Tag Archives: Hard Stuff

Race Recap: Ironman Canada – The Run & Post-Race

THE RUN – 4:16:33 // 9:47min/mi average

As I ran out of T2 I saw my friends and family again, and all I could think about was whether they knew I’d had struggles on the bike. I mean, I don’t know how they would know because I certainly didn’t take time to stop and tell them! But I’d told them that I expected to come in under 6 hours with 100% certainty, and I didn’t. I worried about them worrying about me.

Running out of transition

Running out of transition

The run course is a double loop with an extra tail at the end. The loop being about 12.5 miles (each time). The first 4ish miles are on packed gravel trail has a few long gradual climbs and a few short steeper ones. It’s not extremely technical, but it does wind back and forth and up and down with more intensity than a wide and paved road would.

The gravel trail ends near Green Lake where you run along the boardwalk and then onto a paved trail for a mile or so. Next is long out and back along the highway (which was still closed to traffic) for a couple of miles. The road is slightly off camber and there are a couple long rolling ups and downs, but the view of Green Lake is worth it! After running back there’s more paved trail that winds through the trees (shade!), alongside the stream, beside a few housing developments, and right past the finish line for round 2.

Ironman Canada Whistler Run Course

The run is kind of a blur to me – all I know is that I let myself off the hook very early, and I regret it very much. I don’t think I made it 2 miles before I convinced myself that my stomach hurt and stopped for my FIRST EVER mid-race porta potty trip. The real problem was that I felt sorry for myself, so rather than try to run through it I let myself off the hook.

Shortly after this photo I turned down a high 5 from a friend "because my hands are bloody". Wonder what spectators thought about me shouting that mid-race!

Shortly after this photo I turned down a high 5 from a friend “because my hands are bloody”. Wonder what spectators thought about me shouting that mid-race!

For the entire first loop I took periodic walk breaks – they may have started as “walking through the aid station” but each one lasted longer and longer and longer. I tried to stop a couple of times to get paper towel for my nose, which was still bleeding, but some of the aid stations wanted me to stop and sit down. If they weren’t willing to give me a paper towel for the road I was off!

I hated everything. I felt disappointed in my day and angry at myself for having given in, but I couldn’t muster a real rally. I didn’t see any point in trying to kill myself now to post a time I wouldn’t be thrilled about anyway (#badchoices).

Ironman Canada Run

A brief moment when I was actually running with enough speed to have both feet off the ground

I started thinking about how much fun I usually have doing this sport; even when I hate it I’m having the time of my life! But in these moments I wasn’t. So I decided if I couldn’t have the race I had trained for and wanted, it was okay to make it more fun. I committed to getting to where I knew I’d see my friends, family, and coach next, but at that point if I still hated everything I would allow myself to stop and tell them and figure out how to proceed.

The funny thing is, as soon as I saw them I didn’t hate anything anymore (other than my bloody nose and tired legs). I waved and ran by and that was the end of feeling sorry for myself.

Soon to be starting loop 2, head down, tissue in hand!

Soon to be starting loop 2, head down, tissue in hand!

The second loop wasn’t much better pace-wise, but I could finally smile about being out there. I became grateful to be there again, and it didn’t hurt that I picked off a couple of girls in my AG in the final 6 miles.

2 seconds off from last year's time. Unbelievable!

2 seconds off from last year’s time. Unbelievable!

I ran down the finish chute and laughed out loud as I saw the clock ticking. I could speed up and beat my time from last year – or I could have an epic story about finishing 2 separate and completely different Ironmans with the exact same number on the clock. Shockingly I did have some (small amount of) pride left so I kicked for the last bit and came in at 11:35:55, 2 seconds faster than last year. But this year I did hear the announcer proclaim me an Ironman.

OVERALL – 11:35:55 // 11th AG

Obligatory step and repeat photos

Obligatory step and repeat photos

Post Race

The hours and days after the race were good. After I got out of medical for my bloody nose my people retrieved my stuff while I limped to the shower. We had good food and good wine that night, and celebrated the day, the year, and being together. I got to enjoy Whistler without worry or guilt, including champagne, oysters, and an amazing dinner that completely took my mind off of Ironman.

Amazing view from Peak 2 Peak

Amazing view from Peak 2 Peak

And since then, in recounting my race to others and putting on a smile for their sake, I’ve convinced myself that I’m okay with the day. Truly, I’m content with it.

