Hot New Training Tools: TriggerPoint Therapy

Remember way back when I was talking about preparing for my first Ironman experience? I know, it's been a while (haha). Anyway, I wanted to retouch on something that I was exposed to during my trip to Madison earlier this month.

The Ironman Expo was amazing. All sorts of cool new products, gizmos, and gadgets. Some were really cool. Others, not so much. One of the highlights was the TriggerPoint booth. The representative, a young massage therapist from Arizona (I think?), approached me and asked me what problems I was having. I explained to her that my left shoulder ached, and that it especially felt weak when I was swimming. I pointed to my shoulder blade, and before I could even say "scapula," she told me: "Looks like you are having issues with your subscapularis. I know what to do!"

Going into the booth, I knew what to do, too. But I was surprised when she sat me down and had me put my left foot on a block. Looking inquisitively at her, she caught me hesitation, and explained:

"We should focus our maintanence at our feet. A lot of problems in our upper body can originate at the ground."

This hit home for me, especially since I have had biomechanical issues in the past that stemmed from inappropriate shoes. So she used the Footballer on my calf, and it hurt! She then had me lay on my back on the ground and had me place the TP Massage Ball under my scapula. Just pushing the ball into my back, I felt tension release. She explained that the ball was holding the subscapularis tendon in place, which allowed me to stretch the actual muscle body when I moved my left arm across my body. Again, PAIN! but it was a good pain.

And her logic made sense to me. With my hefty background in biomechanics (both clinical and engineering related), I know that both tendon and muscle have strain-rate dependent properties, and because tendon connects muscle to bone, both can be elongated during a stretch[1,2]. By holding the tendon in place with the Massage Ball, I was able to stretch only the muscle body. When I sat up, my shoulder ached from the ball, but the muscle tightness was gone. A short while later, the ache was gone, too.

That night, when we stayed with Gigi in Whitefish Bay, I noticed she had a few TriggerPoint tools, too. I asked her what she thought of them. She was already on her second set of TriggerPoint devices!

Since Ironman, I've tried to find ways of getting around the TriggerPoint therapies, but nothing has worked. I can't afford to get a deep-tissue massage every week, and even if I could- my masseuse has left the area!! Major blow for me there. I tried using imitation TriggerPoint therapies (read: tennis ball), but they just aren't the same. Not only are tennis balls too stiff (TriggerPoint has a somewhat cushy fabric around it), they are too big! They also don't last that long... probably because tennis balls are not made to be stood on! So, I've recently become an affiliate for TriggerPoint.

If you are interested in trying out their product, click on the button below and you will receive 5% off your first purchase (except the Grid)!! Just enter this code to get the discount: MKILLIAN. If you order by phone, just tell them my name.

[1] S. Abellaneda, N. Guissard, and J. Duchateau. The relative lengthening of the myotendinous structures in the medial gastrocnemius during passive stretching differs among individualsJ. Appl. Physiol. January 1, 2009 106:169-177
[2] C.I. Morse, H. Degens, O.R. Seynnes, C.N. Maganaris, and D.A. Jones. The acute effect of stretching on the passive stiffness of the human gastrocnemius muscle tendon unit
. January 1, 2008 The Journal of Physiology, 586, 97-106.

Decisions, Decisions

This would be a good time to have a coach.

I am starting to think (or have been for the last month) about what races I should do next year. I want to race more than I did this year (only three triathlons in 2009; some running races here and there including two marathons).

Here are some options:

Rev3 Cedar Point Full Rev: Sept 12
pros: close to parents, [marginally] cheaper than M-dot events [$500], perfect season-ending time, lots of pros, fast course, two tickets to Cedar Point included in registration!
cons: no Kona opportunities

Ironman Louisville: Late August
pros: good time of year [August, season ending], Kona potential, fast course
cons: Kentucky can be humid and hot [yuck!], the race is pretty expensive [$575], and the Kona potential is for the same year [so if I were to be amazingly fast and qualify, I'd have to find a way to get to Hawai'i in October]

Grand Teton Races: Labor Day weekend
pros: Incredibly beautiful course in the Tetons, great opportunity to get back to Montana for a vacation!, 100mile or 50mile option, Trophy Series race
cons: I'd have to focus training more toward running an ultra than triathlon

Tahoe Rim Trail Ultra: mid July
pros: early enough in the season that I could still have more races, 50 or 100mile options
cons: early in the season! Would I be ready??

I am still planning on doing a few half-ironman races (Wildflower? Liberty. Chisago Lakes?) and am also going to sign up for the American Triple T in Ohio when registration opens for a great season kick off.

How great would it be if I could just be a nomad all summer, traveling from race to race?! I feel somewhat isolated in the Great Up North.

Back in the Game- and Music!

My 10mile recovery run today was phenomenal. Felt great. Negative splits (even though it was recovery), went by way too fast. I attribute this to my recharged Garmin 405, my iPod shuffle, and my fresh legs. It only took two weeks after Ironman to get 'em back!!

