Wednesday, November 25, 2009

and THAT's a wrap!

I honestly wasn't so sure how the second Ironman would go. I've never done two ironman's in a year, let alone 2 in 6 weeks. I went to bed Saturday night feeling a bit uneasy. I woke up feeling the same. The hip pain I experienced after Kona was still present and my back and legs felt tight. I would be lying if I didn't admit thinking "what am I doing?" But quickly I responded any uncertainty with "I'm going to kill this race and make it count!" The day before the race I found a lucky penny face up on the sidewalk. I tucked it into my wetsuit, thinking I might need a little luck along the way.

I saw so many familiar faces before jumping into the freezing Tempe town lake. I wasn't alone in my quest to tackle some unfinished business from Kona. Jumping in the water right ahead of me was Lindsey Corbin, Sam McG, and my favorite Aussie Kate Major. I waited for the pro start, took a big gasp and entered the frigid waters feeling calm and confident. I was ready to give it my all, and hope for the best.

Swim: The gun went off and I felt like I was having a strong swim. I swam 99% of the race alone. This is something I NEED to work on. I hate swimming amongst the crowd, but sadly that shows in my swim times. I exited the water, saw 1:03, and knew I once again drastically failed to reach my potential in the ironman waters. I quickly got over it and concentrated on warming up out on the bike course.

Bike: It was a cold start, and when I hit Bee-Line Hwy we were greeted with a decent head wind. Negativity entered my mind. Thing is (unlike kona), when we made the turn around there was a nice tail wind to brighten my thoughts. My speed soared above 30mph and for the first time I stopped thinking about a DNF and started thinking about succeeding.
I set my expectations high, and hoped to ride sub-5:30...if all went really really well! Loop 1 (of 3) was completed in 1:40. Nice! But I needed to settle down. My mind was racing and I was still unsure how my legs would go at this distance so close to my previous IM. I refocused and reminded myself that this race was between me, myself, and I. I internalized things and just stayed calm for lap 2.
When I rounded the turn for lap 3 I realized "I'm doing this!" I was riding amongst mostly men, and wondered at this point where I was in the field. Thankfully I knew most of the officials on the course so got a quick update "Caroline, you're only 20mins behind Kate and well into the top ten age group women." No way, the pro's get a 10min head start, so if this was all true things were going quite well! From then on my mind remained strong and confident. My legs followed suit. I experience some stomach issues and back pains, but was able to respond and adapt to the unexpected without letting the race get away from me. I couldn't get all my bottles down (GU+CarboPro of course!) because I kept burping and almost throwing up. I supplemented liquid calories with a banana and GU gels. I wasn't worried about hydration but knew I couldn't start the run low on calories since I struggle to get anything down out once I leave the bike.
I rolled in at 5:26 with a giant smile on my face. I had no clue where I was in my age group. But I had an entire marathon to figure it out. This race was mine for the taking!

Run: I came out of T2 running strong. My HR remained low, my leg turn over was high, and my pace was strong! I held under 7:50 for the first 10k (pace wise. actually the splits were just over 8:00 because of all the 180degree turns on the course that make the run a bit slow). I was passed by a girl in my age group, Marie. She got a bit ahead of me, but I reeled her back in and stayed with her for the second loop. My pace remained well under my goal pace for the marathon, but my HR was under control so I allowed myself to run strong and race.

As I made my way through loop 2 I felt the effects of a sidewalk marathon run. Seriously, who thought a run course on sidewalks was a good idea. Oh wait, Roch and Huddle...darn them! It hurt! Marie ran away from me at the start of the third loop and I started to slow. I felt the effects of my early fast pace. Mitch was out there and offering me the perfect words of encouragement throughout. At this point he yelled to me "breath Caroline, don't let this get away from you. Stay within yourself and just relax." He read my mind! I was thinking about everything but what I was doing. I wanted to know where everyone else was (it's impossible to figure out on this 3 loop winding course!).

I wanted to podium and was told I was in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th. Clearly no one really knew. At mile 20 I accepted my first cup of Coke, and tried hard to focus on just getting to mile 24 (I try to think of the marathon as 4x6miles. The last 2 take care of themselves). The concrete was taking it toll. My legs were screaming and the wheels were falling off. I started counting every quarter mile. Not good. I tried hard to keep the pace under 9min miles. Not good, but it was all I could do.

