Monday, November 30, 2009

10 Bad Things About The Off-Season

  1. No matter how many times I open Training Peaks, everything in my calendar still says “END OF SEASON BREAK.”
  2. The weather is cold and just screams “running season” to me.  I should be out there doing track workouts and long runs in this.
  3. 10 weeks till my next race – that seems like a million years right now.
  4. Knowing that my body isn’t remotely ready to start training, but still…kinda…looking for something to do.  Right now I’m channeling that energy into Cyber Monday shopping but the bank account won’t last forever.
  5. Get a tattoo.  Don’t get a tattoo.  The debate rages on and time runs short as eventually I will have to start swimming again.  (Mostly this boils down to I want to do it but I’m a giant wimp about going and doing new and strange things by myself)
  6. When work takes up more of your time than training (by about a gazillion percent as there is no training), and training has been your mental escape from work all year…where do you escape now?
  7. No more shirking household chores with excuses like “I have to get going on my workout” or “I’m really tired and sore” or “my training plan says I have to keep off my feet today!”
  8. Total inability to stay awake past 9pm and I can’t even blame training
  9. All those people taunting me outside riding their bikes and running.  Sorry, seeing you people swim doesn’t make me jealous at all :-)
  10. Post-IM depression.  Going from the euphoria of “I did it” to the reality of “I should have done it better.”  I’m working on getting past this one, as everyone has reminded me it’s normal.  At least it gives me some motivation for next time (oh yes, there will be a next time).  And that’s exactly why it’s better for me to not do an IM next year but instead build my confidence again and work on improving form in short course racing.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

30 Great Things About The Off-Season

  1. Sleeping in.
  2. Time.  Loads and loads of free time to do anything and nothing with.
  3. Beer, margaritas, and mai tais. 
  4. Going to hockey games without worrying about early morning workouts.
  5. Not having to ride my bike in today’s incredibly gusty winds.
  6. Gluttony (food).  At least for 1 week after Ironman, I will not feel guilty for this.
  7. Energy.  For things OTHER than training.
  8. Only having to take 1 shower a day, instead of 3 because of all the workouts.
  9. Did I mention beer?
  10. Nice soft skin that isn’t dry or scaly from chlorine exposure. If you ignore the parts that appear to be somehow contaminated by Tempe Town Lake.
  11. I don’t even know what state my foam roller is in.
  12. Significant smaller laundry volume due to non-usage of workout clothes
  13. Catching up on new Pay-Per-View/DVD releases – Star Trek and Up (loved them as much as I did in the theater), Transformers 2 (possibly one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen), Hannah Montana: The Movie (just kidding!)
  14. Having an off-season that overlaps with the holiday season = perfect timing for a holiday eating binge
  15. No urgent need to go out and run in the cold weather
  16. Spontaneity.  No scheduling of life outside of work, hockey, dog classes, shows and trials…OK, well *some* spontaneity.
  17. I’m going to Hawaii in a few weeks!
  18. Difficult decisions involve which article of IM AZ finisher gear to wear each day.
  19. Duh. Beer.
  20. Catching up with friends
  21. Being excited about the next racing year but not feeling any rush to start training for it yet
  22. Napping on the couch all afternoon can be justified as a “deep recovery” activity
  23. Eating at Taco Bell and Mexico Lindo in the same day without having to worry about how that will affect the next day’s workout
  24. I haven’t worn spandex in 7 days.
  25. Wearing my wedding rings again.  I won’t wear them biking or swimming, so they spent more time in the box than on my hand during heavy training periods.
  26. Seeing my husband outside of long bike rides and dog walks
  27. Lucky Charms, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Hostess Powdered Donuts…all these items are gracing my kitchen cabinet for the first time in months.  Only 24 more hours to enjoy such forbidden delights.
  28. Lower grocery bills
  29. Running the dogs on the high school field on a weekend morning instead of rushing the dogs through a short neighborhood walk so I can get a long workout started
  30. Reflecting on the hard work put in this year and looking towards the next year with hope about how much harder I will train!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Video Saturday!