You see, there’s really no other option. IYes, I’m disappointed, but the only thing I did wrong was have a bad attitude, and I’ve forgiven myself for that. Life’s too short.

Next time (or the next 100 times) I want to give up or give in Ironman #2 will come flooding back to me, and then I’ll keep going.

Yep. Whistler Re-do 2014!

Yep. Whistler Re-do 2014!

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Race Recap: Ironman Canada – The Bike & T2

THE BIKE – 6:02:39 // 18.53mph average speed

As I made my way down the first stretch of road I tried very hard to ride conservatively. Riders were gunning it out there! But having ridden the course before I held back, wanting to stay smart.

Ironman Canada Bike

Bike time!

The bike course is extremely challenging, with about 6600 feet of climb overall. There was much debate in the months leading up to the race as IMC had posted a number in the 4k’s, but as it turns out they used a method of measurement that didn’t account for the rollers which make up a significant portion of the course. However, even with the rolling hills the vast majority of the climbing took place mile 14-22 and mile 96-112.

The course can be broken down into segments pretty easily:

  • T1 to Callaghan Valley Rd.– Mostly rolling with a couple significant ups but more significant downs (approx 14 miles)
  • Callaghan Climb + Descent – Straight up with hardly a break for 8 miles, then straight back down (approx 16 miles)
  • Climb back to Whistler – Mostly rolling but more of a climb (approx 10 miles)
  • Descent to Pemberton – Screaming downhill with a handful of short climbs and rollers (approx 20 miles)
  • Pemberton Flats (out & back) – Pancake flat farm road with some sketchy pavement (approx 30 miles)
  • Climb back to Whistler/T2 – Up, up, up with hardly any flats or downhills to spin (approx 20 miles)

Ironman Canada Whistler Bike Course

So, I’ll do mini recaps to follow that format.

The luckiest part of the entire day was the weather for the bike. Not only was it sunny and mild, but the wind stayed at bay which isn’t usually the case through the mountain pass and farm valley.

The bike was fun, when I wasn't bleeding, flatting, or serving my penalty.

The bike was fun, when I wasn’t bleeding, flatting, or serving my penalty.

T1 to Callaghan Valley Rd. – The entire time I was worried that I was working too hard. My heart rate was on the high side but not insanely so, and by the time we’d gotten to Whistler Village I felt more steady so I kept with that level of effort. The road was extremely crowded and there was lots of passing and leapfrogging with riders around me. I saw quite a few people pass on the right or hanging out on the left for extended periods of time but rather than get irritated I rode on focused on how the hills ahead would spread the field out and did what I could to ride legal. I had my first family sighting and it was great to hear their yells as I whizzed by.

Callaghan Climb + Descent – The climb up was just as tough as I remembered. I had hoped that it would feel more like the second day of camp (a slower but steadier spin) but instead I felt like I was fighting the road the whole stretch. I was still within a comfortable zone, but I felt like I was working too hard to be getting passed left and right by EVERYONE, men and women alike. It was amazing and inspiring to see people powering up with seemingly no effort, but it made me feel weak to get completely crushed so early on. I (sort of but not really) wish there had been a timing mat at the bottom and top to see how many people passed me. When we hit the turnaround at the top I was relieved to be done and check the tough part of this portion off, but I was also somewhat worried about how I’d fare for the remainder of the day with my spirits already a little low.

Climb back to Whistler – The climb back to Whistler felt strong, and was probably my best portion of the bike. I rode strong but smart, got good nutrition in, and made up some ground that I felt had been lost. This section wasn’t easy, but I was pretty familiar with how to push it to make the best of both the ups and downs. And the second family sighting was great too! At this point I felt like I’d regained some momentum, though my heart rate was still high for my perceived effort.

Descent to Pemberton – This portion was fast fast fast, just like I knew it would be. I spun out my gearing quite a few times and simply had to coast until my momentum lessened. The view was beautiful, and it felt like a perfect day to be on the bike. Some of the stretches were congested but other times I truly couldn’t see another rider on the road. This race was the first time that British Columbia has closed a highway for an event, and it was amazing to ride this section without fear of traffic, or the noise.

Pemberton Flats – I hit up special needs, switched out my bottles with the quickness, and pushed hard to get away from aid station chaos. After a couple turns I hit the flat country road slog. I felt strong, but the road was packed full with bikes. For the first while there were only riders heading out, but after some time the pro’s and elite ag-ers started heading back to Whistler and passed the opposite way. And as more people passed by the more packs I saw on both sides of the road.

