Triathlon 101 - Introduction to LA Tri Club& the Multisport World

LA Tri Club's Triathlon 101 are for all new LA Tri Club Members and friends, family or colleagues who are interested in learning about triathlon and /or the LA Tri Club. NMN is also for members who want a little refresher for LA Tri Club and all it has to offer.   Come meet and hear LATC's Head Coach and USAT Level 3 Tri Coach, Ian Murray go over everything Triathlon and more.

Event Date: TBD

Time: 6:30 PM

Location: Zoom Meeting - Member RSVP on our website HERE and Prospective Members RSVP HERE. (You'll be emailed the link)

From Triathlete to Very Dirty Girl: Leadville 100 MTB Race Report My friends and family would tell you that I “inspire easily”; that more often than not that “moment of inspiration” can send me spiraling off the path of rational decision making – to enthusiastically embrace a new activity, a new job, a new adventure…….. Sometimes dragging my best friends and often said family members along with me… It was that “moment of inspiration” last November that had me pushing the send button to the on-line lottery application for the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike race. I had just finished watching the Citizen Picture’s production of “The Race Across the Sky” – where Lance Armstrong had spoken directly to ME when he said that next to Kona and the New York City Marathon there was no greater challenge for an endurance athlete than the Leadville Trail 100. At the time, there were certainly better choices for my on-line adventuring than signing up for the hardest mountain bike race in North America. In fact this was a particularly bad choice because for starters, I didn’t know how to mountain bike. Up to that point my idea of sketchy off road riding was trying to balance my coffee cup, while riding my beach cruiser down strand for the Sunday morning swim. I also didn’t own a “real” mountain bike. What I had in my garage was a 20 year old hard tail “Avalanche” with two flat tires, 8 speeds, and a cassette that had fewer climbing gears that my cruiser J. But that didn’t matter… these were small things when compared to pursuing an endurance athlete’s dream and honestly I never really expected to get in… he he…. But on January 31st at 5:45 pm “I Got Mail” and was notified that I was an accepted entrant into the 2011 Race Across the Sky!! It was time to buy a bike and learn to ride it. Knowing absolutely nothing about mountain bikes, I went to my favorite local bike shop Tri-Lab, sat down with Karl, Jerry and Jason and configured an awesome bike. There is actually a lot more to the bike purchase story than I am writing about here (including selecting the wrong size – I guess as women we all like to think we are smaller than we actually are) but the net result was an awesome setup on a carbon Scott Spark 35, outfitted importantly with super duper components and a mountain biking key… the best brakes money could buyJ! Then I had to learn how to ride it. Thank you to John, Lynne, Shimson, Tina, Tiffany, Liza, Stella, Wes, Marcela, Stephanie and Keevin who patiently gave me tips on climbing, descending, water crossings , and yes racing! For me learning to mountain bike can be summed up in one word “CRASH”. In fact I crashed so many times learning to ride my bike that for the 8 months leading up to Leadville my legs and arms were constantly covered with giant dirt road abrasions. My First Race: Counting Coup, April 2, Orange County To practice for Leadville, I entered the Orange County Warrior Society’s “Counting Coup” bike race – a monster of a course – 44 miles long with over 8900 feet of climbing where I proceeded to yes, “CRASH” 7 times before crossing the finishing line, posting one of the slowest race times of the day, 7 hours and 28 minutes. Counting Coup takes place in the early spring, with the starting gun (or in the case drum – get it Warrior Society) going off at 5:30 AM – which means that you start in and are riding in the dark for the first hour and a half. As a newbie rider I am completely out of my league. Where other riders have powerful specially designed mountain bike lights, I have strapped to my handle bars the equivalent of a small flashlight which barely illuminates anything.. and there is no moon. I also am the only rider who has platform pedals – a kind a riding crutch for me because I have yet to figure out how to unclip quickly before I CRASH! So I’m standing the bike corral, in the dark, with 600 other riders and I am feeling completely out of my element - I think every rider in the bike corral is looking at my dorkie platform pedals .. I am also freaking out because I know that after the recent heavy rains the normally graded fire road that I have trained on has now turned into a churning mess of ruts, rocks and other dirty hazards and it is obvious that my little flashlight will be NO help what so ever for the initial ascent. And then out of the darkness in the bike corral I hear a rider say…”at least we don’t have to swim first..” and I think Hallelujah! a kindred spirit – another triathlete who SAW THE MOVIE and was inspired!! I was dying to call out and make the connection to my fellow triathlete but I was way too embarrassed to acknowledge my “newbie-ness” – besides I didn’t want to call further attention to my dorkie platform pedals and tiny flashlight…so I put my game face on and tried to look like I knew what I was doing. It was in Counting Coup that I learned the rules of mountain biking which I carried with me to Leadville. Racing Rule #1 – you gotta be nice – MOUNTAIN BIKERS ARE FREAKIN NICE! And Patient! Racing Rule #2: There is NO CRYING in mountain bike racing. Simply put regardless of how scary or long or difficult your ride is you just have to suck it up, dig deep and keep on pedaling...keeping your eye on the prize..and in Leadville I came to accept that it was just simply the finish line. Race Report: Leadville Trail 100. The Leadville Trail 100 course starts and finishes in the town of Leadville, Colorado, population 2800, elevation 10,200 feet. It is an up and back course which begins with two significant climbs and reasonably technical descents in the first 28 miles, followed by rolling single track, fire road and paved sections before beginning the 10 mile climb up to the top of Columbine Mine at 12,500 feet, where you turn around (50 miles) and retrace your route back into town. Leadville is difficult for a number of reasons. First, the race runs at altitude – there is not a lot of air at 13,000 feet. It’s also super long – 104 miles (not 100 as I came to realize at Mile 100) - with lots of steep climbing where you actually have to get off your bike and push it until you can manage to ride again. It also has a long (5 miles) technical descent appropriately named the “Powerline” – which becomes a nasty, gut busting, ego crashing, near death/tears of agony climb at mile 80 of the course on the way back into town. The race had over 1800 registered participants, of those 1800 only 271 were women – this should tell you something about the level of difficulty of the course. Because we were “first timers”, Tina and Mo Geller, John Appeldorn, Joe Christenson, Warren Sutton and I were staged in the last corral. Problematic because it meant we were the last riders to pass through the start line – staging us at the back of the pack