The Big Day | Part 3: The Marathon and Beyond

It took me way too long to write this part (it’s been almost four months since I posted the swim and bike write-ups), and here’s what stinks about that: I think I have forgotten some of the minor details about the marathon that I wanted to capture by writing these blog posts about my race. After I got the first two parts written and posted, I had to postpone writing about the run so I could catch up on a lot of things I’d had to put off while training during the first half of the year. But in the end, that’s okay – I certainly remember the important things.

I have to tell you, finishing the bike with the sun high in the sky was the most relieved I have ever felt in my entire life. I had finished the swim in plenty of time, and now I had finished the bike in plenty of time too. I had well over 7 hours (SEVEN HOURS!!) to finish the marathon. I could feasibly speed walk the entire thing and still finish within the allotted 17 hours. Which, it turns out, is a really bad way to look at it, in my opinion. One lesson learned.

That is the only preface I’ll give to Part 3 of my Ironman story. I’ll try to keep it shorter than the first two parts – ha, yes, that may have been a joke. (Definitely a joke.)

Race day | Bike-to-run transition: 14:35

Coming into the bike-to-run transition was uneventful, though not my top-5 smoothest dismount ever (luckily it had nothing to do with my tilt-a-wtf handlebars). Historically, I’ve always pulled my feet out of my shoes while I’m still riding, so my bare feet are sitting on top of my shoes when I enter the dismount area. I just leave my shoes attached to the pedals and hop off so that I’m already barefoot for throwing on my running shoes (I typically don’t wear socks for either the bike or the run). Except that, on this bike, the crank was clearly much lower than my own tri bike’s crank, so the shoe of my dismount pedal (the one in the low position) DRAGGED on the ground once my foot wasn’t holding it horizontal anymore, which totally startled me as I jumped off the bike. Whoops. But I was off my bike without a spill, and that’s all that really matters. In Ironman races, completely different from normal triathlons, you immediately hand your bike off to a super-awesome volunteer (instead of having to re-rack it yourself – SO cool) and that leaves you free to just run straight for your Run Gear Bag. That means I quickly lost sight of my bike, and didn’t worry about the shoes one second longer. I’m hoping the volunteer just hucked it over her shoulder on the way back to my rack spot once she realized it had Fred Flintstone still attached to it.

So! It was finally time to run. But, holy moly: I was tired.

I didn’t run to my Run Gear Bag. I walked. And after I grabbed it, I walked into the changing tent. I wasn’t in the kind of hurry that I would have been for a shorter triathlon, and walking helped me gather my legs, and my mind. The changing tent was wayyyyy less crowded than it was after the swim, and I easily picked an empty chair to put my bag in…and promptly continued out the exit side of the tent to the port-a-loos so I could pee, since there weren’t any on the entry side (from this point on, my stops to pee were as frequent as my use of commas in my posts – my hydration levels were clearly not a problem, a lesson I am so glad I learned in time for this race).

Once I got back into the tent, I just… sat. I managed to convince myself that the run was going to be fine, when really all I wanted to do was take a nap. While I sat, I ate a few pretzels from the tent’s snack table, though for once in my life, eating wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. I was feeling worn out from the windy bike ride, and pretty daunted by the run ahead of me. I’d done the distance before – I’d run two marathons in the past. But they were preceded by tons of sleep and bagels…not a swim and a bike ride.

After sitting for a couple minutes, I peeled my soggy bike clothes off. Except for the arm warmers, I put on all new (read: DRY) clothes, and let me tell you, putting on those fresh run clothes was a fantastic feeling. What I wore: my Mercury Endurance running top, an OMG-comfortable running skirt* from Moving Comfort, my new keepsake IMCDA hat, kept on the arm warmers for the cool night air to come, and my trusty-as-hell all-black Brooks PureFlows paired with some randomly awesome Swiftwick ankle socks that I got for free at DirtRag Fest back in May, which proved to be fantastic socks on all my training runs (in that, they kept blisters at bay – a miracle).

*Thank GOODNESS that skirt was comfortable, because like the bike I rode, this skirt was an untested item going into the race. (I KNOOOOOW, such a risky decision.) I had worn it for a really short bike ride, but had not worn it to run in. But…it did not let me down. Not only is it crazy comfortable, the shorts underneath stay put and they keep chafing to a nil…and best of all, I didn’t feel self-conscious in them. “Love your body, blah blah blah.” Screw that. I hate my legs. Period. Race photos make me cringe. This skirt solved that problem. Now I want to order 20 of them.

Just out of transition.

Mile 25 Just out of transition. (Photo credit: Jenny Solpietro)

Jenny mentioned that those all-black running shoes were actually a really great way to keep an eye out for me, because everyone and their brother wears brightly colored shoes these days. Something I hadn’t even thought about – I bought them in black because it hides dirt and I like black for its simplicity.

But enough of the fashion show. After I got dressed, physically I was ready to run, but mentally, I still wasn’t quite ready to get up off that seat. Luckily, long before traveling out for the race, I’d read stories where Ironman racers had asked loved ones to write them motivational cards to read during their races, and I just loved that idea completely, especially since my parents would be unable to make it out west for the race…so I’d asked my sister and brother-in-law, my mom and dad, and Bern to write some for me ahead of time. They all happily delivered! I had first put their messages in my pocket during the first transition, but hadn’t had time to read them on the bike. Now was the perfect time. So I opened up the little plastic baggy I’d protected them in.

Sweat-proof.

Sweat-proof.

There were so many! And they were fantastic – I proceeded to laugh and cry all at the same time.

Took me a while to read all these.

Did I mention that there were a LOT of cards?

I read my parents’ cards first.

My mother knows me well.

My mother knows me well.

I’m pretty sure if my mom could’ve been in Idaho, she’d have run ahead of me, dangling an ice cream cone in front of me, knowing it would keep me going 😉

I read Jenny and Mike’s cards next.

Always good to have a Rob Schneider quote in there ;)

Always good to have a Rob Schneider quote in there 😉

These made me laugh out loud…and before you ask, of COURSE there were some poop and fart jokes included. Laughter ensued. I think the tent volunteers were suspicious that I was losing my mind, but they didn’t report me to medical, so that was good.

Ahhhh, Journey.

Ahhhh, Journey.

I would have been surprised if I did NOT get this particular card – my brother-in-law is a huge Journey fan. I read this, and then out on my first lap (which ran past the Beachouse on Coeur D’Alene Lake Drive where many people go to park and cheer), a very well-prepared spectator had brought a full sound system to run from the back of their vehicle, and they happened to start blaring that very song as I ran past. And so there were tears briefly.

And finally, I read my husband’s cards – he had marked some for the bike, some for the run, and some for anytime. As you’ll see, he didn’t get to write these ahead of time, and had to use some high-quality hotel stationary.

So bossy. Ha.

Cute.

I read the anytime and bike cards first, then the run cards last.

And the surroundings were gorgeous!

Enjoy them, I did.

Haha, oh yes, another fart joke!

I decided I was ready to run. I tucked the one “Run” card that Bernie had written for me into my skirt’s back pocket (did I mention I love that skirt?), and put the rest of the cards in my Run Gear bag for safekeeping.

Maybe I should've kept it in the plastic baggy?

This card has battle scars from being in my skirt pocket. My sweat is brutal.

Time to hit the road, Jack.

 

Race day | The run: 6:03:03

I could easily split my run into two segments: the first 16ish miles, then the rest.

The run was two laps, out-and-backs that started in town, through the neighborhoods, then followed the lake for a while, and up and over a hill for the turnaround. My plan was to run a very careful pace in between each of the aid stations, which were placed pretty much at every mile marker. Then I would walk through each station and consume anything I could get my hands on – food and liquid. I also planned to walk up the hill near the turnaround point to conserve energy.

That strategy worked well for the entire first half. I executed everything the way I had planned (though you could argue my first 2.5 miles were TOO fast, since that pace includes walk breaks).

I promise I crossed the timing mat at mile 90...it just didn't make it into the overloaded system, I guess.

Update from mile 15.7…it took much longer for my time to show up for mile 19.8. (Photo credit: Bernie via his phone)

Before I even reached mile 1, I got to see Jenny and Mike, who were waiting just past the lake, and I was beyond ecstatic to be able to stop and give them huge hugs (they told me Bernie had gone to the bike transition area to grab photos, but since the online timing system was running behind on updates, he had missed me, and hadn’t made his way back to where they were standing yet). Seeing Jenny and Mike was incredible, and their cheers and fresh words of motivation (including letting me know how many people were cheering for me via facebook; Jenny said, “Just so you know, your facebook page is blowing up,” which made me wish I could hug everyone on there) probably contributed to my quick first couple of miles 🙂

I felt great heading out for my first lap of the run. There were so many spectators, some with mega-phones, tons of cowbells, some vuvuzelas (AWESOME), so many with signs (no one naked though, threatening to drop their sign if I didn’t hurry up), and one house even roped off their front lawn and hired a DJ for a giant Ironman spectator party. The music pumping from that house was fabulous; since the run was two out-and-back laps, I may or may not have Dougied my way past that house all four times I passed it.

And I was eating plenty – I would grab potato chips and chocolate chip cookies and orange slices – and drinking plenty, mainly water with the occasional de-fizzed coke. I had to stop at probably every third port-a-loo to pee.

But by the time I got back to town to finish the first lap, I was starting to feel the weight of the entire day. Passing the point where finishers got to go left, and those on their first lap went right, was a bit disheartening.

