close to the plan, but good enough. I began my aid station ritual.

-Sponges, throw out old, get new
-First water available (usually 1st volunteer after sponges)


The sponges ended after the first half, because the clouds started rolling in and it wasn't quite as hot. Coke is something that I hate. I can't stand the taste of any cola, actually. But I knew I needed the caffeine and sugar and not surprisingly, I worked. Unfortunately it wasn't flat, so I'd take 3 good sips, dump the cup and then hopefully get 3 good burps out soon after. Yes, the coke is what got me through. I started to look forward to every other aid station for that sweet taste. Crap, I was addicted.

The salt from the pretzels seemed to be working. I'd put a bunch of pretzels in my mouth, suck the salt off, and then spit out the rest of the dry pretzel and drink some of my water. Suffice to say, there were a lot of mushy pretzel clumps on the road. I swear I wasn't throwing up.

I was carrying my usual water bottle and carrier that held 2 gu's, motivator, salt and ibuprofen. The "pills" came at random times. I maybe took 2 motivators the entire run, and 3 ibuprofens. As for the salt, I'd treat myself to one, only when absolutely necessary. (i.e. quads are going to seize, you must take one!) I filled my bottle a couple times through aid stations, and it was surprisingly easy to do while running. I also had a couple random Gu's/Powerbar Gels during the race. They kept giving me yucky ones (espresso, and a fruit cream one) so instead of suffering through, I'd just toss it, uneaten. Oh well, I'll get one at the next aid station.

Total calories ended up being around 500. I had trained all my long runs with 200/hr, so I was running on half of that for the entire run. And was actually okay with that.

Alright, back to the race.

I think Caleb passed me near the top and he looked good. I saw Brian at the end of the first big downhill near the stoplight. He was cutting the course to see me up there, and down at the turn around. He asked me how I was feeling, (Great), he said I looked great, and I was on my way.

I got through the park and to the turn around and started back up. Saw Brian again, this time he said, "Only 3 more left, you can do it. You look great!"Yeah, only 3 more of those left. This one proved to be the hardest. I made it up the hill and started back down. I got in a rut and was running pretty slow on the downs. I saw the fam and Kyle again. My stomach wasn't very happy. I told him I needed tums. He ran to the gas station, and then ran me down on the course and handed them over. I instantly felt better. It was an odd sensation. My abs were sore and hurt from holding them so tight through the entire bike because my stomach was upset, and from the throwing up. I suppose I should be disqualified for outside help. And I guess I don't really care if I am. I would've made it through without the tums. I was just very grateful for them.

#2 done, and I made the turn at mile 13.1, where you can hear and see the finish line. Evil. Didn't have a special needs bag. And if I did, the only thing I would've had in there is tums. Okay, back out, starting #3. Check in...good. 2:30 first half, you can do this. You may be able to finish before dark. (8:23 was sunset, which would be 13:23 race time, I had 3 hours to get back there). HR is good. Right around 150 average and 155 on the hills.

Feeling better than #2. I'm running. I think I should stop and use the toilet. Okay, go at the next open one. Luckily that was at the end of the aid station I was at. Jump in, oh yeah, this is a good time to take the inhaler. Bathroom break wasn't as great as I expected, and took 1:14. It did feel good to sit and rest, but I told myself that I could do plenty of that after the race.

Back running. See family. Tell them I love them and I'll see them at the finish line. Kyle is rocking my world with his encouragement. I could see he was proud. I make it up the hill, continuing on with the aid station eating plan. I hadn't walked an aid station yet. I couldn't. I'd tell myself that I'll walk the next one, but then I'd get there, feel okay, and I knew if I stopped, it'd be hard to start again.
I found some feet. A tall boy, 28, from LA. He had a good stride and cadence. I latched on. We were flying by people. By this point there weren't a lot of "runners" left, and most of the field was walking. I saw Brian, as I was hiding behind this boy. We were trucking along, and I'd keep encouraging him. Got to the park section and he started to walk. I encouraged him to keep going, and come with me. He did, we made it through the park. I learned it was his first as well, and before we knew it we were at the turn around. Only 1 more left.

Unfortunately, he couldn't hang and I lost him on the up. I felt like I was in a different world. A world of walkers, and I wasn't going to let their infectious disease infect me. I was going to keep running.

I saw Brian at the usual spot, for one last time before the finish. He told me Caleb was walking and I'd probably catch him. I told him I feel great, but in the middle of that hill I'm going to walk. Less than 1 min, but I'm doing it. Then I'm running home. He told me again, I looked great, and that I can do it.

So I listened to myself. I power walked in the middle of the hill, and told myself if I got to that cone in 40+ seconds, I'd start running. It was 41 seconds, so I began running. I got to the top of the hill and I was elated. At that moment, it was over for me. The rest was down hill. I took some coke, and a gel. With 4 miles left. That runners high hit me, and I was almost floating. If that makes sense at the end of an Ironman. If that makes sense at all, since I've never really felt it.