We’re not going to talk about the small mammal party that took place in our house while we were gone, or how we spent hours cleaning when we got home from the 11 hour drive back from Arizona.  It turned out my first words upon entering the house (“It smells like something died in here”) were more accurate than I realized at the time.

Instead, let’s look at nice videos, mmmmmmmmkay? 

Here is Stanley on a jumpers course at a fun match today.  It was not a simple course and I’m pleased he handled the difficult parts so well.

In Standard. At least he hit his contacts nicely – we had some difficulties along the way but it was also a harder course than the Novice level he’ll be competing at.

And my mom just dropped off some of her videos from race day!

The swim start from my family’s perspective on the Mill Ave Bridge

My swim exit (I come out right behind the guy in the sleeveless green/black suit). Note that everyone getting out around me looks awfully cold.  Other than the wetsuit strippers taking forever to get my sleeves off, I was feeling great!

And heading off on the bike – right as I went to mount the bike, my song started up!

Various clips on the bike – each time they only saw me for a few seconds, hours apart, as I looped through town.  At the end of the bike, I’m telling them “finally the fun part!”

And then a few clips from the run!  I was telling someone today at the fun match that I’m still shocked to say the marathon felt like the easiest part.

And finally, the Muppets’ parody of Bohemian Rhapsody.  I think I spotted one of my dogs around the 1:59 and 3:43 marks.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Random Ramblings

I’m looking forward to going home to California after 3+ weeks away.

My dogs don’t cut me a break because I did an Ironman.  I do love them for that but I sometimes get tired on these long walks.

I don’t know how I forgot to mention the guy that peed on me during the IM AZ bike.  He couldn’t have, you know, stayed BEHIND me while he peed on the bike – he had to pass me in a headwind, pull RIGHT in front of me, and then let loose with his spray.  I think the nicest thing I screamed was calling him a fucking prick.

I’m glad I brought my own paparazzi to the race, because my official race photos were disappointing.

Some were OK and some were downright bad.




Is that guy peeing in the bushes behind me?


Oh, don’t bother getting the shot when my arms were OVER my head in joy, get them after, that’s not an awkward look at all.


At least I can see Jeff in red in this one.


Really? This is the only shot you could get of me running a 5-hour marathon?


My appetite is back.  As is my thirst for beer.  It’s been a nice day.  Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Now?

  • 3 weeks of deep rest and recovery.  Possibly a few margaritas and beers in there, but lots of sleep and no training!
  • More agility trials with my dogs! First up is the Bay Team USDAA trial in 2 weeks. 
  • Maui!  Jeff and I will finally go on our long-delayed honeymoon (like, delayed by 2+ years!) in mid-December.  Maybe some nice OW swims in my future there?
  • Short and speedy.  I think it’s nice and healthy to take a year off between Ironmans.  I have no plans to go this distance next year, though based on the “fun” I had out there I certainly intend to race Ironman again.  Next year will be all about getting faster in short races – 5K and 10K runs, sprint triathlons, one Olympic, some OW swim races, and a 1/2 IM at the end of the year.

I think all of that will help me stave off any post-IM blues nicely! 

As I look back on the race I had, I can’t help but smile again.  For me, it was all about willpower.  4 years ago this week, I couldn’t run 1 mile straight and suffered through my first 5K (the local turkey trot) in misery.  I couldn’t swim in the pool with my face in the water 2.5 years ago.  This entire journey has been a lesson not only in what I’m capable of if I push myself but in what an amazing group of people I am lucky to share my life with – friends, family, training partners and my husband who pulled, pushed, nudged and held me up as needed the whole way.


Ironman Arizona: The Aftermath

I wheezed a little.

I got my official finish photo done.


I got my finishers shirt and hat.


And I found all my people (and babbled incoherently about all the things that happened during my day)!


