Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ironman Coeur d'Alene RR, part 2

THE BIKE (5:55)

The cheers and yells were deafening as I carefully threw my leg over the bike seat and set off on my 112 mile ride. I had to focus to keep my heart rate down as I pedaled away from T1, but the crowd support was such that I wanted to go hard, wanted to be fast. But I didn’t.

And that was essentially how I rode the bike during my first Ironman.





Nothing fancy and absolutely NO CHASING of anyone – no matter the gender or age group when they passed. But it was hard, very challenging for me. I wanted to go, I so wanted to time trial and blow by everyone, and I was feeling GREAT. But I knew that any (more) moments of stupidity (remember the eating of dried cranberries and how my stomach just felt ‘off’ after breakfast…?), and I would surely not have the race I was capable of.

So instead, I swallowed my pride, focused on my heart rate, and figured I would race my own race.

I knew going into the race that one of the bigger challenges for me, would be letting the throngs of bikers blow by me in the first few hours of the race. And they did not disappoint.

While leaving the town and twisting through the streets on the way out to Higgins Point on Coeur d’Alene Drive, I found myself sitting upright, out of my aero bars. First, it allowed the masses (and some packs – shame on them!) of people to pass. But more importantly, I needed to settle my heart rate. It was still higher than what I wanted, peaking in the mid 160s. Jen and Jerome had warned me that I would be a tad high at the onset of the bike, due mostly to adrenaline. But I wanted it down – in the upper 140s and low 150s (upper zone 2 and low zone 3) like I had planned, and practiced (over and over and over again).

After a few minutes is was still higher than I wanted, but I figured I would just go with whatever my body had to offer. I was feeling great, and my perceived exertion was on par with that of a recovery ride. It felt easy, light, and effortless. Unfortunately, my heart rate wasn’t cooperating. Oh well, I figured – it will settle, probably within the first 45 minutes or so. Just keep the effort light…

Keep the effort light….

Let them pass…

Still, more and more and MORE people passed. And I moved as far over to the right as I could – and just let them go by.

Yet every instinct, every bit of me wanted to go – especially when the girls started zooming by.

But I was more afraid of blowing up later on, more afraid of the damage I could possibly do down the line, than charging forward.

Within the first few miles on the bike, my race had turned into an exercise of self-control.

Very quickly I came upon the first hill – a quick ½ mile and 6% climb – on Lake Coeur d’Alene Drive. Shifting into my small ring and 25th gear on the rear cog (is that technically the lowest gear or highest? I can never tell. Oh well), I spun up. Looking around, I noticed even MORE people charging up the hill; it would have been easy to do because of ALL the spectators and bagpipers at the top. The mood was festive, air charged with energy. But I kept it light, simple, easy. And while I spun up the hill, I recalled all of my Palomar climbs. If I could climb THAT Mountain, I could surely do this.

And then I remembered my great friend Shannon, who was willing to climb Palomar with me on very little training and right after earning her PhD. Hell, if SHE could suffer up that thing in order to spend time with me before moving up to Berkley, then the least I could do would be to think of her during these comparatively lesser climbs.

But thinking of Shannon, made me think of Meredith – and my thoughts were with them quite a bit during my day. I also remembered Jen – the friend and coach – who helped me achieve my goals and was there for me thick and thin. And then I thought about Elizabeth, and even though we didn’t have the years we thought we would last season, her thoughtful words and card when things were really tough meant the world.

And…before I could think of too many other people who helped me along the way, I started chocking up. The emotions of it all – what I was currently doing (my FIRST Ironman, and I survived the swim!) all the way back to when times were tough last year, and then coming full circle into the person I am – were just too much. Cresting the top of the first hill on the bike course, I could feel the tears at the corners of my eyes. More alarming though, was the fact that breathing was becoming difficult.

Too many emotions can be a bad thing, I guess.

I used the downhill to coast and gather my thoughts. I would carry the love and support of my family and friends with me throughout the day – but just at the right time. Bawling my eyes out before even the first Higgins Point turnaround barely 10 miles into the bike ride surely wasn’t a good plan. Besides, if Jen were here she would probably shake some sense into me and yell, “Toughen up, Butter cup!”