Here's my run data:
Details for 10mile Recovery Run

I do not condone running with an iPod. In fact, I am adamant about their removal from races, especially marathons, and I feel that they subject users to unsafe habits during road running. However, if used responsibly, they can be an incredibly useful tool in training runs. Today was a good example of this. I kept the volume low, and couldn't even hear the music if a car was approaching. I also ran on low-traffic roads with wide shoulders- running against traffic as I always do.

Here's the playlist that got me through the run as if it were only a few miles long (I swore my Garmin skipped miles 6-7):

Ain't No Good- Cake
Universal Mind Control- Common
We Are Rockstars- Does It Offend You, Yeah?
Balloons- Foals
Run (I'm a Natural Disaster)- Gnarls Barkley
Swagger Like Us- Jay Z and TI
Since We Last Spoke- RJD2
The Heinrich Maneuver- Interpol
Wildcat- Ratatat
Les Artistes- Santigold
Split Needles- The Shins
M79- Vampire Weekend
You Got Your Cherry Bomb- Spoon
Toxic- A Static Lullaby
Live Your Life- TI
Wolf Like Me- TV on the Radio
PunkB*tch- 3Oh!3
I'm Not Your Boyfriend- 3Oh!3
Everything is Alright- Motion City Soundtrack
The Lonely End of the Rink- The Tragically Hip

Losing Track of Time

Today's long run took Adam and me on the snowmobile trail toward South Range. I discovered this route last winter when I was doing long runs with Margot. It's a gradual incline all the way to South Range, and to get to town is about eight miles. We didn't have a big run in mind, and my plan outlined for me a recovery 8-miler.

But, I hadn't charged my Garmin. I couldn't find my other watch. Truthfully, I didn't really look for it. I just didn't feel like wearing Adam's ginormous watch, and he wasn't planning on wearing it, either. So we just left the apartment without anything on our wrists except our roadIDs. Since tomorrow is a rest day and I took yesterday off, I am jumbling my miles around a little. Basically, today's run was going to be a recovery of the mind more than of the body, and I was just planning on doing what my feet felt like doing. So we walked out of the apartment, our wrists naked, headed down our stairwell and out onto the newly-lined cobble streets of Houghton.

There's just something awesome about running without a watch strapped to your wrist. We left the Bike Shop at 4:30, but I am not sure what time we left the apartment. We didn't have any plans for the evening, so we could be out as long (or as little) as we wanted.
We didn't really talk much either. I listened to Adam's breathing. I listened to my own. I listened to the acorns crunching under my feet. I was surprised when we got to Old Mill Road, which I recalled from memory as typically being the 25minute mark of my runs. I practiced running down the technical, rocky 100m-long hill and waited for Adam at the bottom. We didn't have anything planned for the evening except dinner, and we weren't sure what we'd be having yet. So, on the run, we discussed that a little bit.

A: What sounds good for dinner?
M: I was just thinking about that.
A: We have beans.
M: Mhm.
A: We have pasta.
M: Mhm.
M: I'll take care of it.
A: Okay.

We kept trudging along the sandy path until we felt like turning around. We peeled off the trail and ran on the road for a few miles back to the Lakeshore Path. Just one foot in front of the other*. We passed Karl on his rollerskis and walked up the Huron Street hill back to the apartment, laughing at the angry driver (the only angry driver, of the three in downtown Houghton). Then, I hesitated, but did end up looking at the clock as I walked by to take a shower. We were out for a little over an hour, which lines up well as an 8-miler... but I don't really care. I didn't even write it down in my training log.

*On my TweetDeck, I just saw a friend (@NYCe) post this message: "I love just "going for a run." no watch, no prescribed distance. just one foot in front of the other. I am so thankful for this gift."

A little Welcome Week Fun:

A few weeks ago, my friends Lynn, Jill, and I had some fun in the instant photo booth set up on campus.

Even grad students (and full time graphic designers) can have fun!

Back-to-back racing: Do's and Don'ts

For the first time... ever (in my life, anyway), I will be competing in what are referred to as "back to back" marathons. Granted, there will be five weeks separating my two marathons (#1 as part of Ironman Wisconsin and #2 as the Columbus Marathon), but this is still a big challenge for me.

Five weeks is not very long*. Technically, I am already down to less than four weeks at this point. I recently adapted my marathon training plan (from Pete Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning book) to outline exactly what I need to do to best prepare me for the follow-up race. It was surprising to see the first week included basically recovery, and rest. Which was perfect, because yesterday I was diagnosed with an ear infection. Perhaps a combination of blue-algae, swimming through vomit, and an airplane ride are to blame for that...