behind last year’s slowest riders. When the race turned from the pavement onto a fire road that took us to the first climb of the day St Kevin’s there was quite a bottleneck of riders. Race Rule Number #1: Be NICE and be PATIENT!! My race strategy was simple – SURVIVAL. Ride steady, playing the race like an Ironman. Trying to keep my heart rate low, calories and fluids in, and finish the race under 12 hours (the time cut off to win the coveted Silver Buckle). I didn’t care about winning my age group (I had had a great day in the Lake Tahoe 100 Qualifier) – but in this race I just wanted the buckleJ! Race morning the temperature at the start was 38 degrees. (The temp would climb to 94 on the Powerline by 3:00 pm that day). You begin the race with a screaming 4.5 mile long paved descent to the first dirt road turn off. By the time you get to the first climb your hands and feet are ice. Shifting skills are nonexistent. I remember glancing at Tina as we descended in the early morning watching her teeth chattering and her face go white! Through the first climb I followed my race plan. It simply wasn’t possible to push it and I settled in to a nice low heart rate pace – following the field and waiting for the first descent where the course would open up and we could begin to make up some time. On the second climb I stopped to pass chain repair tools and chain links to fellow tri-clubber Warren Sutton (again, Rule #1 BE NICE!) who had broken his chain for the second time that morning. Unfortunately the time I took to pull out of the “stuff” to get Warren on his way, the slow riders, the ones I had tried so hard to pass on the first descent caught up with me and passing them on the rocky single track climb required heart rate spiking effort..and I knew then I could be bringing on trouble because were after all only 18 miles into the race.. There are two “technical” descents in Leadville. The first the “Powerline”. Steep – rutted – and very loose after days with no rain – riding safely – yet quickly down this section is a key to a successful race. We had ridden this section in training and I felt very comfortable on the descent, comfortable enough that I began to push the speed a bit to make up the time I had lost on the first two climbs. On the steepest section my front wheel started wobbling. I was going 20 mph – glanced down at my wheel to discover that the schewer that holds the wheel on had come undone..seriously? How could I have not properly secured this wheel!! Trying not to CRASH I was able to slowly move to the side of the trial as I called “slowing” to my fellow competitors behind me – who were yes SUPER NICE (Rule Number 1) and didn’t try to run me over. As I reached down to fix my wheel, the little black thingie that turns to help lock down the wheel fell off my bike and began to roll down the dirt trail. It’s steep so it rolled really fast, and riders kept rolling over it, which kept it rolling.. I think it must have been 15 to 20 minutes before I was able to run down the hill, retrieve this piece and get my bike into a place where it could roll again. By my calculations I was now 25 minutes BEHIND where I needed to be to get the buckle. I was also at risk of missing the cutoffs and having my chip pulled. Dam the buckle – I was now going to have to hammer it to catch up ..and that is where my race fell apart! I won’t go and an on about what I did to catch up – pushing my heart rate up into an anaerobic I pushed so hard that I didn’t take time to eat – take in fluids or salt- and how my legs starting cramping and my stomach started shutting down at around Mile 50. By the time I got to the Powerline climb at mile 80 I was DONE. I was BONKING, dehydrated… the nausea set in and I began to lose the little I had actually taken in over the course of the day on the course. The pisser about this whole situation was that I know how to race better than this – but my quest for the buckle over rode my race strategy and I fell apart. RULE #2 – There is NO CRYING in mountain biking! The day just got tougher. Pushing your bike up a super steep and LONG hill (that even Lance Armstrong got off and pushed BTW) when you are sick and weak is just about one of the worse things you can ever experience. At a point in the hike a bike that NEVER ends, I sat down on the ground with my head between my knees and wondered if I was even going to be able to finish the race….that’s when I began to see firsthand the “spirit of Leadville” and why riders come back year after year to race this monster course. Here’s the secret… it’s not the difficulty of the course that brings folks back … it’s the strength and spirit of the competitors who make this race sooooo special. As I sat on the ground trying to get it together to continue a rider stopped and sat down next to me. He explained that I had “pulled” him up Columbine and he was going to return the favor. He sat next to me and talked me through sipping slowly the plain water he had in his bottle. He would count, making me take the fluids in slowly and then hold them in my mouth before swallowing. He helped me get needed fluids back into my body and in the process gave up his race to make sure I could finish. When I felt good enough to start up again, he left me and I never saw him again. But this race angel – because RULE #1 Be NICE stopped, I was able to continue towards the finish line. Other riders helped me on the course as well. A women (in my age group) name Gracie from Arkansas (who also has MS) encouraged me to ride with her slowly so I could take in food. She reminded me to “keep my eye” on the prize, that the race wasn’t about the hardware, but crossing- just crossing the finish line. Race heroes, Doug from Albuquerque, New Mexico who weak from the ALS that is tearing apart his body, in a neck braces and cast, showed up at the starting line Saturday morning. He wasn’t trying for the buckle, he just wanted to make as many of the cut off’s as possible that day just so he could be part of this event one last time. Last year 11 riders gave up their race to save the life of a fellow rider who had crashed, severed an artery and was bleeding out. While stabilizing this rider, a perfect stranger they missed the time cutoff;s and were DNF’d from the race. They were honored at this year’s athlete briefing by the guy they saved – who raced again this year! INSPIRING!!! I crossed the finished line at 12:09:13 – missing the buckle by 9 minutes, 13 seconds!! But as I sat on the grass after the race, surrounded by my fellow finishers – including Gracie who finished just minutes behind me – I came to realize that Leadville is not special because it’s difficult and you get a buckle at the end. Leadville is just plain special. … and sometimes you are just lucky enough – like I was – to see beyond the event, behind t he hardware and just experience the “Journey”. CONGRATS TO BUCKLE WINNERS: Tina Geller, Lauren Mulcwitz, Pete Smith (screaming sub 8 hour race!), Warren Sutton, Ian Murray, Shane (gosh I wish I knew your last name), Steve Lamb and other Tri Clubbers who I knew were there but I also don’t know your names. Congrats also on the “Journey” to John Appeldorn, Mo Geller and Joe Christoferson – you guys gave it your all and should be so so proud of those finishers medals..I know I am….. BUT NEXT YEAR………I’m going to get than dam Buckle! Liz Kollar