I sat for about 20 minutes and just caught up with everyone.  The family and some of my friends were tired and needed to get to bed!  I hobbled back to the finish line, congratulated Susan’s husband Alex, and climbed into the bleachers. 

And then I got my 19,000th wind! 

I danced to the music, I cheered for the finishers, and I screamed my head off when my wonderful friend Barb became an Ironman!!!  It felt like the biggest, best party I’ve ever been to.


Around 1am I showered and went to bed.  Surprisingly I slept like the dead but alternated sweating and shivering all night.

At 6:30 am, while I was still in bed, my super-sherpa of a husband went back to Tempe and bought every article of finisher gear that came in my size (or so it seemed).  Honestly, how amazing is this man?! 

The house looked a little scatterbrained when I got up in the morning.  Garmin on the kitchen counter, finishers medal on the dresser, space blanket on the nightstand, heart rate monitor on the toilet…

Mai tais!!!!!  No, I did not drink that whole thing – not even close – but just sipping a little was nice.


Ironman Arizona: The Run

112 miles gives you a long time to think about how to handle the next step of the race.  When I ran into T2, I knew precisely what I needed in what order and began issuing orders to my nice volunteer (pink shirt first! now the shorts and Body Glide!).  I didn’t notice that she untied my shoes (I had them set to slide my feet in without tying) until it was too late but still…I did manage a 3 minute T2.  In Ironman? That’s pretty good!

And then I was off with just 26.2 miles of foot power between me and the finish line!


Telling my peeps that THEY ARE THE BEST!!!


I knew that so many people were going to have pushed too hard on the bike and blow up on the marathon.  My plan for the day involved not doing the same.  My bike time may have been slow but it was well paced for my running legs to take off from there.  I headed out on the marathon – OMG, let’s say that again, shall we? THE MARATHON THAT I WAS GOING TO RUN AFTER SWIMMING 2.4 MILES AND BIKING 112 MILES – feeling fantastic.  While I was feeling zippy and carried on the wings of my spectators’ cheers, I knew I needed to dial back the pace early to have legs later so I slowed myself to the planned run pace.  It felt like I was jogging in place, it was so slow.  But I was moving forward – forward IS a pace – and I was passing people left and right. 

~3.5 miles in and happy to see my crew!


The first loop of the run course flew by fairly comfortably.  An Ironman run course stocked with spectators is a wonderful thing – with your name on your bib, EVERYONE is saying a little something encouraging, cheering for you, making you smile.  It’s one way to feel like a total rock star.

I was still really happy when I went off on the second loop.  “Just a little 17 mile run from here!”  At no point did my legs ever feel tired, but I had some minor GI issues in the 2nd lap and worked a run/walk strategy (something like walk 2, run 8 and so on) to get through it and let my stomach settle.  Eventually I decided to switch off from taking the Gu gels and find something at the aid stations that would be compatible with my stomach.  Sucking the juice out of orange slices ended up working perfectly.


On to the third and final loop and I knew it wasn’t that far to the finish!  I was getting some nice cheers from spectators, encouragement from athletes who were walking and amazed I was holding a strong pace, and more than a few dirty looks from people who had bonked hard.  My spectators said I looked happy and strong throughout and that’s pretty much how I felt.  Even walking, I was power-walking at a fast pace, pushing to get to the next mile marker or aid station and that much closer to the end.  Of course I was also constantly doing the math trying to see when I would finish, if I could make any specific times, etc. 

Even 2 miles out, I wasn’t sure I would make 15 hours.  But I picked up the pace and ran like I only had 2 miles left to finish an Ironman!  No more aid station stops, no more time to thank the spectators, just bust ass to the end McNamara!

When I finally took the turn To Finish Line instead of To 2nd/3rd Loops, I outran 2 girls in the last 1/4 mile to make sure I got to the end by 15 hours.  Around the corner and suddenly from the dark it’s bright lights, cameras, bleachers full of cheering people and there…just up there…the most beautiful sight ever: the finish!  I had the biggest smile, I was too happy to even cry like I thought I would.  This was it – I WAS DOING IT, I HAD DONE IT, I WAS DONE!!!



