Friday, September 30, 2011

Come Back Fight

LONG overdo, but it's been a whirwind couple weeks. Nevermind the 3half IM's and most of an IM in 6 weeks. The drive back from Co to CA + working a 3 day expo and trying to sleep/recover/catch up knocked me out! Anyways...with no further ado, Branson70.3! (sorry for the lack of pics)

The evening of Sept 11 was a bit emotional and tough. I was quite discouraged with how my day unfolded in Wisconsin, and really started questioning myself. It was my first ever DNF, how could I not. Thankfully Chris would have none of that. He didn't wait long before asking me: "what's next?" I didn't know how I could get things together, be ok with what went down after giving SO much, and return to battle again. I just didn't know that I even wanted to train and get ready for another ironman. I did EVERYTHING I could for IMWI. I put aside financial stresses, left San Diego and trained my butty off in Boulder. I was fit, I was ready! but...I didn't deliver. My body just said no. To think of gearing up for another ironman seemed emotionally daunting. But what Chris meant was: what is next, as in immediately! Options: Branson or Augusta? I talked to Branson's race director, Ryan Robinson and he put on a solid sell. I had to jump through  few hoops, but 1 week after WI I found myself toeing the line again.

Swim: We were worried we'd have another canceled swim on our hands. The storms leading up to the race where horrendous. Thankfully the thunder subsided around 5am and we were cleared for the swim. Phew! The gun went off and I could see Jaz was off. She even left power house swimmer Nina Craft in her dust. We rounded the far buoy and I joined 2 swimmers I had previously swam away from. I let Morgan do some pulling and Jessica stuck right to my feet. I felt like I was swimming well, but had wished I was further out front. I exited the water and crossed the mat in 3rd. Once in transition I took time to put on arm warmers and a vest- both weren't necessary, but had it started to rain I would of been thankful. A broken zipper cost me 1-2mins, but getting cold would take me out of the race completely.

Bike: I felt strong from the second I started riding. I didn't feel as uncomfortable and "out of it" as I had in Wisconsin. My legs were powering up the hills, and I felt I had an extra gear when I wanted it. The plan was for me to not look at my power readings. I didn't care what they had to say- I just had to GO for it! I rode my way into 3rd but was later passed by Jasmine and Mackenzie. I still knew I was in this, but unlike WI I didn't get obsessed with where I was in comparison to my competition. Yes, that is what I thrive for and the largest reason I took this pro journey, to RACE, but I needed to race myself again. I needed to dig and never give up. I needed to bounce back from the previous weekend and know I was just fine. My legs were burning, but I knew I was laying it out there. Turns out when I looked at the power file after the race I did just that. I took a risk and held my power from beginning to end. 4500ft of climbing and VERY wet roads led to slower bike splits, but finally I was right there with the other girls. I was in the mix on the bike, like I knew I could be. Mission accomplished. Now time to put together a solid run.

Run: I jumped off the bike and my leg turnover was no where to be found. This was how I felt in WI. My legs usually roll over so fast I have to pull in the reigns. Training at altitude sucked my turnover out of my legs. I never felt great running at altitude. I had some awesome workouts and was running plenty fast up there, but my turnover faded. I just never felt good on the run. I stayed with it mentally and got through the day. I didn't realize I was closing in on Jasmine or I might of charged a little earlier. I put the throttle down with 2 miles to go but ended up 30secs behind her to finish in 5th. 

The goals for the day were: erase IMWi from my memory. Mission accomplished! Be happy I decided to race immediately: mission accomplished! Realize my fitness is there and another ironman is definitely in my near future: mission accomplished! So all in all I was very happy with my race. My swim was where it should of been, the bike (on a very tough course) felt powerful and was very solid coming off a tough 112mile ride the weekend before, and my run will be fine. In fact, the advantage of waiting so long to write this- my run is already returning. 2.5 weeks down from altitude and I'm already running faster than I have all year (awesome considering my legs still haven't recovered from the recent spat of racing + travel). My turnover and form is BACK!

Long ago I learned it's not how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get back up that really matters and shows your character as an athletes. I'm back up and ready to keep the fight alive! GAME ON!

BIG Thanks to Ryan Robinson, Tom Ziebart and the entire race support team! The weather conditions required them to work over time and come up with plan a) swim bike run, b) bike run, and c) swim run plans. The bike course in Branson is hands down the best bike course I've ever done. I wish the run course had less paths and winding turns, but the swim and bike course makes up for that. Thank you Chris for believing in me, and for being an amazing coach and friend and not letting me rest when I was down. To the Martin family, thank you for pushing me to another start line. Having your support this summer meant the world to me- one can never have too large a family. MISS you guys! TYR, I am one lucky girl to have your support. If you've read my blog once you know how committed I am to this brand- for one reason is THE BEST! Fuji, I'm loving my new ride and finally we're rocking together. Only up from here! Newton, thank you for helping me work out a few niggles and a special thank you to Danny Abshire for tweaking my run form and refitting my orthodics. Newton shoes + Active Imprints insoles = fast pain free running for me. TriBike Transport allowed me to hunt down their truck to get my bike back in time to leave again for Branson. Talk about customer service!!!!! THANK YOU. Garmin and GU you make this all possible by keeping me fueled and focused on moving forward.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Moooooooo Booooooo

