Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ironman Arizona Part 2!

As I type this post I'm sitting in my recovery boots snuggled up to my dogs on the couch trying to remember what normal legs feel like, or how much we take simply walking for granted.  I'm incredibly sore.  A soreness I haven't felt since my BQ marathon last year.  Even after having my IM marathon PR at CDA earlier this year my body was not this torn up.  After reflecting with Michelle, I wonder if it's the back to back marathons?  I realize some people race long all year and wouldn't think twice about it, but for me this was a LOT.  My first time with 2 IM, and if you look at the calendar from this time last year it's 4 marathons and 3 Ironman in 12 months.

If you read last year's race report for Arizona you know it was one of those perfect days.  Perfect weather, perfect year long prep, perfect race execution.  When that was followed up with an equally perfect day in CDA 7 months later, it was almost hard to wrap my head around what I would be able to do last Sunday.

A few days before the race a friend asked me what would make my race day?  Her goal was to have a good run.  Another friend's goal was to race HAPPY.  I sat and I pondered.  What would it take?  Quite honestly I don't think I actually came up with an answer.  I felt like I had been lucky (?) enough to put together near perfect (for me) races over my last 3 Ironman and almost felt like asking for another one was too much.  Stepping back I know that is not true.  I work hard, I am committed and I deserve it just as much as the next person, but I will say that I did not have the same mindset going into this race as I did CDA or AZ13.

In AZ my goal was to get on the podium and by executing my plan to a T (and by what talent showed up!) I made that dream come true.  In CDA my goal was to race with the mindset that I could be in contention for a Kona Qualification.  While that did not happen, I executed my race to the best of my ability on that day and PR'd my marathon feeling amazing the entire time.  I made the decision that I would be racing Arizona (it was never a sure thing, but I did register on site with my husband the day before the race last November) when I saw girls flying by me on the bike and I was just not strong enough to follow with them.  I didn't give up on my race, but I knew deep down that I was probably not in the top 3 which you need to even have a possibility of that KQ.

While I worked hard and trained for Arizona, the goal never became about getting that Kona slot.  I know that for me to qualify, or to get a higher position on that podium I need a different course.  That did not change my mindset or my training to be able to do my best.  Ironman is a long long day, and it is truly a race of who is going to slow down the least.  I knew a couple of local gals racing in my age group, but I also checked out the start list glancing over the names.  I recognized 3 names right off the first look and actually laughed out loud.  A name of an overal female amateur winner of 70.3 worlds, another name that won our local Soma race beating out a pro finisher's time and another name of an athlete that passed me like I was standing still at mile 22 of the marathon at IMAZ in 13.

My goals and mindset remained the same.  Race MY race, race to MY abilities and most importantly HAVE FUN.  To be honest, knowing the talent in my age group was actually a relief.  I didn't stress about anything leading up to the race and was able to just focus on my rest, my plan and my execution.

The swim was actually less chaotic than last year.  I had wanted to stay with my friend who is capable of swimming just over an hour, but I lost in her in the first 4 seconds.  My goal became catch pink camp and try to draft!  Every pink cap I saw I pretended was miss Katie and until I saw another pink cap to catch I just played that game over and over. Shockingly, I did finally see her with about 200 meters to go and it just made me giggle!  My watch said 1:07 when I got up the steps and and to my wetsuit stripper.  Still not a great swim time for me, but at least it was 3mins faster than last year.

The weather forecasts had predicted wind all week long.  I was prepared for it.  Heck I figured after CDA, it really couldn't get any worse.  I was wrong. The wind all 3000 of us had to face on that beeline was relentless.  It was strong, it was dusty, it was swirly it was laughable.  I did not feel awesome on the first loop, but I didn't feel bad.  I was having some leg pain, but figured my legs were just tired from rest and they would eventually wake up.  I stuck to my nutrition plan, and most importantly focused on my hydration.  I held on for dear life with the wind swirling across the highway.  I stayed aero for 99.9 % of the time, more than I have in any long or short distance race.  I gripped my bars so tight when the wind caught my disk just enough to jerk me to the side that my hands were cramping.
 thank you Brian Nath for these wonderful pictures

I ignored my pace, my competition, and just kept plugging away.  Somewhere just before special needs on loop 2 my legs woke up.  I had popped 2 tylenol to help with my neck and arms from holding position so tightly and it must have helped my legs because I felt like a new person.  Even though I felt stronger, the wind got stronger slowing me (and everyone else) down even more.   My bike time was 26mins SLOWER than last year with 20% more effort and bike strength this season.  I have never been so excited to run a marathon in my life!

