Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ironman Arizona 2011 - Video!

Think of it as the video race report!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ironman Arizona 2011

For those who want the cliff-notes version, come back in the next day or two for my race video.  I really wanted to wait to post this till I had race photos from ASI but 5 DAYS after I ordered them and I have not received anything yet..

The start cannon went off and the crush of bodies in the water began to swim.  There was bumping and jostling and occasionally half a body on top of my legs but I felt good!  I really don't mind the triathlon body contact any more and I knew I was getting pulled along with the masses for some extra speed.  If I wanted, I could just pretend I was working the pole up the street at Babes or Skin, given how many times my ass was being groped by strangers.

Surprisingly, given that the water temperature was identical to the Splash & Dash I'd done the previous week, I was not really cold.  Certainly not the bad shivering and shaking I'd done in 2009 in similar conditions.  Maybe all those days of ending my showers with a blitz of cold water to the head had worked.
I'd worried about sighting on the outbound leg into the rising sun but as it turned out all I really needed to do was follow the many flailing arms and bobbing heads in front of me.  I made it to the far end of the course, turned left once, turned left again and began the trek back.  At that point my watch said 53 minutes and I was on track for about the swim I'd expected.  Well, the way back turned out to be a bit more of a challenge.  Much of my draft was gone and sighting was oddly difficult - I KNEW I just needed to get to the Mill Ave bridge and yet the buoys seemed to curve in and out.  With about 1000m left to go, a bigger girl with a huge kick went by - I latched onto her feet and went hard to stay with her for the draft.  I rounded the final turn buoy and headed for the exit stairs.  At that point you can hear Mike Reilly and the music and the crowd, you *just* have to swim a little further.  100 yards from the swim exit, my draft, who was having some trouble sighting and had gone off to one side, kicked me squarely in the right eye.  We both popped up stunned for a millisecond and then kept swimming.  At that point, who cares if my goggle might leak or I might get a black eye, I just want to finish this swim! While it was not exactly where I expected to come out time wise, I learned that pretty much everyone I knew had slower swims than anticipated so I'll just take it for now.  We have plans for working on the swim for next year.

A wonderful volunteer grabbed my arm and hauled me out of the lake, I ran up the steps and across the mat, and that was one leg of this amazing race DONE!

2.4 mile swim: 1:57:26

I ran right to the wetsuit strippers, who had me out of my lovely Blueseventy suit in no time, and began the long run to transition - all the way around the bikes and changing tent, grabbed my bag, and then into the changing tent.  Where...it was chaos!  Last time I'd raced and come out of the water 13 minutes later than this, I had the tent mostly to myself.  This time it took a second of scanning the area to find an open chair, which I dropped into and got to work.  I had planned in advance with my coach to wear the same outfit all day, which meant riding in tri shorts (having applied copious amounts of Aquaphor before the swim) and a faster transition.  While I put my socks and shoes on, my kickass volunteer got a baby wipe for me to clean the TTL dirt off my face, stuffed my nutrition in my pocket, and put my race belt on.  I grabbed my helmet and sunglasses and ran out.  It definitely paid off to think through the order/commands I needed to bark out in transition to fly through quickly without forgetting anything.  I ran for the bikes - where mine was racked on the far end, closest to the bike out - and was lucky enough to get Danni as my bike handler - great to see a familiar face as I headed out!

