Run all the miles, drink all the beer: IMNC 70.3

27 Oct

As I went to publish this blog, I realized it’s been a whole 6 months since my last entry. The last one being my IMTX race report. I swear this family does more than just triathlon. It may not seem like it at times (especially to my sweet family members who allow me to have this hobby) but we’ve done a lot over the last 6 months – I promise not all racing-related.

So maybe you’ve heard, I recently turned 40. In general I don’t consider my birthday to be a big deal, unless it’s an end of a decade type number. My friends from all over recently helped me celebrate my old age in many different ways. Part of that two-month-long-celebration-of-senility was finding a 70.3 and using it as an excuse for a girl’s weekend. The Adorkable Texas gang was reunited…and the result was a hilarious disaster, as we expected it would be.

Thanks Amy, our t-shirt coordinator extraordinaire

Pre-race

When I look back at my training I’d like to tell you it was a bit lack luster. However, I can’t really put my finger on why I think that. I did the distance. I put in the work. I know that because Training Peaks don’t lie! (And you can ask my family. They think I’m never home). But at the time, it didn’t really FEEL like I was training adequately. I kept half-jokingly referring to this as my off-season. Maybe it’s because after IMTX I had mentally checked out for a bit. Maybe it’s because after IMTX my run pace slowed way down (or….thanks Charlotte summer?). Or maaaaaybe it’s because after last year’s training, nothing will ever feel quite as painful as Ironman training. I think I finally understand relative to Ironman training, this stuff is a piece of cake. Well….ok fine! NOT a piece of cake, but definitely not the time suck that Ironman is. So even though my training was apparently pretty solid, going into the race I had the perception that my training was just average, and I wasn’t really expecting much from this race. I was just looking forward to a fun weekend with friends. My training buddies and besties from Charlotte were there too. Lauren, as a first timer!! And Brandy, Ang and Ashley as the most awesome relay ever, SplashBushDash. How could this weekend NOT be fun?!?

A logistically tricky race, we carefully and very seriously planned out our gear bags

Race morning

(Unless you count my sad attempt at half eaten toast for breakfast as a mistake) I realized my first mistake of the day in T1 as I was loading my bike with my water bottles. I somehow had forgotten the bracket that attaches my aero bottle to the bike. My aero bottle is filled with Tailwind nutrition and I consider it my binky. I knew it wasn’t the end of the world to ride without it, as I had plenty of room in my cages to hold another bottle. But damn it sure did make me sad. Other than that, race morning was off to a good start. A little chilly, but the weather forecast was promising near perfect conditions, yay! We loaded up and (eventually) got on the trolley to take us to the swim start.

Ready to get the day started! One step closer to the beer tent

The swim: 1.2 miles

As soon as we hit the water I tried to get as close to the front as possible. I made a poor choice in Galveston and lined up too far back and got beat up the first half of the swim, so this time I lined up in the front right. The effects of the current were felt immediately. The girls in my wave were all drifting to the right and forward out into the channel (I like to tell myself this was all current, even though I have a suspicion it was a bit intentional, but who am I to say for sure?). My bubble kept getting smaller and smaller as folks were floating into me. There was some attempt by a volunteer to give directions where to swim, something about going straight to the buoy, but I was half listening. I was making sure I had my (new) Garmin ready to start. Spoiler alert!! This didn’t go as planned. I heard the GO command from the announcer, pressed start on my watch….and off we went! The first part of the swim was fine. It’s hard to tell as you’re swimming how much push you’re getting from the current. I just went at what felt like the right pace to me and hoped the current would do it’s thing. I was breathing left because the sun was rising to my right and I noticed the girl next to me had the exact same swim cadence as me. It was odd, and a bit funny and a huuuuge distraction. I cracked a smile at her as we took a breath (she was breathing right) and our forearms kept touching as they entered the water together in front of us. I’m pretty sure I saw her return a smile to me at the next breath. I eventually had to get away from her, so I would quit thinking about it. And then somewhere before the first turn buoy I felt my watch vibrate on my wrist. I thought to myself “hmmm, that’s weird” I don’t have it on an alert or auto-lap. I paused my stroke and took a quick peak at it. ARGH!! It was going into power save mode, which meant I NEVER HIT THE START BUTTON!! Now, at this point I should’ve just ignored it and went on with the swim, correcting it after the swim. But instead I pushed a few buttons to get it back on triathlon mode and hit start. Started swimming again. Then a few minutes later, the same thing….power save vibrate! Ugh, wth?!? Tried pushing buttons again. Thought I fixed it but didn’t. After the third attempt at me starting my watch in triathlon mode I thought to myself….ok, that’s the last time I’m messing with it. I’ll deal with it later if it’s still not right. And I was so distracted by the stupid watch that I must’ve swam right up on some dude from a previous wave. I was headed right towards him when BAM, his knuckles hit me square in my nose. And I’m pretty sure his green bracelet scratched my face, just above my lip. My teeth felt loose and I was sure I had a bloody nose. (ok some of that may be dramatics….but it seriously hurt!!) So I quit fidgeting with the watch….only after taking one last quick peak to see that it was indeed finally on the correct screen.

