Category Archives: triathlon

Rainy Day Stokedness

There’s nothing better to do on a rainy day than to read about events you’ve done and that you want to do. Especially this time of year! It’s so important to reflect on the past in order to prepare for the future, no matter what your goals are. A post came through my Reader about the Norseman Triathlon in Norway and I was reminded of the race adventure in 2007 when I had the privilege of being in what they call the world’s hardest full-iron triathlon. I wrote about it here and here.

Norway = One of the most beautiful places in the world
Norwegians = Some of the friendliest people in the world

Doing like most people with some spare time on a rainy day (well, after I went on a 2.5hr run…), I perused youtube for videos of this kick-ass race and found some really great ones (keep in mind I think most race/adventure videos do a poor job of capturing the reality of this stuff, but these are actually really good!). The first is like an intro and the second is like a mini-doc….

 

 

I wish I could get out there again!! Plenty of closer adventures to be had…

What’s getting you stoked for 2011?

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Filed under travel, triathlon

fuck Ironman

World Triathlon Corporation, who put on Ironman(tm), the events I refuse to go to because they are insanely expensive- $550 for a one-day race- and pride themselves on exclusivity just started a program to get early entry in races that costs $1000 a year. A thousand dollars just to register early. Some have called it the Country Club program.

Is anyone surprised? I’m not. This is capitalism at it’s ugliest- exploiting those with more resources to line your own pockets- at the expense of those with less. And because they are so big it makes it harder for smaller race organizers to put on events. If they kept doing what they do- taking money from rich people to make themselves richer I wouldn’t care as much. I still wouldn’t go to their fucking races, but I wouldn’t be as mad about it. But it affects any of us who want to do a long-course swim, bike, run because there are fewer and fewer alternatives. And those of us without thousands of extra dollars.

I put off doing an ‘iron-distance’ because of the association with Ironman-trademark and I’m wondering if I ever want to do one again. There need to be more events like Vineman .

This video nails it. Thanks Treystone!

http://www.xtranormal.com/site_media/players/jwplayer.swfhttp://www.xtranormal.com/site_media/players/embedded-xnl-stats.swf

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Filed under political, triathlon

Vineman photos

Thanks Chris for ‘screen-shooting’ these! Photos from ASI Photography.

The one technical section. Picked up some time here. Ha.


I’m going faster than it looks. Er, probably not. Nevermind.
Sure, The Zapatistas and the 1968 Olympic Black Power salute are with left hands, but I am also left-handed.

1st place, beard division.

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2010 Vineman

Vineman full-iron, yo. Pretty tight. Haven’t done this multi-sport thing in two years. Appeals to the ADHD me. Also to the Zone-3, no jump in me. 8th/79 in age-group, 45th/527 overall. The 4-hour marathon deal at the end has me pretty amped. Put in some serious work there. Here’s the breakdown:

Pre-race
Drove from Portland to Oakland two days before. Fun and beautiful. Stopped in Ashland, Oregon, recently voted best trail-running city in the country where, fortunately for me, hung out with a new trail-running friend I met at the Badwater Ultra-marathon when I was there as an official. Unfortunately, Lacy and I didn’t have time to go running with her, so we did the next best thing which was hang out at the Ashland Food Co-op. Another city, another vegan donut.

Sonoma County hang- I’ve some family in Sonoma which was our base. Three kids under 11 to keep me busy. An important note: Don’t try backflips on a trampoline if you can’t do them well. Hurt my neck and it bothered me all day on the race.

Dinner in Oakland- Ate dinner at Manzanita, which another friend described as Food Not Bombs food for $20. I was into it. Quinoa, miso soup, delicious salad. Perfect pre-race.

Race day
Up at 445. Made a french press. Drank coffee on the way. Start was mad crowded, parking, blah blah blah. Set up my ‘transition’ with my bike stuff, which is always exciting. By the time I see it again, I’ll be so fucking stoked to finally ride. Putting on my wetsuit: way less exciting. If I’m lighter than I’ve ever been (er, well, close) why is it tighter than it’s ever been? Haven’t worn it since this race in 2008.

Swim
In the water, ready to go, pre-whistle. A first. I started to get nervous which made me think tardiness is a response mechanism to nervousness.