Reaching the Higgins Point turnaround afforded me my first glimpse of the bike special needs bags. There they were – stacked and waiting for us on the second loop. I thought momentarily of how I DIDN’T pack anything in mine, and wondered if I had made a mistake. Oh well – I had two spare Co2 cartridges, a pre-stretched and pre-glued spare tubular, two valve extenders, my inflator, and two tire levers. Hopefully they would suffice.

Instead, I distracted myself with an overall assessment – something that I would continue to do every few minutes on the bike. How are the legs? Arms? Neck? Everything feeling good? Okay – great! How about that stomach? Not so good…hhhhmmmm… will settle, just give it time. Okay – how’s the heart rate? Sticking to the zone? It’s still a tad high – but you’ve only been on the bike for 30 minutes – give it a few more minutes to settle into the upper 140s. Okay – now that it’s been exactly 30 minutes, time to start taking in the nutrition. Two or three sips of CarboPro 1200. Okay – great job! Yeah! Stomach still isn’t great – have some water.

But even after passing back through town and making my way out towards Lake Hayden, my stomach failed to settle. In fact, it started feeling…worse. I looked down and noticed that it seemed a bit bloated. It had been awful ever since I ate my concoction of oatmeal, Greek yogurt and hastily added cranberries. Something wasn’t right – and I suspected my last minute dried fruit was the culprit.

Sure enough, a few minutes later and just before hitting the 20 mile mark on the bike (just over an hour in), I threw up a big amount of water-Carbopro 1200-gel- and…the last remains of dried cranberries, which were now the pleasant color of brown. I know – because half of it was stuck to my arm. Lovely.

Better out than in – I though grimly to myself. On the one hand I was happy that my body was at least doing SOMETHING to settle the stomach. On the other, I was terrified that I had ruined my race by doing something so stupid. But, I figured there was NOTHING AT THAT POINT that I could do to change what had already been done. All I could do was continue to eat and drink – like I had practiced.

I waited a few minutes and then at 1:05 took in another gel, figuring I had thrown up most of the first and that I NEEDED to get some calories into my system. There was NO WAY I could get through another 90+ miles of biking AND run a marathon with an uncooperative digestive tract. So I gingerly sipped water and alternated sucking down the gel…It took about 5 or 6 minutes to finish that sucker off, but I was rewarded with no immediate throwing up.

Hooray for the small victories!

That’s it, I told my stomach. You’re doing great – just hang in there! It’s okay to feel icky. I’m going to keep biking, keep going at this pace. You can feel as gross as you want – just please please please continue to digest and process my food. I don’t care how bloated and distended you get – just absorb the nutrients. Hang in there! You can do it!!

Somewhere during this stretch I passed the 25/81 mile sign on the bike course. Looking down at my heart rate, I was rewarded with a steady ‘148’ – and my body (except for the stomach – but it was mostly processing the food, so I wasn’t about to get too picky) felt great.

“This is where the race starts on the second loop.”

I know for a fact that I said those words aloud, because one guy passing me gave me a funny look, and sort of shook his head. Oops. Too late for modesty at this point, right? There I was, bloated tummy, willing my way forward in my first Ironman. What would YOU have done?

Shortly thereafter I hit the hillier section of the course. Later I discovered that there was in excess of 6,000+ feet gained during the entire bike portion – but the hills themselves didn’t seem too bad. Nothing was really long or steep – just a consistent grind. The tricky part, though – were the 90 degree turns or sharp twists at the bottom, conveniently located to slow your speed and stop any coasting up to the next hill.

I turned it into a game: descend fast, downshift in preparation of the next turn, slow, watch an overzealous rider overshoot the turn and end up in the ditch or driveway, sit up, make the turn, and slowly spin up the hill. It was constant. Descend, shift, slow, sit up, turn, climb – spinning all the way up.

Never have I been so grateful to have driven the course. That was a lifesaver - something that I would strongly recommend to any future CDA-people out there.

It was an interesting game – how much thinking there was. I was constantly reassessing my stomach, watching for warning signs from the rest of my body, and trying to remain upbeat. I was grateful for my preparation – the long rides through Southern California, the local hills, and Jen’s workouts – had done the trick. It was just a matter of ME – being smart, staying up beat, and assessing my nutrition.

During one of the out and back portions I saw Ludi’s blue Mark Allen Online Elite Team race helmet and yelled her name. It made me happy to see her out on the course, and I was grateful that she had gotten through what was undoubtedly a tough swim.