Official swim course on the left. My Garmin data on the right

I eventually saw all the boats to the right and knew we were nearing the end. This truly was a beautiful swim. The water temp was perfect, clarity was good. It was just so nice! I sighted for an empty ladder to exit the swim, and allowed the nice volunteer to help me up. And that was it!

Official swim time 27:50 (1:19/100yd)

My previous PR (personal record) for a 70.3 swim was 34:00 at Eagleman. Thanks current for making this a super fast swim as promised!

T1

I grabbed my running shoes we had planted that morning for the long .25 mile run to our bikes and held them until the 3 amazing volunteers ripped my wetsuit off of me. After a quick rinse in the warm drip of a shower, I awkwardly squeezed my wet feet into the running shoes and was off. Just before crossing the street into transition I heard Jen screaming at me. She is loud and easy to spot, yet calls herself a bad sherpa. I dunno Jen, I think you nailed it!

Photo cred to Jen!

I found my bike with minimal backtracking and quickly started emptying the bag and putting on gear. Ashley came over to offer encouragement, and I immediately put her to work. “Is my nose bleeding? Is Lauren out of the water? Can you stuff that back in my bag?” I don’t remember being too nice to her (sorry boo). I was full on get-the-hell-out-of-transition-mode. She confirmed no blood, and then when she told me Lauren was out of the water, I was SO relieved! To know she was out on the bike already was awesome to hear! She was 1/3 done with her first 70.3, and had survived the most challenging part for her. Come to find out later, she not only survived the swim….but kicked it’s ass! Go Lauren! While talking to Ash I noticed Amy was at her bike so I yelled obscenities at her to not beat me out of transition. Because….she ALWAYS beats me out of T1.

Official T1 time: 6:52

The bike: 56 miles

Turns out it was actually 57 miles. But meh….who’s counting? The first mile or two was slow. In the beginning the course had a lot of turns and road humps, which I took as a nice opportunity to settle in, calm my breathing and drink some water to get that awful salt water taste out of my mouth. Just passed all that, we came upon the first of a few drawbridges. The race director had warned us to go slow, to unclip and soft pedal, and to take these bridges seriously. Turns out, it was super scary. Tires were slippery and there were a few cyclists that had race-ending wrecks at that first bridge. But I made it over all of them without incident. The course is a lollipop and historically has wind. So when I was easily averaging 20mph for the first 15 miles, I thought for sure we had a tailwind. I kept my effort light but focused and just hoped for the best. After the lollipop spit us out and we were headed back the direction we came, I was elated to find there had been no tailwind (because that meant no headwind!). I was still holding steady at around 20mph and was seriously so confused as to how that was happening. The course is pancake flat, but I’ve ridden 2 other courses just as flat, but the difference is….each of those races had wind. I just continued to check perceived effort and “stay within myself”. When that got boring, I took to yelling at some girl that was obviously drafting. Just as the words had left my mouth a marshal rode up next to her and showed her a card. I giggled to myself. I get there are times that it’s hard to know what to do. You leap frog with others quite a bit. Sometimes you’re messing with nutrition and realize that you’re in someone’s draft zone. I get that. But there were many deliberate acts of drafting in this race – most that I saw were females – hanging out on someone’s wheel. But overall it was a beautiful ride. Perfect weather. Nice roads. I was mentally and physically enjoying it. Smiling and chatty, and just happy to be out there. As we got closer to 50ish miles, I could see that it was going to be a fast split. And in order to prove to myself that I hadn’t over-biked….I knew I was going to have to hang on for the run. So I started preparing myself for that. As we approached the wiggly end of the bike course and headed into downtown Wilmington, I tried to do some quick math. I had no idea what my swim time was, but assumed it was fast. At this point I knew my bike was going to be a PR. My run PR of 2:30:01 was at Galveston earlier this year. And since my typical long run pace during this training had been averaging around 10:30s I knew it was possible to beat 2:30 as long as I didn’t walk outside the aid stations, which is historically what I do. Finally, I saw the convention center and started to think about transition!

Official bike time: 2:50:41 (20.11mph)

Bike love for daaaaays

A ~21 min PR over my 3:11:05 at Austin last year, yay!