Walking. And wiping tears.

Almost at the halfway mark. Walking. And wiping tears. (Photo credit: Jenny Solpietro)

As I headed close to the turnaround to start my second lap, Bernie had wandered up about a quarter mile out from where Jenny and Mike were waiting to cheer me on. While I had seen them all a couple times from afar on the bike portion, the speed on the bike is too much for more than a glance. So when I saw Bernie waiting for me on the run, it was really the first time I’d seen him since I’d left him to start the swim…and since tired Julie equals emotional Julie, I instantly burst into tears. And then I was shocked when Bernie started crying (“because YOU’re crying!” he said – well, shit). I promised that I wasn’t crying from having a hard race, or from pain, but that I was just overwhelmed with the emotions – from finally getting to hug him, from reading the sweet, sweet cards, from exhaustion, and from the fact that I was getting even more confident that I was going to finish.

Bernie stayed with me until we got to where Jenny and Mike were waiting, and I continued to the turnaround point. As I headed out for the second loop, I passed the three of them once again. Bernie noticed that I was keeping pace with a couple guys who were running together, so he yelled for me to stick with them if I needed help keeping my pace. They, in turn, promised they were doing plenty of walking, so I managed to keep up with them for the next three miles (thank you, strangers!).

After that though, I started to really feel…done. (With running, but at least I wasn’t to the point of crawling, ha.) I couldn’t keep up with my newly-found pacer friends, even with walk breaks. Running was making some weird things hurt – not just my legs, but my chest muscles, and oddly, my obliques (and trust me, those NEVER hurt, which is why they’re pudgy, ha). So…I walked more and more.

One advantage to the slow pace was that I managed to fully enjoy the breathtaking sunset behind me over the lake.

Idaho delivers some of the best sunsets I've ever seen.

Idaho delivers some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. (Photo credit: Jenny Solpietro)

So about halfway out on the second lap, I got to the point where I would only break into a run occasionally, but even those short and sparse runs dwindled before I even got to the lap turnaround point for the second time, and by the time I headed back up the hill for the last 6 miles into town, I just could not make myself break into a run. I was only walking. I think the fact that I knew I had plenty of time to make it to the finish line kept me from hurrying, and I wish (in hindsight, of course…20/20!) that I’d pushed myself to keep running. At the time, though, I really thought I didn’t have any more run in me.

I still made sure to keep up my fueling. Once it started to get dark, one of the best things at the aid stations (well, every other aid station) was the freshly-made chicken broth. I don’t typically eat chicken (I’m a half-ass vegetarian), but that broth was some of the most body-warming and heart-warming stuff I’d ever consumed. And oddly, it started to be the only thing I wanted, so at the stations without it, I would drink water, and broth at the ones that had it. Since I only got to have it every two miles, I would savor it the best I could. It was perfect.

It was a bit lonely. And getting chilly – I yanked the arm warmers back up, happy I’d kept them on. The aid stations handed out glow necklaces at dusk. The spectator noise was a little less lively. The party at the house with the DJ had been shut down. And the worst: I stopped meeting people coming the other way, which meant anyone who hadn’t met the time cutoff for the run had gotten pulled from the course. That was very sad to me.

I managed to find a fellow walker with about 3 miles to go, and chatting with him made the time go by much faster. He was a fairly young dude, a tennis instructor who was living in California, but had grown up somewhere in Idaho; his parents were in CDA to cheer him on. I cannot remember his name. It was his first Ironman as well, but the truly crazy part was that it was also his first triathlon. Wow. He found some energy closer to the finish, and ran the rest of the race.

Obviously, walking was slow as molasses in an arctic January. But less than a couple miles from the end, in a particularly dark and quiet neighborhood with only a couple volunteers pointing the way, I rounded a corner, and Bernie was waiting for me. Ahhh, my knight in shining armor! For this race, he didn’t have a bike (not even a unicycle!) with him. The problem with my walking was that those who were tracking me got really worried when my times didn’t update at the pace they were expecting (and also due to technical difficulties on the website), so Bernie decided to hoof it out and find me. Such a sweet dude 😉

Bernie stuck with me that last chunk of the run, and was with me when we reached that point where finishers got to go left…when *I* got to go left! I think I giggled like a three-year-old kid on a tree swing. Or maybe it was more maniacal than that.

When we got to where Jenny and Mike were waiting, Bernie squeezed my arm and joined them – the chute I was about to enter to funnel me to the coveted finish line is very long and is for finishers only. It’s where finishers have time to actually relish the end of the race. It’s also a complete jolt of energy, which is why I managed to run the last quarter of a mile of the race. So I told them I’d see them on the other end, and started running.

Entering the chute...essentially the moment I trained 6 months for.

Entering the finish chute…finally. (Photo credit: Jenny Solpietro)

Let me just take a moment to explain how that chute feels.

For one, you’re FINISHING. There is no better feeling than to reach the point where you’re actually meeting the goal you set many, many months ago.

Two, you feel like a complete rockstar – the chute is WILD. There are what seems like millions of people, total strangers, leaning over the chute walls just to high-five you and scream your name. It didn’t matter that it was almost 11 o’clock at night.

And three, when Mike Reilly announces your name over the loudspeaker – “Julie McGroarty, you are an Ironman!” – it’s an experience that’s hard to match.

What a ride.

What a ride. And what a face!

Holy moly. I had finished.

And to end with a pretty rad anecdote, you may (though probably don’t, haha) remember a story I put up on Facebook some time before the race: Kerri: It takes a village for Ironman

A local reporter named Kerri Thoreson wrote that quick article about how she was planning to volunteer as a catcher at the finish line for the 9pm to midnight shift. They’re called “catchers” because some racers are so exhausted at the finish line that they actually have to be caught! Well, wouldn’t you know it, out of a thousand catchers at the finish line, KERRI was the one who “caught” me! (Luckily, I was more than able to continue standing without assistance.) She was amazing. As I’m sure they’re trained to do, she didn’t let me go from the time I crossed the finish line until she delivered me to the athlete area at the end. She led me first to the water bottles, then to get my finisher shirt and hat, then to get my medal, and to get my official finisher picture taken, and only once I stepped into the athlete’s area did she leave me with a hug. It was so, so cool.

I took a pass on the massages (WHAT – no idea, momentary lapse in judgment), grabbed another water, and continued out through the gate to get to the only people I wanted to see, the ones who had sacrificed their day just to watch me race: Bernie, Jenny, and Mike.

You couldn't have punched that smile off my face.

You couldn’t have punched that smile off my face.

I didn’t shut up the entire walk to the car and subsequent car ride back to the hotel, where I promptly fell asleep.

What a day. 🙂

 

Race Day: The Day After

First order of the day: coffee and a gigantic breakfast at Elmer’s Restaurant.

Go on, click the link. DELICIOUS. Oh, and you know what else I had for breakfast?

My sister is the best - this was my finisher prize, ha! ;)

My sister is the best – this was my finisher prize from her, ha! 😉

Second order of the day: shopping for finisher gear (yes, of COURSE I bought the Finisher jacket), and checking out the lakeside and Athlete Village (minus the crowds – huge difference!).

1978...good year!

1978…good year!

My dedicated spectators. <3

My dedicated spectators. ❤

IMjulbernafter

BAM ‘n JAM ❤

 

Third order of the day: rent SUPs from CDA Paddleboard Company and go stand-up paddling on the lake. My sister and I had decided long before the trip to make this a post-race activity, so we had been looking forward to it for quite a while. Paddling on the lake was breathtaking, and so refreshing. Yes, the water was cold, but that just means don’t fall off! 😉

SUP!

SUP!

And our final order of the day was to enjoy a delightful dinner at Dockside Restaurant courtesy of my parents, who had to stay back on the east coast. Thank you, Mom and Dad – you know I got a milkshake with that meal! I think there is a blurry picture of it somewhere, but it would have been hard to get a focus on how quickly I slurped that thing down.

So yeah – June 29th and 30th, 2014 will go down as a couple of the best days of my life. Thank you to Jenny, Mike, and Bernie for being there, and thank you to everyone who cheered for me from afar, particularly my parents and nephews (the video text from Nick and Tony telling me good luck in my race was the cutest thing ever).

🙂

Now, for some Q&A…

How was it, racing in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho?

Stunning. HILLY. Beautiful temperatures. Windy. Though the best part was how the town absorbed the event and made it a full-on party. The local papers all gave immense coverage. It was so neat to feel so welcome.

IMcdapress

The front page of the Sunday CDA Press, the day after the race.

IMcdapress_hill

DEM HILLS!!

IMcdapress_water

So it wasn’t just my imagination…

IMcdapress_wurtele

Heather Wurtele (female winner) mentioned the conditions…

IMcdapress_potts

…as did Andy Potts (overall/male winner). When even the big wigs complain, I don’t feel bad about complaining 🙂

Was doing an Ironman expensive?

HOLY CRAP YES. Pool membership, fuel, coach, travel, bike rental, …and time. Money isn’t the only thing this cost me.

Was I sore the next day?

Surprisingly, not bad at all, and I attribute that to all the walking I did. I mean, it was rough to get out of bed, but I walked down to get coffee at the hotel breakfast room, and just the act of moving got rid of a lot of the stiffness. And I really think going SUP’ing helped enormously – it worked different muscles but very gently, and kept me upright and moving. It didn’t hurt that we paddled right next to one of the prettiest spots of the run course 😉

I could take that in all day.

I could take that view in all day.

Did I buy any memorabilia?