I went through the motivational mile while No Doubt's, I'm just a girl, played. I sang a couple lyrics, and I looked up at Kyle's message. And I think I had 1 tear. I told myself I couldn't waste energy on emotion now, I needed every sap of reserves, so no being sappy. Kyle's message was "#122, Cwaziest cwazier. GO!" (We sometimes don't like to use the letter R)

I got out of that horrible golf course section, and I was back on Diagonal Rd. And guess who I saw. Caleb. I said come on, run with me. It didn't take much convincing, and he was running. We were chatty and he had said he'd been walking since mile 14. We talked about the rest of our races and were both coming to the realization that it was almost over. We were pushing the pace... and I kept asking myself, "How am I doing this? How am I still running?"

We past the last two aid stations on Diagonal and it was getting real. We could hear Mike Riley. It was almost our turn.

I don't really remember much after that last turn. My legs started sprinting. I almost missed the "this way to finish" cone, rather than the turn around...oh hell no, I'm on the 2nd lap. My heart rate was up to 180 and after being around 152 the entire run, I felt awake again.

Then I heard him, talking to me.

"You're happy. You did it. You deserve it. 27 year old Rachel Gordon, first time Ironman, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" - Mike RileyAnd that was it. I was moving for most of the entire 12 hours, 53 minutes, and 31 seconds.
Now I didn't want to move ever again.

4:58.19 Run.

2:27 2nd half. Yeah I negative split the Ironman marathon on the hilliest North American course. In my first time running a marathon. In my first time running over 3 hours.I'd like to say I ran the entire run. Well, almost. I walked the super steep but short section by the golf course. I took a potty break. I walked a small cone to cone section on the last up. My average walk break was less than 45 seconds. And only 4:00 min of total cumulative walk/potty time in the entire race. Not bad for a first time Ironman.

I'll have one more update. my post-race thoughts. Preview: I'm not doing another one.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ironman St. George: Bike, Unpleasantries, Sin Bin

I instantly feel like crap. Legs feel amazing, I'm comfortable on my bike, but my stomach is not riding the same train. This is not good. I did swallow more water than I'm used to. It was a lake swim. I can't help myself. I'm used to working hard at keeping the nasty salt water, bird crap, cove nastiness out, that when I get to something that is delicious, I guess I drink it up. I get passed as the photographer is taking the sweet side shot. Thanks for ruining my picture buddy. I come up to the first big hill, and my stomach is NOT happy. It forces me out of my aerobars, which is NOT my style. I spin up hills, aero, and ride smooth. This was not so smooth, and very uncomfortable. Julie passes me. Whitney passes me and offers me Bonk Breakers, gu, anything, but I say no thanks, I cannot eat any more, I just need some Immodium. Guess who didn't pack it. I keep hoping that Beth will catch me. I think she said she packed some.

The only thing that runs through my head is, "This will pass, settle in, watch your HR." Over and over. It isn't getting better.

Yuck, I just puked on my arm. Relief? "No, wtf, you puked! You should feel better now. This isn't funny anymore. You are already 2 hours into the bike. Feel BETTER!" Two hours, turns into three.

I'm still trying to eat at a semi regular rate because I know I lost calories. 1 sip of Carbopro every 30ish minutes. I had a gu and some powerbar gummies in there somewhere. Keeping on with the water, but watching my belly for bloating. Salt tabs, Ibuprofen, and a Motivator. I'm doing what I have done on every long ride. What went wrong? What is going wrong? I keep blaming it on the swallowed water. Puke, again. Get it together, now. I'm at the top of the hill and about to start the decent. I pass my special needs bag.

The downhill is refreshing. And it always ends too quickly. Before I knew it, I was turning back up for the 2nd loop. Which was much of the same as the first. Dropped my chain and of course it gets stuck between my frame and the small ring. I feel like crap, puke, wish that would've made me feel better. I decide I should try to use the bathroom, so I stopped at the aid station on the backside. No line (yes!) and I had a nice volunteer who held my bike. I took this time to take a puff from the inhaler. Left, not really feeling any better, but at least I didn't pee on Kermit.
I get to the final big hill. At this moment, I'm at a low point. It's 6 hours into the bike. My stomach has not turned around. I'm seriously concerned that this issue is going to affect my run. I'm getting passed.

