Monday, October 30, 2006

SOMA: In which I chased myself down.

Okay, so, SOMA. Results are posted here.
I'm going to be comparing my experience here to my experience at the Redman, since I did such a poor job of taking care of endurance needs at that race. Ah, well, lesson learned, and learned well.
I highly recommend this race. The bike portion alone is worth the price, because it's wild ride. For a race only 4 years told, it was well organized, and as a completely anxiety-ridden moi, I appreciate that I never, ever had to mix with--shudder--city traffic. AND, the triathlon gods blessed us with phenomenal weather: the sun stayed behind the clouds most of the day, leaving is a cool (low 80's) windless day.

We New Mexico Outlaws were all there bright and early in transition, including Pirate, Bones, Sweet Baboo, Myles, Ricky V, Wingman, and Wiz, aka, "wait-I've-got-a-different-idea-let's-change-our-plans-and-boy-do-I-need-a-nap") I got a chance to meet Benny, but I'm sorry to say that I had no idea what he said to me because I didn't have my hearing instrument in - he seemed really pleasant, though. I never did get to meet Nytro, who may have been afraid that I would force-feed her something healthy.

The swim went off a bit late, prompting my anxiety level to ride even higher, as I was concerned about the course closing, but no matter.

I had a competitor to chase down.

Someone who's ass I seriously wanted to kick.

A weapy, self-pitying silly Athena who finished crying at the OK Redman.

I'm talking, of course, about ME.

Let me REMIND you that my time at the Oklahoma Redman was just a moment shy of nine hours. How badly I mismanaged hydration and nutrition. How I wound up with a post race body temp of 95.6, which means (according to the CSI episodes I've watched) that I've been dead for three hours.

This was different. I was ready and waiting to chase her--me--down.

Some things I figured out beforehand, bearing in mind that everyone is different:

  1. Drinking high electrolyte drinks all day long the day before the race? Bah. They went right through me. The fact that I spent the entire day before and most of the race itself in the loo should have been a red flag. THIS time, I drank a lot of water and Poweraid Option the day before, and it worked fine for me.
  2. I just can't eat a huge carb breakfast. I don't know a whole lot about hypoglycemia but I've suspected that I am in the past, and the high carb breakfast spikes my insulin level, I think, leaving me weak and weary early on. For this race, I ate a large dinner (I'm going to mention the restaurant you want to avoid later) the night before, but a light breakfast consisting of a sandwitch of vegan lunchmeat and cheese, about 2 hours prior to the race. I think the protein acted as a nice buffer.
  3. Hammer Perpetuum throughout the entire bike at SOMA. it rocks.
  4. I sucked down caffein throughout the entirety of the Redman. Don't think it works for me. this time, I limited my caffein intake.
So, the swim.
Well, you leap off the staging area right into the deep water. There's no walking out. You swim out about 100 yards or so to the starting line and wait for the large airhorn. I was in the women's 30-to-70 wave. (yeah, I know.) Anyway, there's no current. I've never taken off in the middle of the pack like that--I usually start out at the back--and I never will again. I'm just not ready for it. It was a human washing machine. I spent a great deal of time just treading water, while other people around me splashed mightly and smacked me. Despite this bedlam, I managed to shave a bit of time off my Redman time. At the end of the swim, hefty high school wrestlers hoist you out of the water back onto the staging area, and if you're at the back of the pack, like me, you get full use of the wetsuit strippers.

In T1, I tried desperately to get all the tiny grass clippings off my feet, shove them into my bike socks, sucked down half a bottle of Perpetuum, grabbed my inhaler, helmet, bike shoes, and headed out. (At right: me headed out onto the bike course.)

The bike loop was 3 trips around the craziest bike ride I've ever taken.
Each loop had several out-and-backs. I was doing my slow version of "hauling ass", since I was trying desperately to get off the bike course before it closed at 11:30. What I didn't know was that it didn't close until noon. Toward the middle of the first loop, I threw a chain, and spent the rest of the bike ride wiping bike grease across my face and nose without realizing it.

I also didn't know that I still had a couple of Clif Shot blocks in the bottom of my bento box leftover from the Redman. They glued everything together so that when I pulled out my sunblock, everything came out in a huge clump and I had to choose between catching the inhaler that fell off or the energy bar that fell off. (I chose the inhaler). On the ride, I drank 3 bottles of Perpetuum and a full aero bottle of water, and had one gel with caffein.

Another lesson learned: As I was peddling along, I started muttering a weird cadence to myself "Pedal, pedal, gator ade. Pedal, pedal, gator ade. Pedal, pedal, gator ade." In the midst of this, I suddenly remembered a caveat Bones gave me about the street signs, and looked up just in time to avoid running smack into one. Others were not so lucky. I heard there were some large pile-ups and mass wipe-outs, which I did not see and did not participate in. I've never been in a race this large, and because there was only about 3/4 of a lane for each direction (the signs and pylons took up some room) there were large masses of cyclists would would go blowing by me, even squeezing by on my right.

Toward the end of the ride, I was pretty frantic. I was convinced they were going to shut down the course any second, and my quads were ACHING. I was running out of steam, and wondering how I could possibly do a half marathon after all this madness. Just then, another Athena pedaled past me, further dispiriting me.