Yup – a TON. I was definitely an Ironman newbie, haha. I got an IMCDA hat, a finisher shirt (the MDot on the back has everyone’s names in it!), the kickass finisher jacket, and you know I got a 140.6 sticker. But the best thing I got, my husband bought for me:

How stink in' cool is this? It even used a replica medal!

How stink in’ cool is this? It even used a replica medal! Thanks Bernie 🙂

I also went the cliché route and got the red MDot forever stamped into my skin, on the back of my left shoulder.

Fresh ink!

Fresh ink, taken seconds after Travis at Yours Truly Tattoo finished it.

Will I do another Ironman race?

Yep. Well, I think so anyway. Why? Because I can do better, and I’m too competitive with myself to let that run be my best time. I learned a ton from this one, during the training and the race itself, and I can apply all of that experience to try and have an even better 2nd Ironman.

Maybe I’ll sign up for IM MD

😉

The Big Day | Part 2: Time For a Little Bike Ride

“Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.” ~Mark Twain <- this man is on my list of people I wish I’d known personally

Ernest Hemingway always had doozies too: “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”

My favorite part of any triathlon is the bike ride. It’s my strongest discipline, and the part I enjoy the most. And I suppose IMCDA was no different.

I’m not going to lie though, there were quite a few moments that I LOATHED being on that bike.

So! Time to continue my Ironman story with the bike portion of the day. This is just as long if not longer (no, it IS longer), so remember what you need before you continue (proper fueling is key!). And, uh, I should warn you, I use verybadlanguage later in this post. Consider yourself warned now. Go grab another bar of chocolate to get you through it. Also, you won’t need tissues. The bike part of the day was the least emotional for me…which has oddly made it the hardest to write about.

So without further ado, I gotta get to my bike…

Race day | Swim-to-bike transition: 14:59

Yep. I totally moseyed through transition. Ha. (I think Heather Wurtele’s transition time was two minutes. TWO MINUTES. I think it took me that long to figure which end of my shorts was up.)

I got out of the water, and while I always try to hurry to transition like a good little triathlete, sea legs get me every time. So when I finally shuffled into transition, I went straight for the wetsuit strippers peelers.

Yep, wetsuit peelers. They are freakishly strong volunteers who yank the thing off you, hand it back, and send you on your way. It’s wayyyyy better than fighting with that damn thing by yourself, which typically ends with me writhing on the ground grunting like a seal having a panic attack. So having the wetsuit peelers pull it off for me was amazing. After that, I was neoprene-free and off to grab my Bike Gear Bag on my way to the girls’ changing tent.

The upside to taking it slow in the tent: I didn’t forget a single thing. Well, you could say I forgot a spot on my back when applying sunscreen…

IM sunburn

Follow the yellow arrow. This is the best pic I have of my sunburn streaks. (Ignore the lakeside PBJ action – if you don’t, and you end up hungry, not my fault!)

…but that was par for the course. I had a quilt of sunburn patterns on my back from training, because I missed a spot every.single.ride, and never the same spot. Lesson learned: have the volunteer spray on my sunscreen BEFORE I put my shirt on.

Also, don’t forget to spray BOTH hands. Yeah…my left hand ended up with a pretty good sunburn too. (Wish I’d gotten a picture of that. You can SORT of see it in the photo above.)

I had decided long before the race that I would do a full change of clothes in each transition. Lots of folks wear their tri suits for the whole thing, and I considered it, but I wanted to guarantee my comfort (yeah, like an Ironman is ever “comfortable”). But really, if some rogue piece of elastic chafed the shit out of me during the bike ride, I sure didn’t want that to continue during the run!

For the bike, I wore my Wyoming Valley Multisports tri top (represent! – it is sleeveless for temp control, and has pockets on the back for storing my food, unlike my one piece tri suit, so it was perfect), my trusty bike shorts with the thick chamois that feels like a diaper (which, thankfully, has never been tested as such), arm warmers due to the chill in the air (which I ended up wearing almost all day), and all the other necessary bike paraphernalia – helmet, glasses, shoes. I had a volunteer spray my sunscreen on for me (I’m telling you, I’m surprised there weren’t volunteers waiting in the port-a-loos to wipe you – they were EVERYWHERE and they were WONDERFUL). I spared her from the chamois butter duty, and lubed myself up. Then I stuffed all my nutrition, chapstick, and motivational goodies in my shirt pockets, and took off to find my bike. GO!!

IM bikes

…waiting… (Photo credit: Jenny Solpietro)

IM bikes

Hydration. (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

But first, real quick let me explain how my attention to logistics turned into me not riding my own beloved tri bike (or TT bike – I use the terms interchangeably) for this race.

All along, I thought, “Oh, I’ll just fly with my bike. No biggie. People do it all the time.” Our dear friend Brian Augustine offered to let me use his bike box, so it seemed like a no-brainer. I did look into using the transport service that’s advertised on the Ironman website. I decided against it, because 1) it was pretty expensive, and 2) I had to hand over my bike too early according to the bike transport schedule, but I needed to use my bike two weeks before IMCDA for the Wilkes-Barre Duathlon.

IM WB Du

Cheddar.

So, borrowing Brian’s bike box and checking my bike with my luggage was the route I was going to take. Less than a week before we were to leave, I grabbed the bike box from Brian. Holy shit. While the bike box isn’t enormous…wait, yes it is. It’s enormous.

IM bike case

This thing even makes the driveway weeds look small.

For reference, that is a mountain bike 29er wheel. Just kidding. It’s a pennyfarthing wheel.

But I’m sure it wouldn’t cost TOO much extra to check it, and it wouldn’t be THAT bad carrying the box around with a 20+ pound bike in it, right?

(I’ll pause here for anyone who has actually flown with a bike before to laugh at me a little. Or a lot.)

So then, THEN…I decided to look up how much United might charge me to check such a gargantuan piece of plastic loaded down with a bike that would most certainly put it past the 50 pound mark.

Wait for it…

$150…

EACH. WAY.

And the final nail in the flying-with-my-bike coffin: after staring at that thing for a while, I wasn’t sure just any old rental car would fit that thing. We brought it home in our hatchback Subaru, but our Subaru can fit our house if we use a shoe horn. If we got the bad luck of the draw with rental cars, I’d be stuck…and after realizing how much checking it on the plane would cost, and realizing I’d almost certainly have to spend more money to pay for a larger rental car (with worse gas mileage), I decided to rethink things. I went on Ironman’s site to see what else they had advertised.

Enter: Quintana Roo tri bike rentals

Quintana Roo knows their stuff when it comes to tri bikes. They ONLY do tri bikes. They’ve been on my radar when dreaming of a new bike. And now, as of recently, they rent their bikes out at Ironman races around the country…including IMCDA.

I figured something would be up: they’d have all large frames, or they’d be sold out, or it would be crazy expensive. Well, yes, it was crazy expensive, though I’ll explain my logic…but yes, they had small frames, and they were not sold out. It seems I had found a way around lugging my bike through an airport and over a road trip.

I checked out after paying a grand total of $399 to rent QR’s CD0.1 tri bike with race wheels and regular mechanical shifting; essentially, my own bike, but after it had done some doping.

IM QR rental

When I selected IMCDA Size S, I fully expected the “Add to Cart” button to be unavailable (like it is here, because I took this screen shot after the race date)…but it was not. It was bright red and beautiful.

Here is my logic: $399 seems like a big fat ouch to the wallet. And it was. But after factoring in having to pay to check my bike both ways, and then having to pay who knows what amount extra for a larger rental car that would get not-tiny-car gas mileage for which we would also have to pay extra – AND not to mention the whole PITA factor of lugging it around everywhere (obviously, it would have to come into every hotel room with me for theft protection) – $399 was a BARGAIN.

Oddly enough, the fact that I would be on a strange bike (is that like strange ass? Vince Vaughn would know) never really bothered me. I can ride anything, and I’d be bringing my own seat and pedals to give it some semblance of familiarity. It even had the same shifters as my own TT bike…well, er, it was supposed to anyway.

Ah, the shifters. Let me pause for a second to just *breathe in deeply* remember this moment fondly for the 1,000,000th time in a row *breathe out deeply*

The Friday before the race, when we arrived in CDA, Bernie went to find parking while I went to find the Athlete Check-In line. So when Bern got to Athlete Village, he just wandered around until I was done. We had planned to find the Quintana Roo tent after I got my packet, but he happened to pass it while wandering, and so he stopped in. While I was standing in line, I got this text from Bernie (just to tie in with my last post, it was 11:33am Pacific time, but I was already home when I grabbed the screen shot, so it says 2:33pm):

Pretty darn cool.

Pretty darn cool.

Um. Hell yeah!

Turns out, they didn’t have a size small frame available that had regular shifters. So I got a free upgrade to the Shimano i2 electronic shifters!!

Part of me was like “HOLY COW YAYYYYYY.” But then part of me was like “Gulp. Hope I don’t get confused about what button to push.”

I was going to be riding quite the high dollar bike for this race. And while riding a strange, expensive bike might have made some folks nervous (I heard a guy behind me in the check-in line make a comment about renting bikes, saying “I don’t know how anyone can rent a bike. You didn’t TRAIN on it.” – and all I could think was how pansy ass he sounded), I was just plain excited.

IM QR bike

I was going to be riding a REAL tri bike!! For 112 miles!! (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

Of course, I needed to do some test riding, so on Saturday, I rode around town for about half an hour, getting used to the buttons (which one shifts up again?), and just getting the feel of the whole bike.

