Monday, July 4, 2011

Ironman CDA Race Report

Leading up to the race I was a bit anxious about the weather and water temps. I knew there was nothing I could do about it other than be prepared. Then...Saturday night all weather worries were side lined. The monthly female gift arrived and I was sent into panic mode. Whenever it hits I am completely USELESS for the first few days. No Bueno, but back to controlling what I could control.
Ok, race morning…After Chris dropped me off it was a race to get my bike ready, special needs bags checked and get into the rubber insulated suit (aka: TYR Hurricane).  My pre-race warm up received as much attention as the swim/bike/run portion of the day. Name of the game: get as warm as I could before jumping into the frigid water.  I received one last TYR delivery to complete my ensemble -TYR's cold water cap.   
I was dressed and insulated from head to ankle for my stretch cord warm up. Once warm I made it to the water, smiling the whole way, hugging friends and SO excited to get the day underway.
A quick prayer for safe keepings and many thanks for this opportunity!
Swim: The plan for the swim was simple: find fast feet and swim hard. Well, you know that gasping for breath feeling you get when you initially jump in freezing water??? Yup, that is how I felt for the entire swim!  I was in survival mode, gasping for air! I definitely had my kick going because if I stopped for a second I wondered if my feet might snap off.  It was simply awful! 500m in I was pulling a group of 5 people, and continued to do so until half way through the first lap before when I relinquished the lead to one of the guys.  I needed his feet to keep me going. I tried so hard to think of something, anything positive. I couldn’t muster a single thought. I literally felt like I was in survival mode. Breath each stroke , move forward, and get through the first lap in under 30mins to avoid being swept up by the age group mass start. I stayed on his feet until we exited the water for good. I ran down the beach thinking “how am I running without feet and ankles? Are my feet still attached?”
Transition 1: THANK YOU THANK YOU to the wonderful ladies who dressed me! I was shaking violently and couldn’t do anything for myself. Vest on and zipped, arm warmers on, gloves on. Run, get to your bike, breath-keep breathing. Ugh, the 51 degree air temps weren't helping!
Sue Hutter was everywhere on the course! From beginning to end. offering hugs, cheering like mad, 
and snapping great pics. Thanks for capturing the moments Sue!
Bike: The first 5 miles I tried to get my cadence up in an effort to find my legs…literally, because I surely couldn’t feel them. Desiree came by me around mile 5 and I settled legally behind her. The cameras were all over her, meanwhile wondering who the heck this chic was on her tail. It’s cool, first pro race…I’m a no name, and I didn’t mind a bit. I loved watching them record her pedal stroke. It reminded me how excited I was to be racing with these girls.
I remained with Ficker through mile 30. The pace was completely doable. Everything was going to plan. I knew it was only a matter of time before Hailey worked her way up to us, and sure enough she did. Alright, let the game begin! 
 I can’t go any further with my race report before commenting on my mental preparation going into this race. Chris prepared me 100%! Mentally, the pro race is a different beast. We worked out every scenario. There was never reason for me to panic, because I was prepared for everything. So far plan A was going to plan. Get out of the water around the middle of the pack, use the first portion of the bike to warm up and find my legs, and then stay right with them.  However, around mile 40 the alien in my stomach reared his ugly head!  I wanted to pull over, crawl into a ball and sleep.  While gritting my teeth I tried to stay in the game.  Sadly, plan A soon went out the window and they rode off.
Plan B- let the Quarq power be my guide. That was out the window too, I couldn’t even look at the thing! I found myself curling up in the aero position as if to pretend I was still lying in a ball on the side of the road. In a state of despair I rolled up and over a roller and started closing fast on someone. I realized it was mighty Meredith. Something had to be wrong, because she came out of the water with a commanding lead. I passed and willed her on with a quick “come on girl.” It gave me a little encouragement to know I gained back a place. At the next out and back I knew I was still losing ground and needed to get things together. It wasn’t until mile 90 when my cramps FINALLY subsided enough that I could take in something other than my GU Brew.  At the next aid station I slowed enough to grab one of everything, and as many bananas as I could grab.
22 miles to go! I tried to tell myself it wasn’t too late. Head down, get back on top of the pedals, and get to T2 fast. Eat, drink and get ready to run like it’s my job ;-) I seriously wondered if a 3:05 marathon was doable. (The new run course added a whole new dimension of hills that made for much slower run splits). I wanted so bad to salvage my race and make something of it. Ironman is a LONG day, and most lows don’t last forever. My forever was over and I could finally work again. Go Go Go. I flew into T2 and THREW my bike. I have never leaped off my bike so fast in my life. I prayed the cramps would stay away for 3+ hours. 
 Run: My bright pink Newton racers made me feel somewhat at home again.  I knew the gap was immense, but I also knew we had 26.2 miles left to cover. I settled into a solid pace through mile 3. Then my feet decided to join with the cramp fest. Pain Pain Pain. I reached in my back pocked for more advil only to find it had become a powered mess. I didn’t hesitate to lick every drop off the saran wrap! Who knows how many I digested, I didn’t care.  Hillary and Linsey were out on the course cheering like animals. Their smiles and exuberance of passion gave me hope and inspired me to keep with it.

