Thursday, June 30, 2011

IMCDA 2011

As I mentioned in my pre-race posts, I was ready. I was confident. I was calm. While you never know what will happen on race day, for the first time in my active life I knew and believed in myself and what I was capable of doing out there on the course. I didn't question that I could swim between a 1:07-1:10 or bike a sub 6 hour, and I just KNEW (thanks coach for the help on this) I could run around a 4 hour marathon.

Race morning went off without a glitch. We had 9 racers with us, 4 first timers. The nerves weren't crazy and spirits were high. Before I knew it, it was time to head down to the water for the swim start…..Let's start this thing!

The swim is tough. While I only have IM Canada to compare to, this swim course never seizes to fail on the difficulty side. The start is complete chaos and for over a half of a mile you really don't get to "swim." It's mostly head out of water damage control while you try not to get kicked (which I did), punched (which I did) and pulled under (which I did). I'm thankful I knew what I was in for though, so I just stayed calm and did what I could to try to find some open space. I got out of the first loop at about :34:30…. Forgetting that the second loop was a little longer as we have to head back in for loop 2 at an angle adding some distance, I figured I could still swim sub 1:10. I wasn't looking for an IM PR as I knew this would be slower than my 1:04 Canada swim time. The cold water (~54 degrees) started to get to me and while my core (thank you new TYR Hurricane wetsuit) and head (love the nerdy skull cap) were warm, my arms felt like they were completely locked up and I had no control over my swim stroke. As I rounded the first buoy on the second loop there were some pretty big swells that were accompanied by the taste and smell of gasoline. I was taking in water every time I took a breath to the left, which unfortunately is where I was trying to breath and sight….

I exited the water at 1:11 ~ 7min swim course PR. I'll take it :-)

T1 was pretty uneventful - I ran to the end of the changing tent with lots of open space and had an amazing volunteer help me out. I had prepared for the cold with toe warmers on my shoes, arm warmers, long finger gloves and a wind vest. It was the perfect combination to get me thawed out and also easy to toss the layers as it warmed up.

As I headed out on the first out and back I eased into my rhythm. My legs were not there yet, still trying to get warmed up from the arctic swim. I didn't let the people passing me get to my head as I knew they'd pay for it. I was able to see my coach, teammate Nalani (who had the fastest female age group swim time of the day!) and my competition for the day, Daniel (about :15mins behind me).

Without going into all the small never ending details of the bike, I'll try to sum it up as I just didn't have it. My legs finally warmed up about 2hours into the ride, but I was struggling to get my nutrition in. I had a set plan, a set amount of calories that I had practiced for 5 months, including a half IM that went flawlessly. My stomach felt bloated and upset the entire ride, and I was pretty sure it was from too much lake water. I finished the first loop in just at 3 hours and got a huge boost from our support team cheers! I was hopeful I could keep the pace, if not somehow take off a minute or 2 to still get under 6hours, but I was basically in survival mode trying to get in as many calories as possible. I was drinking like crazy, but yet still hadn't peed. I made some adjustments to my nutrition taking in gels instead of my last powerbar, and continued with my plan of 2 x e21s per hour.

I slowed a little bit off my pace when I had to stop to refill my water bottle and eased up the pace to help the stomach upset, but knew the last 15miles were pretty flat & I could make up some speed. Unfortunately, at mile 95 my Garmin popped off my wrist and realized the rest of my day would have to be altered since I had planned on using the garmin avg pace for the entire marathon.

I finished the bike in 6:05, just slightly over my goal but still a :27min course PR.

A quick change of shorts and a potty break & I was out of T-2 in less than 3 mins!

Immediately into the run I didn't feel right. My plan was to use my garmin and hold a 9min avg pace for the first 2-3 miles and then give it whatever I had for the rest of the race. My training supported this and I felt confident in my ability to run strong. I had a gel flask with a combination of caffeine/non caffeine gels to help with my energy for the first half and planned on using the aid stations and coke to get me thru the second half. Without the garmin I had a plan B of hitting splits on my watch to see the mile pace and try to use PE to get me to the right pace to start out. I hit the first mile at about 9mins, but it didn't feel easy. My stomach was really upset and I felt like my tri-top was suffocating me and putting pressure on my bloated tummy.