IM QR test ride

Test spin through the beachy neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

Let me tell you, that electronic shifting is AMAZING. You hit a button, it makes a cool buzzing sound, and before you blink, you’re in the gear you selected. (Though, word to the wise: make sure you don’t rest your water bottle on the handlebars in between sips, because you may inadvertently hit one of the buttons with it and suddenly find the bike shifting into a gear you didn’t want. I did that while climbing. Oops.)

That bike was smooth. I loved it and instantly wanted to marry it. It was a magnificent ride, and I was ready.

Bring it on, bike course!

The bike course took me seriously.

 

Race day | The bike: 7:42:59

One word: WIND.

Remember how the wind made the water choppy?

IM swim

But you forget about chop when you can look up and dream about which tree your cabin will go next to… (Photo credit: Jenny Solpietro)

It didn’t relent for the bike ride either.

Backtracking to my training, I knew the bike course at IMCDA was going to be hilly. I had studied the bike course…

IM bike course

IMCDA bike course map. Two loops of this.

…and the elevation maps.

IM bike elevation

WHAT. Just kidding. WHAT?!

Ummm, yeah. So I knew about the climbs. Luckily, I live in a climby area, so I planned a lot of my longer rides around that kind of elevation change.

But the WIND. Oh the wind. And you know where that wind started? Well, you see on the elevation course above, where the little black silhouette of the biker is? Right at the start of the climb? THAT is where the wind started. In your face, unrelenting wind. All while trying to climb a 6% grade for 2 miles, and then climbing some more, and then some more.

It sucked. Twice. Remember, this course was two loops! Oh joy.

IM bike 1

Not even a mile in. Oblivious to what future miles had in store. (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

On the first loop, I was still a bit giddy over my swim and the fact that I had made it to the bike portion of the race, so while the headwind bothered me (and also, scary enough, tried to toss me around like a shark in a tornado on the downhills), I was able to ignore it. I got passed by the race leaders on their SECOND loop, so that was wicked cool to see (when a girl flew past me with WURTELE on the back of her jersey, I gained a bit of motivation, to say the least). I saw Bernie, Jenny, and Mike cheering for me in town, and also saw my friend Nick Hetro, who had driven in from Richland WA to spectate. And the return route on Route 95 after the turnaround! OH MAN. I had worried that the wind was one of THOSE winds – the kind that hit you in the face no matter what direction you’re riding. But this one didn’t disappoint. As much as we had to fight that headwind for the majority of the climbing on the way out, after the turnaround the wind was on our tails for the downhills coming back to town, so it was FASSSSST and it was GLORIOUS. On the first loop anyway.

IM bike 2

Still happy and moving fast…and yelling “HI!” to my cheerleaders. (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

On the second loop, however, there was nothing glorious about it – my attitude had changed, and the wind had not. Every ten minutes or so, “fuck this wind” would audibly slip out of my mouth, as well as “where the fuck is that goddamn turnaround?!” I get f-wordy when I’m impatient. (No wait, I get f-wordy simply by being awake, but I digress.) It was my way of grunting through it. I was getting tired, and when I had stopped at the Special Needs area after the first loop to refill my Heed drinks and food bags, the chocolate w/ caramel bars that I had packed as little pick-me-ups had melted. Straight up liquid. Talk about a downer! I didn’t care that I had to ride another 50 miles, my damn chocolate was inedible!!

IM bike 3

That is the face of someone who was unable to consume chocolate. (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

So on that second loop, I pushed and pushed my way to that turnaround point out on Route 95, which would mark the 90 mile point. It seemed to take an eternity, and all the while I was trying to concentrate on how fun the return trip would be, and how having only 22 miles to go would seem like nothing. But knowing on the second loop where all the landmarks were, and knowing just how far I still had to go to get to the turnaround was a little disheartening. And while the return trip was certainly easier than the way out, it just wasn’t what I remembered. I was just plain ready to be done. 22 miles seemed like forever.

IM Jenny bike 1

Notes: Tired, but ready to push the second loop. Still had my fuel bag. Handlebars still good. Catching bugs. (Photo credit: Jenny Solpietro)

Now let me go over some overall notes from the ride:

1. I did not wear a Garmin or any kind of time keeping device. This was a conscious decision, based mainly on the fact that neither of my Garmins was in stellar condition, but also on the fact that I didn’t want to have to deal with it or wear yet another thing. I didn’t wear one at any point during the race, not just the bike. And I LOVED IT.

2. At one point on the ride back toward town, I looked to the right and saw a ZILLION elk, or something similar, just chillin’ out. I wasn’t sure they were even real, it was so picturesque, and I wondered that aloud. Turns out, as I said that, I was being passed by a dude who, clearly having stayed at a Holiday Inn the night before, answered, “yeah, they’re real, it’s actually a wild game farm!” See? It sometimes pays to talk to yourself.

3. The scenery in northern Idaho is spectacular. I’m convinced that’s what got me through the race. Forgetting the pain and concentrating on the pretty stuff. OMGPretty.

4. Last note is that I did have a couple small issues…though in hindsight, these were hardly problems.

First issue: my darn Fuel Belt bag that goes on the top tube of the bike (and holds the majority of my food) had started rubbing my left inner thigh. On my own bike, that bag goes at the front of the tube, but the QR bike had internally run cables, and they entered the top tube at the front, so the bag couldn’t go there. By the time I was on the second loop, it was in the way of my legs. I couldn’t risk it rubbing enough to break the skin, or even make my skin weak, since I knew the run may do the same thing. I had nowhere else to put it, so I did what I had to: I tossed it in the trash pile as I passed through the last aid station before the turnaround point. I had pretty much finished the food in it, but was still sad to see an old friend go.

Second issue: I suddenly realized that I’d been having to reach for the handlebars. Like, a lot. Something was off, but it didn’t hit me until I was about halfway back to town after the turnaround – my handlebars had tilted down!! No wonder the second loop was so much more uncomfortable. By the time I realized exactly why I felt so off, I had about 15 miles left, so I just finished up that way. When Bernie went to return the bike later while I was out on the run, even he noticed it. He asked me about it after the race, and all I could do was shrug. I didn’t have the tools to fix it, and it didn’t keep me from just riding the damn thing.

IM Jenny bike 2

My handlebars are now pointing at the ground. But hey, at least my eyes aren’t! (Photo credit: Jenny Solpietro)

IM bike 4

Amazing how a tiny hiccup in the bike setup can make you oh so uncomfortable. (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

So, moving on, besides how painful the ride was, what did I eat and drink?

Coach Jamie drilled this point: the bike should be a rolling buffet. You can’t start the run on a calorie deficit. I had learned this the hard way at the Monticelloman 70.3 race, where I bonked hard and fast during the run. So during all the training following that race, I forced myself to eat and drink constantly. On Ironman day, I was prepared.

First, let me tell you, those bike bottle cages on the QR frame are laughable. The frame just doesn’t leave room for anything but midget bottles, certainly not the gigantic bottles of water that were getting handed out on the course. So when it came to grabbing water at the aid stations, I got only one bottle, out on the first loop. It was too much of a pain in the ass to get it to fit in the cage, and you can’t chuck things just anywhere on course, or you’ll get penalized for littering. Trying to get the bottle back OUT of the cage ended in serious swerving on the bike.

But that’s not to say I didn’t stay hydrated. Luckily, I had brought my own aero bottle, and also the double-bottle cage that attaches to the back of my seat. I was hydrated enough that I actually had to stop to pee BEFORE the Special Needs stop at mile 64, and I also had to pee pretty badly by the time I got to run transition. My main hydration was what was in those three bottles I had brought to use: water mixed with two large scoops each of Hammer HEED in strawberry. I drank all three bottles on the first loop, and refilled them just past halfway with powder I had in my Special Needs bag, and had finished a lot of those by the end of the bike ride.

As for food, I did consume two Hammer gels (apple cinnamon is just about the only flavor I can stomach) for convenience. I also ate a Nutri-Grain bar…also in apple. Ha. But my main course was Ritz Bits. HORRIBLE snacks, yes. But at some point during training, I was getting desperate for something real to chew – gels, chomps, shot blocks just don’t work for me. So I hit up the snack aisle at my local grocery store and started grabbing things that sounded appetizing, and tried them all out. Animal crackers, Teddy Grahams…and Ritz Bits. Turns out, the saltiness is great, they have a bit of protein, and they are super easy to eat while on the go (and they make you feel like a kid) – so I just put them in a baggie, stuffed the baggie in my fuel bag, and could grab a couple every few minutes to eat. I started the bike ride with one baggie in my fuel bag (three servings in the baggie), and had another baggie waiting for me at Special Needs (also with three servings). I had only a few Ritz Bits left in that second baggie when I ended up chucking my fuel bag, so I’d say I did well at that AYCE buffet. Eating is, after all, my second sport.

Quick shout out before I finish my bike story: I’ve been posting all these pictures, and they would never have happened if I hadn’t had the best husband, best sister, and best brother-in-law in the world, the three of whom flew out to the middle of Northern Idaho to cheer me on and take pictures of me with a couple heavy Canon 5D Mark III + serious lenses. So I want to post some pictures of THEM!

IM Bernie

#1 Husband: Bernie! (Photo credit: Jenny Solpietro)

IM jen

#1 Sister: Jenny! (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

IM mike

#1 Brother-in-law, Mike! Along with #1 Sister and #1 Husband. Those are six awesome legs.