At t2, I grabbed a 12-ounce bottle, a bottle of hammer apple-cinammon gel, and drank half of an energy drink, because I think colas suck. (Don't start. I've been trying to get a taste for beer and colas most of my life, with no success). I shoved my feet into dry, sexy toe socks, and then I was off!
The plan: run 10 minutes, walk 5. I experimented for the first two miles with water and gel, and found that the perfect mix for me was to drink about 8-9 ounces of water during my 5 minute-walks, along with a squirt of goo in my mouth. Any more water and I got a side cramp, any less and I got nauseated. I ALSO did NOT pour ice water over me during the race, since I suspect this further confounded my ability to detect dehydration at the REDMAN. The combination for this slow runner worked perfectly. At each aid station, I refilled my tiny bottle, and then stuck in the back pocket of my skinsuit. Every 4 miles or so I ate two enduralytes.

Toward the end of the first loop, I passed Sweet Baboo on a small out and back part of the course and he hollered endearing things at me, which was nice.

The run course was two loops around lake Tempe, which resulted in one of the lonliest moments I have EVER experienced. As I approached the end of the first loop, everyone--I mean EVERYONE--around me turned left. Toward the finish line, and finishing.

I (sigh) turned right, and ran over the timing chip pads. Nobody was there.

After that, the course was largely deserted. Far ahead of me, though, I spotted the Athena that had passed me on the bike. Then, it was so ON

...but in a sad, slow, shuffling kind of way.

It kind of reminded me of a chase seen I saw in a movie once, where the people were riding tricycles. I would just get caught up to her, and then my walk alarm would go off. It was a test in patience. Eventually, though, I passed her and stayed ahead of her.

It was working, but I was starting to run down. I swore freely at the sun each time it threatened to appear, and then As I finished the end of the second run loop, I turned left and was disgruntled to realize that I had to run about 50 yards UP a grassy noll toward the finish line. There was nobody on the grassy noll, and hardly anyone at the finish line, save Sweet Baboo.


I wasn't as emotional at the finish as I was at the Redman, but I didn't wind up in the medical tent either. I'm also more sore, since I put more into this race than I did before (mainly because I took better care of my nutrition and hydration needs. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is)

17/22 Athena

PS: I appreciate the support and comments about Birdy Lisa. However, birdy people are generally fast. There's just no running them down. And all reports are that she was horribly embarassed by her mistake. As well she should be.

Also, AVOID a restaurant called OREGANOS. We waited for an hour to get seated. Then we waited an hour for the food. It was very good food, but let's face it, after smelling food for two hours, ANY food tastes great. So, you're thinking, that's a lot of time to visit and chat with your friends...absolutely true, unless the music is blasting so loud that everyone else in the restaurant is screaming over it and finally you give up and shut off your hearing aid and just smile and nod at anyone who tries to hold a conversation with you. I followed some of it. It was exhausting.
After the race, I was so hungry I ate two suppers. I apprantly burned somthing like over 4000 calories. At the second supper, I had a pomegranate margarita. Avoid this. They are $9 each. That must be why they don't put the prices on the drink menu at Uno's.



  1. Rock on! you did great.

    If only I had the courage to tackle a half-iron distance...

    so you not only beat yourself, but those like me who don't dare to start.

  2. Beautiful! Well-planned and well-raced. Way to chop down those race times!!! Yay!

    and I'm writing all this stuff down for my first tri in December

  4. Dang! You rocked it!!!

  5. Anonymous7:58 AM

    Oh, my gosh! I am in total awe of you. Seriously, YOU ROCK!!! And I love the "human washing machine" simile for the swim portion. I'm so happy that you improved your times by such a huge margin -- Congratulations!

  6. Nice job! Glad you learned from the previous unhappy experience and it sounds like a resounding success. Good job on catching that other athena, I know what you mean about slow motion chasing, though, it can be agonizing. Thanks for sharing the great report.

  7. Congratulations again! Great race report and time comparison. My god you sure knocked off HUGE chunks in each discipline! That is so wonderful and you must be feeling so proud of yourself!
    From reading your and Nytro's race reports, I just may have to go up to this race next year!

  8. dude... you cut more than an HOUR off your time? unbelieveable! congrats. sorry i didn't get to see you... well, i did see the back of your head at about 5:30 in the morning, but we didn't think it was you. turns out, it was.

    congrats on a great race!

  9. Knew you could do it! Love the T1 picture. Glad you had a good experience.

  10. Anonymous6:58 PM

    very impressive. Well done!! An hour off your time!

  11. Congrats on an excellent race. I'm sorry we didn't get to spend any time with you and your hubby. We definately regret it. Nytro and I think we will make SOMA an annual occasion. Such a fun race, and such a fast bike course, except for all the turns of course. We had an absolute blast. I passed an Outlaw on the bike course and thought it was you, so I slowed down to say hello. Pretty sure it wasn't you though, if that persons reaction is any indication. Sort of a confused, who the hell are you look. Was that you? Probably not. Anyway, Nytro and I sorry we didn't get to know you. Maybe next year? What do you think? Is it an annual race for you too? So glad to hear that you had such a great experience. And you destroyed your previous times! Way to go. Take care and rest easy.

  12. Anonymous8:28 PM

    Way to go!


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