Stay chill!


Harder than it sounds. Having breathing issues. Wetsuit felt SO TIGHT. Gnarly. Took 20 minutes for me to calm down. And for my dumb goggles to quit being foggy. This has never happened to me! The swim is two laps in a river with very little current. By the start of the second loop I was feeling a rhythm. Swimming is difficult to tell pace; I often didnt know if I was passing or being passed or if I was swimming straight. It’s also very shallow, which means you can stand if you have to (which is why Jeff and Megan call this Styrofoam-man!).
Still I paced, slowly. Got out in 1hr22min, 10 min slower than past race. I’m cool with it. Arms are tired. Wonder why?

Bike
I passed my pink backpack and wetsuit over the fence to Lacy with a big smile on my face. Cycling. Hell yes. I go hard straight away. Stomach is weird so I don’t eat for about an hour. That’s 2.5hrs now on a small banana. It’s fine. Passing hella people and being super polite and stoked, but others aren’t being so! (No Meat Athlete just talked about ettiquete for these races).
The course is rolling hills and it’s overcast and chilly for the first 50 miles. I love it. I’m feeling strong through the first 70 then I’m less stoked. I notice because I’m getting angry at dudes with Zips and discs passing me on the flats. ‘I’m being passed, wtf?’ Reconsidering the offer to borrow Zips from a friend. I hesitated cause they are tubulars, but that 8-10% speed improvement sure sounds nice about now.
I stop and pee. Eating more. Feeling good. My average speed is dropping below my goal of 21 MPH. Usually my strength is in the last half of the bike, but lack of recent long rides is showing.
Finish at 5hr30-something minutes. About 10 minutes faster than last time; making up the time lost in swimming.
.

Transition 2
Yeah, running. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I think cycling is the perfect warm-up for running. I feel great. It’s getting warm so I slap on sunblock, drink some cold water, dump some on my head and run out with the goal of a 4-hour marathon.

RUN
Boom. Three out-and-backs loops with rolling hills, turns, spectators and aid every mile. I head out strong, I think, trying to figure out my pace. I’ve no watch and there are no time clocks. I ask some dude with a fancy watch his pace. 9min07sec miles. Perfect. He then says that’s too fast for him and backs off. Then someone says, ‘Yo Matt!’ A dude who lives in Pasadena and has ridden Feel My Legs, I’m A Racer is on his first iron-distance. He’s killing it. We chat awhile and then my pace is a bit faster so I split off. Straight away I’m chatting with a dude from Bogota who speaks no English. We talk about running, cities and Ciclovia. He says, ‘this is hard’ and then runs away from me. I see Lacy at the end of my eventful first lap. Stoked. Run through the transition/finish and see the clock and do the math. My goal is three 80-min loops to equal 4 hours. I did 76 minutes. Boom. Drink some tea (thanks girl!), head out for lap two.

Lap 2
This is the toughest part, mentally. My brain insists on tricking me to slow down. Stop to pee! Put on sunblock! Walk this hill to conserve energy. I do the first two, but not the last. I endure. Passing folks which feels odd and exciting. I’m using the Hydra pouch cup system; no paper cups. It holds 6 ounces of liquid that fills in one second. I’m eating only pretzels and clif blocks. I must have eaten $20 worth. Falling into that tunnel of only feeling my legs moving. I barely comprehend the people around me. Occasionally someone yells, ‘Go Swarm!’ and it feels like they’ve given me everything they have. A simple cheer feels like a lifetime of support. I see Lacy at the end of lap two and she runs along with me. I see people smile and that makes me smile. Ask for the rest of the tea and some ibuprofen. She quotes me later as saying, ‘This is getting hard.’ I do the math on the clock and it was an 84-minute lap. Shit. I blame peeing and sunblock, but really my feet are burning and quads aren’t stoked.

Lap 3
Almost done. Well, 8 miles til done. My mantra is ‘run to the next aid’. Head down. Trying to keep pace, have no idea. I see people heading back on their last lap running a pace that seems impossible. I get to one of the two bigger hills and push. Everyone I see is walking, but I refuse to. I crave the change in muscle use. At the turn around I think, ‘Just run back. That’s all you have to do.’ My feet are destroyed. I stop to drink two cupfulls and have to hold on to the pop-tent cause the motion of putting my head back makes me a little dizzy. A volunteer says she thinks I should sit. ‘No way I’m sitting down, sorry!’