The minutes seemed to melt into 15 minutes segments, and before I knew it I was chomping on another chocolate gel – 2:00 into the ride. About five minutes later, the dried cranberries decided to strike again, and I was left with a combination of chocolate gel and chunks of brown partially digested and dried fruit on my other shoulder. It tasted sour and bitter, and I tried washing it down with a little water. I figured that I had gotten most of the gel in, as only a little came back up – but I made a mental note to continue to monitor my stomach. (As if I wasn't already!)

If I don’t mind…then it won’t matter. As long as I’m getting some calories in, I can deal with the discomfort. It WILL go down, it WILL get better. Mind over matter…If I don’t mind than it won’t matter….

Luckily the conditions were nearly ideal for someone with stomach issues. The heat really wasn’t much of a factor (if at all) and I wasn’t as thirsty as I had thought I would be. In fact, after 40 miles, I had barely consumed one full bottle of water. I knew that I would need to continue to push fluids – but I would be smart about it.

The hills became less and less frequent and while passing an aide station somewhere around the 42 mile mark, I made an effort to thank the volunteers. They were great – cheering everyone as we rode past. I stuck to my own nutrition and thought briefly about grabbing a bottle of water. No need – not yet anyways. Perhaps on the second loop, when my stomach was more settled.

At this point there were still quite a bit of cat-and-mouse-like games going on between me and other riders. I would pass someone on a downhill and then they would re-pass on the ups. And vice versa. I made an effort to call people out by their names and offer encouragement to anyone that I could. I really didn’t care if they looked back or said anything – it made ME feel better. And it reminded me of riding with friends.

I generally tried to stay positive – during training AND while racing. Some days it’s easier than others. But I figure an upbeat attitude is half the battle in most cases.

The road really began to flatten out as we turned back towards Coeur d’Alene. I could see other riders off in the distance through the long stretches of road. I was passed by a few women – but the pair that passed sounded as though they were working really hard. I figured I would reel them in later, and if not – oh well. There was nothing I could do, save stick to my plan.

After crossing the I-90 Bridge, I thought about my hotel room – just a block away. I could see the Comfort Inn that we were staying at and inwardly laughed at myself for waning to trade IHOP for the race. There is no other place I would rather be at, I told myself.

I am exactly where I am supposed to be, I thought. There is no sense in thinking about the past or what’s going to happen a few hours from now. I am supposed to be right here, right now. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world….

Cruising into town, I pulled myself out of aero and prepared to make the sharp right turn away from transition onto Northwest Blvd. Suddenly, I saw a familiar figure in blue striding towards the barricades on the right side of the street.

“Hi Dad!” I yelled and I rode by.

It was as though time stood still. I first recognized the blue jacket – a staple of my Dad’s since I was a little girl. His features stood out clearly and I was flooded with happiness at the sight of him. I would have given anything to stop and give him a giant hug, but all too quickly the moment passed. I could hear my Mom yelling from somewhere off in the distance, but I was already around the corner and focused on the road ahead.

Again – emotions started getting to me, and I had to bite my lip in order to stop myself from tearing up. Seeing my family – my Dad – and knowing that Nathaniel and my Mom were close at hand were enough to send me soaring, icky stomach and all.

I heard my name shouted a few more times while riding through town, and tried to smile or carefully wave at anyone I could. The speed I was doing on the bike prevented me from really slowing and getting a good look – but just knowing that friends were there made all the difference to me.

Back through the residential areas and then onto Lake Coeur d’Alene Drive, up the mini-6% hill, past the bag pipers (still going!) and then past special needs. I saw several people pull over and grab their bags – munching on sandwiches or adding gels or other food items to their back pockets. None for me – I thought as I kept to the middle of the road and away from the volunteers. A bit further up the road I saw a few guys on their “natural break”, and actually envied them for a bit. How easy would THAT be – just pull over, whip it out, and pee?

Then again, they've got other issues to deal with. Like being a guy. Um - yeah. Not so much. Enough said.

But again – sticking to my heart rate and nutritional plan – I pressed on. Every few minutes, I would reassess. Stomach was very gradually getting better. The bloating was going down and I know I was getting the calories in that I needed. The Carbopro 1200 was still great – I was taking it every hour on the thirty minute mark, and I was very careful with the gels. As long as I diluted them with enough water – everything was fine. Salt didn’t seem to be too much of a factor – but at the 3:15 mark, I took two salt tabs. With the CarboPro and gels combined, I was ingesting approximately 350 mg salt per hour – but I just wanted to be on the safe side. I doubled my salt intake and continued to assess.