T2

I dismounted and followed the cyclists in front of me into the long chute to T2. It was an awkward single file line, everyone walking which I was okay with. I hate running in bike shoes anyway. Athletes were staying on the mat to avoid rocks and gravel so it got a bit backed up. I heard a familiar accent and looked to my left and saw my friend Carol Ann! (She started in a much later swim wave than me, and still caught me on the bike) I said some kind of hi to her and tried to scoot right to let her pass and then watched her run into transition, fumbling to find her rack. I suddenly realized it had been a long time since we’d been in T2 (bag drop off was Friday afternoon and there was no morning pit-stop). I had zero recollection of what rack I was or where I needed to go. I counted numbers until I found my spot and racked my bike. I think it was at this point I saw Brandy. I asked her my swim time, and was pleased with how quickly she looked it up. I think we talked about some other things….and then I realized Lauren was a few racks over. We hollered back and forth as she was exiting. Brandy pointed out Ashley who was waiting in the exchange area for Ang and I yelled at her too. Then I was off….smiling and happy to see friends in transition.

Photo cred to Brandy

Official T2 time: 5:01

The run: 13.1 miles

Ugh, the run. The part I hate. My main goal was to not walk. Easy enough right? I mean, everyone said it’s a fast course. I should be able to fake my way through it. So I was determined not to walk…until like less than half a mile into the run we have to go up a huge hill. Ok it wasn’t that big. But people were walking up it faster than my trot. So my whole no-walking thing was thrown out and I walked up the hill. But just after that I saw Jen and she yelled at me and then I ran the rest of the way. Except for the water stops. It was warmer than I like, so I was sure to get ice and cola at every stop. At each stop I would carry the ice cup with me until the next aid station. I slowly chomped on the ice to prevent me from drinking way too much, which is sometimes what I do and then I get a sloshy tummy. It was hot in the direct sun, but once we hit the shady parts of the course, it was really nice. I knew that Lauren wasn’t too far ahead of me since I saw her leave transition, but it seemed like it was taking me FOREVER to catch up to her. I finally caught her sometime before the turnaround, and we ran together for a bit. Talking about how things had been going up until this point. I knew Amy would be catching us soon so was looking out for her. I love the out-and-back courses, because you get to see and cheer for your friends along the way. It’s a great distraction. Amy and I chatted for a bit too…actually more like yelling back and forth as she zoomed passed. And then I was looking for coach Karen, Cecilia and Ashley. Was thrilled to see them….always a bit of a relief to know your friends are having a good race. Seemed like Karen caught me quick so I knew she must be flying. We briefly stopped and chatted at the last chance trash can at mile 12. She asked if I wanted to run the last mile with her. Her coach had told her to “go hard” so I joked with her that my pace would not be “going hard”. I not-so-secretly wished I could lasso her as I watched her run off towards the finish line. Which as I learned felt like 5 miles away.

Photo cred to Brandy. Thanks for capturing this finish (and so many other awesome shots)

Official run time: 2:29:39 (11:19/mile)

A 70.3 run PR by less than 1 min! Barely beating my 2:30:01 from Galveston.

Total finish time: 6:00:01

Now….I should mention that I had no real intention to go sub 6 at this race. If I had set that goal…I would’ve been devastated to learn I was 2 seconds away from it. At first I was really annoyed at that time, thinking about all the opportunities I had to shave 2 seconds off my time. HELLO!! Sooooo many opportunities. But I’ve since let it go. It just means I have to work harder and try again.

Such a fun race!

Team Smash!

The Bushes and The Adorkables! Just missing Ash…who I think was cheering on a friend

The Bushes will be back next year! Get ready Wilmington……

Me and Coach, celebrating Lauren’s first 70.3 finish!! So proud of her

Obligatory Trista pose!

And finally….our celebratory day on the beach!

BEACH DAY!!!

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Ironman Texas recap: BEST DAY EVER!

26 Apr
That comes with an asterisk. Because, above all I am a wife and mom, so aside from wedding day and birthing days, this was a day that will go down in history. A day that is hard to explain or put into words. A day that I am so proud of because it represents a goal, a commitment and months and months of hard work and preparation…sacrifice and dedication (from not just myself)…all ending with a glorious 14 hour celebration on race day.

I FREAKIN DID IT

PRE-RACE:

The 3 days in Houston before the race were packed full of emotion! I was so very anxious, nervous, excited, and scared. But more than anything, just ready to get it started. I have worked so hard for this, I just wanted the wait to be over and to know the outcome. I wasn’t scared that I couldn’t do it. I knew I was prepared. I knew I was ready. I’d done the training and I was confident in my fitness. It was all the other uncontrollable stuff that I was worried about….the unknown. What an emotional few days it was! Cecilia and I (both first timers) cried a bunch of times, but there were also so many laughs, and general goofiness from our group. Nobody was taking anything too seriously, and we had so much fun together. I’m so glad the 4 of us did this race together. Being there with them and our amazing sherpa husbands was just….perfect!

#adorkable

Nobody knows what’s going on here

We know how to have fun

Cheese!

Pre race laughs and practice swim

RACE DAY, FINALLY!