Team ‘Tin Men’, an Iron Distance relay team, has one requirement to join. The heart you were born with, is no longer inside of your body. All members have had a heart transplant. (Okay, the second requirement is that you can make the Iron Distance cut-off times for your portion of the race, without whining.)

Meet ‘LA Tri Clubber Kyle Garlett, the cyclist for the 112 mile bike portion of the 2010 Beach 2 Battleship Iron Distance Triathlon Relay. Kyle was joined by ‘Tin Men’ team organizer and swimmer Brian Barndt from North Carolina, and Canadian runner/marathoner Mark Black.

Team 'Tin Men' facts: Brian, the ‘slacker’ of the group (only doing 2.4 miles of the 140.6) merely had a heart transplant. Mark upped the ante, by having a heart transplant AND two lungs replaced.

But for our Kyle, like any true LA Tri Clubber, Type-A, over-achieving triathlete, having just a basic heart transplant was not enough. Oh no. Just to get to the heart transplant, Kyle went through four bouts of cancer (Hodgkin’s and Leukemia), and chemo, in almost eleven years. Let me repeat: FOUR bouts with cancer and chemo/radiation in eleven years. The fourth series of chemo was so intense, that it damaged his heart permanently. Kyle needed a new heart, and waited five more years to get it.

Please join us in congratulating Team Tin Men as the first all heart-transplant team believed to have completed an Iron Distance Relay. Their Finishing Time was 14:34. and change. Kyle, who approved this email, can be reached through our club website.

More information at:

***** The team was named after the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, who’s only wish was to have a heart.

Tim Bomba

There are three M Dot races in South America. I'd guess the least well known of the three is the 70.3 race held in Penha, Brazil in late August. This year approximately 700 athletes raced in this half ironman. This was my first tri outside the US. I cannot have been more pleased on how well the race was organized and how simple it was to come to a completely foreign area and participate in an event in the same way one would go down to Oceanside for a weekend, abeit with a bit longer trip and in a different language. Latin Sports has closely copied the protocol used in Hawaii, complete with separate sex changing tents, multiple volunteers guiding you through every step of transition before and during the race and every detail catered to from registration to the Clearwater roll down to the final awards lunch. The set up feels much more like a full Ironman than a half. There were 13 Americans and a small handful of European and African athletes entered this year. Most of the rest were from the various South American countries, predominantly Brazil. 50 spots to Clearwater were given out. There were very few athletes over 55; less than 20, total, and only a handful of those women. Penha is 90k north of Florianopolis where the full Ironman Brazil is held each May. It's cool in August; 50 at night and 65 during the day. The water was 68. The swim is a mass start, pros and AGs together, from the beach into an absolutely calm bay in the Atlantic used as an anchorage for the local fishing fleet. The bike goes through the small town for a few k with some slight uphill grades then past T2 at Brazil's version of Disneyland, Beto Carrera. This theme park serves as race headquarters, T2 and the finish. Your race entry also includes admission to the park, including all the rides for 4 days! The bike is 6 out and backs on the same road out and into town past fields and jungle. It's flat or false flats and leads to some very fast times. If anything, it's so tempting to put down such a fast bike that many athletes blow up their run later. The run follows the same out and back route, abeit shorter and only twice. The road surface was excellent and clean. The scenery is not particularly special, but this is an exotic locale, none the less. It reminded me of a central Mexican beach town. It's quiet and calm, fairly poor and lacking much in the way of infrastructure or anything beyond basic services. The hotels are numerous but basic. You get to Penha with a 45 minute domestic flight from Sao Paulo to Navegantes, about 16 k south of Penha. It took me 24 hours, total, with layovers to get from LA to Penha. Socially, the whole scene was great. The LA Tri kit got a lot of conversation started; " do you know Claudia, Johnny, Ian, etc." It is completely safe. I never rented a car. We just rode or walked everywhere, day and night. Restaurants are everywhere. Post race parties with Brazilian BBQ and live music. All in all this was a great way to try a foreign venue and it's wetted my appetite for more. Eric Taylor

This is my race report, as a first-time Ironman. It might be helpful to you if you are also embarking on this journey for the first time. The report is long, and if you are simply seeking some inspiration, I encourage you to skip to the end to see what some of my awesome IronFANS wrote for me, and some of which I carried with me during the race.

Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2009

I’ll start with some of the questions I got throughout the training process:

• What are the sports you have to do in this thing?
• What is this “He-man” thing you’re doing? (thanks Dad)
• Why are you doing it? (thanks again Dad)
• How long is it?
• How long is the marathon?
• How many days do you get to finish?
• It’s in France, right?
• Are you going to win?
• So, will you be an IronWOMAN?

There were many more – some humorous, some ridiculous, but all well intended, I think. Here are the answers to the above:

• Swim, bike, run (did I really have to tell you?)
• Ironman Triathlon, Dad
• If you have to ask…
• 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run
• the same length as every marathon since the 1908 Olympics (it actually started as 24 miles in 490 BC when Pheidippides ran from a battlefield at the town of Marathon to Athens in ancient Greece, to deliver the message “Niki!” (Victory) after which he died. 2.2 additional miles were added at the 1908 Olympic Games when the race needed to finish in front of the royal family’s viewing box.)
• One day – actually 17 hours or you’re not officially an “Ironman” - even if you cover the distance
• Nope – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – just 30 minutes from Spokane, WA – the skinny part of the state, where the water can be really cold
• No – finishing is a great goal for someone with a job that focuses on things other than swimming, cycling and running
• No – it’s IRONMAN, as I would not even consider a tattoo of anything other than the “M-dot”


I arrived in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday, June 17. First I unpacked all my equipment, separating 'racing' from 'training' gear, moving everything out of the minibar so that I could fill it with my peanut butter, jelly, bread, oatmeal, granola, hard boiled eggs, mini food processor that served as a blender, whey powder, Accelerade powder, ... SO MUCH STUFF! Then I headed directly for the lake, dreading the icy water, and walked straight in, not quite up to my ankles. My biggest fear heading to Coeur d’Alene had been the water temperature. It was rumored to be “below normal” temperature, and last year it had been in the mid-50s. Oh no. It seemed frigid, and I watched some swimmers in full wetsuits and neoprene caps exiting the water looking very blue. In a slight state of panic I went to the grocery store for milk, yogurt and fruit to complete my food selection, then talked myself out of worrying that I hadn't worked out that day.

I suited up the next morning, ready to try to acclimatize, dreading the ice cream headache, the numb fingers and toes.... And it felt absolutely balmy! At 65 degrees it was warmer than the ocean where I'd been training, and the choppiness was nothing compared to waves. I think my feet had been psychosomatically cold, and the swimmers the day before from Hawaii or Florida. Time to think of a new “biggest fear.” Which I did. The bike. The run. The 17-hour finish time. You name it, I came up with it as my biggest fear before the race. I was sure I’d be the first Ironman in history to get food poisoning from peanut butter and crackers that I’d brought from home. Or that I’d stub my toe so badly on race day that I’d have to drop out part way through the bike. I forgot the 20 hours of training per week for the 6 months prior to the race and decided I hadn't trained enough.....Enough! I tried to quiet my constant critic and worrier and focus on everything around me. Ironman Village was like Olympic Village to me – or at least what I pictured it could be: incredibly fit athletes, getting their “game faces” on more every day; vendors of the best equipment and clothing for the sport, Ironman paraphernalia for purchase, healthy food vendors and lots of energy. There were also legends of the sport walking around, looking very much like everyone else – Paula Newby-Fraser, the winningest (8) Ironman Championship athlete ever, among them.

The welcome banquet 2 nights before the race was inspirational and fun. Pasta, chicken, salad and Gatorade didn’t seem to portend any gastro-intestinal trouble, so I dug in with everyone else. There was a 71-year old man doing his 28th Ironman in 22 years. There was a 20-year old girl doing her first and shooting for 15 hours (she finished in 14:45). There were 3 athletes who had each lost over 140 pounds training for the race. Inspiration everywhere, and shared anticipation and fear.

Race Eve: The only people I spoke to in person on this day were the bike technician who told me I had broken a critical part of my bike, and the other bike technician who replaced the $300 piece that I broke on the way to check in (in case you missed this part of my pre-race report). Ok, something had to test my will, and it was over. I tried to shake it off by reading and re-read the inspirational messages that my friends from home had sent. Here are some of them: "There are mental demons we fight and mental angels we all carry around; it is how we deal with them that will determine if we can finish this thing called the Ironman, this thing called life." "Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true (Leon J. Suenes)." "Good luck and enjoy this phenomenal moment in your life!!!" "Go Audra Go! You can do it!" "More than 30 years after its birth the Ironman is yet one of the greatest challenges and accomplishments of the human will...Enjoy the race. Finish strong. And don't forget to soak in the memory. Smile when you cross the tape." "YOU CAN AND WILL FINISH!!!" Ok, don't get too emotional. I watched a bit of the US Open golf tournament, and a repeat of 'Grease' with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. I ordered the special IM room service pasta with chicken, and felt obligated to eat as much of it as I could. I had not worked out that day, had continued my smoothie/peanut butter ritual, and had been hydrating with water and Gatorade. I was stuffed!