I didn’t feel as though I was cramping – but I knew that down the line my body would most likely need the extra salt and electrolytes that came with it.

One more pass through town – hearing my name twice and not able to respond in time – and I was making my way up towards Lake Hayden. I was interested to see how my body would respond to the second round of hills. Already I was beginning to pass more people, and my heart rate was remaining steady in the upper zone 2, low zone 3 limits that Jen and I had discussed. If anything, I was actually feeling – stronger?

No….that couldn’t be. Could it?

Past the high school where I had set out to ride with Deirdre a few days earlier…and then up a short hill past the golf course onto Lake Hayden. I just kept going – one pedal stroke after another. My body felt good – strong and steady. The bike shorts were great and so far my feet felt good in the shoes. My stomach was much more settled, but still didn’t feel great. I figured that it never WOULD feel good while I was tucked in aero…so in that weird way, I looked forward to the run and being able to stand upright and stretch it out.

And then I passed the 25/81 sign. Yes, the race has officially begun, I told myself. Only this time I was actually the one passing people. One of the girls I recognized from the first loop was just ahead, and I tried to offer her some words of encouragement as I went by. But she looked tired, spent. And I was reminded of what could have been, had I decided to “race” the first 40 or 50 miles.

Half-way up one of the false flat and seemingly never-ending climbs (you know the ones – you climb, then it sort 0f levels out, and then you climb some more and the hill levels out and then you see MORE hill. First lap – not so bad. Second lap – just plain annoying. But at that point, it’s not like I’m going to stop, right?), I hear a rider coming up to pass me on my left.

“Marit…?” he asks. And immediately I recognize a friendly face.

“Rob!” I yell. “Great job!! How are you?”

“Good – really good. Are you getting enough fluids? Remember to eat and drink!” He calls as he passes by.

“Yeah – thanks! Hang in there, you’re looking great!” I respond.

Immediately I feel my mood lifted. I knew that Rob was coached by Elizabeth, and she would surely have told him to be smart on the course. I watched him climb the rest of the hill, sitting upright and turning over his legs – making it look easy. And I realized I was pretty much doing the same thing. Sitting upright, turning over my legs…but probably NOT making it look quite that easy.

Seeing Rob really helped to validate my own ride, in a weird way. I knew that I wasn’t the only one out there sticking to my heart rate, going easy on the hills. For the next several miles, I kept Rob in my sights – never intentionally hanging with him, but following my heart rate. It was comical, almost. I would see him hit the bottom of a hill, immediately sit up, spin, shift, and carry on like it was any casual ride.

And then, thirty seconds later, I would do the same thing myself.

Somewhere around the 4 or 4:30 mark my stomach started feeling better. I was no longer throwing up and I was able to get more and more water in. The hills were becoming less and less challenging and I could feel my body responding. My heart rate actually started dropping, which I attributed to built-up fatigue. At my next timed swig of Carbo Pro, I made sure to take in an extra gulp or two (100 or 200) calories of liquid and water.


Everything stayed down – and while my stomach was never fully comfortable, at least it was cooperating.

That’s it! I told myself. You’re doing great! Just hang in there! Hit the 90 mile mark and then you can start to go faster, if you want! Yes yes yes! That’s it!

And lucky for me – at this point I realized that I kind-of-needed-to-but-didn’t-want-to-pull-over and pee. I had seen one woman relieving herself while riding, and countless guys. But try as I might, my body just didn’t seem to want to cooperate.

One of the only remaining symptoms from last year’s bike crash: some of the nerve damage still remains and peeing on the bike takes extra special concentration and focus. I knew that I needed to go, but was afraid of pushing so hard for fear that something unintentional might explode elsewhere. Lovely! In addition to cramps, bloating, and general discomfort, the dried cranberries which I had consumed some 7 hours earlier, had now played havoc in my lower GI system. And I wasn’t sure if I was just gassy or really needed to use a port-o-potty. Hhhhmmmmmm.

Not something I was willing to risk (yet) with blue shorts. Um, yeah. Not so much.

But I pushed that happy thought out of my mind and went back to focusing on my race, sticking to my heart rate zones, taking it easy on the hills, and constantly reassessing my mental and physical state.

