Feeling Salty

Feeling salty and grey so this trip to the Great Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge matched my mood.  I wrote a post for Wicked Wednesday about my last chance of the year to complete an Ironman triathlon.  Well I didn’t.

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I was most concerned about the swim.  I had 2 1/2 hours to complete it.  I did it in 2 hours and 26 minutes.  After that, I had until 6 pm to complete the 112 mile bike ride.  I got pulled off the course with half an hour until the deadline due to a technicality that the police intersection presence in town was set to stop at 6:00 and there was “uncertainty” of them being in place for my ride through town in the first 7 of 11 miles remaining (the final 5k or so was in the park).

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I’ve failed to finish ultramarathons my fair share of times and wasn’t fine with it, of course, but I accepted it as it was on me and my training or beyond human control due to injury, etc.  But this time was different.  My pace was there, albeit barely.  The problem is that I registered for the beginner wave of the swim, which was completely reasonable, my being a beginner after all!  But once there, I found out the beginner’s wave was the final wave, not the first as I and everybody I’ve talked to agreed would be the logical assumption.  That meant I started 20-25 minutes after the first wave, which was the wave I’d been in if I hadn’t selected beginner.  That meant 20-25 minutes less time to finish the bike!  I fail to see how this benefits a beginner!

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Long story short, being in the beginner wave is supposed to set up new triathletes in a better position, but it mathematically, truthfully set me up for failure.  I feel cheated and I think I have a sound argument that I was cheated.  This was the most disappointing and infuriating race experience of my life by a wide margin.  Now it’s a full year before another shot at completing an Ironman.  This cast a pall over everything else I’ve accomplished this year and will eat away like acid in my stomach all off season.  I still feel a little sick.

Wicked Wednesday Prompt #328: Someday

This topic is an overarching theme for this site.  I hit something of a midlife crisis two years ago at age 34, which may sound a bit ridiculous but for an endurance athlete, that’s getting long in the tooth!  I had just been a recreational 5-10k runner, but I’d always wanted to run a marathon and it struck me on my birthday that I was getting close to a age where I wouldn’t be able to run one competitively (at least in the sense of qualifying for Boston).  So I started training.  New Years of this year I set four goals:

  1.  Run a marathon under 3 hours and qualify for the Boston Marathon
  2. Complete a run over 100 miles
  3. Qualify for Western States lottery
  4. complete a full Ironman triathlon

I’ve accomplished #1 and have confidence of running two races, one in November and the other in December to fulfill #2 and #3.  #4 is my primary goal and it is proving difficult.

This weekend I went to Custer, South Dakota to complete a half Ironman triathlon as indicated on my post Pre-race Preparation.  I failed.

Despite the weather being in the 80s during the day, the mornings in the Black Hills were frigid as was the water.  I have a hard enough time as is doing the swim and athletes were shivering in their wetsuits.  And I have no wetsuit.  The half length was two laps and I was going numb and cramping during one, so I called it and downgraded to Olympic distance.  I was second to last on the swim and got lapped by several half length swimmers.

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Contemplating the swim

Despite that, I finished top ten in Olympic since my running is well above average and my bike is average to slightly above average.  Still, the failure stings as I have registered for the final full ironman length race of this year which is just on the 22nd of this month.  That will be the last chance I have of completing my goal for this year.  I have serious doubts about being able to finish the swim.

So that’s my someday: complete a full Ironman.  And I hope that someday is September 22nd.  Wish me luck.

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Boston Marathon Bound!

Sinful Sunday – Week 385

Just ran my fastest marathon ever today, finished top three in my age group, top 10 overall, and got my qualifying time for the Boston Marathon!  Good enough for second tier qualification, so I’ll submit my time on September 12.  But today I submit my celebratory No Pants Endurance pic!

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I’ve stated on this blog I have a kind of love/hate relationship with my body.  Temperatures reached over 90 today and my body betrayed me big time the last couple miles with gnarly cramping, but I gritted it out, fended off anybody trying to pass me.  So I win this round, body!

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Trip to Texas

I’d never been to Texas except on flight connections.  I was hankering to get out of my usual midwest flatlands for something new and decided to tackle a canyon ultra.  It was more than I was prepared for.  A group lesson from park rangers on how not to die from a rattlesnake as thick as a fist, or a charging bison, or even a cute prairie dog (they can carry bubonic plague) to start was an ill omen.  But what I really wasn’t prepared for was a 600 foot canyon wall climb that required as much use of arms as legs, it was that steep!

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A view from atop the canyon.

Long story short, this race ended up a DNF (did not finish).  It sucks, but it happens.  Ultramarathons are hard and eat the unprepared.  Lesson learned.  But the trip was not a waste.  Texas was as advertised, with bison, cowboys and cowgirls and awesome BBQ.  And the scenery really was majestic.

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Equestrians on the trail

At the end of a dusty day, no better way to clean the red soil off than a nice hot bath at the B&B I stayed at.  There wasn’t even a shower, just a tub, how rustic is that?

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