And then..."#122, drafting. Stop at the next penalty tent." WTF?! I was pissed. I said my choice of words to the lady on the back of the motorcycle. She insisted that I wasn't dropping back quick enough. I was so frustrated. I was getting passed, so I'd drop back. But then the next person behind me would see me slowing and pass me. So I'd slow again. I was pretty sick of slowing, and in a rut, and puking, there was NO WAY I was drafting. I pointed to the group of 3 that just passed me as I'm having this conversation, who were drafting, and she shakes them off. Screw you lady. I know you are a volunteer, but learn the rules.So, knowing that I'd get a rest at some point, I begin to hammer. Suddenly, my stomach isn't so upset. I am flying down the hills covering that section of the course faster than the previous loop. I make the final turn and see the "Sin Bin" (what my dad calls the penalty box in hockey) waiting for me on the other side of the road. Finish the crazy loop-de-loops on this bike path and make my way up the hill only to sit and wait.

4 minutes. I get off my bike and stretch. The volunteers warn me that I'm not allowed to pee. Ugh, fine. But I really have to go. Why is my rear wheel making all that noise? "Um your rear skewer is WIDE OPEN, and the nut is a 1/2 turn from falling off. You are lucky you aren't dead." WTF! No wonder my bike wasn't shifting! No wonder it was making a crazy rattling noise. Holy crap, I could've died. I spend the rest of my 4 minutes freaking out about the bike, and trying to figure out how it could have opened.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1...And I'm off. Finishing the 3 miles back into the town to transition. Check in with my body. Hmm, I have to pee. So you've done it in practice, do it now! So I pee. All over Kermit. Past the many people lining the streets of Diagonal Rd. Mmm, yummy. Squirt the remainder of the water to rinse off and head into T2.

6:53:47 Bike. Including the time spent in the Sin Bin. Interestingly enough, this was my longest ride ever (I think 102 miles was the furthest distance prior) but it wasn't the longest time I've spent on my bike. 112 miles. Done.

People are yelling my number and I see the volunteer struggling to find my bag. "It's the one with the green lei!" He still doesn't get it. I make it there, grab it, and a volunteer grabs me. "I'll follow you. Go in the doors, and to the left. Find a seat."

More of the same from my 2 amazing helpers. Me barking orders: Shorts off, those are gross, sorry. Turn the Garmin on. New shorts on. New socks. Bike Jersey off. Help me with the tri top, it's really hard to get on. Race belt, put that back on me. Shoes, I got those. Visor. Body Glide, I need that now. Okay, where's the sunscreen?

I run out of transition and find the kids with the sunscreen. They pour it all over my back and the back of my legs and I feel 5 sets of gloved hands rubbing it in. Wow, that feels nice. Thanks guys!

I'm out of T2. Four minutes and nine seconds. I look down at my pace. 8:30. NOT OKAY> Slow down. Turn the corner while hearing Mike Riley and head on out and up. Let's go conquer some more hills.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ironman St. George: Bags, Swim, T1

Ironman is an interesting beast. It's not just about swimbikerun. There is way too much to pack, remember, practice, test, and organize. You have 6 months to figure it out, yet it seems like there are still way too many last minute decisions and freakouts. What special need item did you really want on that one long ride? What was that perfect breakfast you ate before that amazing ride? Wet shorts, dry shorts? You can't predict the weather. What if you didn't try this certain specific clothing combination? Are you f'd because of the "nothing new on race day" LAW that every triathlete tries very hard to follow?

For those of you not familiar with the Ironman bag scenerio, here's the scoop. You get 5 bags.

1. Morning Clothes bag. I packed all the stuff I'd need for the swim; wetsuit, earplugs, swim cap, neoprene cap, silcone cap, 1 vanilla gu, green goggles, tinted goggles, HR monitor. I was wearing my sports bra and bikini bottoms. After putting most of that stuff on, opting for the tinted rather than green, I put my sweats, iPod and shoes in that bag and handed it to a volunteer before booking it towards the swim start.

2. Bike Bag (aka T1 bag). Included is everything you need for the bike. Mine included: Towel, bike shorts, bike jersey, vest, arm warmers, bike shoes, socks, aero helmet, 1 vanilla gu, garmin, sunglasses.

3. Bike Special Needs. They pass this to you around the midway point on the bike. I put an extra bottle of my 1200 calorie drink and some chamois cream. Neither of which I used.

4. Run Bag (aka T2 Bag). Run shoes, socks, body glide, another garmin, Splish tri top, tri shorts, visor, water bottle and hand holder, salt tabs, 1 gu, shotbloks.

5. Run Special Needs. Didn't drop it off, didn't use it. Didn't need anything I didn't pack.* (with a small exception)
Here is my Run Gear Bag, with a bright green lei. I was surprised at how many people didn't have a bag marker. It was an addition I though couldn't hurt. actually came in handy when I found my bag before the volunteer at T2.

I had a gmail chat conversation with Beth a couple days before the race while we were both contemplating the, what goes in which bag, issue. It ended with me typing in frustration, "Why is everything so complicated?! This sport is so messed up."