2.4 mile swim (1:14:20)

In summation? It sucked! Like really, really sucked. We got there late, started way far back, there were no pace signs as they had said there would be. But really I don’t think it would’ve changed the outcome much. Everyone got beat up on the swim and it was a cluster for everyone. Not sure why, but I started to feel a little nauseous in the second half. This all came as a big surprise to me because while I expected to go through some dark times that day, I didn’t expect them so soon. Not in the water, where I feel the most confident. But man, I was just….wishing the time away to be done and out of the water.

Very end of the swim, in the tiny canal

I had mini panic attacks a few times and would come up and do a few breast strokes. One time I tried backstroke, but that was a mistake. Just made me more dizzy. I was hurting, uncomfortable, people were swimming into me, pushing me underwater, grabbing my legs, hitting my face. But as soon as I stepped out of the water, I seemed to have forgotten all about how horrible I felt, and when I heard the volunteers shouting out my race number over their megaphones (this is new to me, the 140.6 is a well oiled machine and the volunteers are incredible, and totally makes me want to go volunteer at one) a smile came over my face that didn’t go away for the next 13 hours. I was ready to tackle the bike.

Blurry. Accurate.

112 mile bike (6:47:36)

I loved every second! Even when we had to ride 40 miles directly into a killer headwind, I was like (fist pump) THIS IS AWESOME!!

Bike love!

It was a two loop out-and-back course on the Hardy Toll Road. I took it really easy at first, keeping in mind of how long the day ahead of me was going to be. I’ve never biked for 6.5 hours and then ran a marathon, so I wanted to be conservative. If I could’ve predicted what happened next, I maybe would’ve pushed a little harder on the out, because when we turned around to head back in, we were directly into a head wind. It sucked, but I just kept pedaling. Did the turn to go back out, and got an amazing tailwind. Miles 70-80 on the bike I was literally high. Biggest smile of the day, so happy to be out there having fun. I kept reflecting back on my training, how I’d worked so hard for this very moment….so that I could sit back and enjoy the day. I WAS DOING IT and I was enjoying it (just like everyone advised me to do for my first time)!! I kept reminding myself of all the fun times and not-so-fun times over the last 8 months of training. I kept thinking about people’s advice….telling me that the day would be filled with highs and lows. Neither of which would stick around long. I knew it was a fleeting high, so I soaked it in as much as I could, and was thankful that it hung around as long as it did.

Still smiling

After the next turnaround, back into the head wind for another 20 miles was not as fun. The winds really picked up, and a front was blowing in. It rained briefly and brought some strong gusts. I kept my spirits up and thought about all those rides we had in the wind, in the rain, in the cold. I was doing just fine. I was still riding conservatively, reminding myself that someone once told me that the Ironman doesn’t really start until mile 80.

Pffft. 112 miles? I GOT THIS!

When I finally made it back to transition, I was pretty happy to get off the bike. I saw Justin as I was coming in, gave him a kiss, and then he walked along beside me encouraging me, telling me how I killed it on the swim and bike. I told him I was going out for a short little run and that I’d see him soon. Kissed him goodbye and was on my way!

My biggest cheerleader

And if you’re wondering what Justin did the whole day, when he wasn’t cheering or taking pictures on the course….

Sherpa duties

26.2 mile run (5:49:48)
I told everyone out there (regardless if they listened or not) that I was a first timer. I still couldn’t stop smiling, and felt especially good the first 13 miles. I kept wondering when the SUCK was going to set in, but it never did. I was enjoying the day, just as everyone had told me to do. I got a lot of cheers and high fives from the crowd, and so many comments about my smile. It was obvious to everyone that I was having fun out there. And while the winds on the bike were rough, I was thankful on the run, because the front had moved in and the temperature was perfect. I was trucking along…on point with my nutrition, able to get down 3 gels the first half. At 13.1 miles my time was about 2:36 which I thought was pretty great.
But the next 13 miles didn’t feel as physically great. I was struggling to take in any nutrition, but was able to take salt, coke and water still. So I did that as long as I could, but kept debating whether it would be better to puke and rally or continue trying to keep it down.

By mile 18 I no longer had a choice, my stomach was not happy. I squatted in the grass and puked 5-6 times. Other athletes came by to check on me, make sure I was okay, offer me salt. Everyone was so nice! So much liquid came out, and I felt way better afterwards. And then I was fine until about mile 25 when I puked again (but this time it was more of a dry heave than anything else). I was glad to get it (literally) out of my system before heading into the finisher’s chute. And although I was elated to see the mile 25 sign, the last 1.2 miles felt like the longest I’ve ever ran (it was definitely the slowest). I honestly don’t remember the last quarter mile or so. I was so energized by the crowd. I could hear Mike Reilly and the music at the finish line. It was all uphill, but didn’t feel it at all. It was the highest of highs and I was so excited to be in the chute, finally on the red carpet at the finish line, that I totally forgot to stop and kiss Justin as I ran by him. I high-fived, shouted, and smiled at him…but kept running forward so that I could hear the words I’ve been working so hard to hear….