Ironman Arizona: The Bike

As I zipped into the changing tent at transition, I knew from all the planning I’d done exactly what I needed to do to get out onto the bike.  I had a wonderful volunteer who helped me pry the bike jersey onto my wet body and run out fully equipped for the long ride.  One quick stop at a portapotty and I was headed out to grab my bike.


Just as I mounted the bike, I heard the DJ start one of my favorite motivational songs, my Ironman song if you will – All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers – and I smiled and hoped that would carry me through the day.


The weather forecast for the day had been fairly mild with no winds above 4mph.  Unfortunately it seemed the wind forgot to read the forecast!  As soon as I got out of Tempe, I hit a strong headwind.  The first hour of my ride, the plan had been to go out very easy, let my heart rate settle and get going on my nutrition plan (all along thinking, how will this affect me at mile 18 of the marathon?).  So I continued to spin easy and keep my heart rate down in the strong gusts up the Beeline.  What this meant though, was that I averaged 12mph over the first 18 miles to the bike turnaround. 

Melissa had so kindly braided my hair on race morning but it turned out that when jammed under a bike helmet it gave me a raging headache.  I had to stop an hour out when the pain had not diminished and rip the braids out in a hurry – aaaahhhh, much better. 

Thankfully, I had a tailwind on the return trip and made up some time, all the while doing calculations to ensure I would make the bike cutoff without a problem.  Again, *I* knew I would, but it seems I made a few people a little nervous along the way :)

I was quite happy to head down Rio Salado after the first loop and see my crew!


A cheer and a comment about the wind as I flew by and it was off for loop #2.


As I began the next loop the wind had shifted and I had some tailwind heading up the Beeline and headwind returning downhill.  Not enough to affect pace too dramatically and I rode the second loop 20 minutes faster than the first one.

I continued to stick to my nutrition plan without a problem and, just as important, drink tons of water.  About once per loop I would stop at an aid station and use the restroom while they refilled my water bottles so I’d be set for the next lap.  Every time I crossed the timing mat at the far turnaround of the course, I’d wave in my head to all my online friends cheering, though it turned out they were only putting up the splits when we crossed the mat back in town.  This was only disappointing because I’d hoped my coach in particular would see my splits both ways and understand that I had strong winds in one direction, not that I was riding too slow!

Back through town, 2 loops down, 1 to go!





Heading out on the final loop of the bike course was both exciting and challenging mentally.  The vast majority of athletes were headed inbound to finish the bike, the massive peletons of drafters were gone, and there were far less of us on the road.  For many miles, I was alone.  I just kept counting down the miles, reminding myself how little was left (“20 miles – that’s just a ride to Morgan Hill and back!”  “15 miles, that’s barely anything to you!” and so on). 

When I finally hit turnaround and headed back to town with a bit of a headwind, my spirits began to lift.  Bit by bit, the miles ticked away until I was cruising back on Rio Salado and into Tempe Beach Park!


I handed my bike off to a total stranger (volunteer) and headed to transition.  I realized I’d move a lot faster without my bike shoes, so I stopped for 10 seconds to pull them off.


Now it’s time to run a marathon – yayayayay!  I think I hollered to my crew something along the lines of “I can’t believe I had to go through all of that to finally get to the GOOD part!”

Ironman Arizona: Team Molly

The spectating/cheering crew deserves a post entirely devoted to them.  My people were UNREAL! 

Some could not attend the race in person and still did something special to be with me in spirit.  Many posted words of encouragement, videos and notes on Facebook all day – I got home Sunday night to 500+ notification emails, you guys! 

My cheering squad even went across species lines.


And the Iron Crew who were there in person…they really took the cake.  Spectating an Ironman is one seriously long day in the cold, the heat, the sun, the wind, waiting waiting waiting to see your athlete come by for 15 seconds.