Anyway, I digress. The week after my first Ironman looked something like this:

Monday- hobble to car, stand up, sit down x 10 (getting in and out of car) and then stand for 15min in cold bath at SDC.
Tuesday- drive to school, hobble around campus
Wednesday- more hobblefest, with some recovery trail walking
Thursday- walk quasi-normally to school!
Friday- ride mountain bike for an hour or so
Saturday- feel like crap, promote ear infection with plane ride around Keweenaw, rest, nap
Sunday- hike around Keweenaw, some running, more napping

So, after that... I tried to get active! My legs are going crazy. They want to move. They want to go run. Bike. Something! So I rolled out for a 2-hour ride to Elo, Michigan, and- even though I experienced a quasi-bonk- I felt refreshed and more clear this morning. My ear still hurts, but I no longer feels like a toad is residing in my larynx, so that's probably good.

Here's what is on deck for this week in training:
Today: Recovery 6mi (actually did a 45 min run, so a little shy of this)
Wednesday: General aerobic 8mi
Thursday: Rest or cross-training
Friday: General aerobic + speed 8mi with 8x100 stride
Saturday: Recovery 5mi
Sunday: General aerobic 10mi

So what do I need to do this week? Doesn't really look like much! That's a relief, because I need to make sure I recover well from this ear infection. I also need to concentrate on certain "do's" and "don'ts" related to this upcoming race!!

-- Get active recovery
Check! Even though last week was a lot of hobbling, I did my best to stay on my feet and keep moving around
-- Eat healthy, not junk, food
Volume of training will be greatly decreased compared to three-five weeks out from the first marathon of the two. Good thing my appetite disappeared with my DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). I especially need to focus on healthy, hearty, natural foods now because of my ear infection! Thanks to my CSA, my advisor's donation of green peppers and courgettes, and an awesome anti-inflammatory soup made by Baberaham, I think I am following this DO pretty well!
-- Listen to my body
If I start to feel tired on a run, it's time to turn around and go home. Maybe even walk back. There's no reason in pushing myself over the edge of physical exertion at this point.

-- Start anything "new"
I was going to get back into the swing of using my kettlebell, but now is not the time. It can wait until after Oct 18.
-- Spread myself too thin
Other life stresses can get piled on after a big "A" race event, especially if its out of town. For me, my trip to Madison cost me three days away from work and countless hours away from the lab. Luckily, some deadlines have been moved around and I am afforded with the luxury of a more relaxed work schedule. Now would not be a good time to spend 14hours in the lab doing histology or qPCR because I have already pounded down my immune system.
-- Do anything "extra" in the workouts
Next Tuesday, my plan has 6x600meter repeats at max-effort pace. Even though I like 800s more, I am going to stick with doing six 600m repeats. And even if I feel good, I am only going to do six. The following week's 3x1600m repeats are going to be more difficult... because I absolutely love mile repeats.

Luckily, because I modified my schedule to fit a five-week gap between races (from the Pfitzinger book's described 4 and 6 week plans), I have some flexibility with my training. On the 4th, I have a long run, but it can be anywhere between 14 and 18 miles. That's convenient. I do have to find a 8-10K race to do the day before, though... that could be a little tricky. There will not be any Tech meets that weekend, so maybe they'll have a time-trial on the home course? I'm crossing my fingers.

*There is a select group of individuals, known as the Marathon Maniacs, that venture to do marathons even more frequently than what I hope to do this fall. In order to qualify to be a Maniac at the lowest of levels (Bronze), one has to a) compete in two marathons on consecutive weekends, b) two marathons in three weeks, or c) three marathons in three months. Only then are you be eligible to be a true Maniac, and must then pay $35 for membership ... $58 if you want to wear this:

Race Report: Ironman Wisconsin-Madison

My mantra for the week was: "Just relax." I was trying my best to avoid stress, if something happened, I would take it in stride. The boys got a little amped up at times, but I just smiled and stayed in my zone. Calm, cool, and collective.

The day before the race was a day for tying up loose ends. We were responsible for one, and only one, thing all day: turn in our bikes and bags to the transition areas. Piece of cake!

I was having issues, however, because my newly-inflated tires went flat after just ten minutes. My Quadrents (four parents, mine and Adams) ran around town like chickens with their heads cut off to find me chamois cream and new tubes. Luckily, they were able to find them at Machinery Row with only marginal issues (the valve stems weren't long enough, and the chamois cream wasn't really chamois cream, but instead wet-suit lube). I then tightened the valve stem on my front and rear tubes, and crossed my fingers that they'd hold air until the morning.

After eating a delicious lunch with the Quadrents at Cosi (Signature salad: grilled chicken, pears, cranberries, which was exactly what I was looking for), we headed back to the Ironman Village and exchanged the tubes and lube at Machinery Row. I ended up getting Assos chamois cream, which was much different than what I've always used (Chamois Butt'er by Paceline). I put some on in the hotel just before I took a nap, and it tingled. Oooh! It was nice, though, and it didn't bring about any allergic reactions, so I tucked it into my morning clothes bag.

