Or, you know, race. Yes, I'm in Boston, and the nerves are happening, and numbing them down is  the sweet caress of slumber graciously granted by Lady A, where each of my limbs are being buoyed up and down by the gentle drift of a balloon's gait. I'm trying to get out some thoughts before I go under entirely, to mentally prepare for what's to be-- this, they say, is a bucket list day, one of those things you simply must do to have lived. And while I've done quite a few of these heinous tricks to my body, I feel differently today. There is something royal about Boston. So much prestige. It is the Kona of running: I had to do something great already just to get here. And now I'm here. And now... what? Do I try to qualify again? This seems a little silly, as I have not been going too hard on the runs, and temporarily lost that part of my identity, as "runner", which seems only recently to have had a resurgence at Ragnar with the team: Duty (doody) calls and suddenly something within me comes to life, and I spring to action. So maybe tomorrow's one of those days where I surprise myself yet again by discovering who I really am. Who, in the confusion of a packed life and multiple passionate projects, am I, when tumbling towards a race course filled with elites? Am I a fraud? Am I a God? Do I ascend like  valkyrie to stand amongst them, as if I never questioned any of it? This is what's at stake this time. No possible goal, just something internal... to run for oneself... to run towards your better self, the self you thought you were, the self you hoped you could be, and the run past that and realize, yes, I am better.

But to be realistic... I'd like to do a solid 3:45. And if I could in my fever dream version of life attain another qualifying time of 3:34, well, that would be transcendent.

And what I want most of all is the remember the good. The hard. The experience, the people. And the fact that this is ME, right now, doing this, and no one else. And I shall wear the SHIT out of the unicorn! Because this marathon... is gonna be EPIC.

Posted
AuthorNikki Muller

Imagine: gorgeous rows of pine trees. A sparkling lake. An idyllic natural paradise. Then imagine a wind blowing straight in your face as you strain to climb a mountain for 20 minutes, and knowing you'll have to do it multiple times. Such a mixed bag was this year's Coeur d'Alene. 

The start of the race was a bit of a panic: after realizing I'd left my ENTIRE bag of bike food at home (WHAT?!) my amazing boyfriend race back, got it, and I was able to get it to where it needed to be in time. The wind was whipping and the lake was white capping with chop, which was not the nicest sight. But luckily the water was temperate, and I wound up getting a personal best time on my swim split, even with all the chop and the exiting of the water to run across the timing mat. So it was a good start! Aaaaand then it all went downhill. (And uphill, lots.) 

Locals say it has never been so windy, and while this made swim choppy and tiring, the main effect was that it made an already challenging bike course downright demoralizing. Top AGers even barely broke six hours, but it took me over seven, with brutal headwinds (I averaged 12 mph on downhills, uphill was clearly worse.) Plainly said-- I pretty much sucked. At one point, the wind is just blasting at me as a crank my way up a mammoth hill, and I'm just thinking, "eff this, man, why am I out here ALONE and suffering? This sucks." So at that moment I realized I might need a bit of a break from the sport, at least until Boston next year. To make matters even more annoying, my Garmin decided to betray me, and wasn't showing me total distance or speed, so I had to restart it to know my run pace, thereby losing my total time. I have ZERO idea why, since I'd tested it the day before and my automultisport was AOK. I tried not to be grumpy about it, but... yeah. When you train for months and have your equipment betray you on THE day, well, it sucks!

I'm thinking, "I have to go up those mountains with that wind again? NOOOOOO"

I'm thinking, "I have to go up those mountains with that wind again? NOOOOOO"

In spite of grumpy bike riding, and annoyance at Garmins, there was still a race to be run, and beer and boyfriend were waiting for my finish. I told Andy to get me a tank top, because this race was HARD, and I was gonna EARN that name on that M-Dot. (Didn't want to buy it the day before because of superstition of course!) All the effort on the bike was making everyone hurt, myself included, and the old plantar fascia inflammation wasn't helping either. But that's why God made Advil, so I popped some and tried to keep my pace consistent. I did alright until I had to take a bathroom break, and then it became REALLY tough to keep going. But after a few slow miles, I got over the hump, and the end was in sight (well, the last 10K as it were) and I was gonna finish this thing with dignity. So after chatting up a few pals on the course, I got my game face on, put the foot and body pain on mute and upped my cadence, pulling off a negative split for the last six miles, getting back down to sub 8 minute miles, which was no joke in such a state. It was fortunate that the sun was sparkling on the lake in a magical way that made a solid four of my miles a blissful trancelike nature state. In spite of the wind and all the suffering, there was truly nothing so beautiful as that run. I'd highly recommend a visit-- if not a race. Gorgeous.