I set my alarm for 3:30am and went to sleep after looking out my window at the buoys for the swim course, which seemed longer each time I looked.

Race Morning: Here it is. I thought I might wish I wasn’t going to do what I was about to do. I thought I might have incredible butterflies. But I felt calm, prepared, a little excited and still very full. I listened to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” The Gorillaz’s “Dare,” Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer," (purely for the "...we're halfway there..." line) and a few other choice tunes that I carried with me for the whole day. (I could have used a bigger sound track.) I made my smoothie despite being SO FULL and contemplated having a peanut butter sandwich, but decided I just couldn’t eat anything more. I stretched, put on my timing chip, and set out for the start. I checked my bike (still there and in one piece), inflated the tires (they didn’t blow – phew), shuffled some things between my bike and run transition bags, and went to put on my wetsuit. Walking to the start, swim cap and goggles in hand, I looked at the choppy water and headed to the beach. Uh-oh, where’d the goggles go? Although I entered the transition area to begin the bike check, etc. at 5am, it was now 6:20 and the area would close in 5 minutes. I had to fight a HUGE crowd to get back to my “race day bag” in which I’d put an extra pair of goggles. Phew. Headed to the beach. Again. Heart beat just a little faster. “Never start a race dry.” One of many pieces of advice for triathlon that I’d embraced. We were going to start in 10 minutes and I was dry, and standing about 10 deep on the beach. “Excuse me, excuse me (loud speaker blaring ‘Get out of the water. All swimmers out of the water’), excuse me (thinking: will they disqualify me for being in the water after I should? What if the swim starts early and I get pummeled in 6 inches of water by these 2200 people)”…stroke, stroke, stroke. On the beach, wet, ready.

The Swim: Bang! I started my watch and smiled. I was, as my friend Paul had suggested, part of a very elite group of people: those who start the Ironman. Now I just had to get to that more exclusive group...the finishers. But first, buoy #1. It was really choppy. People – red swim caps (men) and white swim cap (women), goggles, arms, legs, fingernails(ouch) EVERYWHERE. 2200 people, 8800 limbs all going for the first buoy. No need for sighting just yet – just follow the crowd. My heart rate didn’t even rise too much – no hyperventilating like getting through the surf in the ocean. I did what my coach (Ian Murray) told me: reach wide, enter the water short, reach forward, roll with the stroke, breath every 3. I was passing people, and getting passed, didn’t let myself worry - oof, where’d that big foot come from and why’s that guy doing breast stroke? Red buoy – first turn – geez! So many people – keep stroking, keep breathing. Past the buoy, time to look for the next turn toward the beach (gulp, cough, ack!) breathe every 2 strokes in case that happens again. Ugh! HUGE waves on the far end of the course and then the second red buoy – the turn for home – phew, and the current moving me toward shore – yes! I will be one of the elite who has finished the FIRST HALF of the FIRST SPORT in the Ironman. YES! Hit the shore, run across timing mat, smile (knowing my friends tracking me online will get data and send me huge good thoughts remotely), get back in the water, reach wide, enter short, reach and roll, breathe – oof, that big foot doing breast stroke again – how the heck did he get ahead of me again? Ok, time to race, have to pull harder, only half of the swim left to go, and I won’t need my arms any more. Go! Choppy, water, choppier water, a few breast stroke kicks in my face (though I grabbed his foot every time now), then the beach again. YES!

Transition 1: First the Strippers (officially “Peelers”), “over here! No waiting!” I hit the ground and let them “peel” my wetsuit off, then grab me back to upright, point me in the direction of my T1 bag, and a sprint to the changing tent. Wondering if we were supposed to go elsewhere for an actual changing of base layers, I looked around, saw a few naked parts, and just went for it. Ok, bike shorts on, ate some Clif Shot Blocks, socks, shoes, jersey, helmet, thanks to the volunteer who was shadowing me and would put my wetsuit, et. al. back into my T1 bag. Sprint to my bike!