After a bit of excitement from the boys ...

...and a quick nap, Jess arrived at our hotel with a plethora of goodies for me to munch on. I love my MegaTough teammates! We then piled in the car and headed to the Quadrents hotel, where I dropped off the cow bell and gave them one last hug before they would see me risk my life in the sport that is Ironman triathlon. Jess, Adam, and I grabbed a pizza (or three) from Unos and we got to bed well before 9pm.

I slept so well on Saturday night. I didn't wake up but once, and was alert and awake at 4am. Perfect. I munched on some Peanut Butter Panda Puffs and drank some water, was able to do my morning ritual, and got dressed. The guys were getting excited. We grabbed our gear and walked to the Aliant Energy Center for the bus pickup. As soon as we got there, we headed to the special needs drop offs and then to the swim-to-bike transition. I checked my tires, and like magic, they were still inflated. SWEET. I topped them off with a neighbor-girl's pump, and then went to the hotel transition zone to grab my nutrition.

Into my aerobottle (PodiumQuest 72ounce dual bottle) went:
2 tablets of Kona Kola Nuun + water (large volume space)
1 Nuun container-volume Fruit Punch Cytomax and water (small volume space)

I then punctured my food bag (a sandwich size zip-lock bag) onto my aerobottle through the straws, which was filled with:
4 packs of Honey Stinger chews
4 Larabars (2 peanut butter and jelly, 2 cherry pie)

I headed back to T1 to drop off my Nuun tube in my swim-to-bike bag. Adam and I loitered around T1 for a bit, and with about 40minutes before the start, headed to the beach. It was somewhat euphoric walking down the helix. We stepped lightly, with our wetsuits hung over our shoulders. I saw Laurie on our way down, and wished her a good race. After I grabbed some body glide from AJ, I pulled on the wetsuit and headed to the water. I was in there probably ten minutes before the pros started, which was nice because I could watch their race start up-close and was able to get stretched out, get water moving around in my suit, and get comfortable.

The swim was a crazy mess. After the cannon went off, it was like a giant washing machine out there. I got kicked, punched, elbowed, held, crotched, head-butted, you name it. The turns were a standstill, but I did get a kick out of a few of the athletes that moo'd their way around the first buoy. I ended up poking a guy to get his attention so I could ask him to stop elbowing me in the chest. He told me to bugger off in a not-so-polite way, and I ended up swimming a hundred meters or so a little faster to get away from the dude. I never understood why people try so hard to hit others when they are swimming. If you just swim in a straight line, and head straight to the buoys, you shouldn't run into anyone. Right?

I had no idea where I was after the first lap. I ended up taking the inside buoy line and swimming a little extra, but did get some in-the-zone time where I found a rhythm and didn't have anyone around me. That isn't necessarily the best strategy, because swimming extra in a 2.4mile swim is never a good idea, but it gave me peace of mind and let me reconnect. Before I knew it, I was making the last turn and I saw the ski jump. I was almost done! I hammered it in a little, trying to stay straight and take long strokes. I swam all the way to the shore, and grabbed a hand to help me out of the water. I was really surprised at how well I felt standing, and that I was able to run. I glanced at the clock, which said 1:15. No way, I was 5minutes under what I had hoped to swim. Sweet, especially since I didn't feel like I ever really gave'er out there. I laid down and a stripper took off my suit, which was awesome. I ran up the helix and was all smiles. The people lining the helix and cheering us on was a blur, but it made the climb seem like it only had one level.

Some great spectators!

I headed into the Terrace to T1, where I grabbed my bag and proceeded to dump it out all over the floor. I felt bad for the volunteer who was trying to help me, because I didn't realize she was helping me until after I dumped all my stuff. My bag of pretzels that I had stashed was open, and so I lost all my pretzels. I grabbed my flask of Cytomax powder and stuffed it into my jersey, but forgot to grab my Nuun. That was a mistake that I didn't realize until near the end of the first lap on the bike.

The bikes lined up in Transition 1.

I ran out of T1 with my shoes on and headed straight for my bike. The volunteers on the parking deck were yelling out my number as I came through, and they had my bike off the rack when I arrived. Perfect! I ran down the middle and dodged the men who were making their way to their end of the deck. As soon as I got across the Mount Line, I pulled to the side and hopped on. Rolling down the helix was exhilarating. People lined the helix on this end too, and I couldn't stop smiling as I clipped my shoe closed and got in line.

It seemed silly to me when a guy with a rear disk and aero helmet tried to get by the double-wide line of bikers heading to the park about a mile into the ride. Other than the fact that there was a no-passing zone ahead, it just seemed too early to be stressing about getting ahead. I so ever eloquently yelled: "OOH Gotta go! Get your Kona spot NOW!" and he didn't find it amusing, but the others around me did. If he was getting out of the water when I was, he probably didn't have a great chance of getting a Kona slot, but ya never know.

