Monday, April 15, 2013
Friday, November 23, 2012
Training and racing an Ironman has been the most amazing experience.
Last year, Dave and I went to Tempe to volunteer at Ironman Arizona and cheer family and friends that were racing. We volunteered to register that years athletes for this years race. The bonus was I was able to sign up during my shift. I was excited and scared at the same time!
After building a base and then sticking to a 30 week training plan, I was ready to do this race.
Race day started with the alarm going off at 3:45. I had to eat a bigger breakfast then I usually do on a race morning but I knew I would need the calories later on. After breakfast, I got ready and we were ready to head down to Tempe Town Lake. All three of our kids, Stephen, Kathleen and Laura, had flown in for the weekend too but that early in the morning they were a little camera shy :)
Since my challenge was to race 140.6 miles, my family's challenge was to drink 140.6 ounces. Each drink had to include some sort of alcohol! Since Kathleen is an ASU alumni, she was familiar with all the good places to go on Mill Ave. and had made a plan. After parking, I headed to transition to set up my bike and they headed to Starbucks to get some coffee.....along with their bottle of Bailey's.
When I got to transition, I set up my bottles and nutrition on my bike. I had dropped off my swim to bike bag and my bike to run bag the day before so there wasn't a lot to do. I did have to drop my bike and run special needs bags off in the designated area. Those are bags that you put anything in that you might need during the middle of the bike or middle of the run. I looked around for our friend Joe that was also doing his first Ironman and a few other people I knew but only ran into Melinda who was doing her second IM. My pre-swim nutrition was a bottle of CarboPro and Heed.
After setting everything up, dropping bags and making a porta potty stop it was time to get my wetsuit on to be ready for the swim. I used my wetsuit for the practice swim the day before and I used Dave's wetsuit for the race. His fit me a little better so I had to use a little finesse to get the fit just right!
After the wetsuit was on....the nerves set in. All of my other races had age group starts. An Ironman is a mass start......2500 people start all at once. I had some really good open water swims leading up to this race but I was pretty nervous about the chaos that I knew this swim would be. The water temp was about 62 degrees and I knew I might be pretty cold if my swim took a long time.
My family went up to the Mill Ave bridge to watch the swim start so were able to take some great pictures. The men pro's started off at 6:45 and the women pro's went off at 6:50. The rest of us went off with the cannon at 7:00.
After the pro's started, they were herding us into the water. Imagine trying to get about 2500 people into the water from a fairly narrow area. Molly told me she would be waiting near the timing mats so I swung by to say a last good bye. Not a last good bye since I survived but you know what I mean :) The race director used a bullhorn to keep people moving so I jumped in and started swimming away from the dock so the next guy wouldn't jump on me. I positioned myself towards the left side about a third of the way back so I could take advantage of the surge.
When the cannon went off there was mass chaos. It was crowded, there were people who were aggressive, there were people who were scared and there was everyone else in the middle. The course is a rectangle. You swim down the lake, past the Rural Rd/Scottsdale bridge then turn left, swim across and head back.
It took me about 15 minutes to get some space and settle into a rhythm. There was contact until I got around the turnaround to head back and then it wasn't so bad.
The course went well past the far bridge, around a couple of buoys and then back. The nice part of this course is you can always see the sides and it is fairly easy to sight.
There were a lot of kayaks, paddle boarders and boats out there for support and to keep us on the course. Within the first couple of minutes I saw 2 people get fished out of the water. I think panic took over and they just couldn't keep going. I stayed towards the left side buoys throughout most of the swim and had a few 'swim right' comments from the volunteers to get me back on course :) I was trying to take the shortest route I could.
Meanwhile, back in T1, the volunteers and our bikes were waiting for the swimmers to get out of the water.
The white tents were men's and women's changing tents. A lot of people used the grassy area to change shoes, etc. if they weren't changing clothes.
The swim exit has some stairs to climb. There are volunteers that are at the bottom of the steps to pull you up and there are other volunteers that pull your wetsuit zipper down. As you come up the stairs, there was a line of strippers. Yes, strippers! They tell you to sit down, legs up and boom! Your wetsuit if off. It's the greatest thing ever :) As I followed the carpet to the tents, I looked up (I'm shading my eyes to to try to see them) onto the Mill Ave bridge to try to spot my family.