Okay, finally, it’s time to wrap up this long ass bike post… (Hey, it’s 112 miles, the longest part of the tri, so it’s gonna be the longest post, ha.)

I cheered a bit when I hit the 100 mile mark. My second century ever! But it was bittersweet – I still had 12 miles to go. 12 miles that seemed to take way longer than 12 miles should take.

But then finally…FINALLY…I was making the last turn from Route 95 onto the exit ramp into town, where it was all downhill through plenty of cowbells and signs. Where I would be taking the “BIKE FINISH” turn to the right, instead of the “CONTINUE TO SECOND LOOP” turn to the left. Where I would be two-thirds of the way to becoming an Ironman.

Did I really just finish the BIKE too? I had finished the swim, and now, I had made it through the bike ride without any (show stopping) mechanical issues or even a flat (I still have yet to change a flat in my life, ever). And while I was Garmin-less, I had asked the time a couple times out on course, so I knew I was well within the cutoff time. Hell, the sun was still high in the sky! I was definitely going to finish, holy moly, I was GOING TO FINISH.

All I had to do next was run a little marathon…and remember: “The trouble with jogging is that by the time you realize you’re not in shape for it, it’s too far to walk back.” -Franklin Jones

‘Til next time, friends. ❤

The Big Day | Part 1: Buildup to the SWIM

Way back in early September 2013, I slapped down $600+ to snag my place in what would be my first Ironman triathlon: Ironman Coeur d’Alene on June 29, 2014. (“IMCDA” if you want to be cool. Or succinct.)

IM registration email

They conveniently don’t mention how badly your credit card is smoking at this point…

For those of you not in the know, Coeur d’Alene is in Idaho (You-da-ho, as the locals call it…not really). And yes, I live on the East Coast. Logistics have never been my thing. Until they’re staring me in the face (I’m looking at you, TT bike), and then I make logistics my bitch.

Ahh, the land of potatoes. Carbs. I love allthecarbs.

Idaho pin.

I heart potatoes.

I should have written about this journey starting on that fateful day in September, but alas, I got lazy. And then I got not lazy, obviously, but when it came to blogging, I was still lazy. That means each entry I write now is going to be extremely long-winded to make up for lost time.

So welcome to my view on how my Ironman story went down. (I would almost argue that my husband’s view on this story is more important, or at least more cynical, but I’ll tell it from my perspective since he’s busy.) It will be in multiple parts, generally divided into: training and the swim, then the bike, and finally, finishing with the run and aftermath. Get comfortable, preferably with a bowl of popcorn. And something with which to wash it down; the higher the alcohol content, perhaps the better for you (unless soda will suffice, then stick with soda – or coffee, if it’s before noon). And unless it’s too hot where you’re sitting, maybe some chocolate. With caramel. And more popcorn on standby in the popper.

I had grand dreams for this Ironman race. Well, not really. I just wanted to finish the damn thing. But wouldn’t it be nice if I finished AND with a really good time? Rookie dreams. And I knew it. So really, finishing was my only goal, but damn, 14 hours would be sweet. Ice cream stores would still be open if I finished that early!

I’m going to go ahead and give you some highlights (I won’t call them spoilers, since you’re all on facebook and know how this ended): I did finish. I finished in 15 hours, 57 minutes, 10 seconds. And the last highlight is this: that is not the finish time I dreamt of, hoped for, or even calculated after all my training was done (I felt bad for the folks back home, 3 hours ahead, who were trying to follow me online all the way to the finish but ultimately had to get some sleep). But I will take that finish time over and over and over again, because I FINISHED that sucker. With almost an hour and three minutes to spare!

Finishing IMCDA

I’m not exactly sure WHAT that look on my face is, exactly.

So, it all started with training. Six months of training, to be exact. For the first time in my life, I hired a coach, Jamie Boward, who owns and runs Mercury Endurance Cycles on the outskirts of Hagerstown, MD. He’s a former Marine who has done one or two – or ten, to be precise – iron-distance triathlons. IMCDA was his first one too. I can easily ride my bike, or even walk, to his shop from my house (for perspective, my speedy husband can run there in 6 minutes 45 seconds), which makes his shop really convenient for picking up bike parts or for stopping by with a 6-pack to discuss training and race-day plans.

My coach!

Coach Jamie will whoop your ass. (source: http://www.mercuryendurance.com)

Six months of training for this 140.6 mile race meant that my training officially started on Monday, January 13, in the middle of what was a very cold, snowy winter…and the middle of ski season. So of course, after that very first day, and the days following, I walked around with a permanent thought bubble over my head that said “WTF was I thinking?!” That thought bubble never really went away until race day. I constantly struggled with wanting to be doing anything but training.

For all the swim practices that I knew were coming my way, I purchased a year membership (using a ValuPak coupon for $100 off, how handy!) at the Hagerstown YMCA. Anyone who knows me knows that I typically blow off the swim portion of any triathlon. I might swim 3 times in preparation for a triathlon. Maybe 8 times if the distance starts with a 7 and ends in 0.3. I deplore swimming. I am not a fast swimmer, and don’t care to be. It just ain’t my thang, unless I’m on my surfboard in the ocean and I’m 100 feet from my beach blanket. My goal is typically to get the swim over with, then get on the bike and do what I do best (which, to be clear, is sit).

However, having to complete 2.4 miles within a specific time frame (2 hours and 20 minutes is the magic time at which they will pull you from the water, flopping around like a fish determined to make it back out to the Canyons but knowing it’s futile) made me think twice about using my particular ill-advised training method. So signing up for the Y ensured that I had easy access to a pool, and from that point on, I tried to follow every single workout that Jamie sent to me on Training Peaks (which, BTW, is a very cool way for a coach to communicate the prescribed training workouts).

Swim swim swim.

Plenty of swims! Pleeeeenty of swims. Somuchchlorine. Let’s face it, I wouldn’t have needed botox on my face should I have suddenly decided I wanted it (never).

Days marked as swim days averaged two per week, so if I do the math, I swam an unprecedented 48 times in preparation for IMCDA. Wait. WHAT. Who am I?

I may write more about my IM training someday, but the main takeaway was that it consumed my life. And Bernie’s life. Bernie was my rock throughout training, and having him as my training partner was priceless.

Sometimes I made him ride in conditions like this:

IM rain

The third downpour of the ride on this particular day.

And then made him sit in the freezing cold creek:

IM creek

I think he secretly loved it.

Often, he decided one wheel was plenty:

Unicycle

Captain Unicycle. Or Captain Plaid. I’m pretty sure he wanted to bring both to CdA…

But we always found good scenery…

Taylors Landing

My favorite local waterfall.

Each week, I typically had one day off, and I totally milked everything I could out of that day. Every three weeks (every two weeks toward the end), I would use that day to get a sports massage. If I could work from home on my off-training day, I did. It was my favorite day of the week. Training days required a bit more routine than I typically prefer to have, and they also required gobs of plain old time. Eight hour work days, plus two hours of commuting, plus 7-8 hours of sleep (which I tracked with my Jawbone UP), left me with six hours to fit in the rest of my life, which now had to include workouts that were typically at least an hour, not including getting ready for the workout, and a shit-ton more laundry. Sometimes I’d skip the post-workout shower just for more free time to get other things done…yeah, ew. (Wet wipes are amazing.) Weekends were filled with even longer workouts that tended to leave me wanting to sit on the couch the rest of the day, so I had to fight that urge in order to be productive around the house (okay, I usually did a 50/50 split of sit/be productive). I fell behind on many tasks that I tend to do during the spring, because training and recovering took priority. I had a race to finish!

Training

Cold, hot, snowy, sunny – the training went on.

I should also mention that at some point in the last month of my training, I had taken it upon myself to read reviews of IMCDA. Yeah, psyching myself up! So stupid, because obviously there could be horror stories mixed in with success stories, but I just couldn’t stop myself. Many reports were very brief and not descriptive enough to hit my nerves, but one was a long-winded blog post, and was very, very detailed (of course I can’t remember or find the blog now). This particular lady had a decent race, but one part of her story left the color drained out of my face and a sick feeling to my stomach. Turns out, the water was extremely choppy for her swim. (sound of a record scratching to a stop) Hold on, a LAKE can be choppy?!

Gulp. Have I mentioned that I’m not a fast swimmer? And that swimming is not my favorite? I sort of need perfect conditions in order to stay sane. It’s true that I’ve done some triathlons in less-than-perfect conditions, but they were less than half (and in some cases, less than a quarter) of the Iron distance swim. I just didn’t sweat the cutoff times for those. But now I was sweating the fact that Lake Coeur d’Alene is subject to winds that can create waves that could sink the Andrea Gail, and that I would have to swim through them without losing much time off my normal pace. So for the last few weeks before the race, I was pretty nervous.

Moving on past the six months of training, and we arrived in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on Friday, June 27, having driven in from our overnight stop in Ellensburg, WA (I’ll write about the non-triathlon portion of our trip sometime). Athlete check-in days were Thursday and Friday only, so upon arriving in town around 11:30, I immediately got in the long check-in line found a place to pee (please, people, we all know how small my bladder is), and then I wandered into Athlete Village, which was outside in Coeur d’Alene’s City Park, right on the northern banks of the lake. I wasted no time joining the long check-in line, hoping I didn’t have to pee again before I got through it (I was trying to stay hydrated). Check-in was under a huge tent in Athlete Village, and it was incredibly well-organized. First stop was to show them my USAT card and get my coveted blue wristband. That was exciting.