Chris, Nigel and Melissa flew out from San Jose!  Kirsten drove from Salt Lake City! 


My family drove the entire way from California.


Waiting at the swim exit, trying not to look nervous



On the sidelines of the bike course




There was no missing my herd of gnomies!  How cool are they?!!!


Spectating is even dangerous.  Kirsten suffered a cowbell injury.


And on the run course, right up till the finish line, they were there!



It’s possible they were not so popular with this sign later in the evening as other athletes tired…but it made ME smile!


Ironman Arizona: The Swim

Barbara and I had set up about 30 seconds back from the start, near the buoy line.  For me, this worked out beautifully as I had virtually none of the heavy body contact that I’d heard reported in an Ironman mass start.  2500 bodies all starting to swim in the same space and other than a few hands slapping my legs I always had my own space to swim.

Heading off into the sunrise


I will not mince words here.  Despite all my training in much colder ocean waters, THE SWIM WAS COLD.  The unusually cool weather the last couple weeks really let Tempe Town Lake chill and the water was about 62-63 degrees at the start.  I was shivering early on in the swim and in the later parts of the swim – you know how my scientist brain works – pondering what the symptoms of hypothermia were.

I was quite surprised to find the farther out half of the swim to be very choppy.  Tempe Town Lake is essentially a dammed up body of water (surrounded by dry riverbed on both ends) and I suppose all the boats zipping around for the swim race had the same effect as one would imagine in a bathtub.  As a result, I felt like I was riding the waves out by the swim turnaround and especially on the return trip.  Boise this past June proved how easily I can get tossed around in chop and the same appeared to be true at Arizona.  Despite decent sighting and a fairly straight line from buoy to buoy, I was slowed down significantly over my expected time.  I was shaking non-stop and my left shoulder was sore so I wasn’t pulling as hard on that side.  I just tried to focus on that fact that I needed to be using the swim as a warmup (ha!) for the rest of the day.

I know I made my people a little nervous but I had no doubt I’d make the cutoff, even if I had expected to be in much sooner.  When I hit the last turn buoy and aimed for the exit stairs, I picked up the pace and swam hard to get some blood back in my extremities.  I could hear the crowd, the announcer, the music and it helped a lot!


The volunteer lifted me out of the water and onto the steps and I sprinted the rest of the way up to the mats and wetsuit strippers.



And then I was off on the long sprint to transition running as fast as possible.  There were a lot of jokes from spectators wondering how I could move that well after the long swim.  HELLO? I clearly move better on land than sea, people!


1 leg behind me and it was the one I’d been most nervous about!  Next up, 112 miles of biking!

Ironman Arizona: Pre-Race

I’m breaking this up into multiple segments.  It makes it a little easier to read, I think.  Plus I just don’t have the energy to write it all at once!

I was up at 4am on race morning after a pretty solid night of sleep.  [Only exception to this was when Jeff rolled over to cuddle and asked, “Are you getting any sleep at all?”  Uh, yeah, right until you woke me up with that!]  We gave the dogs a quick walk around the neighborhood and I worked on loading nutrition bottles into my bags and eating breakfast while Jeff, Chris and Melissa got ready.


Once down to transition, I finally met Brandy, who was racked right next to me.


Got body-marked in the cold and dark.


I said my last goodbyes to Jeff, who would be coordinating all my other spectators when they arrived, and started putting on my wetsuit.


From there it was time to wander down to the swim arch and cross the mat with everyone else.  Then we all stood around on the boat dock putting off jumping into the cold water as long as possible.  Thankfully just a few minutes before I had to get in, I found Barbara and we hugged and shared our nerves.

Then we hopped off the dock together and swam up to the swim start.  The excitement was contagious and we both floated and shivered at the swim start and screamed a bunch of “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”s together.  The next thing we knew, Mike Reilly said, “We’ll see you all at the finish line!” and BOOM! the cannon went off.  Ironman Arizona 2009 had begun.