My visit to Madison was spectacular...well, except for one glowing disappointment- the race! As in the reason for traveling there and the reason for almost everything I've done over the last 3 months.However, before I get to that I have to say that Katya and I were blessed to stay with homestay extraordinaire Joann.  Seriously, she WAY over did herself!!!
She took Katya and I to a little Oasis to get our nails race ready, made sure we were properly fed every night, ensured I had any and every kind of coffee (AND splenda!) I wanted, drove us to drop off all of our gear on Sat, returned to the house when she learned I forgot to put something in my transition bag, ran to the hardware store to get the right screws for my beaker concept Blaze hydration system, AND got ice for both of us to do ice baths after the race! A.M.A.Z.I.N.G thanks to Joann for adopting 2 more daughters for the week. This makes 4 for her, no wonder she's so loving.
I know a lot of people are wondering what happened, where it went wrong and why/when I called it quits. Thank you for all the awesome messages of love and support! I'm lucky to feel your support when things go well, but to feel it when things don't go according to plan is simply heart warming.
Swim: I felt very relaxed and ready for the day to get under way. I put a lot of expectations on myself, but was ready to get to it...first challenge-the swim. The cannon went off and 5 strokes later, BAM! AUGH! I took a substantial blow to the stomach. I felt like my insides were jolted and I couldn't breath. I (literally) had the wind knocked out of me. I tried to move, but couldn't. A few minutes later I was able to swim a bit of backstroke. I could kinda breath, but not enough to submerge my head underwater for a 2second. Never had this happen before, first for everything. Once my breath returned it was time to get to work. I was catching those ahead, and flying by them. At the end of the first lap I caught people that typically swim around 1:05. More work to do! I was swimming well, but had to fight for every inch of water until the swim exit.
 Bike: Here we go. The plan: hammer! Take risks! and believe! I took off from T1 determined to make up for lost ground. I was a girl on a mission. The first 60 miles I was laying it down and everything was going well. My power was right where I dreamed it would be. The rolling hills were unrelenting. I absorbed the pain they deleverd and battled on. 65miles in I hadn't caught anyone and now was getting caught by those behind me. Jessica came by and I didn't hang with her at all. Then Lauren caught me and we worked together for a bit. I felt great again, but she took off on one of the downhill segments. Just then an age group guy pulled between us and stopped peddling- as if to say "look at me, look at me, I passed a pro, my day is now complete." I immediately passed him and was given a yellow card for not dropping out of his draft before repassing. Lauren was now a bit down the road and I never caught back up. Later I got a second penalty for going over the imaginary (there wasn't a line in the road) center line because a car decided to totally block the road. I was the second pro to swerve around the car but the the only one to get a penalty for it. Oh well, just wasn't my day and luck was not on my side. Looking back, this all came into play in terms of the mental component of the day. 
Ultimately my ride went spectacularly well for 3.5 hours, thereafter (as coach said) I was not a happy camper and it showed in my performance.  After 4 hours my legs just said NO MORE! I tried to stop looking at my power, but my heart rate wasn't much better. I tried to focus on nutrition and keeping my fight alive, but I just felt dead. I rolled into transition and fell dismounting my bike. Luck, come on...start now...because it's finally time to RUN!

Run: I started my run feeling pretty down. Even at IMCDA I was happy to be on the run course. After a few miles I felt like small pieces of glass were being shoved into the bottom of my foot. I ran into 6th, but knew I might call it a day pretty soon after. All I wanted was to see my friend and hear that it was ok for it to "not be my day" and the smart decision would be to call it quits. I saw Joann, around mile 8. Like clockwork she let me know where I was and how far ahead 5th place was. I ran another mile and then knew it was time. Time to do something I've never done before. Time to walk off the course, towards the lake, and turn in my timing chip to the officials. 
Honestly, the day just never went my way. I never felt the way I'd hoped to. I never felt like I could pull things together and make a race out of it. My dear friend Jenny started crying and did EVERYTHING to urge me on.  I had to make the call, and believe it was the right one. I was discouraged, frustrated, sad, beaten down, deflated, etc. When things went wrong, I fought and battled on. Ultimately, things weren't clicking and although an ironman is 140.6 miles, and anything can happen- it wasn't my day. Over 16miles to go and I didn't feel I could get things together and pull out a day that I'd be happy or even content with.

I got a ride back to the finish in time to see Jessica and Meredith's spectacular finishes. The day belonged to them, and they tore that course up! Both were kind enough to ask what happened and if I was ok. Tears flowed almost immediately, I just wanted to celebrate for them but was still amidst a bit of a pitty party. While taking in THEIR moment both girls offered up stories of when they experienced the feeling I had. They were beyond gracious, and just made me slap myself to realize this was part of professional racing.We can put everything into a race, but that doesn't mean it will turn out according to plan. We have to deal with what comes our way, push deep, but also be smart. 
Thankfully, Chris is an amazing coach (and friend) both when things go well and when the stars don't align. He reminded me that endurance athletics don't come together (for 99% of us) over night. We have to keep on keeping on! Pitty party lasted a few days, but enough of that. Don't you WILL fuel my fire within. Chris and I- yeah, we're not going out like that. 

It is easy to stand behind someone when everything is going well, but one's true colors show when things aren't going so well. A HUGE thanks to my sponsors and friends who have picked me up and demanded that I carry on. AIMP Coaching, words can't describe! TYR, I will make it back to the podium and my smile will be even brighter because of your support. Quarq for allowing me to continually track my progress, analyze my training and race results, and develop a strategy for moving forward. Newton for giving me the confidence that my legs can fly on the run even on a less than stealer day.  GU and Mix1 for fueling me day after day. Beaker Concepts, and Speedfil for making sure hydration is never an issue. Garmin, 100% makes the best bike and running computer systems out there. AND endless hugs to my Boulder family- the Martin's have offered the daily support I need to keep believing in (and laughing at) myself. I LOVE you guys and am getting a bit sad that it's about time to head back to the beach :-(

My fight continues- STAY TUNED!