IM wristband.

My ticket to paradise. Or hell. Perspective is everything.

After the next task of filling out the liability and insurance forms, it was time to get my race packet. Race packets for Ironman, it turns out, are no joke. There were the usual items: swim cap, run bib, and timing chip, of course, and the necessary bike and helmet number stickers. And then there were also five different huge plastic bags, and five different number stickers to place on those bags. Morning Clothes Bag, Bike Gear Bag, Bike Special Needs, Run Gear Bag, Run Special Needs. And then a mysterious small sticker with my number on it that was supposed to go on the stem of the bike. Er, okay. Two bike stickers? I just rolled with it.

IM gear

Minus everything I didn’t have after the race, since I didn’t remember to take this photo BEFORE the race: the Special Needs bags were tossed out on the course; I had to turn in my timing chip at the finish line; and my bike stickers stayed on the bike. This is EVERYTHING ELSE. No wonder packet pick-up required a backpack.

All of this stuff also came with an IMCDA Race Program, my $25 dinner voucher (cool!), gobs of sponsor ads, some samples, a new IM bike tool, an IMCDA poster…and a kickass IMCDA backpack. I had seen folks walking around with these, but oddly assumed they had purchased them. Nope, a ruck sack was required to carry all the crap.

IM backpack

IMCDA backpack and race program. Seeing this stuff made me realize this is a BIG race.

Once this process was complete, we all got spit out the other end of the tent into the Ironman shopping mecca. You want Ironman paraphernalia? You got a credit card and/or gobs of cash on you? Then this is the perfect scenario (except in my case, I desperately needed a potty AGAIN, so I had to slip out, find a port-a-loo, then come back into the shopping area). I came back because, one, I was meeting Bernie there (no non-athletes were allowed in the check-in tent), and two, I had planned to buy an IMCDA hat to wear during the run. Note: not a FINISHER hat, or even a hat with the date on it, because I have a huge weird superstition about wearing anything race related until after I’ve finished the race. But since I was toeing the line at all for an Ironman race, I thought buying a keepsake hat that just said “Ironman Coeur d’Alene”  to wear during the run would be fine. So I did.

IM running hat

IMCDA hat! It was the best running hat ever.

Then we left the store, and I crossed my fingers that I would be revisiting it on Monday morning to buy my Finisher jacket.

Later in the afternoon on Friday, I decided to make sure my wetsuit was ready to go (I hadn’t worn it for a couple months), and test out the lake waters for a short half hour swim.

Pre-race swim time.

So calllllm. (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

I’m still not sure exactly what temperature the water was that weekend, but it was not unlike the temps of the water for Monticelloman, a 70.3 distance in which I had competed back on May 4 in Virginia. I’d guess the Lake CdA water temps were low-60s. No match for a wetsuit. The temps, in my opinion, were perfect…once I got past the screech-inducing flow of water into the wetsuit, I mean.

And the water that day was so, so still. On that Friday afternoon, my nerves relaxed. I would be fine. The swim would be a piece of cake.

And then Saturday morning rolled around. We wandered back downtown to the lake front, and were greeted by (you guessed it) lots of wind. The lake? You guessed it again! CHOP CITY. Instantly, the nervous feeling in my gut came back. I managed to push past it, thinking that the wind was just an anomaly. It could easily go away as quickly as it rolled in. Right?

I just had to forget about it. It was time to rack my bike and drop off my gear bags! This was a very simple process of finding my number on the racks for my bike, then finding my spot in the bag lines for each bag.

IM bike racks

Cheeseball. Someone named Dan once said I have a “this finish line is my bitch” face. This is not it. (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

IM run gear bags

Checking my run gear. In particular, my ample supply of Body Glide. (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

IM bike gear bags

Bike Gear Bags…all ready to go. (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

Then I took a picture of the transition area map. And also stared at it for a while. For good measure. Walked through it in my head, then stared some more.

IM transition

This map is just as important as the course maps. I loved the peace sign tape!

After that was all done, Bern and I walked the short distance to Java for some breakfast, and while sipping on coffee, got the text from my sister, Jenny, and brother-in-law, Mike, that they had landed in Spokane. That instantly brightened my day. We met up later at the hotel and went over spectator logistics. Spectating at an Ironman is almost as hard as competing in an Ironman!

IM spectator guide

Spectating requires training too, you know.

I tried to stay off my feet as much as possible on Saturday, so we just hung out at the hotel. Then that evening, the four of us headed downtown to find some dinner. Most places were packed with hour-long waits (we were too forgetful spontaneous to make reservations), but we found outside seating at The Cellar. My dinner the night before any race is typically very light to minimize any funny stuff by my digestive system; if I carbo-load at all, my last carbo-licious meal is at breakfast the day before the race, and that’s it. Lunch is light, and then the night before race day, I stick to a large hummus platter and a glass of red wine. The Cellar delivered. Everyone else got meals that looked scrumptious, but I stuck with what I know works for me.

Race day | The swim: 1:41:34

At 3:45 am, the alarm went off. I first looked at the clock in disbelief – not that I had to get up that early, but that the day had FINALLY come. All the nerves from the past were gone. I was instantly in Get It Done mode.

Jenny and Mike planned to head downtown around 6:30 in their car, so that we’d have transportation at the end of the day, so Bernie and I took advantage of the shuttle the hotel was running directly to Athlete Village. We caught the first one at 4:30; it was already just about daylight, which was very weird to me (sunrise out there was just before 5am!), and the temps were a little chilly (in the 50s), but nothing frigid. We were on the shuttle with very few people but it was a chatty bunch, whom we deemed Team Comfort Inn. One family – all competing together – was from Winnipeg, and another young dude was from Hawai’i. I hope the water didn’t shock him too much.

While my bike and my gear bags had been dropped off on Saturday, but I could still access them Sunday morning. So with my Morning Clothes Bag, both Special Needs bags, my wetsuit, and bike bottles full of Strawberry Heed all in hand (and over my shoulder, and under my arms), I left Bernie for a little while and entered the transition area. I got bodymarked (race number on each upper arm, age on the back of my left calf), then stopped at my bike to put the bottles on. I also borrowed a bike pump to fill up my tires, which was a completely klutzy moment for me – it’s impossible to fill your tires on the rack with a zillion other bikes around, so I pulled my bike off, but then there was nothing around to hold my bike up. In hindsight, that’s why there are a million volunteers around, but I completely spaced about asking one of them. So I attempted to lay the bike down, but in the end, a girl who was walking by offered to hold it up while I pumped. Whew.

Then I went to put my day’s nutrition into my Bike and Run gear bags: PBJ sandwiches, some Hammer Apple Cinnamon gels, and baggies of Ritz Bits. (I’ll explain the Ritz Bits in my bike post. It’s a bit embarrassing that I relied on something so unhealthy.) I also swabbed a ton of Body Glide on the back of my neck for the wetsuit to rub against, because the neck of the wetsuit is rough on my skin. I left the rest of the Body Glide in my Run Gear bag so I could lube up for the marathon later on.

Then, it was time to find Bernie again and drop off my Special Needs Bags, which was outside transition at a point a short walk away from the lake front; the volunteers would then take them to the designated spots out on the bike and run courses. I also had to figure out where to drop off my Morning Clothes Bag, but I had to be sure and do that after I had gotten completely ready for the swim – any items still on me after I dropped that bag off and left Bernie behind for the swim start entrance would have to be abandoned! Dropping the Morning Clothes Bag off in the transition area instead of with Bernie would ensure that I’d have those clothes to put back on in the finish area…where athletes don’t yet have access to family members. I also had a winter hat in there in case it was chilly at the finish, as well as my room key and some money. So I yanked on my wetsuit over my swimsuit, tucked in my goggles and swimcaps (I doubled up with a silicone cap under my pink IM cap to be sure my head wasn’t cold), threw my flipflops and sweatpants/shirt in the bag, and dropped it off. I was officially empty-handed and ready to start this race.

At 6am, it was time for the Pros to start their race, but we had no luck finding an open space to watch that. So we listened to the start from behind the crowd…and then it was time for me to make my way to the age group swim start.

IM swim chute

The long, lonely chute to the swim start. It’s like getting sent away to camp when you really don’t want to go to camp. (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

Cue Cry#1 of the day. Leaving Bernie at the entrance to the swim chute (where they were very strict about wristbands so he couldn’t accompany me) was the hardest part of my day. He was my training partner, but I was about to go do this without him. I’m typically a tough person, but emotions on Ironman day are hard to fight.

Ironman used to have very exciting-to-watch mass swim starts. But they weren’t always exciting to participate in, and the dangers of such a crazy event start had become apparent. So Ironman phased in a seeded swim start, meaning you start your swim much like you start a running race, based on the time you think it will take you to finish. The fastest waves were to start at 6:40am. I sidled up to the 1:46-2:00 group…and then thought better of it, and joined the 1:31-1:45 group.

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1:31-1:45 group. Choppy water be damned! (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

Oh, how was the water on this fine morning, you ask? Just. Like. Saturday. Choppy as shit, and the wind was not calming down. But once I’m in Get It Done mode, I do just that and I don’t think about it. So I was oddly not nervous. Just full of nervous anticipation, which is different. It’s adrenaline. And it’s a good thing.

IMCDA choppy lake

How bad can it be? (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

6:40am, and the age-group swim began! I shuffled my way with my group along the sand on the beach. I entered the water at 6:52. I would have 17 hours from that time to finish this race.