I caught up to a group riding tight, and as I got closer it was more and more evident that they were purposefully riding that way, and even taking turns pulling. I passed, but a few minutes later a rider passed back, then another, then another, then another, and before I knew it I was dropping back for, no joke, 20 riders. I re-passed when I could, but the same thing happened again. And then again, with a different leader. It may be hard to ride legal on packed flat roads, but it’s not hard to not cheat!

It was challenging to get away from the group and so when we hit the turnaround I put my head down and hammered. I felt like I had made some ground but quickly realized my nose was bleeding heavily. I wiped it onto my forearm and kept working. At this point a couple of men passed and warned that the pack had chosen my wheel to suck. Crap, I thought I’d lost them!

I couldn’t work any harder without feeling worried about the climb to come so I kept my head down and kept spinning and kept sniffling my bloody nose and spitting. As we neared the town of Pemberton again I glanced left and riders had started to pass en mass, it felt like I was getting swallowed by a swarm of bees. It happened so fast that my only option was to sit up and brake and as soon as I did I saw: an official. My stomach dropped – I’d just given these guys a free ride for the entire way back, but all the officials saw was me braking. The motorcycle pulled a u-turn, rode up alongside me, and shoved a red card in my face. I was beyond angry but I made eye contact to acknowledge my suggested infraction. I rode away, and fast, full of rage. A few of my friends who’d warned me about the pack were just up the road, and when I caught up I told them what had happened they were just as angry as I was.

Bike2

Pre-penalty tent, post flat, mid-bleeding.

Climb back to Whistler/T2 – All too soon we had started the climb back to Whistler, and as soon as I started climbing my bloody nose got worse. I stayed conservative up the first mile climb trying to think about what to do. I felt considerably more tired than I wanted too, but my heart rate finally seemed under control. Was I tired because I was upset? Or was I tired because I was worried? Or was I tired because I was tired? After the first climb there was a fast decent to a short flat…which is where I flatted.

Luckily it was my front wheel, and luckily I’d had plenty of practice changing flats this summer. However with a bleeding nose and a penalty I hadn’t served yet it was tough to keep a good attitude through yet another thing. I didn’t want to give up, but I also didn’t want this day!

I got the flat fixed quickly and hopped back on my bike and spun up the rest of the hills. I felt like I got passed 100x and probably did, but I didn’t feel able to fight back and I still don’t really know whether than was a physical fitness issue or my bad attitude.

With a mile or so to go I found the penalty tent, dismounted, and served my 4 minutes. I watched rider after rider fly by and felt like my day was slipping away but I tried to stay positive. Another athlete rode in at my 1 minute mark and asked the volunteer for a tissue or towel; he must not have known they aren’t supposed to give you anything. I guess the volunteer didn’t know either because she handed him a tissue, he took it and looked at me, and handed it over. He must have noticed the blood all over my face! Lovely.

Take my freakin' bike already!

Take my freakin’ bike already!

T2 – 2:38

T2 was quick and easy. Throw the bike at whoever looks most capable of catching it. Grab your run bag, run into the tent. My volunteer wanted very much to be helpful but I’m so minimalist there wasn’t much for her to do. She straightened my race belt so I’d get it right side up, handed me socks, and did a good job cleaning up after me because all of my items – even the ones I didn’t use – were properly packed up when I got my bag back later that day. The jog out of transition was long, but on to the run!

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The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

I don’t even have any pictures I’ve been so tired and busy, so you’ll just have to believe me.

The last 5 weeks have been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. By far. IMC was tough, I’d argue that finishing Boston was tougher, and then there are the private and personal struggles we all go through that are a different kind of challenge than anything physical.

I can easily say though, that the last 5 weeks of training, my build to peak, were the hardest thing I’ve ever done: 5 weeks of steady building (training mileage + hours) with a finale weekend of a 128 mile ride + hour-long run on Saturday, and a 20 mile run on Sunday. With a taperless 70.3 and a 3-day training camp in the middle, no less.

Ever single day for the last 5 weeks I’ve woken up more tired.

It can’t get harder than this, tomorrow you’ll feel better, I’d tell myself multiple times per day.

You just need to warm up, I’d tell myself to limit discouragement at the start of each workout.

You should be tired, as I got sleepy earlier and earlier each night.

I watched my Garmin and fought to keep pace, and watched my heart rate drop drop drop. By the end I couldn’t get it above zone 3b if a tiger were chasing me.

