This year the water temperature was PERFECT 61.8 degrees and weather temperatures were forecasted to be perfect as well 54/72, partly cloudy. The only outside factor we would ALL have to face was the wind. And the wind was intense. In fact, out of all 4 times I've competed in this race this was by far the choppiest water (IMO), including 2007 when they gave us the option to not finish the swim.
What was different about this day, and what got me through each leg of the race was my head. I stayed calm throughout the week, the morning of, and during each minute of the 11:15 minutes that I was out there on the course. My body was trained, and all I had to do was stick to MY plan, and everything else would fall into place where it was supposed to.
As with every big race I typed out my detailed plan from what time my alarm would go off all the way to how I would feel and what I would do as I headed down the finish line on Sherman Ave. I received feedback from Michelle, and noted every single thing she put on that plan. I incorporated couple of new things to try (hydration on the run) as well as giving up my beloved peanut butter leading up to the race. For anyone that knows me, this was 100% the hardest thing to do :)
There is no magic recipe for success, or no magic drink or food or pre race ritual. Doing everything in your own power and control to be at your best on the day that matters, those are the ingredients.
I've done enough of these races, and now that I'm helping others train and achieve their own goals, I felt the importance of being ON leading up to this race, as well as on race day.
I could not be more happy with how my day went. I did everything right and I have not one single regret or what if. To be honest, that feels better and I'm more proud of that than any time on the clock, or podium finish. I could not have done one single thing better, faster or more on Sunday.
Now, the race!
The swim was insane. I seeded myself right where Michelle said to, in the FRONT of the 1:01-1:15 group. I had no idea what to expect from this new rolling start, and was shocked out how quickly I was in the water, maybe 2 minutes after the first wave. I was instantly relieved. The water felt awesome and I was not getting my ass handed to me by the other swimmers. I noticed it was much more open on the inside of the buoys so I headed over there and had a pretty good swim out to the first turn. Instead of fighting other swimmers I was fighting huge swells and constant water in my face and mouth. I had to quickly adjust my plan of right side breathing (so glad I focused on that for the past 3 months, lol) and the only way to avoid mouth full of water was to breath to the left. In every direction. So, that's what I did! I got out of the water and checked my first loop split at ~32minutes. I did worry a bit, because typically that second loop is about 2 minutes longer which would put me over my 1:04 or less goal.
The second loop was a bit more chaotic with people and I had a much harder time finding open water to swim, but I stayed calm and just kept swimming. I exited the water in 1:06 and put that piece of the race behind me. It was not a swim PR, but after my (personally) poor time at AZ I was happy. It was also a 5 minute swim course PR (1:11 in 2011).
The minute I headed out on the bike course I knew it was going to be a long day with the wind. And as soon as I turned onto 95 for the second out and back and felt the impact of that headwind I knew it was going to be up to ME to not get defeated. I did everything in my control and didn't look at my time or speed. I stayed on top of my nutrition and hydration exactly as I had planned and could not have been more happy with how I felt, but also to be off the bike. I don't have a whole lot to say about the bike other than it was HARD. The hills are one thing, but top it off with a relentless headwind and your brain and mindset will be the most influential factors. I got off the bike about :25 minutes later than I expected (although I didn't really have a set goal for this bike, knowing the wind would be a factor), no idea where I was ranked, but 100% prepared for the run. I ate every single piece/calorie of nutrition I had planned (including a stop for the first time ever at special needs for 2 more bottles of OSMO nutrition) and topped it off with a gel (first one of the day) as I rode into transition.
I did 2 things differently on this race than every before. I carried a bottle of OSMO with me for the first half of the run (the plan was to drink it in the first couple of miles, but I was really hydrated from the bike so I took sips of it, just like in training every single mile) AND I grabbed another bottle at special needs to take with me for the second half). I did 1 gel every 4 miles (getting 5 in) with the last one at mile 19. I did not walk through any aid stations until mile 21, and from there until the finish line I walked just enough to get some cola in my system and head on my way.
I'm elated with my day, and even more excited for my first time coaching an athlete and friend to an Ironman. Not just an Ironman but a ~20minute PR on a VERY hard day. Sippy, you made this day even more special than I could have imagined.
Training for this race was such an amazing experience. We had an awesome group of ladies to spend hours and miles and fun times together. It was such an epic journey, and it made the celebration even sweeter.