Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ironman Texas Race Report

Well, writing a race report for an Ironman is literally not something I thought I would ever do. But here it is.

How did this happen
Good friends (bad friends?) got me to pull the trigger. Beer was involved but not much so can't really use that as an excuse. I have never really wanted to do an Ironman, but the stars aligned that I would have an almost full time training partner (Carrie) and the timing worked out where I felt I could actually fit all this training in. It was now or never. Marty's excellent coaching got me to the start line feeling confident and injury free.

The travel, logistics, bags, packing, nutrition - these are all a royal PITA.

Swim: 1:01:17
Carrie and I were separated after dropping off our special needs bag because of bad communication and bathroom needs within our group of 7. Noooooooo. I surprisingly ran into Marty at the start who I was not expecting to see and he was able to call Whit and tell him where I had seeded myself for the rolling start. But it got crowded quick and I couldn't find her. I'm sure the people around me must have thought I was the most fidgety person as I was constantly spinning circles and standing on my tip toes looking for her. We were set to go off at 6:40am and at 6:38am I feel a tap on my shoulder! CARRIE! (she immediately got smothered in a hug - emotions were high). She said she spotted me because I was the only one (spinning circles) while everyone else was focused and looking straight ahead. We entered the water together and swam almost stroke for stroke the entire way. We had heard that the swim here was rough, but we stayed way to the right and didn't find it too bad at all. On the return trip things got a bit more crowded as we were surrounded by people swimming about at our same ability but nothing terrible. The final turn into the canal was a bit more rough as it was narrow and shallow and more like a washing machine. All this stuff doesn't bother me, though. I can only point to the many, many open water swims I've done throughout my whole life. Growing up in Florida doing triathlons in the ocean has some advantages - particularly when they NEVER cancelled swims back then. All in all I felt like the swim was super easy and enjoyable. I got out feeling like I hadn't done much at all, which was exactly my goal for this part.

Finding Marty and recreating the picture on his t-shirt

T1: 4:10
This was so amazing being in there early and having a personal assistant. I asked her to do things like take my socks out of my shoes and my sunglasses out of their case. She even put my socks on my feet like I was a 3 year old while I put my helmet on!

Bike: 5:11:57
My #1 goal for the bike was to keep my power at 70% or under of my ftp. Whenever I saw it get above 70% I told myself to back off. 112 miles is a long time to be on the bike and I knew how easy it would be to go too hard at the beginning and pay for it later (and I remember Marty clearly doing this at the Great Floridian back in 2004 - that was a mistake I was not going to make). Coming out around an hour in the swim means you get passed by lots and lots of people. I didn't worry about that at all. I only worried about keeping that power number in check.

Running to my bike

The first 18ish miles you wind around town until you get to the Hardy Toll Road which is completely closed off to traffic for 20miles. You do a down and back twice so you get 80 miles of mostly flat roadway with only 3 u-turns. We had little wind out there this year (it started to pick up at the beginning of the second lap) but all this meant supah-fast bike times. If you haven't heard by now, there were also MASSIVE draft packs that formed. For me, I would let them swallow me up and spit me out. This was not very hard to do as they were moving faster than I would've been so once I was out of them, I could go back to my own thing. I guess for someone who is faster this tactic would've been harder to do, but for me this worked. At Chattanooga 70.3 last year, it was not the case - I felt that there was almost nowhere to go, but I just didn't feel like it was like that out there. And it's very easy to see the people who won't make that decision to back off and race on their own. Most of the packs were men, but there were always, always a handful of women who were tucked in there getting sucked along at a faster time than they most certainly could really ride (and then of course they came off the bike with fresher legs). It's hard to not let this bother you, but my goals didn't involve a Kona spot or a podium finish. They were much more intrinsic. And I did not train this hard and spend all that $$$ and to come all this way to sit in a draft pack.

I felt great on the bike. Keeping my power where it should be and getting all my nutrition certainly helped. The miles clicked off and soon I was at 100 and getting off the toll road to head back into town. This was probably the worst part of the bike course, the last little bit back to transition. Ironically, I was completely by myself through this part. It was so weird to be in this huge race by myself for the last 10miles. And yes, that was only 10 miles. Turns out the bike course was 'only' 110 miles.

T2: 3:54
Again, rock star treatment in the changing tent. I had a semi circle of 5 women around me asking what I needed. The volunteers were simply amazing.

Run: 4:17:51
Time to go do my first marathon! The first 3 miles I had a knife-like cramp in my side. I could only drink water at the aid stations not sure what else to do to get rid of it. I knew stomach troubles were possibly going to be a problem as I just in general don't have the strongest stomach. I never got nauseous or sloshy stomach, it just hurt. Also - the weather. I keep hearing, oh wow you guys had such amazing weather. Let's be clear here. It was a high of 84 with zero cloud cover. The humidity was ok (in the 60% range) but this is by no means a 'cool' day. I think what people mean is it could've been so much worse (agreed) but it got very hot out there. My entire jog/walk was a pretty typical first IM marathon, I think. I jogged to each aid station and walked though getting all the water/ice/coke/gatorade I could. Sometimes I walked a little extra. I took one bathroom break that was a "don't trust that fart" scenario. The run course was awesome, though! I thought 3 loops might be monotonous but the volunteer and spectator support was truly amazing. There was hardly any length of time that you didn't have someone cheering for you. There were some serious low points for me out there, however. At mile 7 I couldn't fathom how I was going to run another 19.2 miles. My right hamstring tried to fully cramp on me about 2 dozen times. In all honesty, I never felt good the entire run. But I just put my head down and got to the next aid station. I high fived everyone who offered. I hit any poster board that promised me I would power up if I did. I stomped on chalk drawings on the ground just so I could hear the girl there yell, "BOOM!" every time. I wish I could've run faster, and I certainly know I'm capable of it, but not that day. I did what I could with the hand I was dealt.