IM swim start

I’m in there somewhere. (Photo credit: Bernie McGroarty)

The water was still cold. But yet somehow refreshing. It helped that at that time of morning, the water was actually a little warmer than the air was. The water was also clear. I could see the bottom. That was cool.

When I raised my head for a breath, I occasionally got slapped with a wave. I can’t believe that didn’t bother me.

While keeping an eye on the big red turn buoys, I concentrated on swimming from one yellow buoy to the next that marked the line to those red turn points. They went by amazingly fast, and what’s even more amazing was that I was never alone. I was constantly kicking my way past people (or being kicked or whacked as they passed me), and I loved it. It meant I wasn’t the slowest, and meant I had company.

I was also humming “Just Give Me a Reason” by Pink during the entire swim. The song choice was random as hell, but humming always calms me down, so naturally, I hummed. I wonder if anyone heard and joined in? Or perhaps they just attributed it to the Lake CdA Monster.

The wind was headed onshore, so swimming out was against the chop. However, after making the second turn to head back to shore, it was like body surfing. I could have treaded water and still gotten back in good time. I could feel the waves pick me up and surge me forward, and dare I say: it was fun.

The swim was two 1.2 mile loops in the water, so at the end of loop 1, I ran up onto the beach over the timing mat and under the big blow-up arch, and turned left to re-enter the water for my second loop. I had foreshadowed this part being a low point of my day, having to make that swim AGAIN, but I was shocked to realize that I did not mind getting back in that water.

I was also shocked that the time on the clock, which was based on the initial race start time of 6:40, was about an hour, meaning I had just finished my first 1.2 mile loop in just over 48 minutes. That was my fastest 1.2 mile time ever, and the jolt of confidence I got from that was indescribable. (Of course, I later learned that Andy Potts finished his ENTIRE SWIM in less than 48 minutes. Whatever. If I was as fast as him, I’d be getting paid.)

I got tired, of course, and finished my second loop in over 52 minutes, but my overall swim time of 1:41 was faster than I could have hoped for, and was nowhere near the 2:20 cutoff that I had fretted about. When I got out of the water after the second loop, this time turning RIGHT (yay!) under the big arch to head into transition, I was elated. I knew in my gut that I was going to finish the whole shebang.

But I still had a lot of work to do in order to finish. Come back for my next couple of posts…which may or may not be as wordy, but will certainly have more pictures. It was a lot easier for my cheerleaders to pick me out of the crowd of bikers and runners than out of the crowd of black-wetsuit-clad swimmers with pink caps on 😉

You stay classy, San Diego. And thanks for stopping by! But mainly, stay classy. Thanks for stopping by.

Juicy Fruit (and Veggies)

We’ve been drinking some funny-colored stuff around here…

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Green was represented.

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As was orange.

And it’s darn tasty. This is liquid music.

A while back, I purchased the BELLA NutriPro juicer. It was highly recommended out on the interwebz, and I can see why – it’s amazing at making juice. And, it’s a cold-press (i.e. masticating) juicer, as opposed to those juicers that use a blade, which means this one doesn’t generate any heat that can break down important enzymes.

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Yummy-juice-making in progress.

Bernie and I recently watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and while we weren’t convinced that we need to go to an all-juice diet (we aren’t fat, sick, or nearly dead), we were still gung-ho about getting more juice into our diets. NUTRIENTS! PRETTY COLORS!

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All gone.

First up: orange-mango-carrot juice. omggood.

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Bernie and I bought a couple bottles of Evolution juice at Starbucks when we were out on the west coast for Bimmerfest 2013…it was a hot day, and juice sounded delectable. I tried a green juice, which was very good but tasted a little bit too much like lettuce for me to buy it again. But Bernie tried their Carrot Orange Mango juice, and couldn’t get enough of it. So instead of stockpiling Evolution, we found this recipe online, and it was identical.

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I made this juice on a gorgeous day, perfect for sitting at the picnic table to peel carrots and oranges.

We’ve made this juice twice now, and it’s a winner.

The other mixed juice we decided to make was a recipe I found on a blog I follow regularly, Carrots N Cake. The blogger, Tina, posted this coconut-kale-ginger juice recipe in an article she wrote for Health, and I perked up when I read it because it sounded delicioso.

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Simple ingredients: kale, ginger, granny smiths, and coconut water.

This juice is so easy to make, I’ve been having it every morning on my drive to work. It makes me feel so healthy and it tastes better than any juice with kale in it has a right to taste!

Okay – bonus time. That’s not all we’ve tried with this juicer! Of course, we’ve tried the mundane…orange juice, lemon juice. When making the lemon juice, first I zested the crap out of all the lemon skins:

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Zestfully.

And froze the zest in a little baggie. Then I cut up the lemons and juiced them for use in hot water, recipes, whatever!

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Voila! Suck it, ReaLemon!

All that is fine and dandy and fresh. Having fresh orange and lemon juice sitting in my fridge is nothing short of awesomesauce.

However, my favorite juicer project has to be…

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Almond milk.

Making my own almond milk had intimidated me for quite some time. It’s a bit time intensive, and I didn’t have a good way to strain the milk to get the chunks and pulp out. I think we all know, I hate pulp. Gag. But buying almond milk in the store was even scarier (have you SEEN the list of weird ingredients?).

With the juicer, after soaking up a cup of almonds overnight in three cups of water, it’s as easy as 1 (replace the old soaking water with three cups of fresh water), 2 (scoop almonds and water into the juicer), 3 (drink up)!

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Slightly blurry picture of almond milk – I was too excited to hold still for the shot.

You can even add vanilla or sweetener, but almonds are naturally a bit sweet, so I left this batch plain jane. I’ll try adding flavor next time with some good old vanilla beans. Or vanilla extract, since that would be the normal way to do it.

All this juice is definitely good for us, although I still stuff my face with like to munch on these:

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Chocolate chips…IN BULK.

Hey, chocolate is good for you too, right? RIGHT?!

That’s all from the juicer escapades for now. Coming up soon: more random food stuff (did someone say SOUP?)…

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Thai Sweet Potato soup…hint: it uses COCONUT MILK, yumyumyum.

Peaches and blueberries…

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And race reports!

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All loaded up and ready to demolish the competition race.

That’s why they call me Slim Shady…I’m back!

Fact: I have not posted one. single. word. since the 12th of January…2012! Good grief.

Now, it’s almost the end of July 2013, and I think that’s as good a time as any to start blogging again! Yes, writing stuff for the whole world to see (hypothetically. realistically? about 3 people, and maybe my sister).

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Guac in the mortar.

My comeback post is simple: just a list of recipes that the BMac and I have been lovin’ on recently – some are our own, and some are from the interwebz. And just to clarify, I fell off the vegan wagon a while back, but I still try hard to keep it clean, and mostly vegan (I have a newfound obsession with love of goat cheese).

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Freaking awesome.

But while trying to keep it clean (the food, not my conversation), my sweet tooth gets the better of me…to the chagrin of my scale, which constantly reminds me that I’m working harder and harder to do the things I love, such as biking, rock climbing, SUP’ing, lifting a fork, etc. I’m hoping that by blogging more often, I’ll essentially shame myself into not eating four handfuls of chocolate chips from the fridge…every 10 minutes…did I just admit that? Chocolate chips from the bulk aisle are a naughty, naughty thing.

So anyway, some of these recipes are pretty healthy, but the dessert recipes aren’t necessarily the best idea for anyone’s waistline. And I’m on the fence about tofu these days. I really think it’s not as healthy as many health advocates would lead you to believe (I’ll post about that someday…like I said, I’m still on the fence). Those considerations aside, these recipes are damn tasty, so enjoy…in moderation where necessary (saying that makes me feel more responsible).

(Please note, regarding my photographs – most of my cooking is done at night, since that’s just how my schedule rolls. So my photos look like they were taken in a prison cell. I swear they were not. Sorry.)

Bernie’s Guacamole

This recipe is approximate – he just throws together whatever we have on hand, but what I’m listing below will work just dandy (makes ~1.5-2 cups of can’t-resist guac):

2 ripe (soft and very dark green) Haas avocados, flesh removed from skin

1 plum tomato, diced finely

1 large jalapeno (or 2 small jalapenos)*, diced finely

1/2 lime (juiced)

1/2 handful fresh cilantro, chopped

salt and pepper** (optional)

Bag of Garden of Eden blue corn tortilla chips

*to kick up the spiciness, leave the seeds in

**to kick up the spiciness even more, add some cayenne pepper

Using a mortar and pestle (if you don’t own one, a sturdy bowl and a wooden spoon will also work great – we use both depending on what we feel like washing later), smash up the avocado flesh until creamy. Add in the tomato, jalapeno, lime juice, and cilantro. If desired, add salt and/or pepper, to taste. Break open the bag of blue corn chips, and devour the guac in one sitting, like we do.

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Guac in a bowl.

Peanut Soba Stir-Fry (link)

This recipe is unbelievably delicious – follow the link for the recipe. We’ve been adding tofu recently, just cubed and cooked up ahead of time in a pan with some coconut oil, ginger, salt, and pepper, but this recipe shines without adding.

Heady Topper is optional. But let it be known that it is a delicious accompaniment to the stir fry, and should be enjoyed right out of the can.

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Peanut soba stir fry, with a hard-won can of Heady Topper…there was a knock-down, drag out fight for that! Just kidding, but we did have to search high and low for it in Vermont, because it sells out FAST.