I did it!

“Trista Mennen YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” Best finish line ever! So proud of this accomplishment.

Mic drop

Overall time 14 hours, 8 minutes and 51 seconds.

Trista pose, of course

Post race celebration

Miller Lite, bacon, chips

Ironfriends

A great welcome home and celebration with Val and the kids…
I’m still on the adrenaline high, giddy about the day, and proudly sporting my mdot gear, baby!

Still can’t believe I did it 🙂

Galveston 70.3 Race Report

6 Apr

Another race weekend back in the Lone Star State!

TEXAS! FOOD! TEXAS FOOD!

It’s confusing to some that Ironman branded races can either be half (70.3 miles) or full distance (140.6 miles), and many of my friends thought this was “THE” race I’ve been training for. And let me just say, for all of you that sent encouraging notes or congratulatory Facebook comments….man, I LOVE YOU GUYS! Seriously, your encouragement means far more than you know. But. I still have 16 days until my first FULL Ironman (so keep cheering)! The race in Galveston last weekend was just….the warm-up; an opportunity to go through the motions and hone in on my race-day strategies in preparation for the BIG day.

If you remember, I traveled to Austin last October in hopes of getting this race-day practice and confidence boost. However, the swim at Austin 70.3 was cancelled due to fog so it wasn’t really the swim/bike/run experience I had been hoping for. So I talked to my coach about a last ditch effort to get in another 70.3 before April, in hopes it would give me the reassurance I needed to know that I was ready to tackle Ironman Texas. My coach was planning to do Galveston 70.3, so I signed up too. And then our other 2 teammates, Amy and Cecilia registered and BAM! we had ourselves a nice little girls trip in the making….

The day before the race we attempted a practice ride, but didn’t even make it 1 mile before we stopped and turned back. Winds were too gusty and it was just too dangerous to be out there in traffic.

The weather forecast wasn’t looking good. 90% chance of thunderstorms with 20+ mph winds. I thought for sure parts of the race were going to be cancelled or shortened. We kept an eye on the weather app, not that we needed it really….you could just step outside to see that it was bad.

Me, depicting what it felt like to have your bike flying away from you

So we showed up on race morning, hoping for the best! Per usual Texas weather, the forecast had cleared some. Winds and humidity were still high, but looked like the storms would hold off until later that evening. Ok, so this is happening!

Pre-race prep in transition. GO TEAM!

I felt surprisingly non-nervous before the race – possibly because I kept thinking it wasn’t going to happen? In fact, I even told Amy to brace herself for the onset of my nerves before the swim (because man, in Austin they were ridiculous!!) but they never really came. Amy and I were in the same swim wave so we kinda goofed around and talked with other athletes until it was our turn to jump into the water.

1.2 mile swim

And here’s where I made my first mistake. In my last couple of swims I’ve always lined up near the front of the swim wave. I thought surely there couldn’t be that much difference between the first and third row. Well there is, and I was having to fight people for position, something I’ve never had to deal with before. Even though it didn’t last longer than a couple minutes….it was still annoying and uncomfortable. My second mistake was not really familiarizing myself with the swim course. It was rumored the officials had removed a turn buoy but I wasn’t exactly sure where, and well…I was just flailing around out there with no real plan. The water was choppy due to the wind and there was a weird side current thing, and there were people swimming on either sides of the buoys…some stopping to hang on them so it was just kind of a cluster. As the swim normally is, I guess. After the first turn I think I finally chilled out some and tried to slow my pace to find a comfortable rhythm as I headed to the next turn buoy. By the time I rounded that buoy, the swim was almost over. I could see the swim exit, a straight shot in front of me, so I settled in and practiced my 6 stroke sighting technique until it was my turn to walk up the rickety exit ramp. Yay, swim complete…in (almost) the exact 35 minutes I had hoped to finish it in.

Next time, remind me to take my cap and goggles off for the photo

Official swim time: 34:54 (1:48/100m)

T1: 4:07

56 mile bike

We knew the wind would be bad. We knew it would be gusty…which means unpredictable…which means we had to think extra hard to be careful and remain upright. Coach and I had talked about eating something right out of transition, before getting out to the Sea Wall where the buildings wouldn’t be sheltering us from the wind any longer. So that’s what I did. I ate a few bites of my PBO bars and drank what I could. And also I was trying to calm my breathing here. HELLO humidity acclimation!! Humidity was high and I was having a hard time adjusting. But about 5 minutes in, I caught my breath and all was fine for the rest of the day.