By mile 2 I had slowed to about a 9:15 pace and wondering how I was going to make it. By mile 3 I couldn't figure out what I could do to make my stomach feel better so I stopped, took my tri-top off and tucked it into my shorts to carry until I could hand it off to someone I knew. This right here should give a clue to how I felt as I have NEVER ever EVER run in just a sports bra. I could care less though. I started walking thru the aid stations drinking water and perform and running between. Here I am only 4 mile into the race and my plan had gone to shit. I was struggling to run like I thought I could, and forcing calories in. I was terrified of feeling like I did in Canada when I had my colossal bonk at mile 16 leading me to walk for 5 miles so I just kept forcing the calories in. I was able to run between aid stations until the hill (the new run course is WAY harder than the old one with these added hills). But I did make up some time on the down hills. My hamstring/glute issue I had been having for a couple weeks was acting up in full force so pretty much I just started feeling like I was sinking into a hole I wasn't sure I could get out of….

I was starting to wonder how much time I had on Daniel. If I was fading this bad, and he was running strong, he was surely going to catch me. As I headed back in towards transition around mile 10 I saw Daniel, looking strong but I realized I had about 7 miles on him and unless he busted out some 8min miles and I walked the rest of the race, he wasn't going to catch me. It lifted my spirits a bit, and I started running in. Shane met me somewhere over the next few miles as I was heading out for my second loop (I think, it's all kinda a blur). I was really struggling and not sure (again) how I could make it. My stomach was killing me and even though I had Shane telling me how I wasn't going to give in, how I had worked too hard for this to give up, I ended up on the side of the road dry heaving and gagging. Next up was a trip to the porta potty to see if trying to pee would help take pressure out of my stomach, but the condition of it was so awful all it did was make me gag more….. Shane told me that everyone he saw was hurting. He had never seen so many people throwing up, looking like death & that most of our group was walking the marathon. While, I hated that others were feeling crappy I have to admit that I was glad I wasn't alone….

DAMN LAKE WATER

I found (made) a friend to run with for the next 10k or so. She was on her first loop and having bad stomach issues so we just kept each other company by getting ourselves from aid station to aid station. Somewhere around mile 21 I think, when I passed Jessie and her daughter cheering (4 times by them was awesome!) and I got a second wind. I'm not sure I've ever gotten such a boost as I did going past this area each time as the infamous Emma was shouting on the microphone. It gave me just what I needed to get to the last couple of miles where I knew Shane would be waiting.

I'd done the math over and over and realized I wouldn't be having a PR over Canada's 11:50, but made a new goal of sub 12. I knew exactly what I had to do to get to it and with Shane's help over the last 2 miles, and pure determination I did it. I headed down Sherman with a big fat smile on my face crossing the finish line in 11:59:14. ~1hour and 10min course PR.

Run time 4:34:14, a 2 min IM Marathon PR & a ~30min course PR.

While this wasn't my best IM time, it was absolutely the hardest effort to get there. I feel proud of what I did on Sunday. Proud of the hard work I put into the training, the recovery and most of all that I didn't give up no matter how bad I felt. It's been an amazing journey and I've made strides I never thought possible. It doesn't get much better than that. I can't thank our supporters enough for being out there all day long on the course, online tracking and most of all to my husband for having more faith in me than I thought possible. Even enough to put $100 on the table to help push me there.

After all, a bet is a bet.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

$100 bet

Bike & bags checked. Full belly. Glass of wine and rice crispy treat. I feel good, I feel rested and most of all I feel READY.

After 3 days of freezing my butt off in the Pacific Northwest I'm finally warm. The wind has died down and the sun is out. I've made a few adjustments to my race plan including some hot tea before the swim, a vest and toe warmers for the bike.

I'm calm. Most of all I am confident. I've been talking smack all week to my buddy Daniel. For the first time I believe in what I can do tomorrow. I put numbers down on a paper for spectators.

And, low and behold my husband just put $100 bet on my finish over Daniel.

Here we go. See ya on the flip side :-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ready

The bags are packed (small miracle in itself for me), boarding pass printed, taxi-service via friends confirmed and besides taking a shower, it's all done before 4pm. Don't judge, the shower is least of my worries. I only worked out for an hour today, ya know :-)

Besides obsessively checking the weather, exchanging numerous texts with my coach, fellow racers and friends in the area I feel like this IM prep has been pretty seamless. Could it be I'm finally getting the hang of these things? My bags aren't over-stuffed, I don't think I've forgotten anything and I don't seem the least bit nervous (yet).