On a downhill about 2 miles from the finish someone catches me. Straightaway she says, ‘I’m on the relay, don’t worry.’ I try and hold her pace. We chat. She’s super supportive. I can barely talk. I think we’re doing 9 minute miles but it feels like a sprint. We both jog through the last aid and I refuse to give up her pace. We start to catch someone I’ve seen ahead of me at every turn around. I push. Drop her. Catch him.
The last half mile is painful. Did I go too hard too soon?
Cross the finish with the same Black Power salute I did in 2008, but this time the clock is one hour earlier.
Results.

Post-race
Try to keep moving. Head cloudy. Feet burning. STARVED. Lacy finds me wandering in circles. I sit. Stretch. Snack. Get bike. Get food! Yay veggie burger with pasta salad on it. Whatevs. Tons a fruit. See the Pasadena dude and someone I randomly met at a wedding last year. Congratulations all around.
We hear about a local, sustainable, vegan restaurant in the tiny town of Graton and head there. Ends up they are promoters of the first two, but haters of the latter. ‘We put cheese in the polenta because it tastes better.’ I knew it was too good to be true. Damn ‘local’ restaurants and their total disregard for animals. We eat at the Mexican place next store that gets it. Yum. See some folks who were at the race and my hobble gives away that I was there.

So. Yeah. Was high on this for a few days. No photos, unfortunately. There are the official ones, but I couldn’t figure out how to pull them.

Soon, the fall: More mountain bike racing and then Furnace Creek 508, again. See you out there. Keep at it, whatever it is you do. Here are some applicable Buddhist quotes I stole from famous artist, Lacy J. Davis.

Don’t depend on how the rest of the world is.
In this life, concentrate on achieving what is most meaningful.
Stay focused.
Don’t expect any applause.


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Filed under race, triathlon

Blisteringly fast?

The gnarliest blister I've ever had. Or seen, really.
Anyway, Vineman went really well! Thx for the love, folks. More
details soon, still whirling from Sonoma-Oakland-LA-to work post-race,
but my time was 11hrs 19min with a 4-hour marathon in there at the
end. Elated.

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Filed under run, triathlon

pre Vineman 2010

I love to swim.
I love to bike.
I love to run.
I love to do things for a really long time.

This is the answer I give when folks ask me about triathlon. I am most definitely not a triathlete and I’m going to shy away from trying to convince anyone that triathlon is ‘cool’. It’s like arguing that Korn is a seminal punk band or that Del Taco really has Mexican food down. I’m glad people enjoy these things, but they will always just be what they are. And that’s fine! I’ve been known to deviate outside of the norm (norm, as always, is relative here. It’s normal in my world to not know anyone with health insurance or who eats at McDonalds. Or anyone who isn’t pro-choice or who hasn’t hung out with their favorite band). Like listening to Downset, paying for a mattress and working a job where I have to wear a button-up shirt (occasionally).
That’s the long intro to say that tomorrow is the Vineman, full-iron (fuck you Ironman-TM for trademarking both ‘ironman’ and ‘iron-distance’ you money-hungry fuckers) triathlon.

2.4 mile swim
112 mile bike
26.2 mile run

I’ve watched two bloggers I follow each race their first this year- Punk Rock Tri Guy and Vegan Heart Doc. Their rightful sense of accomplishment is very motivating.

Yay! But I’m nervous. More than usual. I’ve swam 5 times this year. Maybe 2.4 miles total, but probably less! Since reading Total Immersion I’m confident in my theory that swimming is way, way more skill than fitness, but still! I haven’t practiced that skill very much in the last two years (the last triathlon I did was Vineman 2008, which is also the last time I’ve worn my wetsuit).

Whoa. Deep breath. I won’t drown. I just don’t want it to slow my bike down! Running that half marathon July 4th was awesome, but I haven’t run much since. Oops.