The bike was incredible. I had ridden the course before, so I knew what to expect. After the no-pass zone (in which a 40-44yr old woman still tried to pass, what a dork), I tried to avoid getting sucked into someone else's rear tire, but halfway through the stick was pretty congested. By the time we made it to the loop, though, I had found a good spot and yo-yo'd with a group of guys. Nothing too exciting happened. I did see a guy get a red card (for drafting) and knew it was coming because the motorbike and officials were riding next to me, watching the dude draft. I didn't know what my speed was because my nutrition bag covered my computer. I'd look at it every once in a while to see what time I had. I ate every twenty-thirty minutes, and the Larabars were a little dry so it encouraged me to drink more fluids.

The first loop was great. I raced the hills smart, focusing on getting into the right gear before the sharp turns and subsequent uphills. I knew the course from memory, and was able to pass a lot of people on the more technical aspects, which is a huge stride for me. Having only started cycling last year (my first ride ever on a road bike with clipless pedals was a 125mile tour of the Keweenaw in 2007), I was very apprehensive about riding in aero and being aggressive at the beginning of this summer. But on Sunday, I was able to fly down the hills and take the turns aggressively. I was even able to maneuver around others with not-so-great bike handling skills. Score one for me!

Anyway, back to the bike: Dudes would fly by me at the start of the hills, so I stayed tucked in on the right and just waited. I focused on what I was doing; I maintained the pressure in my feet on the pedals and just focused on my race. About halfway up every hill, I'd continue to spin up the hills and would pass the hammerheads that had blown by me only a few hundred meters back. And I'd not only pass them, I'd fly by them. Over the crest, onto the downhill, I'd have so much left for that hill that I didn't get wiped. The hammerheads wouldn't catch back up to me until the bottom of the hills or the start of the next one. Fine by me. I ended up beating the majority of these guys by the end of the bike, which was rewarding. The ones that I didn't come in before were smarter about the hills (like the roadie I yo-yo'd with).

The hills were a festival. Spectators lined them and were cheering. There was one that had guys in bikinis and wigs, and others where I saw my friend, Zac. It was exciting to get to the crest of the hills and pass the guys, where the crowds would go nuts. On the first lap, I passed Ian on the bikini/wigs hill, and at the top of that hill, AJ passed me in his neon-colored suit. Sweet!

Because I had left my Nuun in T1, I was forced to grab Gatorade Endurance at a few of the aid stations. I also lost my flask (fell out of my pocket) somewhere. Although I'm not a fan of Gatorade, and haven't been training with it whatsoever, it did my stomach well. I would ride through aid stations quickly, filling up my aerobottle with what the volunteers were handing out. I didn't stop once. No pit stops, no mechanicals. Just a perfect 112miles. Toward the end, I just couldn't stomach anymore Gatorade, though, so I rode through the last 12 miles or so without any fluids.

I also never really felt like I was pushing it to the max. There was a sign at the start of the loop that said something like "It's all about your attitude." I adopted that mantra as well. I would smile at spectators, wave or give the peace sign as I passed a mass of people. I'd cheer on the other cyclists as they would pass me or as I would pass them. It was nice that our race numbers had our names on them. When I was climbing up a hill on the second lap, and I saw my friend Zac, I put my fist in the air and cheered. That got everyone going, especially since I was doing it while passing about six guys like they were standing still! I got passed by AJ again somehow coming into Verona, which was just a crazy blur of spectatorship. Something must have happened, I didn't remember seeing him on the side of the road with a mechanical, though...

The last little stretch was the stick back to Madison, and it was a little more rough than I liked. There was a stretch of several miles that was bumpy, and it was not comfortable. At that point, I just wanted to be back on the smooth roads with hills. But I stuck it out, got back on the smoother roads, and headed into T2. My bike time was 5:49. Turns out, Adam's aero bars would be rattled loose on the bumpy road, and he'd have to ride the last 12* miles on his pursuit bars. Frustrating.
EDIT: Adam lost his aero bar stability with 24 miles to go, not 12.

(By the way: On the bike, I probably consumed three bags of chews and two Larabars. There was still a lot of food left over, but I think the calories I consumed from Cyto/Gatorade supplemented my nutrition and made me less hungry.)

T2 went by fast. I was just over 3minutes, and I even sat down to change my shoes. The Yanx laces on my new Brooks Trances were perfect, and they even matched the color of my shoes! Score again! When I first got off the bike, I could barely stand, and I felt dizzy and my legs like Jello. I had felt like this before, and I knew it wasn't anything that had to do with my hydration/nutrition; it was simply that I was on a bike for nearly 6hours.

I caught back up with AJ coming out of T2, and we ran for a mile or so together. He informed me of his GI distress on the bike, and it made sense then why I didn't see him (he was in a porta-john). I ended up dropping him, but only briefly, as he caught back up around mile 2. Then, around mile 4 or so, he began walking for a little bit, and I took off and never looked back.
I was excited to see Adam when I was making the return loop, which meant he wasn't too far back. AJ kept dropping farther and farther back, because I'd see him on the turnarounds, and then he was no longer there.