The water is going to be cold, the bike brisk and the run (as of now) near perfect for me. I can't wait to get back there on this course. I've got someone chasing me this time. I have a feeling I might be looking behind my shoulder a few dozen times, but if everything plays out the way it should…. He won't be catching me THIS TIME.
Have fun chasing me Daniel. I'll see you at the finish :-) Don't worry, I'll buy the snow cone this time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pre Ironman CDA, circa 2007

Four years ago I wrote the blog post below. It was the day before I was flying to Spokane, home, to do what I thought would be my first and only Ironman. I was 29 years old & naive. Little did I know what that journey would turn into. I was scared shit-less, having no idea what I could do come race day, unsure if I could even run a marathon (post IT band surgery) again and yet excited beyond words all at the same time.

I cried before the start, I cried at the finish. It took me like 5 hours to prep my transition & special needs bags. I drank too much wine the week before the race, I was restless. I was not confident in myself or my abilities.

Yet, somehow I crossed that finish line still standing, without peeing my pants and with one of the biggest smiles of my life. It was a moment I will NEVER forget.

In just over a week I'll be heading back to IMCDA for the 3rd time. I'm a different person now. I'm a different athlete. I still have some insecurities, but I also have a different sense of confidence as well. I know the hard work I've put into this race. I know the improvements I've made, the changes I've made.

While I might be squeezing into these same wetsuit, riding the same bike and wearing the same style shoes…. I know this race is going to be DIFFERENT, better.

I believe it. It's my second home, my clean crisp air and green trees. The lake I grew up spending summers at from the time I could walk, and still enjoyed when I could drive myself out there with my girlfriends to work on our tans.

I can't freaking wait. Let's get this show on the road.


Today is the day. S & I are finally all packed..... Trust me, you have no idea what an accomplishment that is. I am the world's worst packer. Without a doubt, the worst. It
literally took me all day to get my sh$! together yesterday and physically in the suitcase. I just kept running from room to room with different things in my hand... then I'd forget what I was doing, and end up not accomplishing a whole heck of a lot.

The kids were so irritated with me. As if the stress of the suitcase in front of them wasn't enough, THEN they had to follow me around the house like a mad woman. Poor things. Not much has changed today either. My poor baby Baxter. He just keeps looking at me with the saddest, longing eyes. I hate when he does this to me. I hate to leave him. Trust me.... for those of you with 2-legged kids. I swear, I have the same attachment to my dog. Who, is really not a dog.... he's a red, 4-legged person.

The bad part is he knows it. He knows he can get me to do anything he wants. Like last night. I was feeling guilty, so I told him, after his Dad went to sleep he could jump on the bed. This is about the only thing the kids aren't allowed to do - sleep on the bed. So, about 30
mins after we went to bed, I called him up... He slept with me all night long. Ok, actually I didn't sleep much last night.... but that's another story. Baxter sure did though. He was all snuggled up to me, and WE loved it. Even Shane... even though he'll NEVER admit it.....

So, like I said before... we're leaving soon. In a couple of hours to be exact. I still have some last minute things to do, you know.. like TAKE A SHOWER! But, I've still got time ;-)

It's so crazy that 1 year ago..... this date was so far out in the future, not much about it scared me at all. Now, it seems like just a couple of months later, it's all here. The training is done. All my money is gone on everything you could possibly
imagine, and then some.... My muscles are healing (which by the way - HURTS).

There are so many things about this journey that are amazing. Every time I reached a new "longest swim, longest bike, longest swim...." I felt
achievement. There were good days & bad days. Some days when I just didn't feel like I could do it. Others, when I was on top of the world and couldn't believe how far I have come.

Who'd of thought the party girl from Spokane, Washington would be doing her first
Ironman before she turned 30 - and who'd of thought it would be in the lake she grew up swimming in. Countless summer days playing in the water (what the hell was I thinking - it's 58DEGS!). Countless trips to Paul Bunyan for soft serve ice cream (I think it's still there!)......

So many people have supported me through this journey:

My husband, who wasn't even going to do this race until I gave him the "
ok" - he was going to be my cheerleader.

My training buddies, all 6 of them also doing the race (
momo, ironshane, Sara, Ric, Troy, Heather).

My dear friend from High School Carrie , who is my #1 fan and will be out on the course all day long supporting me.

Stacey & Dave who are actually flying in from Phoenix to come support us - how lucky are we?

My trainer Daniel.... as mean as he was, I know he will be a big part of my success on Sunday.

Natalie and Kate - they were out there on so many of my training runs. And, Natalie is ALWAYS sending the nicest kind thoughts to all of us.