Rob and I continued to go back and forth – offering encouragement anytime one passed the other. It was great just seeing a friendly face, even though we had never officially met (hello bloggers – we DO exist!). Additionally, I kept getting a kick out of seeing him bike up the rollers – because we pretty much sat up, shifted into the easy gear (well, at least I did), and spun.

Somewhere around the 5 hour mark, I started calculating how much longer I would be on the bike. With just under 20 miles left, I thought that getting in less than 6 hours was a possibility. But I wasn’t going to be disappointed if it didn’t happen. I knew the variables – course, hills, wind (and the winds continued to pick up as the day progressed), bike mechanical, and my mental/physical state – could drastically alter. In the back of my mind though, I thought I could do it. I believed in myself – and in the end, that’s a BIG part of what made it work (for me).

I took in another gel and two salt tabs, put my head down and rode. My heart rate was still in my upper zone 2, low zone 3 – although I continued to regard it less and less. I was feeling good, almost too good. I was passing more and more people – notably a few girls in my age group and other women who had (perhaps) been a bit overzealous in the beginning. Or maybe it was just me – perhaps I was the one who had taken things too easy.

Before the thought could run away in my head, I reminded myself that I still had 15 miles to bike and a MARATHON to run. Is there any such thing as “too easy”?


In the last ten miles, I realized a few things about my bike. First – I LOVE the fit. Robert Driskell’s bike analysis and fit at Competition Sports in Gulfport Mississippi was wonderful. Second – I LOVE my saddle. Third – I LOVE the bike shorts (thank you Courtenay!). Fourth – 10 miles was the LIMIT. I was NOT interested in biking any more than 112 miles.

I was still comfortable, yes. But I was beginning to do the bike-seat-squirm. You know the one? Where you wiggle your pelvis back and forth a bit, trying to establish the “most comfortable” position. Which is really a big joke – because after 105 miles, no bike seat and no bike short will be totally comfortable. A few times I tried to stand up and stretch my legs – but the legs were fine. It was my seat that needed the relief.

The bumps that I hit going over the I-90 Bridge were, um, unpleasant. And I caught myself looking wistfully over towards the hotel. Just a marathon and THEN I would be there…

Generally though, and especially in the last hour, I felt as though I had been getting stronger and stronger. My pace – which I rarely glanced at throughout the race, just because I didn’t want to fall into the trap of holding XX mph for the duration – was slowly creeping upwards. I felt comfortable bridging the gap to small clusters of athletes up the road, passing them, and then putting the next bunch in my sights.

One final turn past the transition zone up towards the highway 95 turn around, and I knew I was almost there. I saw a flash of pink on the other side of the road, and recognized a girl who had blown by me very early on – before the Point Higgins turn around. The pink outfit was a bit easy to spot…sort of like a pink bike saddle in transition, I suppose.

It was at this point that I started thinking about peeing on the bike (again). I tried to relax and make myself go without anything unexpected occurring – but it just didn’t work. I really did need to pee – which made me happy to a certain extent. I knew that my body was processing liquids and that I had been getting enough fluid in my system. But I just didn’t want to take the time to actually DO it. Oh well – in an Ironman, what do you expect?

And really, I would much rather have to use the bathroom than not. (To a certain extent!)

Rounding the turn, I sat up and generally coasted down the slight hill towards the transition. I kept the gearing light, cadence high, and mentally prepared myself for the marathon ahead. Moreover though, I was grateful for the ride that I had accomplished. I had been smart, had stuck to my plan, and did NOT let my heart rate sky rocket (even though I was really tempted early on). Better yet – NO bike mechanical issues! Yea! Even more important though, when things got tough with my stomach, I had remained upbeat and mostly positive. It seemed pretty incredible, actually – that nearly six hours had passed. Yet it only felt like one or two.

I kept to the right and made the final turn towards the transition. I could see the bike catchers awaiting my bike and I carefully slipped my feet out of my shoes. Nope – didn’t do the fancy ITU-style flying dismount. Yeah – at this point I didn’t trust my legs to make the clearance over my rear water bottle cages. Instead I coasted in, applied the brakes, stopped, breathed a sigh of relief, managed to swing my right leg over the saddle, and stepped away from the bike. Yea!