With 2 miles to go I thought I could break 10:30. No Way! Really! The turn over picked up, the smile found its way back, and I charged for the line. When I came around the corner and entered the finish shoot I thought I saw the race clock at wait that's a 1. 10:21, Seriously! No Way!

I crossed the finish and instantly felt overjoyed. Now THAT is what I worked so hard for this year. The W30-34 came to play! 10:21 was a new Ironman AZ age group record...but this year there were 9 of us that beat it. I raced amongst some amazing girls! How inspiring. 10th overall femaleis something I never imagined accomplishing at a major Ironman event!

Diana and Nick handed me a beautiful bouquet of flowers just before I crossed the finish. So sweet! As I walked to gather my bike and gear bags everyone was asking if I won the whole race. I smiled and said "nope, but I won MY race!" This really was a race without expectations and only for myself. I won that race, and couldn't be happier about it!

The day went far better than I could have ever dreamed. A special thanks to TriBike Transport for giving me the chance to end my season on this high note! Thank you to Cervelo for refusing to let a cracked bike frame get in the way of my dream race. and of course GU for fueling the fire within!

You don't have to feel good to race good! The door is officially closed on the 2009 season. 4 half ironmans, 2 ironmans, and a slew of shorter races in between. It's been quite a journey! Thanks for joining me for the ride!!

post race soak in the FREEZING pool offered a temporary cure for the pain

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wow! Another Ironman is here!

Usually after an ironman I allow myself to get out of shape, before gearing up for the next opportunity to tackle the daunting distance. Not this time! 6 weeks turnaround and I'm back on site for another ironman. Yesterday I hit up Sculpt Fusion for a quick yoga class before hitting the road. The drive left me stiff and sore, so I went straight to ASU to the warm-up set at masters. Then it was finally off to see my bestest friend (who is preggers!!!). I kept asking the little dude to kick and say hello, and finally he woke up to give a little kick to aunt Caroline (if I wait on my only sibling I may never be an aunt!). I love that Diana and I are only one state apart! I use to come out at least three times a year, but it seems to have decreased over time. Thanks to IMAz I'm back again =)

This morning I got in a lap of the ironman bike course and a quick run along the swim course. Last time I did this race I had a horrendously bad swim. Sunday I will accept nothing but my best. No cramps, no punches thrown my way (bc this time I will fire back!) and no excuses. I'm capable of more!!! Sadly I forgot the camera on my ride...but I promise, you're not missing much. A few cacti and lots of brown dirt/gravel. It was a quick reminder that I wasn't in Kansas...I mean Kona, anymore. But I am HERE...and I want to be HERE! I can't wait to make the best of this race and shock myself with the race I know I'm capable of!
At this point it's all about preparing the mind! 3 Sleeps!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

6 weeks to recover, train, maintain and taper

It's a that might require a touch of luck as well. As the countdown to Kona entered 10 days I started to think a little bit about all the training I would NOT be doing after the race. Funny thing, this is never the case. In order for the mind to recover our body craves getting out there and pounding the pavement with some easy training sessions. This year a funny thing happened. I wouldn't allow myself to even consider pounding the pavement (running nor biking) right after Kona. I learned the easiest way to chill out and recover after an ironman is to immediately sign up for another...with a 6 week turn around.
After Hawaii it was "hurry up and recover." During this time I consulted with some pretty amazing athletes and coaches to figure out whether my body could perform at its full potential in Arizona. Most told me I'd get back to Cali and the intense craving to race again would dissipate. It didn't!!

The first time I added a bit of intensity into my training I almost died. Seriously, I think I had a mild heart attack. That's all fine and good considering my first intensity workout was the Swamii's group ride. Problem is, the heart attack came on the first hill, before the real accelerations even begin. I quickly learned that 2 weeks is not enough time to recover from an ironman. So I changed my mental focus from "ironman training" to "ironman maintaining."
Turns out it took almost 4 weeks until I felt I started feeling decent again. The HR and speed numbers were right on AND my heart rate had finally started recovering quick after intense efforts. I've enjoyed some awesome training sessions since Kona! My longest ride was only 4hours. Shannon kept me honest on that one!