I walked every aid station, where I'd have at least a cup or two of Coke. Sometimes, I'd grab a banana. The sponges made for a great relief, and I'd tuck them in my shoulder straps. About halfway through each mile, I'd squeeze the sponges for some added relief, and then throw them when I got to the aid stations. I threw ice down my shirt and in Coke. Man, I love Coke.
Check out my sweet shoes... so comfy!

During the first half, I probably ran 9min/mile average. I stopped and walked up the "big hills"- Observatory hill, in particular. My second half, I probably averaged 10min/mile, because I walked a little more- a few spots in between aid stations where my legs would start to feel funny. Interestingly, about a mile out as I was coming into State Street to finish my first lap, my toes started to cramp. It didn't hurt, I could just feel them curl up. I focused on straightening them, and it worked, but only for a short time. They'd curl again. Eventually, this led to some foot cramping and a hint of calf cramping, but nothing I couldn't keep running through. It was very strange, because I would tell myself "No cramping up!" when my toes would start to curl and my calf would hint at cramping, and as soon as I would focus on my legs and feet, the cramps would disappear. Very strange.

By the end of the second lap, I was pretty gassed. I trotted through State Street, trying to keep it together. I saw my friend Matt, and could hear him yelling "KILLIAN!" from the corner. I smiled really big, and rounded the corner where the special needs bags were. I saw my parents, and gave them a high five. I kept smiling, pushing, digging deep.

I got closer to the finish and saw a guy in front of me. I didn't want to pass him, because I didn't want to take away his photo-finish opportunity, but we were a good 100m from the line and he was going a little too slow. So I went around him, pushed it into the finish, and felt the tears come as I crossed the line.

It's hard to describe what went on in my head during the race. I never felt like I didn't want to go on. I never thought, "I don't think I can finish." I knew I could finish, I knew I could just keep moving forward. When I saw the clock say 11:26, I couldn't believe it. I think, for the most part, that was why I was almost brought to tears. Did I really just run my first Ironman under 12hours? Did I really do it and still feel like I don't want to die?

I found my dad and friends, Jess and Tien-Tien, as I came out of the finish corral. I was energized, excited, smiling and bouncy. They were surprised I wasn't a crumpled mess on the concrete. I found my parents and the rest of the Quadrents and we waited for the rest of my group to come in.
After being convinced to grab some food, I watched as Adam came across the finish and received his medal. He was also smiling, upright, and looked strong. We walked to the grassy area by the capitol and laid on the grass with the dogs. The Quadrants grabbed some dinner and brought us back some gluten-free pizza from Uno's. We waited for Ian to come through, and then it was time to hit the hay.

Overall, I'd say I had a great first-Ironman experience. I don't remember bonking, I don't remember entering the pain-cave. I remember it being fun. I enjoyed that we got to experience the true Midwest environment. Biking around cornfields and silos, swimming in an inland lake, running along waterfront trails. Wisconsin is a great venue for the event, and it seemed like tens of thousands of spectators were out to cheer, help, and enjoy the race day. Madison is such a beautiful town, with so many dining options for people with special diets.

Will I do it again? Heck yes! I am excited to do another Ironman, and I will definitely try to get a Madison spot again. I didn't sign up for it in 2010, but maybe some other year.

Are you hooked? You better believe it. I want to do more triathlons next year. I am not sure if I will be doing a long course or not, but I will definitely be shooting for several 70.3's to build my resume.

What's next on the list?
I am doing the Columbus Marathon in four weeks. I won a free entry through and can't wait to run on a flat, fast course.

Any special shout-outs? I could not have done this race if it weren't for my training partner (and boyfriend), Adam. Adam has helped me on the bike, and I have helped him on the run. We make a great team.

My parents (and Adam's) have supported us so immensely through this whole process. They drove to Madison to watch our race, brought us goodies, let us nap, and tied up loose ends for us. I love you, Mom and Dad! Also, thanks to my family and friends for following and encouraging me.

Special thanks to Ian, too. We have trained together since the wee winter months to build our strength and endurance for the event. Master Swimmer Ian has helped greatly to improve both mine and Adam's swim technique and speed.

Thanks to Team Mega Tough for the encouragement, to my advisor for being so understanding of all the time I spent training!!

I also couldn't have done this under such awesome conditions without these great sponsors:

Brooks Running Company
The Bike Shop
Honey Stinger

Now its time to start planning races for 2010. Until next time...

And so it is... The Pre-Race Report

Or shall I say, was?