The course was a straight out and back, and it was obvious we had a cross wind. But on the way out, it almost felt like a cross-tail-wind at times. This made me nervous for the return trip, thinking it was going to be a cross-head-wind coming back. So I rode a little conservatively…just like coach and I had talked about. Due to the wind, I didn’t really have any hard and fast clock based goals. The main goal for me was to not push too hard, and save some gas in the tank for the run, just another opportunity to practice nutrition. I’ll admit I didn’t eat as much or consistently as I would’ve liked to. Sometimes it was just too scary to take one hand off the handlebars. But I drank almost all 3 of my Tailwind bottles, so that’s a win!

It felt like forever before we got to the turnaround. There was a bumpy bridge and some tiny hills, and some beach cows. But other than that, it was just flat and windy. And because of the wind I was out of aero more than I would have liked, so I was just more uncomfortable than normal. Ugh, are we done yet?

Yes, we’re done! Official bike time: 3:15:45 (17.16 mph)

T2: 5:23

13.1 mile run

The run was a 3 loop course so at least I got to see my peeps over and over. That was fun. It was humid, but bearable. And remember all that wind we had on the bike? It completely went away on the run. It was stagnate. We ran by the swim course and even the water had completely chilled out. It was almost flat compared to the choppy conditions earlier. (Providing further evidence that a reverse triathlon would be so much better!)

You know the run is not my favorite. But I just kept things moving. Walking when I “needed” to walk and kept ticking away the miles. I know it’s all in my head, and one day I’ll try to really conquer this mental game. But I gave it the ole “good is good enough”, and just kept things moving forward, as I plan to do in a couple weeks for the full.

The finishers chute!

My goal was to run about a 2:30 half marathon. As I got closer to the finish I could see that I was close to that. So I gave it what I had left, and crossed the finish line, happy with my day’s work.

I did it!!

Official run time: 2:30:01 (11:27/mile)

Dang, over my goal time by ONE SECOND, lol. But I’m pretty happy with the run overall. I mean, I’d like to be faster….but that run was 7.5 minutes faster than my run at Austin 70.3, which had no swim. So yay!

Happy Trista!

Overall race time: 6:30:10

My awesome squad, post-race

And now…my favorite part! Time to celebrate…

Drinks, and then food!

After the race, I feel more confident than ever that I am ready for Ironman Texas. I’m so close to my goal of becoming an ironman before I turn 40. Exciting stuff!

Because my birthday falls before the end of the year, Ironman already considers me to be in the 40-44 age group. Look how happy 40 looks!

After the race, we talked about seeing an 80 year old man out there on the course. Well, as luck would have it, guess who I ran into at the airport! Meet Wayne Mehl, an 80 year old from California who finished the course in a little over 8 hours, and took 1st place in his age group (um, he was THE ONLY guy in his age group). He has at least 4 more races on his schedule this year, and eventually hopes to be the first man over 83 to complete the full Ironman distance.

What an inspiration!

If he can do it, I can do it. So now all I can do is hope that I’ve done enough in training, and that I’m prepared for whatever race day holds. I’m excited and nervous, and ready more than ever to finally hear those words “Trista Mennen, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”!

SEVEN

5 Apr

My sweet sweet boy, watching the time pass so quickly is cracking my heart wide open

One day in February, out of the blue, Pierce declared it was “National Pierce Day”. It included ice cream and ipad time. It went over so well he quickly decided that March would be “National Pierce Month” in honor of his birthday. Sure, kid. We can make that happen.

So we kicked off his birthday celebration a couple weeks early with a party at Sports Connection for laser tag and arcade games with friends. The kids love it here!

Pierce could play laser tag for hours

 

He wanted a Minecraft cake, so a Minecraft cake he got!

That’s the Ender Dragon on top. Try as I may, I cannot escape his daily Minecraft tutelage. He’ll make a gamer of me yet!

Just before officially turning 7, our little ninja had his first belt test at his new Tae Kwon Do school.  I’m so proud of him! He did great

National Pierce Month wouldn’t be complete without a cookie cake!

…and a day of golf with dad

Just recently Pierce has been really into basketball.

Huge Hornets fan!

So our big gift to him this year was a basketball hoop, which he LOVES. He’s out there shooting hoops every day, and he can’t wait to draw the court, with the free throw and 3 point lines.

Working on his jump shot

He was super excited to go to school on his birthday, to see his name on the rock, and hear his name on the announcements.

Minecraft rock

And of course, we celebrated with cake for breakfast and presents before sending him off to school! Because, ya know…National Month of Pierce.

And then dad really made his day when he surprised him at lunch with a milkshake, and cookies for his whole class!

Some of his buddies

Happy birthday my sweet boy! We love you “bigger than the universe”.