Then Terry offered up a great trainer to mile repeat workout for Kate, Kim and I! From the outside it looked like I was on again, but it hurt way more than 6:15mile repeats did before Kona!!!
With 3 weeks to go Cervelo came through with my new hot ride for IMAz:

I thought I'd repeat my 2 week taper that I used for Kona. But with 2 weeks to go I was finally feeling good. So I went back to the drawing board and started picking everyone's brain again. I kept up the intensity through the week and now I'm ready for a taper. Everyone's advice was to keep the ride under 4 hours and only do one 2 hour run. So I did. It leaves me feeling a bit strange leading into Arizona, but we'll see how it plays off. I know I need to remember all those long training sessions I put in pre-Kona...not to mention the tough ironman race I deposited in the bank.

7 Sleeps!

Crazy People

There are so many of them in San Diego. All too often my jaw drops when I hear several of my training partners rattle off their race calendar. I hear the word "ironman" over and over and am perplexed by the fact that so many people aspire to do more than one ironman in a single season (and prior to this year I was a proponent of the 'one every other year' philosophy). me crazy, because the tides have turned. 2 ironmans in 6 weeks sounds like a great idea (the results next weekend will hopefully confirm this feeling).
I've been told I'm "crazy," "an addict," "obsessed," and my favorite "an inspiration." I am really excited that I have the opportunity to tackle one more ironman course before closing the door on 20009. Ironman Arizona: Ahhhhh, yes...never say never! After doing this race in 2006 I said: never again. Well never will be here in just 9 days. It isn't pretty, the crowds there are less than impressive, the course hardly goes out of town before you loop back for the 3 loop bike course and 3 loop figure 8 run course, and you can hardly see your hand in front of your face on the swim. But it's an ironman, and this year a ton of Kona athletes will toe the line to dig deep and display their remarkable fitness once again.

Ironman Hawaii and Arizona are 6 weeks apart. If I'm telling the truth here, I started thinking about my next ironman before I even left Hawaii. I am 100% happy with my race, but I knew my run fitness didn't shine through in Hawaii. I came back to San Diego and focused on everything but triathlon (hence the limited blog posts). Unless triathlon is your job, you need to move on and get back to the real world. My real world involved work, fun with friends, lots and lots of sleep, compression tights and socks, contrast baths, a.r.t., and massage. Before I could think about another race I needed to heal both body and mind. I spent 2 weeks doing everything but training.

Jeff and Vickie cooked up an amazing dinner and together we sat and talked about everything but triathlon! (the guys are in the other room discussing who knows what!)

Then there was Halloween. Can you guess what I am? Just take a shot in the no, that was my costume (a shot in the dark-my necklace was a shot glass).

Can you guess who the preschool teacher is (hint, see above) and who may never be allowed around children again?

It took a full 4 weeks before my confidence returned, and my legs felt like they could actually handle more than 2 hours of movement. But with only one week to go I'm finally getting really excited. This is a great opportunity, and one I don't want to waste. I've struggled a little bit with how to structure my training between Hawaii and Az, but thankfully have had some amazing help from those who have done this before with great success. Racing in Az means I'll get a front row seat to watch so many of my friends tear it up in Tempe! I can't wait!
Can Tempe Town lake really look this beautiful?!?!?! 9 Days!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Digs

Last week I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite triathlon related destinations. No, I don't mean a race course or training site. I'm referring to the XTerra office. The entire office is full of product and people I really enjoy seeing. And now, they're in an awesome new space! Check out their new show room! Kick ass!! Their awesome product line is now displayed in a way it deserves...

When looking for sponsors for this season I sought out companies/brands I already used and loved. As an age group athlete I know I don't deserve much, but the sponsorship I've acquired has dramatically enhanced my season. It adds a new dimension of fun...and that's why we do this, right!?!?!
I have to say that working with XTerra this year has been amazing. Hands down, they make the best wetsuits and speed suits on the market. Back this with the amazing people who design, engineer, and promote the product and the end package is a winner in all regards!