So many others that are supporting us - Sharon, Toni, parents....... It's just so amazing to have such great people surrounding us! And, although they may think we are crazy, they are still cheering us on.

Of course - all of my blog readers that I have not yet met. Thank you for your kind words...

I will be writing more while we are in
CDA, so STAY TUNED!!!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How do you know?

I'm having a pity party. While my husband was off in Mexico with a bunch of our friends for one of our favorite events, Circus Mexicus, I was at home with a plan of having some great last ditch training after missing out due to the flu last weekend. Things didn't go exactly as planned.

I felt better and stronger every day this week, but still wasn't sleeping the best. Achy legs, and just restless. I went back to my all natural diet of lots of fruits and veggies and extra protein (after 4 days of bland carbs). I didn't push myself during the week… But still, when I headed out for my 4hour ride on Saturday I still felt a little FLAT. I was able to chase a few people up some hills, so that felt good getting my HR up, but as soon as we turned around to head back home I just had nothing. I wasn't hurting, I wasn't cramping, stomach fine.. I was just BLAH. I ended up accidentally shortening the loop by turning around too early so it was ~66 miles 3:40, good enough! Next up was a :45 min transition run, 4 miles at a good solid pace, then finishing up ez. Since I was lacking energy I downed a half a coke before heading out. WOW, did that help! I felt way better than the last couple of bricks in the heat where I was trying to nail a set pace.

Note to self: Need to figure out if I put a coke on my bike, or just wait for the run….

After jumping in the pool to cool down, hopping in the shower I was back to feeling "flat." I put on my PJs and plopped myself on the couch with my dogs for an all afternoon movie fest.

I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I watched "Country Strong" (I HATE country music, and am NOT a big fan of Gweneth Paltrow) and I LOVED it!

In bed by 9 but still didn't fall asleep right away. The alarm went off about 5am & I somehow tinkered around for over an hour, finally leaving just after 6. I had a loop in my head planned out that would hopefully get me the 3hours on my schedule, but I also had some Tempo Intervals to do… About 15mins into the ride I saw our Tri Team leader and turned around to chat with him for a bit. He made a couple of comments about what was I doing out there, why 2 long rides and noting again how I can't do anything to help myself and my fitness at this point.

He's not the first person saying these things. I know it, my coach knows it & if anything this weekends training was more for me mentally since I missed the 3 week out weekend training due to the flu. However, I kept having these thoughts in my head about should I be out here riding, where's my HR? Do I need more rest? Did I jump back into training too soon after being sick? WHAT should I do?

After 30mins of my HR not going above 120bpm I made the decision and headed for home. I just didn't have it, and to be honest it was probably more mentally than physically. I know I've got some GREAT potential to do well at IMCDA, and I just don't want to do anything to screw it up!

I'm heading for an easy swim to flush out yesterdays training then a massage and taking tomorrow off (yes coach, I won't be doing that FLOP swim tomorrow, I'm going to let my massage do it's magic) and hope to get some run confidence with a fun run I have planned for Tuesday…

I am trusting my coach, trusting my body and trusting that everything I've done the past 5 months is going to show up on June 26th.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sarah

Monday morning I was checking my phone, half in a stomach flu/fever induced blur when I saw a strange text from my girl, Shelby. It said "Are you in Mexico? Call or text if you want to talk."

Not strange because I heard from her, but the "tone" was strange. We definitely keep in touch, she's just one of those girls you can't help but stay close with even after graduating college, moving away, getting real jobs, married…the whole nine yards. I sent her a quick text back saying I was home, and "what's up?"

Then my phone rang. Shelby sounded immediately upset. She asked if I had heard about our friend Sarah. Having no idea what she was talking about I asked more questions. She started to cry and told me that Sarah had passed away the night before from a heart attack.

The conversation went to silence, then comments of disbelief. What? A heart attack? We're THIRTY THREE years old? I was stunned, I was shocked.

Shelby started to get a lot more upset and I was still taking it all in so she asked me to give her information to one of Sarah's really good friends that I still keep in touch with. She told me that this girl, Kelly, already knew but to give her contact info in case she needed a place to stay when she came into town.

I got off the phone and cried a little. I started having some memories of the last time I saw Sarah. It was 2 years ago in Seattle for Shelby's wedding. Before that it had been years. I very vividly remember her from the wedding. She had the same contagious smile she has always had, same positive attitude and genuine desire to know how everyone, including myself were & had been doing the past few years. It was as if the 10 years since our incredibly crazy fun time in college had never passed. I still can't get her smile and hug from the wedding out of my head.