You know what is fucking awesome though? Vineman recycles everything-including a special process for energy bar wrappers-and composts fruit scraps. The finish is powered by solar panels. New this year- paper cup-free run! They are using Hydra-pouch refillable cups that each runner carries. So fucking awesome. When we rode through the SF marathon on Sunday on our way to Rough Riders there was litter EVERYWHERE. It was disgusting. So this rules.

Well, goal time….I’d love to beat 12hrs20min from last time, but I’m not sure how the swim will pan out and slow the rest of my day. Also haven’t ridden my road bike much at all and I just put my aerobars on and haven’t ridden them yet. Is a four-hour marathon possible? I’d love it, but we’ll have to see. Holding back on the bike is near impossible for me.

Thanks to everyone who helped get me here and make this happen!

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peak.com interview part one

This is part one of an interview I did with peak.com. If you like it and think others may be stoked please share it with the tool on the upper right.

Age?
Recently 30.

Occupation?
I’m trained as a Registered Dietitian, in other words a professional nutritionist. Currently I work under a Food-stamp grant doing nutrition education in low-income areas of Los Angeles. Am also an adjunct instructor with the LA district community colleges.

How long have you been doing ultras?
Since Fall of 2004. More or less.

What was your first one?
My first ultra was the Mt. Tam double century in 2004. I had no idea what I was getting into. I did it on 3 hours sleep, finished in 16 hours, then had to drive an hour back to a friend’s house. It was beautiful.

What got you into ultras?
Bike touring. I spent the majority of teenage years on a BMX bike riding the most difficult trails in the country. Many of my friends went on to be pro. I went to college. Not sure if I made the right decision. Filled the gap with mountain biking and then bought a $50 panasonic road bike my senior year. Rode it 150 miles through Pennsylvania to my mom’s house within a month. First lesson: cut-off shorts and no underwear is not the most comfortable choice for your crotch. The following Spring I rode cross-country from California to Pennsylvania alone (mostly). I was too cheap to pay for camping (hotels weren’t an option) so I found my own places behind trees or rocks or in public parks. Spent $5/day over two months. Would of been faster but I got hit by a car head-on outside of Flagstaff, Arizona in a surprise snow storm. Ten days off the bike mending a broken wrist and a broken bike. Insurance of the driver bought me my first ‘real’ bike: a Bianchi Axis. The next summer a friend and I rode from Los Angeles to Belize City, Belize. We went through Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guatemala, it was a phenomenal experience. With some shorter trips, including Alaska and the Great Divide, I’ve got about 10,000 bike touring miles logged.

Your hardest?
Solo Furnace Creek 508! No doubt. The desert does something to you mentally. If you don’t love it and show it respect, it will chew you up. I struggled the second day quite a bit and would not of finished if it was not for my great crew. After 37 hours I was glad to be done and did enjoy it, even with the misery. That’s partly why I am out there. I love the highs and lows.

Longest?
Paris-Brest-Paris in 2007 was definitely the longest. Does that count as an ultra? I wasn’t competing, I just thought it would be a fun way to experience France. It’s part Critical Mass, part bike tour, part cultural submersion. I went with the night start and rode with various groups over the next 26 hours. In Carhaix I found a cot in a gym to sleep on. ‘When do you want us to wake you up?’ In 8 hours, I replied to their confusion. I figured it would be more fun and easier if I slept a full night. Did the same the next night. Finished in 77 hours, if I remember correctly. Two weeks previous I had done my first iron-distance triathlon on a course in Norway they call the world’s hardest, the Norseman. I was nervous because it was especially cold. They had to move the swim away from the glacier run-off in the fjord. You actually had to get out of the water half-way through so they could check you for hypothermia. The bike was 126 miles and the marathon ends up a mountain. I finished near the back and the organizers were always tremendously supportive. They let us sleep in the gym (is there a theme here?) in the days leading up to the race and cook in the kitchen of a school to save money.

Recommendations for new athletes?
It is difficult for me to answer this because I struggle to call myself an athlete. I’d say keep it fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously. I like to do athletic events because they are an adventure and the process adds to my life experience. When I lose sight of this it becomes like a job and significantly less fun. To me swimming in a fjord in Norway, riding my bike through traffic in LA, mountain biking fantastic technical single track or running up a mountain near my house are all worthy experiences in their own right regardless of the end goal. Each give me that jolt of excitement that I don’t think enough of us get in our daily lives.