The Bike: There were fans everywhere along the perimeter of the bike area and I pretended they were all there for me. There’s my bike – grab, run to the mount line and hooray! Event #2 was underway. Thinking of my coach Bob (Forster) I thought push, pull, push, pull, try to stay in aero position. Lots of people lined the route through town, and the first leg out along the lake. There were some funny signs that I was seeing for the first of four passes that I would make on that stretch of the course. One that I particularly liked was “Don’t get Pissy, Missy. Be positive!” I figured that might come in handy later. There was some guy named Len whose wife and baby loved him a lot. There were signs and pictures everywhere! There were cheerleading squads on both sides of the road at the top of the first hill, and a bagpipe band with all the guys wearing kilts. This can’t be too bad, I thought. I’ve ridden for hours and hours with no cheering, no music, and no one to let me run the stop lights. Down the first hill – nice. First turn, just 7 miles into it. Wow – 105 miles to go. Well, I'm almost under 100 to go and I've ridden 100 several times (but not with a big swim before or a big run after - oops, negative thought - you are unwelcome! Back to riding!). Back to town and the cheering fans, then out the long street toward the big hills. I knew what I would see from my drive through the course a few days prior, thanks to my new friends Mike and Greg. It was windy, but I knew it would be beautiful. The signs and people thinned out through a less attractive part of town, but there was an old woman with a cow bell sitting under a canopy who I swear was wearing a nightgown. Her intentions were good – it was windy and not all that warm – but I found her annoying. I also knew I’d pass her four times on the 2-loop course. Back to positive thoughts - and there's a timing mat - good thoughts from LA, San Francisco, NYC - thanks guys! We entered the town of Hayden, and I was glad that name made me think friendly and fit thoughts, because my friend Hayden is just that. Then Hayden got a bit meaner. Big hills around Hayden Lake, and out toward the turn back toward Coeur d’Alene. Wind on the descents and sharp turns to start new climbs were not fun. Did I mention that cycling is not my strength? There were fewer signs along this part of the course, but they were pretty good. Each big hill had a simple sign with rough lettering saying, “LEGS OF ZEUS,” always at just the right time. There was also a series of “bee signs.” Each one had a bumble bee in the upper left corner and gave simple, helpful messages such as “Bee Positive,” “Bee Determined,” “Bee Strong,” “Bee Happy.” Len’s wife and baby loved him on the bike course too. Coming back into town for the first time was pretty good. I knew I was half way done, I knew I was on the pace that I had thought I would have, but I knew I still had 56 miles to go. Back out toward the lake and “Don’t be Pissy…” was a little more relevant. I put my feet down for the first time in 4 hours at the “Special Needs” stop. We had all been given the opportunity to fill a bag with whatever we thought we might want mid-course. I had put a long sleeve jersey, a Powerbar, a towel and an extra water bottle. I didn’t think I needed any of that, so I just deposited my arm warmers (only one of which I got back) and kept going. Back up hill, into town, into Hayden, (timing mat - cheers in my mind from LA, SF, NY, DC, Austin - keep them coming!), up and down, up and down…up and down, up and down. My new motivation was to finish before the rain started. I had done a short practice ride in the rain 2 days earlier and descended hills at about 8 miles an hour. I realized that I would have to worry about making the bike cutoff time if I did that in the race but thought crashing would be a bad idea too. Thankfully I made it back to town – saw the cowbell lady for the last time – now wearing a jacket over her nightgown – and did all I could to stay in aero position. My back and neck were killing me, and and I wondered if I would look ridiculous running in aero position. Sitting up sounded like a terrific idea, stopping for a quick rest also sounded nice, and being done with the race sounded really terrific. I snapped back to the reality that “done” would require a little (!) run, so I’d better get on with it. Timing mat - hooray, there must be a big cheer for being done with 2 parts of the race!

Transision 2:Volunteers took my bike and put it back where I had gotten it and I ran to get my running stuff. No longer worrying about nakedness I let a volunteer dump my bag of things as I stripped off helmet, glasses, jersey, socks, shoes, shorts and I slumped in a chair (which felt terrific!) while I put on running shorts, socks (comfy, dry – mmmm), shoes, shirt, hat, remembered to grab a couple of Advil, then sprinted toward “Run Exit.”