There were a few days, specifically in the last 2 weeks, where I truly didn’t know if I could finish my workout. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t know if I was capable. Spoiler: I did. But had coaches and friends not surrounded me the first day of camp, or had I not had others to meet and keep me entertained for a 7+ hour ride (that started with 2-3 hours of rain!), I don’t know if I could have blocked out the mountain of a day and focused on moving one mile at a time.

Even though it was only 2 days after the peak of my training, yesterday I woke up feeling better. To say I felt “good” would be a laughable overstatement, but better than I’ve felt for at least a month. Even if my body hasn’t gotten the memo, my brain knows: Taper Has Arrived!

I feel grateful to have arrived at taper in one piece this year. I feel happy that I held it together and didn’t have a mid-build meltdown like I usually do (nevermind some exceptionally grumpy days – no tears is an incredible feat!). I am proud that I worked so hard every single day.

At this point, I couldn’t panic train if I tried. There is nothing left, I am empty, and my tank needs to refill itself. But I believe that I did everything I could this year. I know I did. I will always wish to be faster, and fitter. But all you can do is give each day your whole body and heart, and I did that a hundred times over.

With about 40 miles to go (of 128) of our last long bike ride on Saturday we started talking about how we were heading home.

Crossing the bridge this direction means we’re headed home, and

This is the last time we’ll have to climb this hill until next year, and

This is the last time we’ll stop at this gas station

Then there was a pause.

Well, unless any of get to Kona this year.

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Race Recap: Winter Half Marathons

I realized that I never recapped the Lake Samammish Half Marathon on March 9, or the Tacoma City Half Marathon on May 5th, so for record keeping purposes here’s the gist.

In all honestly running hasn’t felt very good to me since winter 2012, when I was on a half marathon PR roll. Training for my third 13.1 in so many months I got another stress fracture and had to take time off of my feet (which was replaced by the bike and swim).  Once I returned to running amidst IM training things just never really felt the same. Running was a struggle, my heart rate was high, and I couldn’t ever get back into the groove and rhythm of it.  Running was a fight and I fought hard, but running off the bike is very different than “just” running, so I went with it.

Leading up the NYCM I felt the same slow, heavy, and sluggish feeling: running was difficult! I continued to fight it and I’m sure I would have finished that race with a PR of a few minutes or so, but at that point neither my heart nor body was really in it. And that race was cancelled.

This winter I took a step back and really worked on building my base back up. All of my runs were very low heart rate (on purpose) with a slow and easy pace to try to build back up some of the endurance I’d wrecked fighting my training all fall.

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon – 1:37:38

Megan, Meghan, and me at the start of the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon. Photo courtesy of http://meghanswanderings.blogspot.com/.

Megan, Meghan, and me at the start of the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon. Photo courtesy of http://meghanswanderings.blogspot.com/

During the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon it worked. I finished in 1:37:38 on only 3 easy slow runs per week. Back when I hit my 1:35:XX times I was busting my butt running at least 4-5 times per week with tough effort! I was surprised at and happy with my performance at the LSHM. Though it wasn’t a PR, for the type of training I’d been doing it was a good result.

Tacoma City Half Marathon – 1:42:15

The Tacoma City Half Marathon was not as successful; I finished in 1:42:15. Did I go out too fast? Yes. Was it the first hot and sunny day of the year? Yes. Did I have allergies? Yes. But those are all lame excuses. I set out with a heart rate target and though I kept that part right on track my pace was almost 45s/mile slower than it “should have” been. The “should have” being based off of data taken from training.

 

So that’s the story. Would I run both of them again? Yes. I really enjoyed the LSHM for the small size, easy start, and flat course. I also really enjoyed the TCHM course and the fact that it was a small race, however it was definitely hillier than I expected and I don’t have strong feelings toward it simply because I didn’t have a great day.

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New York City Not-Marathon Recap

There was a hurricane. And the New York City Marathon was cancelled less than 48 hours before it was slated to begin.

We arrived in NYC last Friday, went straight to the expo, and as soon as I made it through the line for my shirt, bib, and chip it became very apparent that the marathon was not going to happen. Though hardly a person in the Convention Center actually knew at the time, ABC, NBC, and MSNBC were reporting that Mayor Bloomberg had just announced that the marathon would no longer be held due to becoming a divisive hotbed of a topic in a city that needed nothing more than to be unified for recovery.