Nearly a week has passed since I tempted fate with my very first ever 140.6mile endurofest that was the Ford Ironman Wisconsin-Madison. I can finally make my way up and down stairs without side-stepping, and I no longer live in a haze of short, fragmented thoughts and incoherent mumblings. But let me back up a bit, and take you to the day that officially made me an Iron(wo)man.
Racing Stripes and Mohawk Man

The days leading up to the race were a little hectic, but nothing we couldn't handle. The Gang and I headed down to Nashotah, Wisconsin, on Wednesday afternoon, where we stayed with AJ's family. We got up on Thursday and headed to Madison for the Gatorade open water swim in Lake Monona. Mmmm, algae sure tastes good in the morning. I wasn't too geeked to be swimming (am I ever?) and chilled for a while by the second to last buoy, chatted with AJ, and then rolled back. My shoulder ached and I just wasn't feeling it. Love it! We got out of our wetsuits and headed to State Street for some much needed food.
Time to swim!

After a great breakfast at the Sunroom Cafe (which had turkey bacon, and I hope I don't offend anyone when I say its not nearly as good as real bacon), we went back to the Terrace to get our race packets. The lines were long, the people were silly (let's just say: "Spandex Everywhere"). At the expo, I used a TriggerPoint ball on my shoulder and the pain magically went away. YAY! We then we loaded back up in the car, dropped AJ at his parents', and headed to Gigi's in Whitefish Bay. Gigi is phenomenal. She cooked us a delicious pasta dinner with chicken and homemade sauce, and even had gluten free noodles and loaf of gluten free bread for me and Adam. We ate, talked about a lot of random things, and just chilled out. Whitefish Bay is a cool town, too. Very beautiful, close to Lake Michigan.

The next morning, Gigi made us an eggs and bacon breakfast and then she got ready to head to Madison herself (to pick up her packet and settle in at her hotel). We headed to Madison as well, but stopped in Nashotah on the way for a morning ride.

We rode around some amazing countryside. I could honestly say that I could happily live in that area. We rode around low traffic roads, with beautiful tree-lined roads and rolling hills. Smooth pavement. Low traffic. Just a great 20-mile ride. We took it easy, got the lead out of our legs, and then headed back to Madison for good.

Relaxing in the hotel

My parents arrived around the same time we did, and they joined us for the athlete's banquet. It was good, for people who eat gluten, I suppose. Adam and I braved the potato bar, and thew on some meat sauce for flavor. It was actually pretty good!

We also got to see some inspirational videos, including a speech by Paula Newby Fraser and the National Anthem by Brandon from Brandon would be competing in the race on Sunday as well, and he's an opera singer from New York. Pretty cool!

The boys were pretty excited for race day, I think. There was much dancing and giddyness to be had, and they had it!

Stay tuned, I'm going to write up the race report soon. It's been a busy week!

I am an Iron(wo)man

I will post a more detailed race report later, but for now:

Overall Place: 324, Age Group Place: 8th (W25-29)
Total Time: 11:26:16
Swim Time: 1:15:41 (Div- 34th, Overall 1010)
Bike Time: 5:49:15 (Pace 19.2mph, Div- 5th, Overall 460)
Run Time: 4:11:31 (Pace 9:36min/mile, Div- 10th, Overall 316)

Almost there... Four days until IM 2009

We leave tomorrow for Neshotah. Andrew's parents, who we have stayed with on a separate occasion (The Mindless Self Indulging of June '08), have offered up their place of residence as a crash pad for us traveling souls. Not that it's far away from home, but getting into Wisconsin will take the edge off, albeit we're several days out of race-time.

On Thursday, we're traveling to Whitefish Bay to stay with an IronWoman friend of mine. In between these two pad-hopping we'll be picking up our race packets, swimming in Lake Monona, and trying to stay away from the anxiety.

Caleb at The Bike Shop hooked me up with a new race kit and even screen-printed it for me. Of course, I had to go all-out with the "shimmer" ink, which I mixed 10:1 with elastisol paint (provides the paint stretchy-ness so that when I put on a tight-fitting tank, the ink doesn't split my Brooks logo in half!). I think it looks B.A... No?
I tried to look even more bad-ass but Adam's camera handling skills proved an unworthy venture. I was chatting with one of the girls on the xc team at Tech about the big races over Labor Day weekend in the Harbor. She told me that a friend she was with said she wished she had muscles as big as mine. I took that as a compliment :-D

I did a nice little swim in the pool today for about half hour. It was strange... my shoulder started to twinge and get sore when I breathed out the side I normally do. So I switched sides, and my shoulder stopped hurting, but I thought that pain was a little odd. I've been swimming just fine for the past eight months without any issues (well... other than my calves cramping up during every swim for about three months straight), and now this? Yikes.

And not to mention that on Sunday's run, the top of my foot hurt, as if my shoes were tied too tight, but they definitely weren't. I got worried that it was a developing stress fracture or something of the sort (remember, I'm paranoid?!).

Hasta la vista for now!

Holy Cripes!

Holy cripes! Why does my calendar say 5days? What happened to days 6 and 7 until Ironman? Yikes!