Jogging with a smile

The Finish: 10:39:08
I had a few people around me as we were nearing the finish line so I slowed up a bit to get a bit of space for my own finish picture. Of course I end up with "I'm-foreign-and-need-to-wave-my-flag-guy" in front of me. And Mike Reilly didn't even say my name as I crossed the line but I did it. I did the damn thing! And no, I didn't trip right after the finish line, that was just my leg giving out on me. That's also the quickest way to get a bunch of volunteers to rush at you, in case you're wondering.

Fantastic racers from North Carolina!
Post Race
I had a fantastic time and have zero regrets. I'm so glad I signed up for it and did it. BUT. I'm still one and done. IronBri OUT!!!!! ;)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

3.5 weeks to go

I felt like I needed to blog about the training that has happened (as this training is never to happen again! Hahahah). Ironman Texas is 3.5 weeks away so the hard stuff is done at this point. And I’m here at the other end of it in one piece and still smiling! I mean for the most part anyways, there were times where I wasn’t smiling. For instance, during round 2 of the triple brick, when it was 42 degrees and we were getting rained on and I was feeling awful – the good news is my initial reaction is all captured on a Go Pro. I’m putting my bike up in the middle of this round and look at the camera: I…….(very long pause. So long you think I might be done talking)….I don’t like this.

But what have I accomplished? Enough to think that I may actually be able to finish this thing.
  • My first 100 mile ride (106 miles to be exact) was amazing because it was mostly flat and had a 10 mph tailwind. Zooooooooom.
  • The next 100 mile ride was imbedded in the aforementioned Triple Brick (yes, that needs to be capitalized). 3x33 mile bike, 30min run. Oh, what, that doesn’t add up to 100? It’s called rounding, bitches!
  • The third was 112.8 miles on a Friday where I needed to burn a vacation day because our weather has been really very crappy. It has been so unseasonably cold here – which is awesome as Texas is most likely going to be 90 degrees. More on that later. This ride had anywhere between 4200 – 4900 ft of climbing depending on who’s Garmin you are looking at. This was not what we wanted, but what you get if you ride long around here.
    • You all should know by now, but when I say “We” or even “I” you need to assume I’m including Carrie because we have literally done about 95% of this training together. Also, this caption from an earlier blog was fortuitous as she may have wanted to kill me at some point this past weekend but, l’m still alive and we are still besties. 

  • The final was 111.7 miles at Beach Camp this past weekend (rounding, bitches).
  • Not one, but two 20 mile runs. Also, a 17 and 18 miler.
  • Swim has been consistent and definitely did a 4200 yard workout (plus many others near there) but I’m not worried about the swim at all. I also don't know why these bullets are not indenting but I'm not spending anymore time trying to figure it out. I also don't know why the next paragraph is two spaces down instead of one.

  • So, the weather. If it’s 40-50 degrees I am confident I will have a good run and nail my nutrition. Because that is literally all I’ve been training in. OF COURSE IT’S NOT GOING TO BE THAT. So who knows what’s going to happen? I will get to that finish line one way or another.

    Tuesday, February 13, 2018

    I'm still doing this Ironman

    A little over 10 weeks to IM Texas, my first (and only) Ironman. I do truly believe I am one and done. With this statement you might think I’m hating everything about this ‘journey’ (blargh I just threw up in my mouth a bit) but I’m actually not. There is something to be said for having a plan and trying to (mostly) go full force in and do what it calls for, even when a lot of it stretches all of your boundaries. If it weren’t for the other ladies, particularly Carrie, there wouldn’t be any way I would be getting all this done. Especially since Mother Nature has been giving us everything she’s got ranging from snow to uber-cold to all weekend rain. There have been many trainer rides, and yeah, I realize we signed up for an early season race but our winters in the south are just not usually that bad.

    I’ve been setting all sorts of PRs: longest trainer ride (4.5hrs), longest run (15 miles), longest outdoor ride (80 miles) and maybe longest swim? (3.9K) That one I’m actually not sure of, but at least longest swim in the past 7 years. All of those, except the trainer ride, are very soon to be eclipsed again (I mean for gods sakes let’s hope that trainer PR doesn’t get any longer). We did get through the whole season of Ozark as well as other movies and shows.

    It’s weird to even begin to explain to other people what I’m training for – obviously people outside the triathlon world. They think I’m straight up crazy, which in all actuality, this endeavor is. Without the full support of Marty, there’s no way I could get all this training in. I literally feel like my world is slightly askew, trying to fit the workouts in. Someone at work asked how long it takes to train for an Ironman and I literally didn’t have an answer for them. I mean, I did my first triathlon when I was 8, so I guess for me 30 years? But some people can do it in 6 months :P

    With 10 weeks to go we haven’t even hit the BIG stuff yet, and that definitely scares me. Sometimes I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread and things will come crumbling down any second. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been sick twice, had some calf strain scares and what is probably a neuroma in my foot. Many days, I’m just hoping I make it to the starting line as doing that seems like a win. And for the record, I’m not trying for a Kona slot, I’m not interested in a Kona slot, and if a miracle happened and I somehow got one (people, 4th place in my age group last year was 10 flat. That is sick fast and I’ve never even run a marathon before) I can’t even imagine taking it. 

    One day at a time, one foot in front of another, one stroke blah de blah blah -- you get the point. 

    Cheers, fools!