After I gathered myself, I sent a text to Kelly & a couple of other girls with some contact info. Like before with Shelby my phone rang within seconds. It was Kelly. Kelly and Sarah were crazy close in college, and I remembered seeing some pictures of them together on Facebook very recently - Sarah had gone to wine country to visit Kelly (she works for a winery there). I remember thinking how great it was that those pictures looked just like old times.

Kelly had no clue what my text was about. What was I talking about, Sarah? I explained to her what I knew and that I was so sorry I texted about it, I was told she knew already. She paused for a minute, then asked if she could call me back. A few minutes later my phone rang again and she said she had to pull over and think for a minute. She sounded very calm this time. She told me I was mistaken. That it was Sarah's old roommate that died a couple of months ago from a heart issue. I tried to explain to her that this JUST happened, and the phone went quiet. She was in complete shock and then said something about an arrhythmia that she found out about in college. I'm guessing not many people knew about this health problem as Sarah was never one to complain, never one to be down or ask for anything.

We chatted a while longer and then hung up. I logged onto Facebook and couldn't believe the posts on my news feed. So many names and faces I haven't seen or heard from in years all posting their condolences on Sarah's Facebook page. I read all of them, looked at the pictures the memories.
While I haven't lost a lot of people in my life I can certainly say that the overwhelming positive things I've heard and read about Sarah and the loss of such a young, young life have been completely beyond anything I've ever experienced. She was an amazing, happy, beautiful person who clearly had a positive influence on anyone she ever met. She was taken far, far too early.

I feel so blessed to have known her, to have spent 4 amazing years in college with her. I feel blessed and privileged to call her my friend.

Sarah, you will forever be missed. Know that you were loved, respected and most of all will never be forgotten.

Her has set up a donation page to anyone wanting support the American Heart Association.

Monday, June 6, 2011

First Week in June

I hate to say the word "never" cause I swear every time I do it comes back to bite me eventually, but I think this is a good time to say it. NEVER let me sign up for an A race that takes place the first week/weekend in June. Most likely, I'm going to be sick.

I was joking around a few weeks ago as Ironman is approaching I needed to find my bubble. I'm accident prone, a klutz and the second I let my body start to rest, everything seems to go to shit. I started taking airborne daily about 2 weeks ago. I am trying to get as much sleep as possible and I'm eating as many fruits and veggies as I can stuff in my face, as well as adding extra protein to my diet. We can only control so much, right?

Just like last year, during deuces wild oly tri when Shane & I both came down with the stomach flu & mine went on and on and on, seems I'm repeating it again. Similar thing happened the year before although I think I did the smart thing that time and took 10days off (no ironman to train for) and got myself a little healthier.

So here I am, 3 weeks out from Ironman where my training has been near flawless (minus a little IT band freak out). I've done multiple century rides, 2x20miler runs and some race pace run/bricks. The crazy long stuff is done, but this weekend was supposed to be the last big push with 2x mid distance rides with some focused swim & run bricks. We had a trip planned to Mexico with my sister, niece & her inlaws but planned to come back for the weekend training. I was feeling a little tired and the weather was absolutely gorgeous so I decided to stay until Saturday, enjoy the beach one more day & I'd do my 2 bike workouts Sun/Monday instead…

On the drive home Saturday morning I was feeling a little queasy. The road is a little bumpy so I just figured it was car sickness. It only got worse from there, and shortly after dinner (I will NOT be eating veggie burgers and broccoli any time soon) I was sick as a dog. I couldn't keep anything in me and had a fever, chills, aches and god awful stomach pain all night. I sent a 4am text to my girlfriend who was supposed to be at my house to ride in a couple hours that I was sick and finally fell asleep around 5am.

I know that most of the hard work is done for Ironman training, but this is the fun part. The part where you get to fine tune everything and start getting crazy excited and nervous and scared about the race! Instead all I'm thinking about is when I'm going to feel 100% and when it will be smart, not stupid to head out on my bike, or get into the pool. My fever is gone, I can eat, yet everything isn't exactly staying in me (nuff said about that).

I hate being sick. I hate laying around and doing nothing, and most of all I hate knowing that I shouldn't be doing anything. So for now, I'm just going to keep sipping on my gatorade, resting and waiting for coachie to tell me what to do.

And, if anyone has any home remedies and best nutrition for a slightly uneasy/sensitive stomach please let me know!