T1: 4:17

And then it was time to ride my bike, 3 loops around the course, for a total of 112 miles.  I knew there was no "racing" that would be done here, simply spinning at the intended watts and fueling up for however many hours it would take (I guessed between 6:45 and 7:00)  There was a little headwind on the way out of loop 1 but nothing like last time where I'd had to spin 11mph in my small ring to get my heart rate down and stay within my target watts.  My legs were a little cold and slow to warm up but I felt good.  After 15 minutes to let my stomach settle down from drinking half of TTL, I began to take in calories.  The wind shifted after my first loop and loops 2 and 3 were characterized by tailwind on the way out to Shea and strong headwind on the return trip.  Sometimes, it sucked.  I might have stuck my finger down my throat and made gagging noises at Jeff on my way out for loop 3 to indicate my enthusiasm.  But I knew if I kept at it and just focused on the plan, it would end eventually.  And really it wasn't that bad, because I'd practiced riding in lots of wind in aero.
In the meantime, I was entertained by friendly comments from other athletes (soooo many men who flew by me took the time to offer encouragement and I still remember the first who did - when I looked him up later, it turns out he was the 1st overall amateur in the race - how cool is it that one of the crazy fast people is still supporting others out on the course?), by watching the little pace lines of drafters go by (and chuckling when I heard the put-put of the race official's motorcycle shortly thereafter), and by the fact that even while staying within my race limits and not trying to race I was passing people!
So here's where I managed something new and exciting...for the entire bike ride - all 6 hours and 49 minutes - I never got off the bike.  I grabbed water bottles from the aid station volunteers while riding.  I peed twice on the bike, on the downhill of loops 1 and 3.  I knew Mary would be very proud of me for that!  And I rode this distance for the first time ever in tri shorts!  I experienced some chafing but nothing any worse than usual for me - thankfully I ride an Adamo saddle (cutout in the middle) so the spot I chafe is more at the top of my inner thighs.  (Side note: however, when you are chafed...and you pee...it burns a little!)
Eventually I made the last turn onto Rio Salado and knew I had less than 2 miles to go.  I started getting ready to get off the bike, undoing my shoes and slipping my feet out, and wondered how it would feel to move after so many hours of continuous riding!

112 mile bike: 6:49:48

The first few steps were...a little rough and then I took off running to grab my bag and hit up the changing tent.  Tossed my helmet off, grabbed my socks and shoes to put on, and asked the volunteer to shove my bundle of gels in my pocket while I got my shoes on.  Her response? "I'll get it after you stand up.  Don't worry, it's not even 4:00 yet and you have till midnight, you have plenty of time to finish."  Hmmph.  So...transition took a little longer than I would have liked.  Volunteers are a wonderful thing to have so I'm not going to say anything negative but a little aid would have been appreciated.

T2: 2:28

Off to run and I knew I needed to dial back my pace right away.  Make it feel painfully easy for the first 5 miles.  I felt slow as could be, like I was trotting in place, while I ambled along passing people but it worked.
The first 8-point-something mile loop was completed entirely in my goal pace.
Our pre-planned mini goal had been for me to run Jen down and then pull her with me to the finish for a PR for both of us.  I was getting updates from her family and mine that I was catching up with her but it was sooner than I'd expected.  The next update I got was that she was BEHIND me.  Huh?  Turns out I'd passed when she stopped to use a bathroom.  So I never saw her on the run.
Somewhere around the 12 mile mark, I slowed to walk a hill and felt a wave of dizziness hit.  Uh oh, that's not good.  My race-fried brain tried so hard to figure out what I needed - calories? electrolytes? even more water?  Well after discussion with my coach the missing ingredient was salt - a lot more than I was taking in.  So I struggled with nausea and dizziness for the remaining half of the marathon.  Not exactly the run time I'd expected/trained to have but that just gives me a goal for next time.  For most of the 2nd loop, I ran from aid station to aid station and walked the aid stations while trying Coke, orange slices, anything that seemed it might settle well in my stomach.
The third loop was up and down.  I was still passing people more than I was being passed, I was taking in calories at the aid stations via orange slices, and I was trying not to walk more than the aid stations.  But somewhere around mile 22 and again at mile 23 I let myself walk for 5 minutes and tried to fuel up for the remaining miles.
At mile 24, I started running and did not stop.  I blew right through the last aid station and kept going.  I was on a mission to finish.  I think the crowd near the Mill Ave bridge knew I was headed for the end and gave me lots of cheers.  I high-fived the volunteer working the split off point between the turn to the finish and the other loops of the run.  I ran through the parking lot, turned onto Rio Salado and picked up the pace.  I ran until I had clear space for the finish chute on my own and then I ran even harder.
The magical moment of an Ironman finish chute arrived.  Screaming crowd, bright lights, and Mike Reilly calling my name.  The happiest place on earth, even happier the second time around.