I saw some tweets, received a phone call that confirmed the rumor, and seconds later received texts from many west coast friends extending hugs and consolations. Dammit. In a fog, we stayed at the expo for a little while watching all of the innocent knowledge-less runners shop in an amped up state that only a pending marathon can induce. As we left it became  apparent that news had truly broken. People were gathered around lobby tv’s with banners – NEW YORK CITY MARATHON CANCELLED – scrolling along the bottom. The scene was dream-like. Everyone was quiet and stood there without words. We all exchanged glances and were instant friends; we were going to go through this together, as runners. One man cried. Another who we talked to was positive but quite disappointed; he was going to propose to his soon-to-be-fiance at the finish line.

We left, went to the hotel, and decided we’d salvage a good vacation out of the weekend.

Was I upset? Yes. Disappointed? Immensely.

But the truth was, in the end, I only felt partially emotional about running that marathon to begin with. I had registered as a product of qualification, but after a long dramatic season full of changed plans and injury, when it came time to ramp up my mileage I was too emotionally spent to pour my heart into training like it deserved. Or like I deserved. I checked every box and made every day count, but I wasn’t waking up or going to sleep excited and I didn’t like myself very much for feeling that way. In the two weeks leading up to the race I had started to get more excited about the raw experience of running the five boroughs of screaming crazy spectators. I was anxious to see the sights. I anticipated feeling the hurt and looked forward to it, and I hoped it would inspire me. But my excitement and anticipation was nothing in comparison to the people who trained all year – or for the last four – for this one single day. So I felt sad, but I felt exponentially more sad for them.

If this had happened to Ironman Canada I would have been inconsolable. I would have been absolutely and completely wrecked. For me a marathon was a fun way to close out a season, but to most other runners it meant so much more than that. My first marathon wasn’t that long ago and I remember the meticulous effort, planning, and emotional investment. Six days later I still feel a loss for those runners much more than I do for myself.

On Marathon morning we walked to Central Park, mostly because I wanted to see it in its beautiful autumn state, but also because we had heard rumors about a newly organized run happening on the outer loop. When we arrived it was quite a sight to see. There were groups cheering lining the entire south end of the loop, makeshift water stations set up by caring individuals, and a few thousand runners were participating in a newly formed marathon. Many of the runners were proudly wearing their NYCM bibs. People were running for their country, their charity, Sandy victims, and because they trained for this damn thing and wanted to finish what they started. It was an overwhelming show of the human spirit.

Standing there watching I didn’t want to leave. I regretted not treating Saturday like Marathon Eve to wake up early and participate in this 8am marathon. Part of me even thought about heading back to the hotel to change so that I could run an afternoon 26.2 with the runners who were still “on course”. A significant part of me still wishes I had done any of those things. But I didn’t for many reasons and starting my offseason then and there on Friday at 5pm in NYC was the right thing to do for my body. For my heart? I’m not sure yet.

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Injury Fake Out

Coming down from Ironman has been a humbling experience. I feel eager and excited and full of energy…until I’m 3 miles into a 6 mile run and want to just take a nap. My muscles aren’t burning, my joints aren’t creaky, but I’ve been insanely sleepy. In fact, I could pretty much – 3+ weeks later – fall asleep at any moment. The sleepiness is starting to lift though and with each workout my body is waking up more quickly and engaging more efficiently. I finally feel like the fog is lifting.

Which is why it was especially infuriating after Track Tuesday one week ago that my right foot started hurting. My right foot being the one that’s been fine since Portland Marathon 2009. During the 2 mile time trial my foot felt fine – the rest of my body including my lungs is a whole other story – but when I got in the car and started driving home my big toe felt cramped in a claw-like position, and the cramp extended into my arch. Having battled PF before I knew what to do and iced, rolled it out, and stretched my toes.

So when it hurt 100x more the next day I was really angry. And concerned. Wednesday morning my big toe joint was immensely swollen, and the pain was radiating from the center of the joint upward. I could hardly walk on the poor toe, because I really couldn’t move it. As the day progressed it hurt more and more, and then I got worried. I called my doctor in a panic and though he was leaving on vacation the next day he let me come in after hours to take a look.

When I arrived and described the pain he looked grim. And when he came back with x-rays I knew that he had not good news to share. He showed me a few x-rays that looked fine, and then we got to looking as my sesamoids. The words ” stress fracture” and “boot” were said. According to the x-ray my 2 sesamoid bones were in 3 pieces.