I was so excited to be out of the water. I was so excited to spot my family. I was so excited to get in under my goal time of 2 hours. I was especially so excited to see my 1:42:20 swim time!!!
I ran into the change tent even though I wasn't planning to change my clothes, just added socks, shoes and helmet and arm warmers. Molly was working in there and I knew I could get in and out fast with my personal volunteer :) My T1 time was 8:20.
Out of the tent and off to get my bike. I was pretty cold so it was hard to get going but at the same time I was super excited to be out of the water and on the bike.
The bike course is 3 out and back loops. The far end of the loop along the Beeline Hwy has a gradual uphill going out and a lovely downhill coming back. My goal was to go easy the first loop and push on the next two. I was hoping to average 16 mph for the whole ride.
There is usually both a headwind and a tailwind on the Beeline and it tends to change loop to loop. My first loop had a pretty good headwind going up and a sweet tailwind coming down.
The next loop it had switched up so I had a little help on the uphill and didn't have as much fun with the downhill. The Beeline had just been repaved a month ago and the surface was perfect. They had one lane closed for us so we were able to ride in the road and avoid any of the glass and other debris along the side.
It's always so nice to see familiar faces on the course. I knew the family would be at the turnaround so I took advantage and slowed down to find them each loop. I had worn arm warmers to start the bike and after the first half loop I had warmed up enough that I took them down and tucked them in my shirt. I threw them to my family as I went by. Kathleen and Will get points for catching them before they fell on the wrong side of the fence! I couldn't take anything from the crowd but I figured it was legal to throw things at them! My bike nutrition was 3 Bonk Breaker bars, 2 packs of Chomps and 2 bottles of CarboPro/Heed and lots of water.
Off for my last loop. By this time I was getting a little tired. I had been pretty consistent with my time so I worked on staying that way so I could be close to my 7 hour goal. I never had to stop for anything in my special needs bag which helped my time too. In fact, I never got off my bike at all. That was a first! I finished in 7:04:27.
As I came into the 'bike in' chute, there were volunteers to take your bike from you and re-rack it. That was pretty fun. I went around the corner, called my number out so a volunteer could grab my bike to run bag and into the tent I went. I changed socks and shoes, switched my helmet for my run hat, stuffed some gels in my back pockets and I was off. T2 time of 5:12.
As you come out of T2, you run along a chute and there were a ton of spectators cheering. It was so much fun. It makes you feel like you are winning the race! I felt great for the first loop. I ran and only walked through the aid stations.
For the second loop, I started to get tired and did some walking between aid stations. I took advantage of the coke and chicken broth that was offered to give me a boost.
By the time I started the third loop, I got a minuscule second wind. A guy caught me walking out of an aid station and encouraged me to run with him to the next one. Then I walked with a guy who was doing his first triathlon.....ever. He only learned how to swim a year ago. Later I found a gal on her second loop that was struggling and I encouraged her to run with me from aid station to aid station. It makes the time go much faster when you can talk to people. My run nutrition was gels and anything I felt like eating/drinking at the aid stations. My run time was 5:37:13 and a PR for me!
Mike Reilly is the 'voice' of Ironman and here he is doing his finishing line magic. Being able to turn left for the finish instead of turning right to start another run loop was a thing of beauty. Turning into the finishing chute itself is like magic. The stands are packed with people, the music is blaring and the cheering is crazy loud!
I took my time coming down the chute and high fived people as I went. I was out on the course a long time and I didn't want to rush through this part of the day! I saw Molly and Nigel on the right and ran over to give Molly a hug. Then I looked on the other side of the stands and spotted my family and our friends Paul and Kris. I ran over there for more hugs.
Finally, I headed to the finish line. My hope was to finish in a number starting with 15. I didn't care if it was 15:01 or 15:59. I was THRILLED to finish in 14:37:13.
I had two catchers grab me at the finish line and walked me along. They asked how I was doing, made sure I got my timing chip off, wrapped a space blanket around me, got my hat and finishers shirt and took my finishers picture. Then when they made sure I was ok, they let me loose. Dave, Stephen, Kathleen, Laura, Molly, Nigel, Paul and Kris all came over to meet me. I needed to walk a bit because standing still wasn't working well after moving for so many hours! I felt surprising good but my original plan to stay until midnight to see the last finisher come in was not going to happen. I felt good but I still felt like I was in constant motion for over 14 hours! After hanging out for a while I really wanted to go back to our condo and take a shower and go to bed!