26.2 mile run: 4:50:57

I can see now how each Ironman finish is special in its own way.  The first...well, there's never anything like your first and that voyage into the unknown.  This one was the confirmation that I could do more than just finish, I could come back to the same course, having worked harder and smarter for the two years in between, and improve upon the past.

Finish: 13:44:56 
A 75 minute Ironman PR

Having reviewed this race with my coach and identified where I had problems and hearing her plans for me to achieve that next big breakthrough, I can say - though I questioned my sanity for signing up for Canada several times on race day - that I can't wait to tackle the next set of challenges.  I'll be resting and doing my own thing for another 5 weeks but then...bring it!

Thank you to my husband for supporting me 100% through all the insanity of Ironman training, to my coach for getting me to the start line in the best shape of my life, to Recovery e21 for supporting all of my training and racing this year (I PRed at every distance this year using e21, those are results that speak for themselves!), and to Dr Brink and staff at Premiere Spine & Sport for keeping all my little aches and pains from becoming BIG aches and pains.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Big Giant Long Race Report Coming Soon

Maybe tomorrow, depending on how quiet things are with work.  And how fast ASI gets their race photos posted.  For now, a little pre-race report...

Saturday's practice swim was a good indicator of how the lake would feel on race day (not bad, not TOO cold, faster going out than coming back).
 After that I dried off and got in line for bike/bag check-in.  I ran into Jen and Jerome Harrison on their way to swim at that point and then again when they came back from the swim.  You know how some people you never manage to find in a race this big and some people you see over and over and over in a crowd of thousands?  Jen was that someone for me this weekend!

Checking in my bike (nerd in line on time = first bike on the rack!)
 And dropping off gear bags..

 We met up with most of the spectathlete crew (minus my aunt and uncle who were tailgating the ASU-UofA game) for dinner at Nourish in Scottsdale the night before the race.  I know Jeff wasn't really a fan but it was a great place to get a gluten-free dinner the night before the race that fueled me up well.

I stayed up to watch the Sharks game (BIG win over Dallas - woohoo!) and then fell asleep pretty fast, while walking through my race plan (yet again) in my head.  I only woke up about 30 minutes before my 4:00 alarm and dozed till 3:50, then slowly woke up while lying in bed thinking about the day ahead.  After that I hopped out of bed, ate breakfast, coated my entire body in sunblock (which worked well, no sunburn at all!) and got dressed.  A quick walk for the dogs and then Meredith and I were off to transition, with Jeff to join us shortly thereafter with my friend Sara.  Dropped off my special needs bags (ran into Jen and Jerome Harrison on my way there), loaded my bottles on the bike, filled my tires, and I was pretty much done in transition.  Time to get body marked, hit up the portapotty line one last time (and stood in line with who else but...Jen Harrison) and go hang out with the gang!

 I am still amazed at how calm I was that morning.  I just focused on executing my race plan and what I had to do each step of the way and it kept my mind occupied.  When it was time to get going, I gave everyone a hug, dropped my morning clothes bag off (and ran into Jen Harrison AGAIN - Jen, are you stalking me?), and joined the masses waiting at the timing mat in transition.  Thankfully I ran into Lisa and her friends so we could chat for a bit before they let us down to the lake.
 Once the pros were all in the water and warming up, they let the age groupers cross the mat and begin jumping off the dock into the water.  I held back for a couple minutes and then got on with it - put my goggles on, sat on the edge of the dock, and dropped into the water.  Cold, yes, but not nearly as bad as I expected nor as bad as IM AZ 2009.

 I gradually warmed up with a nice easy swim up to the start line and then just floated there...watching the crowd, everyone on the bridge above us, and the beginnings of the sunrise on the horizon, singing the national anthem, woop-wooping loudly for the "you're going to be an Ironman today!" from Mike Reilly.  The bodies around me seemed to back off from the start line all of a sudden (did everyone panic about being near the front?) and it got more crowded at the same time.  I knew from last time there is no countdown to the start so I had a good idea we were close when things got quiet.