I nailed my planned nutrition(1800 calories) on the bike:  4 bottles of Osmo, 3 bottles of water, 3 bonk breakers, 1 package of chomps, 1.5 package of gel blasts, 2 gels and 6 e21 (planned 10, but the rest fell out of my bra on the bike!).  My stomach felt great, my energy level was there!

A quick T2 change and I was out on the course.  I immediately felt a little worried.  When starting my last 3 Ironman marathons I've had to really hold back on the first couple of miles.  I know my running ability and I know that starting any faster than that will not end well.  I'm a smart racer and I run within my abilities.  Starting this run was different.  My breathing was shallow and wheezy.  My legs felt good, a little heavy but they always do at first.  I was clicking off the first couple of miles right where they should be but it wasn't effortless like it should have been.  I had used my inhaler 3 times on the bike to help get deeper breaths after riding through swirling dust devils.  In most races I use it twice:  at the beginning of the bike and at the end of the bike.

I stuck to my plan on the run.  Osmo sips to thirst (bottle was gone by mile 6).  Gel every 4 miles and water as needed from aid stations.  I picked up my special needs Osmo and drank it in 5 miles.  This marathon felt harder than my last 3 Ironman.  I was tired, mentally and physically.  Not like I raced out of my abilities or over biked, but like I had just had enough.  I didn't have that joy like I did in AZ last year or CDA.  I stayed steady and focused.  I thanked every single volunteer, friend and random person cheering on the course.  If I didn't verbally express it, it was in my eyes, in my heart.  If it weren't for all those amazing people out there I'm not sure I would of had the fight in me that day.  I was not low on calories, muscles were not hurting.  I drank 2 bottles of Osmo, 5 gels and coke at nearly every aid station from mile 9-25.  I walked some (aid stations and a couple of the little "inclines"), something that I didn't have to do at my last 3 races.  I needed my inhaler every hour and it would give me a little relief from the wheezing, but nothing miraculous. I gave it all I had on that day and even though I wanted to come up with an excuse to slow down or to just not leave it all out there, I did not.  I was fit, ready and gave what I had!  I finished the marathon 10minutes slower than my goal time, but giving it everything I had on that day.  This picture says it all.

For the last 3 miles all I could think about were my friends on Rio Salado waiting for me to give me that last push to the finisher chute, then I wanted to take it all in.  Give high 5's and WALK across the line.  I did it all and was so elated and relieved to be done.

I was lucky enough to have friends, my ART guy and one of my athletes at the finish line to take care of me.  I hacked up my lungs and waited for Shane (who needed to get to medical to rinse out his very red and bruised up eye from the swim) then we finally made our way to our stuff to change into warm dry clothes and cheer on more finishers!

I spent some time on the phone with Michelle yesterday recapping how it went, what we need to focus on, what I want and what it will take to get me there.  I've flopped around what my goal race will be next year but I know what makes sense.  In July we decided Shane & I would both race CDA (when in Rome....), then Shane's business plans changed and he will not be racing so I was pondering other races, but it just makes sense.  I don't know if there were be more than one Ironman for me in 15' -  Ironman takes focus and strategy and not just hard work, but hard mental work, and with work and coaching and training and life in general, I don't know that I can commit my year to multiple Ironman races and give it the respect, training and focus it would take.

I'm excited for my recovery over the next couple of weeks.  Excited to do some traveling, visit with friends and enjoy some off season technique and strength work.  Next year is big for my coaching business and I couldn't be more excited about what my athletes have on their agenda!  TeamBSC training camp will be here before I know it and I can't wait to help everyone push past their limits and go leaps and bounds over what they thought they could do!

From the bottom of my heart I thank every single person that supports me, believes in me and sends endless wishes and motivation my way every time I race.

To my TeamBSC coach, friend and mentor, Michelle, this journey we are on.... I know it's been amazing so far, and soon will reach an epic stage!

TriScottsdale, Recovery e21, OsmoNutrition, Tribe Mulitisport, Planet Sun Hawaii and BeetElite - You all make my training, recovery and racing possible and I am beyond thankful and honored to race with your support!