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Hold on…how did that picture get in here? Oh jeez. (By this point in the post, can you tell we like Vermont products? Ha!) This is our favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor, hands down.

Vegan Enchiladas with Cilantro Avocado Cream Sauce (link)

These. are. AMAZEBALLS. We make them by the ton. Then we eat them. Then we make another ton, and freeze them for breakfast. So versatile and delicious! The ohsheglows.com blog has some ridiculously good stuff on it.

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A fuzzy picture of pure deliciousness.

Homemade Tofu Tacos

This is a homemade recipe that we tweak every. single. time, so it’s a little haphazard…but a lovely dinner every time, no matter what! Here’s the general spread, which you may then take and tweak YOUR way:

  • Tofu – this is the hardest part, and it’s easy:

I use Nasoya’s Extra Firm Tofu, and I dry the living shi…crap out of it before using it. To do this, I drain the package, then place the tofu between two terry dishtowels on a plate, then set a heavy cast iron pan on it…probably for about half an hour. Then slice and dice however you want!

Heat up a pan (medium-high-ish heat), and put a good dose of coconut or sesame oil in it. Toss in the tofu, and if you really want it crispy, then don’t touch it for a few minutes. While it sits, you can sprinkle whatever seasonings you want on it – for tacos, we use ancho and chipotle chili powders, onion powder, salt, pepper, and sometimes cayenne. After a while, you can flip/toss/throw the tofu to cook it all over, letting it sit again on whatever side the pieces land on, so you get more than one crispy side. Once it’s done, just stick it in a paper towel-lined bowl!

  • Goat cheese (did I mention I luuuuuurve goat cheese?)
  • Green Mountain Salsa (medium!)
  • Guacamole…using Bernie’s guac recipe, duhhh
  • Garden of Eden Blue Corn hard taco shells (heated up a tad – 30 seconds in the microwave, or 3-4 minutes in the toaster oven)

I probably don’t need to go on…to make tacos, I’m confident everyone knows that at this point, you just pile whatever ratio of each item you want inside the taco shells, and then grab a fork because you know that shell isn’t going to hold up through a single bite, but it doesn’t matter because it’s so damn good.

Alas, I don’t have a picture of these. They get eaten too fast 😉

Pumpkin cookies (link)

These cookies don’t last more than a day in our house. Bernie doesn’t like pumpkin…so that tells you who eats them all (C’EST MOI). Yum-freaking-o.

And with so few ingredients, they are way too easy to make. Dangerous!

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Besides some spices…this is it! Four main ingredients. Delectable, tasty ingredients.

Vegan peach crisp (link)

…w/ coconut whipped cream (link)

The recipe itself isn’t vegan, so I made some modifications (but if you don’t swing that way anyway, feel free to use the recipe as is!). Here they are:

  • I used peaches instead of apples
  • I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free All-purpose Baking Flour*
  • I used 6 tablespoons room-temperature coconut oil in place of the butter
  • I made tried to make coconut whipped cream instead of regular whipped cream (or using Cool Whip)

When peaches are in season, and you can pick them up locally, it makes this recipe even better. I got my peaches from Lewis’ Orchard, just up the road in Smithsburg, MD. Nom, nom nom.

*I try to avoid gluten, but that’s info for another post. I don’t avoid it religiously, and don’t get me wrong, I love stuffing my face with a good gluten-filled chocolate cake, but I’ve found that I just feel better when I don’t eat gluten.

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Millions of peaches, peaches for me.

Here is where I was going to post a photo of my perfectly whipped coconut milk. But what went down for that particular photo opportunity was that my confused refrigerator FROZE my can of coconut milk instead of just happily chilling it and separating it. Therefore, I do not have any pictures of whipped deliciousness, but instead just have a photo of this:

Tres appetizing, non?

Ending on a good note, that’s a good rundown of some of our recent favorites! These are pretty decadent recipes, overall…so I think my next post will concentrate on things that come out of my juicer.

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Doesn’t that look way too yum-yum to have CARROTS in it?

Stay tuned!

Peace and 50mm 1.4 lenses…

JAM

Day 3: comfort food: 1, detox food: 0…though detox food had a comeback

Day 3 of the detox was very challenging. My stomach still felt a little bit shaky when I woke up, so I could think of few foods and drinks that didn’t make it threaten to erupt again.

So, I had to stray from the detox menu for a little while so that I didn’t either starve or throw up. I did make sure to stick with all the ingredients that are included in the detox plan at one point or another.

For breakfast, I had a plain old banana*. I trust bananas, they don’t mess with my tummy, and they were part of the breakfast menu for Day 3 anyway (along with millet and coconut milk, which I didn’t think would sit well – and, I have to say, I’m actually surprised coconut milk is on the detox menu due to the amount of saturated fat found in it). Anyway, I kept the banana down and felt okay.

*Okay, I have a confession. A banana isn’t all I had for breakfast. There’s one other thing I had that I do feel guilty about, because it’s a “no no” according to the detox plan: I had a decaf soy latte. Coffee, decaf or not, and soy are both not allowed. No excuses, just reasons: my tummy wanted something comforting after its trauma from the night before, so I had one.

Moving on, for lunch, I had some brown rice…some black beans…some tomato based salsa…and some smooshed avocado (guacamole)…all in a bowl, i.e. Chipotle. See, the night before, the grocery shopping I had planned to do for Day 3’s breakfast and lunch didn’t happen. So I did the next best thing a working gal could do: I went out and bought a healthy meal. My usual Chipotle fare accomodates all the ingredients already included in the detox plan, and I knew my tummy would be fine eating it. I don’t feel guilty one bit.

For dinner, I was back on track! Woot! I had already bought the ingredients for the stew for Day 3’s supper, so I could go right home and start cooking. (Well, it didn’t QUITE turn out that way – I still had to go grocery shopping, for Days 4 and 5, but after that, I got right to simmering.) The stew was surprisingly good – I was skeptical, since it had lots of mushrooms, and I’m not usually big on mushrooms…but they’re growing on me (no pun intended), and in this case, they went really well with the other ingredients. The stew featured onion, carrots, celery, rosemary, crushed tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, and great northern beans. Simmered all together, it was so yummy and warming. It made enough for two servings, so I froze the other half for Saturday night.

Mushroom & White Bean Stew

That’s it for Day 3. Stay tuned for Day 4 – I’ve followed the menu once again, and today my stomach has been fine, whew!

Peace.

~JM

Hmmm, is it possible to have a detox intolerance?

Day 2 went pretty well…until it didn’t go so well.

Breakfast was hot lemon water paired with a pretty good fruit concoction – banana, strawberries, blueberries – with cinnamon, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. I’m not the biggest fan of berries, but I ate it all. I mixed it up the night before, while the Day 1’s Lucky Soup simmered, to save time in the morning. Off to a good start!

Fruit and Nut Delight

The morning snack was supposed to be a lemon/carrot/celery juice (which Bernie lovingly made for me the night before, although the recipe only made about 3 ounces – perhaps we need a juicer), but it turns out, I wasn’t hungry for a snack. According to the detox guidelines, I’m supposed to eat the snacks anyway, but I just wasn’t hungry! Oh well.

Lunch was a salad made with kale, raw beets (which I had never eaten), sliced apple, and walnuts, paired with a dressing made using avocado, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and dijon. It was a very tasty and filling salad! I loved the avocado dressing, and I’m not sure that I even tasted the beets.

 

Creamy Kale Salad

 

Day 2’s afternoon snack was supposed to be grapes, but again, I just wasn’t hungry – the salad really filled me up. I also had a slight headache. So I just drank more water and herbal pepperment tea.

For dinner, we had plans to meet our friend for some dinner, and we chose a very popular (and very delicious) local burger and fries joint. Anticipating this, and wanting to be full enough that I could resist the fries, I brought my leftover Lucky Soup from Day 1 to heat up at work and eat on the car ride to Frederick. So I heated it up, and Bernie picked me up, and we were on our way. I started to eat the soup, but couldn’t eat much before I felt super full. Weird – I had eaten the entire other half the night before.

We met Brian at the restaurant. I was still fighting the headache, so I ordered a huge glass of water, and just socialized while they ate…but my stomach started to feel pretty bad. All I wanted to do at that point was lay down. As dinner went by, I socialized less and less, and the nausea got worse and worse. Finally, the boys paid their bill, and we left. As we walked up the street, my nausea was to the point where I was eyeballing any available trash cans…just in case. I was hoping to make it home to the comfort of my own trashcan! But then, as we turned the corner to go to our cars…my stomach just let loose. Luckily I caught the first wave with my hand, and maybe only got a little bit on the back of Brian’s pants 😉 Of course none of the trash cans I had eyeballed were anywhere close, so I managed to find a corner next to a giant set of steps, and puked up essentially everything I had eaten in the car, and all the water I had drunk. Sigh. Well, that’s a setback.

After that, magically, I felt…okay – made it home without further puking, went straight to bed, and woke up feeling mostly better, albeit very hungry and thirsty. I still have no idea whatsover as to what caused my weak stomach. (I’m not going to blame the beets! Poor beets. They get such a bad rap.)

That is my Day 2 report. Not really a great ending. And it didn’t really set me up for great things today, since, one, this morning my stomach still curled at the thought of anything but some known comfort foods, and two, my ill-being didn’t allow me the opportunity to go grocery shopping last night for today’s ingredients. So Day 3’s report will be interesting…though I hope to be back on track by Day 4. (We’ll see.)

Peace and plentiful trash cans.

~JM