Food and hydration during events?
Even though my expertise is in nutrition, I still have to work very hard to get my food and hydration sorted out. The more I’ve trained and at times when I am most fit I am able to eat less while riding without compromising my performance. It has taken me years of paying close attention to my body to know how far I can push and when I need to eat and drink. I try to average about 200 calories an hour and focus, when possible, on eating fruits and whole foods. On doubles and really tough centuries I do use gels and the liquid foods with definite success.

What’s your training like?
Oh how my training varies. I am definitely on the low-end of hours and miles compared to others. Especially running. It is a struggle for me to run more than twice a week, which is something I need to change if I want to get my marathon time under four hours. I do a lot of core work, including pilates. I also live in Los Angeles without a car, so riding to the grocery store and carrying 20 pounds of groceries home on my fixed gear definitely helps.

Favorite event?
So hard to say! My first mountain bike race ever was this year, the Shenandoah 100. It was freakin awesome. A party the whole time, with a 100 miles of amazing terrain and great single-track in the middle. I raced rigid single-speed and came in just under 11 hours. A great way to spend the day. I also did Vineman, the ‘people’s iron-man’, this year in Sonoma Country. Very well supported, lots of veg food and an emphasis on minimal impact: they washed and reused water bottles and even composted fruit scraps.

Why ultras?
I like the commitment. I don’t want to spend more time traveling to an event than I do participating in it! That space in time after the initial adrenalin wears out is where you learn the most about yourself and the world. I’ve experienced clarity like no other on really long bike events. This is cliche, but it takes you away from mundane, normal life with the hassles of bills to be paid, reports to be filed, calls to answer, etc. In a way it is very primal and aligns us with what our ancestors were forced to do to make it through life. I think we all need to remember this. I do my best to promote ultra events so others can get out of the work-buy stuff-watch tv-sleep-repeat routine and experience what we are capable of experiencing, for good and for bad.

Long term goals in the sport?
Tough one. I take it year by year. I like this mountain biking thing so I want to do a 24-hour race next year. The courses seem so boring though. Maybe race the Great Divide? I am not sure. I hope no one who reads this holds me to that!

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Filed under 508, brevet, double, off-road, triathlon, vegan

Vineman photos

Finally back in LA and able to get some photos up. Thanks Jenny!

I just figured out how to read the ranked splits (your time for each: swim-2.4 miles, bike-112 miles, run-26.2 miles) on the results page. My bike was 28th out of 366, in the top 7.5%! I am totally amazed by that. And for anyone else that geeks out over numbers, here they are: swim, 173/379, 45% and run, 112/310, 36%. My overall was 56/310, 18%. Wtf?

I am posting this because I want others who are thinking about similar events to realize that the ‘I am in over my head’ feeling is totally normal. I was convinced that I was last in the swim. I was okay with that, but seriously thought I had been passed by everyone. Ends up I was in the middle somewhere.

Brian’s wife Jenny wanted a photo at the finish the day before.
That made me nervous.

Since it is an olympic year I thought I’d give props to
Tommie Smith and John Carlos
with a black power salute

This was the best feeling ever.


So whatever is in the back of your mind: do it. Sign up. Make training fun and not a job. Make a plan, but be flexible. Those around you will support you and even thank you for being positive and going beyond your comfort zone. Cause really this is what life is about. Riding a bike to work, being vegetarian, doing an iron-distance triathlon; all are about getting out of your comfort zone and doing what common-people will tell you is unreasonable or impossible. Do it.

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Vineman more

Triathlons are an odd thing. I’ve always held them at a distance because of the type of people who do them and my desire to not be associated with it. But I am getting over it. This was super fun. One of the funnest days I have ever had. I’m a bit rushed right now cause I am leaving on a camping trip down the coast back to LA, but here’s the story. Hope to get photos up soon. Enjoy.

Swim
Stupid wetsuit wouldn’t zipper. I am swimming up to the start as the gun goes off, about two minutes ahead of where I was at Auburn, but still late. D’oh.

I chill. Long strokes, easy pace, stay in a group. I am looking around, enjoying the beauty. Making note of points on the out-and-back so I know where I am when I return.