What 2 sesamoid bones should look like. (But not actually my x-ray)

I left the office feeling like my heart had been ripped out and thrown on the floor. 4-6 weeks in a boot. No NWM Half. No NYC Marathon. But it wasn’t even the boot-time and missed races that got to me the most. What got to me is that this time, this training cycle, I listened to my body. Since my last bout with stress fractures at the slightest sign of something amiss I’ve taken action, be it rest or physical therapy this time around. On the list of top 200 body parts that hurt during training or racing IMC this spot on my body wasn’t ever on the radar, truly. I drove home wondering how I’d ever be able to trust my own instinct again, and arrived on the assumption that I wouldn’t.

In the following hours I became more and more doubtful – 50% in myself and ability to read pain, but 50% in my doctor. Sure I’d wear a boot, but only until I could get a 2nd opinion on the injury. Generally stress fractures can’t be seen in x-rays, and if I was going to be in a boot for 6 weeks I wanted concrete proof that I needed to be there. My doctor was gone so I couldn’t show up on his office doorstep anymore, so I pulled together a list of new doctors to call first thing in the morning. At 8am I called and pled my case with each office. Thank you sports medicine community for listening to my woes – I was granted appointments with every doctor that I called and had my pick. I picked Dr. Blahous at The Sports Medicine Clinic.

I arrived, explained the onset and pain, and the doctor was great. He didn’t discount my previous diagnosis too much, but at the same time said that it didn’t sound like a fracture of any kind to him. Music to my ears!! He poked and prodded and asked thoughtful questions, then more x-rays. This time around they took images of both feet and I thought nothing of it.

Dr. Blahaus came back and shared new images with me. This time the image was more clear; the blurry line that had looked like a fracture the day before was much more pronounced, and my sesamoid bones were much more separated.

Again, not my x-ray. But this is what my x-ray looked like. I have a Bipartate Sesmoid.

Then my new favorite person in the world then shared the news that earned them that title: No fracture, I’m just a freak!

“Sesamoid fractures need to be differentiated from bipartite, or two part sesamoids.  Bipartite sesamoids are found in less than 10% of the general population.  Bipartite sesamoids are usually found bilaterally.  Therefore, one way to differentiate a bipartite sesamoid from a fractured sesamoid is to take a comparison x-ray of the non-symptomatic foot.  Bipartite sesamoids usually have a rounded appearance at the separation of the two fragments while fractures are typically sharp edged, without rounded edges.”

Though the physical pain and swelling didn’t immediately disappear with this news, I felt like a boulder had been lifted off my emotional and psychological state. The doctor guessed that the pain was some sort of soft tissue issue, prescribed lots of ice and Advil, and guessed I’d be good as new in a couple of days. His thought that track work on a tired body was the culprit.

The moral of this story: Trust yourself. 4 days later I’m back to running with no swelling, minimal tenderness, and no real pain. I can’t stop thinking about if I had agreed to hang in a boot for 6 weeks…for no reason!

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Race Recap: Ironman Canada 2012

I asked the twittersphere how long a race recap could get before it got “too long”. I received a lot of good responses, all of which reminded me of something. It was my day. And I want to remember it. Plus, this is my blog. If you lose interest, I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

It was an amazing and wonderful day, one that words can’t do justice. And the journey to get there has been, dare I say, even better than that single day. So without further ado, my Ironman Canada race.

 

Ironman Week and Race Morning

About how I did hardly anything leading up to the race, and it was awesome. Except when I thought I had kidney stones again.

 

Swim and T1

About how I finally had a good swim in a race, and that I should medal in transitions.

 

Bike and T2

About how my bike was pretty strong  until my stomach started hurting. I still threw down a good ride, but it wasn’t a good sign of things to come.

 

Run and Post Race

About how I ran until my stomach no longer hurt, and the only leg I didn’t cry on.

 

Happy reading or snoozing!

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IMC – Successes and Opportunities

Post race, even small ones, I always try to pull out a couple of successes and learnings. No matter how awesome or terrible a race is there are always things to remember and replicate – or never ever do again – next time.

Lather. Rinse. And Repeat. Self, remember these tips!

Pre Race

  • Race vacations are a must!! Spending the week in Penticton, but away from the chaos, was a really great decision for me. By the time race day rolled around I not only felt totally engrained in what was happening, but also totally relaxed. Heck, I even had a favorite Safeway checker at that point! When all of the crazed triathletes arrived I retreated to our castle townhouse and stayed away from anyone that would psych me out (everyone). I lived in my Ironman-less bubble of denial until I was ready to get amped up rather than letting the crazies rub off on me.