The facts: this year brought about new obsessions like Minecraft, YouTube Kids, Expedition Unknown, Star Wars, Magic Tree House Books, and most recently a love for basketball. And also golf….but it’s yet to be determined if he actually likes playing golf or if he just wants to drive the golf cart.

Eating the Elephant

16 Mar

My dad has an expression for everything. So when I think about my goal of completing an Ironman before turning 40, it’s no surprise I can hear his voice telling me the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing for the last 7 months…just chewing away on a big ass elephant, which used to represent a lofty goal in a seemingly never-going-to-get-here-far-off date. But suddenly, the elephant is in my face reminding me that my Ironman race is now just a little over a month away. And there is still plenty of him left to eat.

For the most part, I’d say the training has been going well. I don’t really have anything to compare it to, since I’ve never done this before. But I’m healthy (knock on wood), injury free (knock on wood) and making progress where progress needs to be made. But I’m pretty sure if you asked my family how the training is going, they would ask if you’ve seen me lately because they’ve forgotten what I look like.

Let’s talk about the swim first….I feel so lucky to have found a home at MSA – my masters swimming program. There’s such a sense of community here which I was desperately lacking in New York. It’s nice to look forward to practice not just because I can get stronger in the pool, but because I can also have fun with my swimming peeps! They even convinced me to register for a swim meet – my first one in 20 years – and so glad I did. It was a fun distraction from the usual weekend activities. I swam 5 events at the Sunbelt Regional Meet, and never did an official “race” report like I usually do, so here are the results:

50 free (200 medley relay) = 27:8
100 free (400 free relay) = 1:07:3
100 free (400 free relay mixed) = 1:07:8
200 free (800 free relay) = 2:15:2
1650 (the mile) = 23:55:56

I continue to put the work in at the pool, and just hope and pray that some of it will translate into open water swimming on race day. Even though I’m pretty comfortable in the water, I’ve only done Half Ironman races which I’m told does not compare to the “washing machine” that is Ironman.

One of my awesome relay teams

Our team took home first place overall, woot woot!

Ok, now the bike. I’ve mentioned my wahoo bike trainer before and how much I love it. It’s a great tool for communicating with my coach. It helps refine the workouts, and it’s been key in getting me stronger on the bike. But I’m so excited to have fallen in with an awesome group of girls here who love to cycle. Upon moving here I met a wonderful friend, Tami who has since introduced me to a group of girls who are always down for a long ride. They are fun on and off the road, and love to have a good time! Luckily for me, most of them are currently training for a ridiculously long race, so they hardly even flinch when I ask if they want to go ride 100 miles with me. They’re pretty great. We’ve done some long stuff, but we’re about to hit the REALLY long stuff so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things continue to progress nicely…

When you ride across state lines, it’s a mandatory selfie

“We’re in training”

And it wouldn’t be triathlon if we didn’t talk about running. Ugh…running. My nemesis, and where I fear the most that the wheels will come off at IMTX. However, I have somewhat good news here. I’ve made progress in the last 5 months, both mentally and physically in the run. In November I ran a 2:03 half marathon almost by accident. Until then I had no idea that was even possible for me. My winter training has been going well, and I completed a marathon last month which isn’t always typical for Ironman training. I had high hopes for a great race because training was going so well, but unfortunately things didn’t really go as planned on race day. Again, no official race report, mainly because I was too upset to write one. However, my coach reminds me all the ways it was a helpful run. It gave me tools that I can pull from, showed me that I can keep going when shit gets hard AAAAAAND it was a PR. So I’ve decided I can’t be too upset about it.

Pre-marathon, showing off my cute arm warmers

Post race, contemplating taking the biggest ice bath ever

Ok so finally, my favorite part. Let’s talk about my Austin peeps. Hands down…THE BEST part about IMTX training has been my coach and my teammates in Austin. Coach Karen has been coaching, supporting, and cheering me on over the last 10 years and I’m so thankful for her. She keeps me from falling apart when things get crazy hard, and talks me off the ledge probably weekly. It’s through her that I met Amy and Cecilia, who round out our IMTX team. Our little group has no doubt been my lifesaver on so many occasions, and I’m so happy to be doing this along side them. Karen and Amy are Ironman veterans, but Cecilia and I are both attempting our firsts, so it’s a good mix.  Last weekend I got to travel to Austin for a mini training camp with them, and it was so much fun! We got an open water practice swim, a very soggy and nasty 70 mile ride with a short run after. And then a long run (can you hear me groaning).

Wetsuit swim in the quarry

An 85 mile ride, quickly reduced to 70 due to nasty weather. Yuck

Pre 16 mile long run in the almost freezing temps. What gives, Austin?

No, it’s not a Nike ad. It’s a deer selfie! Cecilia and I had to stop for a photo op

Coach has all the fun recovery toys

And no surprise….my favorite part of training camp was the end, where we celebrated with pizza and booze. Amy got these amazing swim caps for everyone. This is definitely my favorite picture from the weekend, and it makes me smile when I see it. Love these ladies!