The Run: It didn’t occur to me to be extremely happy at being done with 2 of the 3 Ironman events, because I had settled into “determined” mode to make it through this little run. I passed a sign for “Mile 14”. Mile 14!? Holy Cow! I have to run this direction, turn somewhere, run back past here, back along the lake (the “Pissy Missy” sign would really fit now), then back here again to be at Mile 14!? 12.2 more from here – after I get back here – until I am an Ironman. Oh man. Time to recalibrate. If not positivity, then at least not negativity. I can do this. (One of the signs in my T2 bag said so.) I know how to run, and I even know how to run a marathon. No more equipment to worry about, no more rain to worry about (it was raining by this point but I figured I could run downhill without crashing) – oh! Aid station 1 – yes I’ll have an orange slice thanks. Ok, not so bad, running through town for the first time, seeing some people just getting off their bikes (at least I’m ahead of them), realizing that the first male was probably finishing (he was), that the first female wouldn’t finish for another hour (she didn’t) and that all I had to do was run for a while to get this thing in the history books. I had had 3 chances to talk with Paula Newby-Fraser over the last few days and I asked her what she liked most on a course to keep her going. “Cola,” she said. Many people had talked about cola on the run course – that it was a huge pick-me-up that was like a drug once you started taking it. I planned to wait as long as possible before taking the cola, so I decided on mile 18. Until then I took water, Gatorade, and 2 pretzels at one stop. There was a neighborhood to run through before heading back along the lake, and the crowds there were terrific! They were blasting music and one group was looking up race numbers so they could say, “#195, Audra, from Santa Monica, California.” Hearing your name is like a push from behind that carries you a few steps. Oh geez, the cowbell lady moved. Now she annoyed me more than ever, and I didn’t smile and wave as I had done with as many people as I could until now. Back out to the lake, Len still being loved, Missy still trying not to be pissy, and me wondering how cold I would get in the rain and wind if I walked for a bit. Oops, back to positive, to trying to “Enjoy this phenomenal time in your life,” as another message from a friend said. I thought of finishing, I thought of finishing faster if I kept running, of finishing faster if I ran faster – ok, I was getting carried away and settled back to a good pace. All day I had thought of “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “Half Way There,” by Bon Jovi, and realized that I WAS half way – more than half way there! Hooray! (A few more steps covered while distracted.) Mile 11. Mile 11!? All this time, all this distraction and only Mile 11!?!? 15.2 to go. Well, that’s not so bad, I thought. I’ve run plenty of 15-milers. Ok, keep going. Water. Gatorade. Len. Missy. The hill. I knew there was just one hill on the run course, that it wasn’t supposed to be too bad, and that I had to do it twice. The turn toward town (and eventually the finish) was at the top of the hill, and I started feeling energized. Timing mat! Hooray! Good thoughts from afar! As I turned I wondered how many people coming toward me were behind me and how many were on their second loop. I assumed ALL were on their second loop and I envied every single one. I realized that by the next loop I would be seeing people who were just slightly behind me, or a whole loop behind me. I reminded myself that I was finishing the Ironman, and I actually decided to savor the next 2 hours as much as possible because they were all I had left of this incredible race. Swim – check. Bike – check. Run – getting there. Back to town, back to Mile 14 (for real this time), back through the neighborhood. The loudest, wildest music group played “Come on Eileen” as I passed and I ran in step with the music at the part where it goes from slow to fast. This was fun and soon I’d be at Mile 18 – cola! Ugh – cowbell again – almost done with her. Running away from town was very hard psychologically. I’m not sure why. I got a bit down and REALLY wanted to walk, maybe take a seat, maybe just turn where I was and head for my hotel. Ack! I caught myself and just kept going. It was really windy and really rainy and a lot of runners looked really miserable. I felt fine, all things considered, and just kept going. Still going. Geez this is a long marathon (reference the 26.2 mile explanation at the beginning of this report. I had to remind myself that the race organizers were professionals and most likely would not have measured the course wrong, though it certainly felt like I’d run 26 miles by now). Mile 18. I think I heard chimes. Cola! I smiled and took it, then stopped to drink it. Ahhhhhhh. I didn’t realize or care that it was generic cola and not even Coke or Pepsi. It was the best thing I’d ever tasted! Oh, right – still have to run to get finished, or at least to the next cola fix. Yes! Next cola stop – yes, I’ll have one. A cookie? That sounds great! The volunteer said, “I’ll give you two!” It was cold, windy and rainy by now and the cola and chocolate chip cookies (generic version that had been sitting in the rain for a few hours and still they were amazing) felt like a cuddling in a big leather chair in front of a roaring fire. I caught myself savoring my treats – mmmm, so good, wow, Ironman, what a cool experience, yum, these are so – HELLOOOOOO! You’re not done! No more cola or cookies for you! Clearly you can’t handle them – get to the finish line!!! I had a constant internal dialogue, and this was my most “tough love” type speech of the entire day. I danced through the neighborhood with music, waved and smiled at a little girl who said “Go blue shirt!” and headed for Sherman Avenue. I turned the corner, saw the finish line, sprinted past about 10 people in the final few blocks and there was Mike Reilly with, “Audra Lalley. You. Are. An. IRONMAN!”

The next hour or so was a bit of a blur - stiff legs, body feeling bruised all over, some pizza, some chicken broth, some water, a Finisher's hat, shirt and medal. I felt very alone as the cold caught up with me and I had to limp back to the transition area to retrieve my bike and bags. Then I had to walk "all the way" across Ironman Village to deliver my bike to the people who would bring it back to LA for me. Then I had to walk "all the way" to my hotel. (Funny how walking a grand total of about a quarter mile after all that preceded felt harder than the race.) I took a long hot shower, donned my Finisher hat and warm clothes, and headed to the lobby to chat with other finishers. A few of us went back to the finish line just before midnight to cheer in the final finishers. The last official finisher was a woman named Lois. She crumbled to the ground when she turned onto Sherman Avenue to head for the finish. Somehow she got up and limped/ran, listing badly to one side, then collapsed as soon as she crossed the finish line. She was an Ironman, with one minute and 30 seconds to spare.

My final results: 13:03:45. Swim, 1:25:15; Bike, 7:06:17; Run, 4:17:51 I finished 45th in my age group (22nd in the run). I didn't win the race, and I didn't qualify for world championships in Kona, but it was a victory. It felt great. I trained with Phase IV, with specific help from Bob Forster and Aishea Maas. Her "Rock it out!" mantra helped me many many times throughout the day. I did some specific swim training with Ian Murray, who was terrific. He helped me swim extremely comfortably, and the only reason I didn't go faster was my first-timer fear of burning out on the first event. (I'll do better next time - for both of us!)

I celebrated with a group of other IM athletes the day after the race. Two of them were the top local male and female finishers, and all of them were introduced by my gracious friends George and Linda Rohlinger (both IM CdA finishers from prior years, and former LATC members now living in gorgeous Coeur d'Alene). I contributed a terrific bottle of wine to the party (G Major 7, an estate cabernet from Gargiulo Vineyards).

There will be another IM in my near future. I just have to figure out that careful balance of training and life, which boils down to only work, sleep, eat, train. I encourage you to give it a try if you are even remotely considering it. I learned a lot about priorities, about health and fitness, and I re-learned the satisfaction of setting a lofty goal and achieving it. I am heading to San Francisco to qualify for the Boston Marathon on July 26. Since I ran such a good IM marathon I figure I should be able to do it. I wonder if I should count SF as my 6th or 7th marathon? Does the marathon part of the IM qualify for the count?