I heard my name shouted from somewhere in the crowd, and I thought that I recognized Molly and her box of cupcakes – but I couldn’t be sure. I waved, smiled, and yelled, “Just a marathon to go! Yea!”

I pushed my bike towards the catchers and ran under the BIKE IN banner.

Just a transition and marathon to go…


ADC said...

I am pretty sure it took you over 10 hours to write the report ;). Waiting for Part 3 :) keep them coming.

Train-This said...

Part III better come soon! Cliffhanger! Way to nail this Marit!

Jennifer Harrison said...

"AND I was just glad I survived the Ironman SWIM!" Classic. Are you kidding, Marit!? you are a great swimmer! LOVED part 2....It surely feels like you are there....and that is what I REALLY enjoy!!!! waiting for #3....

Kim said...

marit, it's amazing how many details of that 5:55 ride you remembered and were able to share with us! so glad the tummy got better and you had a pal out there to keep you going! LOVE the suspense!!!!!

Alili said...

Loving the report so far. Can't wait to read part 3!!

Beth said...

Marit! Oh yuck, throwing up on yourself - been there. But man did you handle it well! And really glad to hear your stomach calmed down for the end of the ride. WAY TO STICK TO YOUR PLAN. I think that is seriously the hardest part of long(er) races. It takes such disipline...which you obviously have and boy did it work! Can't wait for part 3!

Runner Leana said...

Wow Marit, you followed your plan to a T and it paid off! Nicely done!!! All of that hard work on the bike has definitely paid off. Cannot wait for the rest of the report!

Shan said...

OHHH I didn't realize you had barfed a few times on the bike :-O. It's a good thing - "better out than in" is right....Nice bike RR!! That course sounds way more interesting than that of IMAZ...

Part 3 Part 3 Part 3!!!

Angela and David Kidd said...

Don't you love when you manage to barf on yourself. People who don't do triathlons look at you like you are crazy when you tell them you barfed or snotted on your arm.

Great job staying smart. I am really impressed. This is a big weakness of mine.

Can't wait to read part 3!

GoBigGreen said...

you know my take home lesson from this chapter is :"Julia, dont put dried fruit in your oatmeal, and keep OVER hydrating your instant oats," bc I hate when they turn to paste!
Good job pacing the bike. That must have been hard to ride within yourself and not go chasing!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how much you remember of your race!!! I love it though, can't wait for part 3 :-)
And I know what you mean about those last 10 miles on the bike, you are SO ready to get off and just run!

wiley said...

Such a great read and race, Marit!!!!

Laura said...

Loving the detail! Can't wait to read part 3! (Oh and curious, what shorts did you use?)

Damie said...

I am laughing at the "Jen"isms. I did the whole HR thing too, although I stayed low-mid zone 2, and afterwards Jen asked if I did High 2 low 3, and I said...oops. Guess I misunderstood. Ha! But, I think she gave us such a great plan on nutrition + not racing, especially early + focusing on self, etc.... Lovin' your recap!

Maijaleena said...

A whole lotta stuff goes on during an ironman bike ride! Wow! I do know how the story ends...but I am looking forward to hearing how you got there.

Caroline said...

Now that is detail :)
So after vineman I'm determined to do workouts that don't involve biking or running for 1-2wks (last chance for a mental break before IM training). One idea: row. Any interest in going out in a 2x from SD rowing club one day next week???? I think we'd have a blast! (that long as the water is FLAT!)

Jennifer Yake Neuschwander said...

Great job. I am having so much fun reading your blog. It's like I get to relive my CDA expereince with you doing all the work. Hope you have a speedy recovery.Thanks for sharing. P.S. I met Madonna Buder at CDA last year. She is great. I struggled during the run. (aka ran slower than I wanted) but knowing she could be anywhere and said she would be looking for me was enough to maintain a good attitude and hang in. I would have been so embarassed if she saw me looking grumpy and fussy :)

kerrie said...

okay, i'm getting impatient waiting for part #3. come on now ;). i love the fact that you could throw up on yourself, put you couldn't just pee on yourself. what's a little extra bodily fluid??

Ange said...

Marit--I am one of Jen's athletes and I am racing IMLP next Sunday. I am on the edge of my seat. I want to have the race you had (well...not the throwing up :o)
but you are awesome. this is a great great report. Pls write about your run!! I need to hear about it. I have learned so much from your positive attitude and smart racing!! Yeah!!!