Do Epic Shit

Can’t wait until we all meet up again in just 2 and a half weeks for Galveston 70.3. I’m looking forward to another fun weekend with this group. And it also means we’ll hit our peak training soon, then…HELLO TAPER!!

Half a year, here!

21 Feb

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It’s been almost 6 months since the move, and we’re in that funny paradox where everything feels new and old at the same time. We’re still learning our way in Charlotte, but we’ve settled in nicely, and overall things are feeling like HOME.

It took a little longer than I had hoped, but we eventually found fun things for the kids to do that they enjoy. Pierce, is of course continuing his love of all things ninja and is enrolled in Tae Kwon Do. I am loving his new school, which is very different than the place in New York, and I’m proud of him for adapting so quickly. He is up for a belt promotion next month, and we can’t wait to be his cheerleaders at the belt test.

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You want some of this?

He also joined cub scouts. We were excited to find out his best buddy is also in the pack so he’s loving it. He’s done some community service, we have the Pine Wood Derby coming up, and the much anticipated sleepover aboard the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier in Charleston is in a couple months. He is having so much fun with it!

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Addison is happiest when twirling and jumping, so no surprise she is LOVING her dance class. They have a spring recital which I can’t wait to see. These little girls are so adorable….and hysterical.

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We got our hopes up last month that we may actually see some snow. And I guess technically we did, but it was just a few flakes. They didn’t stick. And we were disappointed. But the towns north of us got like 8 inches!! So we hold out hope. Pierce, more than anyone is really missing the New York winters.

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Catching snowflakes in January

Both kids continue to practice their swim skills….

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Which is more important than ever because WE’RE GETTING A POOL SOON!!!

Me, in the shallow end. Check out that form!

Me, swimming in the shallow end. Check out that form!

This was the end of dig day 1. If we’re lucky, we’ll be swimming in 8-10 weeks.

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Justin has been hard at work in his new CIO role. He’s enjoying it, but like any new gig it’s taking a lot of time and effort. He’s been traveling, but not as much internationally so that’s been nice to have him around more. And as for me….I’ve been steadily sweating away the days, training for my first full Ironman. I knew it was going to be a challenge, with the move and all, but I think I’ve done pretty well keeping consistent with the training. But it is so much a group effort. Justin and Justin’s mom have really picked up my slack, and help out with the kids when I’m away for hours on end. With only 8 weeks to go before the big race, the long workouts are about to get REALLY long, and the family is showing their support of me and my journey to 140.6. Hmmm….I feel another post coming soon about the Ironman journey.

Threenager

14 Jan

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I’m pretty sure Addison skipped the “terrible two’s” and went straight to being a threenager. This girl is so full of….well everything. Sass, personality, love and laughter. She surprises me daily with the stuff that comes out of her mouth. She has attitude for days and a stubborn streak that puts mine to shame. But somehow she pulls it off and makes it work for her. Everyone loves her little self.

We started her 3rd birthday with a celebration at school Friday afternoon. Her class sang her Happy Birthday in Mandarin (ok, probably only the Mandarin teacher sang her happy birthday in Mandarin) while she proudly wore her birthday crown and shared pink cookies with her friends.

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Because everything in her world is PINK!

When she woke up Saturday morning, a princess party was waiting downstairs for her.

Pink, pink, pink

Pink, pink, pink

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Pierce, the #bestbigbro having a princess tea party with the birthday girl

Cake for breakfast!

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And then later, cake for lunch with friends from the neighborhood

She opened presents, with a little help from Pierce

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A full length mirror to see her princess dresses from tiara to tip toes!

From Grandma, a new vanity with her very own makeup kit

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Is she a girly girl or what? She may get her attitude from me, but definitely did not inherit the girly gene from me

Addi’s stats:

Still not a great eater, but she’s starting to venture out. The other night she ate her entire plate of lasagna! Loves pricesses, dressup, tutus, jewelry, accessories, and everything else “girly”. She still sucks her thumb. Potty trained before 3, and y’all this is a big one. I swear, for a while there I thought she was going to be starting kindergarten in diapers. She just didn’t care. Still Frozen obsessed, loves all things Elsa and Ana. Big talker, so easy for her to communicate her wishes (ahem, demands), which still surprises me at times, because Pierce was never this vocal. Girl can talk! Addi loves to dance, sing and listen to stories. Likes to copy big brother, especially his Tae Kwon Do moves. She recently discovered jumping jacks, pushups and the splits and loves showing off her new skills. I hear “momma, watch this” like 3000 times per day. Loves a good tickle-scratch and cuddling sesh.

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Addi, my heart is full. You test my patience and make me giggle every day. We will survive THREE together and make so many memories in the process. Love you baby girl, keep being you.