Thank you everyone for being part of this journey. See you out there!


If you are still reading, here are a few more of the messages that friends sent with me to the race. (Thanks again Andrea for compiling them!)

"Your finishing this amazing competition makes all your friends believe the extraordinary is possible. You will inspire us to achieve beyond what we think is possible as well, and will start an avalanche of success for everyone your story touches. You are not alone. Our energy is with you through the race. We believe that you can do it. We know that you will do it. We will be thinking of you and sending wishes of encouragement. We are so proud of you! What you will accomplish is the height of excellence and we are uplifted just knowing you and witnessing what you are accomplishing. It is incredible!!!. Baseball-wise: it's the World Series and you are going to win! (only it's harder - much, much harder) P.S. Remember during the race tomorrow: Keep going Audra!! No matter how hard it gets, you can do it. We know you can!!!"

"The task ahead of you is never as great as the power behind you! You have everything you need to succeed, Audra. Just keep it up!!!"

"...You are a champion already in our minds! Just keep pedaling one pedal at a time and stepping one step at a time. But most importantly, keep your mind cool and focused. You CAN do it!!! Your dream and vision are about to come true and you did it all by yourself."

"Winning is about heart, not just legs. It's got to be in the right place. (Lance Armstrong)"

"Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision. (Muhammad Ali)"

"You WILL survive. You WILL finish. You WILL succeed. I know it. All your friends know it. You know it. Do it."

"You know you can do this! We all know you can do get it over with and get back here so we can celebrate!! You've done the swim, the bike and the run now just put it all together. You've got this! I'll be following you and cheering on from here. When you start to get tired or frustrated just listen and you'll hear us all yelling your name! In spirit we'll all be with you. GO AUDRA GO!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! You are going to ROCK the Ironman!"

"The more improbable the situation and the greater the demands made, the more sweetly the blood flows later in release from all that tension. The possibility of danger serves merely to sharpen awareness...And perhaps this is the rationale of all endurance sports: you deliberately raise the ante of effort and concentration in order to clear your mind of trivialities. It is a small scale model for living, but with a serious difference: your actions, for however brief a period, are truly serious. (unknown)"

Here are some funny ones;

"Go Fast, Go Hard, Rock On! Just don't kill yourself, cause you still have to help me with the Malibu Tri."

"Despite the fact that I'm not physically in Idaho cheering you on, know that I'm in a bar somewhere in SoCal with my face painted and a big A on my stomach. We painted UDRA on Dexter's belly, but he keeps sitting on the wrong side of me...Me and Dexter will still be in the bar waiting for you after you return for some more celebrating."

"You're only allowed to stop if your legs fall off. Both of them."
"Make sure you finish ahead of the 73 year old lady who's still in the water."
"Don't disgrace yourself by quitting. (Or puking on yourself - that's never a good look)."

"If you finish in under 13.5 hours, I will complete a non-stop 2 mile run by August 31st."

Let's talk about racing transitions... Each transition is unique to each individual. For some, the use of platform pedals with running shoes feels safer and towel to dry off before riding off on the bike course is a must. Other athletes are using a "clipless" pedal system and prefer to not dry off, and just ride off wet. Some may have special needs such as orthotics, prescription glasses etc. or adhere to a strict philosophy: "I absolutely must have this on before I leave the transition area". The one overriding dilemma of everyone's transition boils down to one simple dilemma: Comfort vs. Speed

Here are the basics for most any triathlete:

The Set Up:
• Arrive early!
• Rack bike - Most racks will accommodate a "Seat" racked position
• Layout of your transition area first - stuff on the same side as your front wheel
• Items need to all within easy reach - ready to be "don" without adjustment
• Bike in proper gear
• Secure shoes on bike or not?
• Mental and physical preparations-know your way in and out - walk the route!

Have Wet suit off your arms and down to your waist before you get to your bike
• "Fold not roll" wetsuit - Three steps: down to waist, below knees then step off of ankles
• Take two seconds to put wet suit out of the way (up on rack?)
• Put your helmet on and SNAP THE CHIP STRAP!
• Put shoes on
• Use seat carry method to walk or run your bike to the Mount Line

Advanced Time Savers:
Shoes preset on pedals, then feet in shoes while on the bike
• NO socks on bike (no cleaning necessary & stiff shoes less likely to rub a blister)
• Do you really need: Wading pool to dip feet in, towel to dry off, gloves, bike shorts, dry shirt, etc.
• Master the rolling or "flying" mount!

Know where the dismount line is
• Know how to get from the bike entrance to your rack
• Hang bike by break levers
• Remove helmet
• Put shoes on
• Know where the run exit is
• Run out in a controlled manner

Big Time Savers:
Remove your feet while still on the bike and dismount bare footed
• Master the rolling dismount!

Overriding "Rules"
• Nothing new on Race Day: its not a time for experimentation; use what your know worked in training.
• Practice: Don't expect to blaze through a transition if you haven't run through it a few times
• Answers from an official: Ask a qualified official about entrances, exits and transition rules
• Check the Margins: There are often more advantageous locations if racks are not assigned.

On Sunday, June 21st LA Tri Club with Jamie Silber and the TriAthletix coaches will be hosting a Transition Clinic to go over the basics as well as some tips-and-tricks for those who want to further hone your speed in transition. For more info, visit the LATC RSVP/Polls (members only) or (non-members).

Good luck in all your 2009 races!

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