At the turn around I can’t believe how fast I am and how good I feel. ‘This is going way better than any other swim.’ I am approaching the swim exit and strangely I don’t see anyone exiting. Is it around a corner? Who are those people swimming up the other way again? Oh, it’s two laps. I’m not that fast. I’m only half-way. I should wear a watch. About 35 minutes later I am really getting out of the water.

T1
What do you think of when someone says ‘wetsuit stripper’? It’s not what you kind of wish it would be it’s having a team of people pull off your wetsuit. It is awesome. I was a bit overtaken by how quickly I went from being fully covered to wearing only some tiny, dripping, bike shorts.

Nine minutes later I was riding away.

Bike
So I put aerobars on. Rode about 30 miles with them the week leading up the race. They are sweet. You tuck down, slide up in your seat and then pedaling as hard as you can comes natural. This course has about 4000ft elevation gain in 112 miles and a lot of it is rolling hills. Which are tricky. When you are averaging 21 or 22 MPH you don’t want to slow down. When climbing a mountain you have no choice. When’s it only 100 feet or so you just stand up and mash in your big ring in order to not lose momentum. Or at least that is what I do. Passed a lot of people. Said ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ each time. Less than one in four respond. I look at all the graperies that turn fruit into alcohol. Every 25 miles someone hands me a nice cold sports drink. It gets hot. Some friends from Organic Athlete wrote our names at the top of the biggest climb. And also wrote ‘Go Vegan’ which confused me in my apoxic state.

T2
Since I don’t run train very well or really do bricks besides riding to my runs (see my experience at Norseman) I was a wee bit nervous entering T2. But I switched shoes, ate a banana, put on my hat and attempted to keep up my mental momentum from the bike.

Run

Determination. How do I control that? I was so determined to keep my run strong and stay on pace (as much as you can with no watch and the only clock being at the finish) that I was shocked. I walked the aid stations and the big hills and then just kept on it. The course is 3 out-and-backs and which sounded like it would be tedious, but it was really good. I could mentally break it down. Every time you came through the finish area to start a new lap the crowd lining the route cheered you on. It was really great. I wish they could be there every day. ‘Yeah Matt, you are only 10 minutes late to work, good job!’, ‘Way to get that paper work filled out!’.

I did have a real emotional low on the start of the second lap. Don’t know where it came from, but I could barely talk. When I saw Brian (he DNF’d on the run with a knee injury) I was totally spaced. Asked him to talk to me ‘about anything’. I had some lows like this at Paris-Brest-Paris, but this was the worst one I’ve ever had.

I started the third lap at 10hr 30min race time. If I could hold on to 10-min miles I could do sub-12. Alas I could not! The hills got me. And I only ate an orange on the last lap to focus on my hydration as the weather cooled and some more shade covered the course.

Post
Legs feel strange. Have to keep walking. Then stretch. Then lay on my back and put my legs up: amazing feeling. Overwhelmingly joyous as normal blood flow returns to them. Hang out. Eat a veggie burger and a ridiculous amount of fruit.
From here we went to the Organic Athlete house in Sebastopol and ate a gigantic salad and some banana ice cream. I laid on the kitchen floor a bunch of the time and we all told stories about ridiculous things we like to do.

Splits: Swim 01:16:36.0 T1 00:09:31.6 Bike 05:41:57.7 T2 00:05:40.1 Run 05:08:09.3 Finish 12:21:54.6

Thanks: Brian, Jenny for being awesome support, Bradley and Justin from OA, my distant family up here that treats me like close family, vineman for having tons of vegan food, recycling and even composting, Michel Martinez for getting me stoked on doing this.

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Vineman

Yesterday was Vineman and it was a great time. I plan to write up a longer story, but here is the short:

12 hour 21 minute total time

2.4 mile swim-1hr 16min
transition 1- 9 min (hanging out is pretty cool)
112 mile bike- 5hr 41 min (I rode a 5hr century!)
transition 2- 4 min
26.2 mile run- 5hr 11min

It was a fun, beautiful course and really well supported. And I don’t know where I pulled that marathon out of! It was hilly and very hot, but still one of the best marathons I have run (not necessarily by time, but how I felt).
Am sore, but not miserable.

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