I've been fortunate to test out pretty much the entire line of XTerra wetsuits. As a former competitive swimmer I want a suit that is flexible. Most people love wetsuits for their buoyancy. Although everyone benefits from this feature, the margin of speed gained for more experienced swimmers is much less. My body position has been ingrained in me since I started swimming at the age of 4. Buoyancy really helps weaker swimmers...therefore I'll always take a non-wetsuit legal swim. Sadly, non-wetsuit swims really only exist in Hawaii.

This season I raced in the Vector ProX2. The Vendetta (their top end suit) offers more buoyancy than other wetsuits on the market. 99% of triathletes don't come from a swimming background, and therefore benefit from maximum buoyancy. Tiny air pockets are embedded throughout the front of the entire Vendetta suit to lift the body high into the water, decreasing drag and increasing speed. For the guys out there that put a wetsuit on and just fly, I'd look into the Vendetta. If you have a swimming background I recommend considering the suit I wore, The Vector ProX2. I've fallen in love with it! I believe the arm panels are a little thinner than the Vendetta. The body might not get quite the flotation, but again, this is a great option if you do not experience high gains from the super buoyant suits. Both suits go on really easy and are not too restrictive. Many people complain about feeling claustrophobic in a wetsuit. I don't notice this at all with any of the full or sleeveless XTerra suits. They've mastered the art of flexibility and their suits allow swimmers to hold onto that all important feel for the water!

My absolute favorite product in XTerra's new showroom is their speedsuit. Maybe it's because I know if I'm in this suit I must be in Hawaii swimming amongst sea turtles and dolphins.

The Velocity++ proved to be crazy fast in Kona. XTerra was #2 on the speedsuit count. (I think that is only because "another company" gave away more suits to ensure they'd be #1). The results don't lie: XTerra claimed 1st, 2nd and 3rd age group women out of the water (grrrr, I wasn't up there-but hope to change this next weekend in Az!) and 1st male.

I owe a million thanks to XTerra for all their support over the past year! The company is one I will support for years to come. XTerra not only offers the best product, but holds my vote for "greatest customer service!" Check out their new digs at: 8320 Miramar Mall San Diego, CA 92121, or online

I can't wait to see the XTerra crew tear it up on the Ironman Arizona course next weekend!!!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Life after an ironman is always interesting. We train day (and what seems like nights because of the ridiculously early wake up calls) after day, week after week, month after month, and some will argue year after year to lay it all on the line for one day. Grated, it's often one long day (especially if your ironman of choice takes place in Kona, HI), but really all that hard work is displayed in one quick shining moment.
Post ironman brought an array of emotions and stresses to the forefront of my life. Thank goodness I didn't experience the ridiculous PID (post ironman depression) brought on by Ironman Arizona 2006. Oh yes, that was the last hurrah before I'd sit to take the wonderful CA Bar Exam. Coach called me because she heard I was very upset. I was distraught and kept saying "my life is going to end, I'll never be able to workout again." life didn't end. Instead life took me to the Big Island (twice!). And for that I continue to be thankful!
But still life comes at us with a vengeance after an Ironman. Instead of selfishly consuming every spare minute with swim, bike, run we have to actually deal with life. It's inevitable! It's nothing too crazy. It's the same stresses that were there before Hawaii, but now my coping mechanism seems to have disappeared. This is largely what's driven me to get back out there and train again. Nothing long, but just enough to enable my mind to keep up with all God's thrown at me. He will never give me more than I can handle, so....onward and upward!

I threw around a few options after Hawaii. Quickly the options dwindled and only one appeared realistic: Ironman Arizona. Ok, ok, "realistic" can be a relative term! The final decision will be made later this week. But, from the looks of the start list it appears IMAz should be renamed "Kona, Take II." I can't believe how many people (even those who had amazingly great races in Kona) are doing Arizona. It's another chance to use our amazing fitness before turning it in for the winter (again, winter is a very relative term when you live in San Diego!)
If I give it a go in 2.5 weeks I will be doing so to smash my run time from 2006....and Kona 2009.

For now, it's just one sweet day at a time!
Mom, I'm expecting your call and the "what are you thinking?" question anytime now. Mwah!