Swim

  • As part of Operation: Survive the Ironman Swim I’ve been quietly trying to figure out ways to avoid a panic attack during the swim. Turns out a mile warmup run with strides plus swimming for just a few moments does the trick quite nicely.
  • Usually I try to only focus on myself during the swim, thinking that if I don’t acknowledge the feet kicking in my face that it’ll calm me down. It wasn’t intentional, but during the IM swim I found myself focusing on EVERYTHING happening around me, and sighted far beyond the clusters in front of me. I didn’t get an anxious about the people right in front of me because I was able to look past them, to the open clear water up ahead or the next buoy.

Transitions

  • You don’t win an Ironman in transition… but I feel like I sort of deserve a medal for my T1 time! And my T2 time was slower but it included a trip to the porta potty so I’ll take it. Though I haven’t done many triathlons to truly have the art of transition down I did put a lot of planning and thought into what I was putting in my bag and what I could enlist help with should I get a volunteer to myself. I didn’t put anything extra in my bags because I knew I didn’t need to take time making decisions and it kept me focused and moving. Keep it easy.

Bike

  • I went out on the bike too hard, and I knew it. So once I calmed down I checked my HRM and worked hard to relax and lower my average heart rate. I let people pass me and said “so long!” It was hard to do, but when I got to Yellow Lake and passed folks back during the climb I knew I made the right move. I made smart decisions and stuck to the plan.
  • Special Needs Rules. I had plans to not stop, but once I did the math I realized I’d need more hydration and infinit than I could carry (duh) and I didn’t want to have to mix on the go. I included 2x 24oz bottles in my bag and made sure to drink from mine first. Those extra bottles saved me, because I was having trouble taking in calories that weren’t in liquid form. The set up was easy and the volunteers rocked. I just tossed my empties at stations along the way, slowed to a stop, grabbed my bottles from the volunteer handing them to me, and rode on!

Run

  • Again with the smart decisions. My stomach was not happy and I feared that everything would make it worse. Rather than risk a total bonk I had tiny drops of gu at a time and resorted to Pepsi for additional calories. When the pain scale got too high to think about withstanding for more than a mile I slowed to a walk for however long I needed to alleviate the pressure. None of this was in my plans, and I’ve never had GI issues during a race or training, but I’m glad I stayed calm because no matter how much my run disappoints me I still believe this was the right method.
  • I didn’t allow myself to think of the run as a marathon, but rather an aid station-to-aid station event. This attitude got me through 4 hours and 16 minutes of running, but looking back it felt like maybe 3 hours. Small goals worked for me at that point much better than larger ones.

Do Not Accept $200. Do Not Pass Go. DO NOT REPEAT!

Pre Race

  • Too. Much. Food. I attribute my demise on the run to my Ensure, 2 bagels, peanut butter, and banana. Blech. All that after the previous day’s pasta dinner, sandwich, bagel, etc. My stomach still sort of hates me, over a week later.

Swim

  • There are many things I could do to improve my swimming, but given my current fitness, pace, and swim anxiety there is nothing I could have done – other than be a better swimmer – to make my swim better.

Bike

  • I knew I would go out too hard, I always do. I wonder a little bit if my stomach issues were due to the intensity up front. They started on the bike but didn’t hinder my performance until the run.
  • I could have used more nutrition on the bike; once my stomach started up I stayed conservative. Ideally I would have had more calories and more liquids to top myself off for a strong and hydrated run. I did a good job bringing a couple of options just in case, but I need to force myself to eat while I train like I want to eat during a race to simulate how to handle GI upset.
  • Cut up Powerbars don’t work. If you slice 3 up into little tiny bits and put them in a bag – even after letting them try out for 24 hours – they will still end up as a single glob.

Run

  • Mile 15 was the only point during the run where I remember focusing on distance. My thought was, “Well, eff. I haven’t run more than 15 miles during training, and I still have over 10 miles left to go!” At this time my body was starting to kick the GI distress and wanted to run, and my legs were honestly not that poorly off, but my knee-jerk reaction was to continue to conserve. With some better psychological preparedness I could have better spent that energy focusing on HTFU.
  • Despite stomach issues, tiredness, etc., etc., I could have pushed myself more on the run. As soon as my GI alleviated I picked it up for a handful of miles. Then I let doubt creep in a bit knowing that I still had 5 miles left and backed off. At the time I thought playing it safe was smart, and it might have been, but I know that I could have fought harder out there.
  • There is no need to carry any food, at all. With aid stations every mile my own bouncing gu’s did nothing but annoy me.