 And then...BOOM! went the cannon and we were off!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Calm Before The Storm

Lots of triathletes = lots of food consumed

I've swum in the lake and done a short ride, checked in my bike, dropped off my gear bags...I'm ready.  I'm feeling surprisingly calm at this point.  The work is done, I've been doing my best to rest and if I'm not rested by now it's not going to happen, and it's time to just get in the water tomorrow and spend the rest of the day executing my race plan - calmly, smoothly and with confidence.  

In case you are tracking online, here is a roundup of my times from this race in 2009.  
Swim: 2:10:50
T1: 7:35
Bike: 7:34:29
T2: 3:09
Run: 5:03:01
Total Time: 14:59:02
Suffice it to say, I'm hoping for a strong PR across the board in all areas.

Catch you all on the flip side.  Ironward!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ironman Check-in: Done!

Now to just clean and prep my bike, organize and pack my race bags, stay fueled and healthy for 2 more days, and try to stop obsessing about whether I am getting sick or not!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ironman Arizona Tracking Information

On Sunday morning at 7:00am MST, I'll start the race day that will take me until sometime after sunset to finish.  I am hopeful for a significant PR over my previous IM finish (14:59:02) and while I have some goals in mind I can't give you anything more definite than that.  It's a very long race day and you never know what might happen along the way.  I can only hope that I stay positive and keep moving forward no matter what!

If you are interested in tracking on race day, there are a couple ways to do that.

#1 Go to Ironman.com on race morning and there will be an orange-y box right up front with Ironman Arizona and a link for the Athlete Tracker.  Enter my race number (#329) there!  Once I am nearing the end of the run, you can also watch the Audio/Video link in the hopes of seeing me cross the finish line live.

#2 I'll be wearing a small GPS device for the bike and run that will allow you to see my location on course at any time.  Go to My Athlete Live and click the Track My Athlete link in the top right.  Find Ironman Arizona and click on my name.  (For reference, the course maps can be found on the Ironman Arizona site).

Happy tracking, and thanks in advance for the support and cheering!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Taper = Party!

This weekend we celebrated taper in style.  First up was a swim race at Tempe Town Lake with Lisa!
 Ready to go like a *ninja*
 The lake was running around 61 degrees that morning - brrr!  But we were victorious!  And will be again this coming Sunday...
 After that, Lisa was kind enough to host a taper party at her house!
 Jen loves kale so much
 Lisa loves cupcakes :-)

 Lisa's tire changing contest was the hit of the night
 All of her IM AZ-bound friends!

I've been going slightly stir-crazy the last couple days but I know the end is near.  My friends start arriving in town tomorrow and then it's a steady stream of athletes and spectators coming in every day!  Just a *few* days to go!!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

1 week to race day

and it's time to celebrate all of the friends that make training for an Ironman fun and social!  THANK YOU all for making this another amazing year!

Previous editions: 2009 and 2010.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I wish I had more exciting things to report...just a week of work and tapering going on around here.  

I've tried to fit in a little pampering to make this taper less boring - had my hair cut and colored (1st time ever!), got a massage mid-week when my hamstrings were so tight I could barely bend over, and I had my pre-race mani/pedi (+ a facial) today.  One might think next week would be better for a pre-race mani-pedi but I knew I was smart about doing it early after the woman cut my toe and I bled everywhere - better to get that kind of stuff over with early!  In any event, toes that match your race kit = faster Ironman, right?  So I'm good to go there!

The dogs are bored bored bored with me!  They want Jeff and Puck to arrive already so they have someone to play with.   Stanley is amusing himself with rearranging my bed to suit him.
Max at least had an outing just for himself - chiropractic adjustment and acupuncture!

I've been enjoying the gluten-free bakery and cafe just down the street from my house here.

I did my last long brick in preparation for the race.  Out on the Beeline into the wind (this sucks, I hate my bike, stupid Ironman) and back at a speed that was 13mph faster (I love my bike, this race is going to rock).  Thank goodness at least my run off the bike was 100% happy!

A little view of last night's full (?) moon rising

9 days to go and the weather forecast is finally looking good for race day!