Fast forward to May 1, 2010. Race Morning:
3:00am wakeup to Dr. Dre on my iPhone alarm, alerting me that yes, it is finally here. I was awake much before the alarm.
3:15am Breakfast: Oatmeal, brown sugar. Banana? I can't remember.
4:00am Out of the house and to the bus
4:30am On school bus. Listening to iPod to drown out wind and cold water talks. Hold my breath through someone's horribly stinky butt. Triathletes sure are regular.
5:00am Arrive at transition
5:00-6:30am. Get ready. Porta-pottie twice. Pump tires. Sat alone on a rock by the swim start mentally rehearsing, jamming out. Ate half a powerbar smoothie. Quick jog. Wetsuit on, walk to swim start with socks on.6:40am Eat vanilla Gu. Wait in swim start corral for the pro's to start
6:45am First one to enter the water. Swim out, warm up, but really it was more of a cool off. Scoop out the buoy situation, find an ideal front row middle spot, chat with kayakers, freeze. Keep reminding myself that it's 58 degrees, you are wearing 3 caps, you are fine. (really it was somewhere around 54 according to the reports). Pee. Mmm. Warm again.
7:00am BOOM. (a very loud cannon)
What do we do? We swim, swim.
After the gun went off, I just started swimming. At a normal pace. No sprinting, no rush to get into anything. I didn't get hit once. I found some calm waters near the outside and just went with it. Found my stroke and went with it. During the first stretch I was settling in, looking for feet and doing my best to hold back. Some thoughts:

"wow, it's really here"
"Hmm, why didn't I get attacked?"
"Wow, this guy is wearing a sleeveless, crazy person"
"Hmm, hands are a bit frozen...kind of like blocks. Keep your form, they are still working"
"Find feet, find feet, sight"

Found some feet, and before I knew it, we were at the red buoy and making our first turn. Brace yourself.

"Oh wow, that man in TYR wetsuit was nice! He didn't cut me off, am I really racing? Did I fall asleep? Am I at the back of the pack where everyone is nice? WTF?! I thought this was the Ironman, the craziest swim, the no-holds bar, rip off goggles, run over, kick faces swim? Yet, everyone seems to be working together, minding their space. This is awesome!"

Turn two and we are on the long back stretch. Sticking with the same people. I didn't see any yellow caps (women) around. Looked behind me, orange drafters. Looked ahead, orange pullers. Okay, you are sitting pretty. Effort check? Again, I felt amazing and had to ask myself if I was going to get serious and race. Passed a pink cap (pro women). Hands are now really frozen. Try to open and close fingers really fast while recovering. Ouch!!!!!!!! Your tendons were frozen and that was not comfortable. Still too frozen to really realize what happened.

Turn 3. You can see the boat ramp. Another pink cap. You can see the exit. This is taking too long. Don't push too hard. Don't slow down! Get there. Engage legs. Flex feet, wow calves are really tight. Be prepared for cramps. Keep moving ankles. Get ready to stand. Stand. Walk. Don't walk, come on, you know you are up there. Don't look like a freak who wins the swim and walks through transition. Wow, this is steep.

7:53:14am Swim Finish (1st AG, 1st Female Ammeter, 22nd overall-including pros, although I had no idea where I was at or what my time was. I didn't see the clock) Pass wetsuit strippers. Stop at the last one, remove wetsuit. Get T1 bag. Run. Ouchies, they freaking run out of carpet on the way to the woman's change tent?! That's not right. Now get ready for chaotic organization. Dump bag. Conversation with 3 AMAZING volunteers. It pays to have a fast swim. Many ready and willing handlers to rock your world. Basically it's me barking orders:

"Towel. Shorts. Gu. Open it. Jersey. Put it on me. Socks. Help me. I am cold. The water was cold. You guys have your work cut out for you. There are going to be people way colder than me. Shoes, on please. Garmin on my left wrist. Helmet strap unbuckled. Is it warm? (They respond that it looks like a hot day) Okay, no arm warmers, no vest, back in bag. Make sure ear plugs are in swim cap and in this bag. Do not lose them. Wetsuit in bag."

I run out screaming "Thank you, thank you!!! You guys are the best!!" And I feel a bit guilty for barking at those ladies. They were so helpful. You were cold and conserving energy. Why does your hand hurt so bad?

Out of the tent, I see more volunteers, grabbing bikes. There he is, Kermit, waiting for me in the hands of a small lady. I grab him. I hop on. (it was more of a slow mounting) I head out the long chute with many cheers. I do not see anyone I know. Somehow that took 4:09. It's around 7:58am before I look at my watch.
I focus on lowering the HR, settling in and immediately begin eating. And more eating. Shove 1/2 a powerbar in (100 caories), 2 sips of carbopro (200 calories), salt tabs, and keep in mind I just had a gu (100 calories) in transition. I needed to get the calories in before the hills. Little did I know, all that food would ruin the better half of my day.