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Filed under Ironman, Racing

Always Wear Your Helmet

Written July 1, 2012.

Yesterday morning I set out on what should have been my first century ride; 100 miles in the overcast drizzle. I was not looking forward to the drizzle, but I was looking forward to getting this ride under my belt, exploring a new route, and most of all not being in a hurry to get it all done. 100 miles in the saddle – and my previous longest ride being 85ish – and I planned to pace myself to enjoy it. For once I didn’t have a slammed schedule in the afternoon so there was no rush to fit it all in.

I made it less than 1 mile before I found myself splattered on the pavement.

Leaving my neighborhood there’s a hill to descend about 1 mile long, and at the bottom the road curves right. You can’t see around it until you start turning, it’s pretty blind for cars and cyclists alike. I’m familiar with how scary it can be and have nearly gotten hit there by careless parkers before. Though I see people fly down the hill at times I don’t. EVER. I ride my brakes all the way down like a weenie.

Yesterday I hit that turn and had about 30 feet to stop on wet pavement. A truck was blocking the bike lane, plus the entire vehicle lane, while backed into a driveway unloading. I braked, fishtailed, released to straighten out, tried to brake again gently, and went down. Hard.

My right side was first, and went straight into the raised (sidewalk height strip) median, and I bounced. Everything seemed in slow motion and while still being catapulted with the crash’s momentum I actively thought about 2 things: 1. How close my face was to the edge of the sidewalk as my head bounced along it 3 or 4 times. My eyes were literally centimeters from the corner but my helmet kept hitting first and created a buffer. And 2. WHEN.WILL.THIS.END. I could feel myself rolling, flying, bouncing, and tumbling forward but knowing that I couldn’t stop the momentum I stayed loose and tried to keep my awareness of which way was up and where to land. Thank you very much 16 years of gymnastics.

When I finally stopped moving I checked my face (no blood), my extremities (nothing catastrophic), and my bike (TBD) and dragged myself to the side of the road. I’m certain, the witnesses were much more afraid for me than I was for myself in those moments. They approached – one man running – to see if I was okay. The looks on their faces while I stood there trying to assess the damage and figure out what to do next were more paralyzing than the moment I realized I’d either be flying straight into the truck or straight into the pavement.

I’m beat up, hurting, partially broken, frustrated, and tired. I’m damaged, my things are damaged, and I’m quite sure that Garth is damaged from receiving that phone call while half awake and half dozed off enjoying a Saturday morning. Hi, it’s me. I need you to come scrape me off the pavement and take me to the ER. I had a crash. 

But I’m also incredibly grateful and lucky. And LUCKY. It could have been so much worse. Garth could have been out for a long run. That truck could have been moving. My helmet, now misshapen and cracked, stayed on my head and did its job. It most certainly saved me.

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Filed under Bike, Health, Injuries, & Prevention, Training

General Update

So, Ironman is almost here. 27 days away. Insanity.

I haven’t been writing much for a few reasons.

#1. All I do is train, eat, and sleep. And work. I’m not stressed out, but I’m so focused on getting from one of those activities to the next in the most efficient way possible that it doesn’t leave much time to write about how things are going. Or to embellish my stories for my future self! (Kidding)

#2. Training was altered for a bit by an accident that I was in and can’t share the details of. Though I’m still dealing with it on multiple accounts I’m still able to race Ironman Canada. I’m grateful that I can still go, but am disheartened by what’s happened. As time passes I’ve become more polarized too; I find myself going from acting like it didn’t happen – because I wish it didn’t – or breaking down in tears for “no reason” while driving myself home like I did last week.

#3. The breakthroughs just don’t feel that big anymore. I’m getting down to the wire which means more pressure on myself (from myself) and so even when I do something new or great I immediately just feel like that’s what I should be doing by this point in the training cycle. I can’t stop measuring myself against where I wanted to be at this point, and though I may not be too far off I thought I would feel different by now. Because I feel like these things are not significant it makes it uninspiring to try to eeek some writing out of just for the heck of it.

But more is coming soon. There are a few things specifically that I want to write about.

Until then please take a look at my studly husband. On maybe 8 weeks of training he killed a hilly 5k, finishing in the high 18:40’s, on Saturday night at the Seafair Torchlight. Amazing. If I didn’t love him I might hate him be a little bit jealous. 🙂

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Filed under Life, Training