This race was beyond my expectations. I loved every minute of it even when I was scared (start of the swim), miserable (middle of the bike) and hurting (those middle miles of the marathon) :) Four years ago (when I started running again) I would of said you were crazy to say I would do an Ironman. Three years ago, I did my first sprint tri and even though I wanted to quit before I got to the first buoy, finishing that race planted the seed of the possibility.
While I was up to the challenge, my family only completed 1/2 an Ironman of beverages! Luckily for me, they felt it was more important to see me as I was coming in on my loops instead of parking at the bars too long. That also helped them stay awake until I finished.
I cannot thank Dave enough for putting up with me during this past years training (actually I can't thank him enough with putting up with me for 30 years!), thanks to Stephen, Kathleen and Laura for supporting their Mom, thanks to Molly for a quick T1 and cheering throughout the day, thanks to Cathy, Nigel, Will, Paul and Kris for your onsite cheering and many thanks to my friends and family for cheering for me from home and thanks for my training partners that went on swims, bike rides and runs with me. I'm so happy I took this on and I'm looking forward to more Ironman races.....just not next year!
Saturday, November 17, 2012
After following my 30 week training plan pretty carefully, I started my 3 week taper. I've never done this distance race so I've never had to do a 3 week taper. I found myself with a lot of down time that I had to fill up!
We went up to Sonoma for an annual event called the Wine and Food Affair. Over 100 wineries participate and they make a dish from a cookbook that each person gets and then pair it with one of their wines. It was a beautiful weekend spent with great friends.
Kathleen went up with her friends and joined us for a few wineries.
My friend Donna and I took the horses to one of our favorite parks for a long 4 hour ride. M got extra exercise since I wasn't getting as much :)
The ride was followed by a wet grain lunch in the trailer.
Buddy is taking his old age tapering seriously. He sneaks onto the couch when we go to bed and doesn't even get up when we get up.
More trail rides.
Another birthday celebration! This time for Stephen's 26 birthday!
Wednesday morning, Dave and I headed out early for our drive to Tempe. It's about a 10-11 hour drive so we like to start in the dark. The nice thing about that is then you can enjoy the sunrise!
By the time we got to Tempe the sun was going down and I got my first site of the race course. We rented a condo for our stay since all 3 of the kids were flying for race weekend.
Thursday we went over to Tempe Town Lake to check in. This years swag came in a nifty little Ironman backpack. After check in we went into the Ironman tent to look around. The only thing I bought was a t-shirt with all the participants names on it. If I squint I can find my name.
T-1 before the onslaught of bikes.
Another view with the aisle I'll be running down to get my bike and go straight out onto the course.
We met some old friends for dinner who are from San Jose. They relocated to Arizona a few years ago.
Dave, Laura and I went for a run Friday morning to shake the legs out a bit.
Friday, Stephen and Kathleen flew in. Molly was on the same flight. She came in to volunteer and spectate. Friends Nigel, Joe and Cathy joined us too. Joe is also racing his first Ironman.
Friday night we had another great meal at Cafe Boa. I feel like all I've been doing is eating! Afterwards, we walked over for the program and athlete's meeting.
This morning we headed over for the practice swim and to drop off my bike and T1 and T2 bags.
Molly and I before I went out for my swim.
Stephen, Dave, Laura and Kathleen being a great support crew!
I tried a new pair of goggles (same style as I usually use) but I hung my old ones around my neck as a back up.
That's me in the purple cap. The water was not bad. There has been a lot of talk about how cold it is. The place where I swim back home is a little cooler so this was not too bad. I'm sure I will still get a little cold by the end of the swim but it'll be manageable.
Next I dropped my bike and bags off. Next time I see them I'll be in the middle of IMAZ!
This has been a great few days. I love that my family was able to come. It's going to be so much fun to see them when I come in for my loops tomorrow. I love that we were able to get here a few days early and really pace the prep. Kind of like race day should be! There is such a fun vibe at Ironman Village and it's exciting to be part of it. I'm both super excited and nervous for tomorrow. I've trained 30 weeks for this and I think I'm ready. I have had a HUGE amount of support from family and friends and it's all a little overwhelming but at the same time will keep me focused during the race. I'm loading the family with a video camera, a regular camera and my phone so I'm hoping to have some good pictures of the day!