This really doesn't capture the pure beauty, but, maybe you sort of get it.

This really doesn't capture the pure beauty, but, maybe you sort of get it.

To my GREAT dismay, I had a 13:01 finish time, which could have EASILY been avoided by simply cutting short that bathroom break or picking up the pace on my slow mile chatting time. But I had no way of knowing, since the Garmin betrayed me, so... spilt milk or whatever. It's just a number, but ARGH, I want that number to be 12! Haha. #ironmanproblems am I right?

Hard earned medal!

Hard earned medal!

Andy was there at the finish, after a pretty long and boring day of waiting to see me six times as I passed him, and he declared that, for future races, he was going to have to do something to make them less boring... namely... he was going to do the RACE. Without having ever DONE a triathlon. But he's sturdy, and if he gets his swim up, it'll be possible!

For now, it's time to let the foot heal so I can get my run back and a base ready for Boston. The crew is all rallying to do Boulder, which Andy is thinking of making HIS first! We shall see what develops, in due time. (Though right now the idea of doing another Ironman is horrifying... I'm sure I'll get back to it, right?)

How quickly the memory fades... like the Hammer tat upon one's arm. ;-)

Posted
AuthorNikki Muller

It's that time again: the night before, when all the nerves get jangly and there's really nothing to do except distract yourself however you can from the useless wondering and worrying. We're here in the beautiful Coeur D'Alene, hanging out in a rented house, watching some TV on my cell phone and waiting to medically fall asleep even though it's still fully sunny outside. It took a while to get up here: we drove from LA to Northern CA to Portland to here, which is like its own Ironman, in a way... I still have a weird soreness in the side of my body that I can't account for. And then to make everything a little fun and dramatic, we had a full blowout on the highway only eight minutes away from Portland, after driving ten hours and had to go drop some coin on a new tire as early as possible so we could make it to packet pickup in time. (I like to think that the blowout was good luck, so tomorrow will be a technically perfect race, right? Right.)

I felt a little out of sorts from all the driving, and somewhat out of it, but today we got everything done that needed to happen: found speed laces for my shoes (weirdly there weren't any on sale at the expo, which I counted on), made sure I had everything I needed on my bike (was short a lever) went to the info session, biked a little of the run course, ran a spell, and drove the remainder of the bike course. I'd been feeling a little nervous, since I haven't been climbing a load on my rides, and while there is one hefty 5% grade, it seems generally pretty doable, and a lot of it looks like I'll be able to put on some speed, so I'm feeling a bit better about the race now. I think I have good odds of putting in a really strong show, so I'm just gonna go out there, channel all the positive thoughts and put out all the doubts and just enjoy the day. I've been a little down on myself because my feet are always sore from plantars, and it's tough for me to keep up sub nines compared to the past, but I need to just forget that and do what I can, because tomorrow is all that matters, and it's going to be an excellent day to race, in an ideal setting. Everyone told me that Coeur d'Alene was beautiful, and they weren't lying. As gorgeous as Cozumel was, the rolling hills of pine forests paired with expansive blue sky with perfect puffy clouds is more my style. That, and the fact that it's ideal racing weather. It was raining earlier, but looks like it will be partly cloudy and around the low 70's-- amazing! And to make matters all the better, the cold cold swim that I was fearing is not so cold this year-- the water is currently 61 degrees, positively balmy when compared to the rumors of low 50s that I was hearing. Which is good because the chin strap of the neoprene skull cap I bought to warm my noggin felt like it was choking me out when I tried it on. Apparently a size medium isn't any good if you have a full head of hair, I guess.

So all that's left at this point is to get as much sleep as possible, get up and at em and get the bike all set up before the swim start at 6:45 (or, in my case, whenever people with a 1:15 swim start-- they do it in flights, which is kinda nice.) And then: lots of yummy Northwestern craft beer to celebrate! Let's make it a good day tomorrow.

Posted
AuthorNikki Muller