It's ok. I think I'm ready. We are leaving on Wednesday for Milwaukee and I am already packed. I might make some banana bread once it cools off this evening (and after I hang out with my Little Sister from BBBS). I think I am going to take her for a hike and then go for a swim in the Portage.

We've gone thimbleberry picking:

We've gone to the animal shelter to walk dogs and pet cats:

And we've gone biking, to the park, and to the beach!

I'm going to work tomorrow and Wednesday, and hopefully have some good results to hand over to my advisor before I leave for the weekend. My program that I ran over the weekend worked (yahoo!) and now I just have to analyze the data.

Nothing too exciting is going on. I was the race director for the Tour da Tech Trails this morning, and there were over 20 runners! The mountain bike race didn't go that awesome, all the racers got lost (there were only five racers though). Only one runner got lost, though. WOOHOO!

I'll be updating periodically until race day. Until then, take care.

Fat Tire Festival

Yesterday, Adam and I went to Copper Harbor for a change of scenery, and easy run, and to spectate at the annual Fat Tire Festival mountain bike races. As usual for Fat Tire, the weather was awesome, the crowds were huge, and the competition was fierce! A few of our friends (Chelsea, Jon, and Michigan Tech's Oskar and Zac) finished well, and the rest had a great time.

Here are some videos from the day. Warning, the "Faceplant into Tree" might make you cringe, so take the title seriously, and don't watch it if you don't want to see carnage. There isn't any blood, though...

8 days

This week was a little stressful as I schizophrenically avoided all the returning students and their silent H1N1 viruses. I was tempted to go to the pharmacy to get a small particle mask to wear while sitting at my desk, as my new office mates sniffled and coughed their way through their first week of homework. I bought a bottle of 1000mg Vitamin C, a box of antioxidant tea, and have been getting over eight hours of sleep a night. Needless to say, I am paranoid.

And the taper is making me feel anxious. I feel sore. Lethargic. My quads hurt on the "up-hill" climb out to Schmidt's Corner this afternoon, and I felt like I was pedaling hard and barely keeping up. My mile repeats yesterday probably played a factor into that, even though I was disappointed with how they panned out (6:04, 6:14, 6:18 with 4-5min recovery between).

But, not too much left to do. The hay is in the barn, so to speak. Here's how this week's training panned out:

Tuesday- Swam 30minutes of endless relay with Adam at lunch
Rode for 2hours with Margot in the afternoon
Wednesday- Copper Country Running Club group run 1.5hours in the evening
Thursday- Mile repeats (2mi warmup, 3xmiles, and half-hour cooldown) followed by an open water swim (25minutes)
Friday- 1hour easy spin

The plan for the rest of the weekend? Tomorrow I am going to break in my new Trances with a 13mile run. I might try the ST3s out on it to see if they'll hold up (or, hold me up). Sunday, I am going to take a nice easy spin and do some swimming work in the pool.

Look out!

I am bib #2117 at this year's Ford Ironman Wisconsin!

11 Days until Ironman... and My First Podcast!

It's over a week, but less than two. One week from tomorrow, Ian, AJ, Adam, and I are leaving for Madison to settle in. Actually, we are heading to Neshotah to stay with AJ's parents (Team Joda), and then on Thursday we will be staying in Whitefish Bay with my amazing friend and Iron(wo)man, Gigi.

Gigi is a pretty amazing gal. I am going to designate an entry or two for her post-IM this year... but in the meantime, let's just say she's probably one of the toughest ladies I've ever met- and I know a lot of Mega Tough Ladies.

Anyway, the week is ironing out well so far. After Sunday's ride, in which I bonked (in other words: hit the wall, ran out of gas), I felt sore, tired, and icky. My lungs ached. I had to use my emergency inhaler to alleviate the chest pain. Then, my back tightened up. I felt as if five-hundred needles were stabbing into my scapula all day. I could barely lift my arm. Adam rubbed my back, and after a quick rundown with the stick, it started to feel better. I slept on my back all night, and when I woke up this morning, I felt good as new. PHEW!

Today's workouts included:

--Endless relay swim with Adam for 30minutes at lunchtime
--2hours (35miles) cycling with Margot to Elo and back.

My run plan for the rest of the week:
Tomorrow, I'm going to meet some of the new CCRC members and go for an easy run. I also have a few repeat miles on the line for Thursday, and a medium-long run on Saturday. The rest of the runs are short.

My bike plan:
Easy spin for a few hours on Friday, and again on Sunday. I think Sunday's ride will include a bit of intensity (2x20minutes at high cadence/effort).

My swim plan:
A few open water swims, one on Thursday after the mile repeats, and again on Saturday or Sunday. I should also get into the pool for some stroke work on Friday, shooting for around 2000-2500yds.

I was thinking about doing a podcast. Well, in fact, I DID a podcast... last night. Should I post it? Whether you think Yay or Nay, let me know. :-D