My mile 10 I saw Tim and Torrey (aka: Team Newton) and asked how far out of 4th I was. Tim responded with “I’m not sure if you really want to know.” I did. I didn’t care how big it was, or how much my feet and stomach hurt, I wasn’t giving up! I have never ever thought about stopping during an ironman. I wondered how my feet would carry me 15+more miles. Just then I reentered the neighborhoods leading back to town and was greeted with cheers and contagious excitement from everyone I passed. I thought “if they can get this excited about me, I have to give them something to be excited about.” The next 4 miles were magical. The cramps in my feet turned to a dull burn and my stomach was fine again. Thanks to the amazing energy from spectators another low had come and gone. As I made the turn around at the half way point I passed my friend Megan. As always, she was smiling from ear to ear...just another moment I didn't take for granted. Giving her a quick high five was a big highlight to my day.  
Around mile 14 I learned that I had cut the gap between me and Desiree in half. The next time I saw Chris I was happy to report that I was “finally feeling good.” His smile and excitement pushed me along. If I could cut the gap in half over 14 miles while I was feeling pretty lousy, then maybe I could reel her in before the finish.
(Thank you for the awesome run pics Tristan!!!)
Turn ‘em over. Tunnel vision locked in. Every person I ran past was cheering for me and willing me on. My bike escort was phenomenal!!!  She cleared a path for me through the age groupers, placed orders at each age station and got the crowd going. I locked my sight on her bike and pictured her pulling me along. For the second loop of the run my aid station order changed from just water, to water and coke. We exchanged a few words, and I told her “WE are going to catch her!” I felt like she was on my team. Maybe it’s that I am not use to the bike escort racing scenario, but it was pretty awesome.  
The new run course toughened us up! More ups, more downs, more pain. While running up the last hill before the turn around I spotted Hailey and Desiree.  I couldn’t believe how much time I made up. I wasn’t sure if I could catch either of them, but I was willing to die trying. I made the turn around, gasped for air and flew up the hill. As I passed the age groupers heading towards me I was encouraged to hear “you’re catching her” “she isn’t far ahead of you” “you look way better than her” “she’s suffering.” Oh My Gosh! I can not tell you how amazing this felt. Even writing about this section of my race gives me chills! I’ve always encouraged and cheered for the pro’s while racing, but never realized how encouraging it was for them. To anyone reading this who said 2 words to me during the last 10k of that race…in the midst of fighting your own battles out there…THANK YOU!
5 miles to go. One last hill. If the women ahead of me were suffering this hill would surely slow them down (or so I told myself). Chris was cruising around on a bike, flying by me urging me on.  “She’s at the top of the hill, GO! You can suffer for 4 miles.” “Your dream was 4th, no go get it.” From here on it was a team effort.  Chris was right there biking back and forth. He never stayed with me for more than a few seconds but words can’t describe how it felt having him there with me. 3 miles to go. The course was so packed that I didn’t see Desiree until I was right on her. She looked back, leaving me no time to contemplate whether to make the pass right then. At the same time Chris yelled “GO!” and with that I WENT! Around the next corner I looked back. Desiree didn’t respond and come with me. I asked Chris if I could enjoy the last few miles. “Yes, I think you’re locked in 4th.” With that I nearly slowed to a halt. I was hurting! Chris laughed and “come on, you have to keep moving at least.” Ugh, ok. I continued to make my way to Sherman Av. Once there I took it ALL IN!  4th in my first Pro Ironman, dreamy indeed.  After the race many commented about how close I was to the 10 hour mark. I could of cared less! I cared about my place, but time- nope, I wanted enjoy this. If you watched the live pictures of me running towards the finish line you’ll see that I did just that.
I rounded out the day with a 3:16 marathon, a new run split PR and a new IM PR for me. We haven't been focusing much on my running, so to pull this out while not feeling so hot has me exited for the rest of the season. And if you recall my last post, I was in quite a hole 2 weeks before this race. To come around and lay down the 2nd fastest marathon (10mins faster than any other woman -other than super star K. Snow of course!) was an accomplishment in itself.
 NOT the correct time, but one day I'll get there!
Not only did I get to share this day with Chris, but SO many of my friends were out there cheering or racing. I've met some pretty remarkable people through this sport! Every cheer and word of encouragement sent my way was appreciated more than you know! Thank you for making my debut so memorable. And at the end, waiting for me to cross the line, was the entire TYR Team.  I was embraced, welcomed to the family and with that reminded of how awesome this company is! They’ve done a TON for this sport, and absolutely make the best training, and race gear! 
I’ve never felt so content and happy after a race. It isn't because I put together a new IM PR, but instead it was the experience and journey of the day. Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but now I have the first one under my belt. I learned a ton from this race, and am more motivated than ever! In the words of Coach Chris: “we’ve just begun!” Yes indeed. I'm motivated and hungrier than ever!
Thank you to the amazing sponsors who've believe in me and allowed me to take this leap. TYR, Nytro, GU, Newton, TrainingPeaks, Beaker Concepts, Oakley, Quarq- THANK YOU for playing a huge part in this journey of mine. 


Christi said...

Congratulations on a great race! I am so inspired by your actions. Thanks!

Rosey said...

Great race report, we love cheering the pro's and it's great to see a new pro do well, enjoy the feeling, hope you get your first victory soon