Monday, October 19, 2015

Ironman Kentucky Race Report

Ironman Kentucky Race Report
October 11th, 2015
Ironman #12, 11:36:13, New Personal Record

I won’t go to deep into my background for this year, as I just wrote that all up in my race report for Ironman Wisconsin.  What I will mention is the training that took place between Ironman Wisconsin and Kentucky.  I had 4 weeks to the day between these two Ironman races.  To say I was nervous would be the understatement of the century.  Before this year, I had never done more than 1 Ironman race in a year, and now, I was preparing for my 3rd in 11 weeks.  Lake Placid and Wisconsin were far enough apart that I felt fully recovered and ready to race-but with only 4 weeks between Wisconsin and Louisville, I had no idea how my body was going to respond.  I dug deep in Wisconsin. I really don’t remember the last 5-6 miles on the run course; I almost feel like I blacked out.  I knew I dug myself a hole, but was completely unsure of how long it was going to take to come out of that hole.

The first week after Wisconsin was spent completely recovering-A few easy swims, short (<60 minute) spins on the trainer.  The next week more of the same, but the rides got a bit longer (60-120 minutes) with some power at Ironman watts.  I didn’t run until 2 weeks after the race, which was supposed to be an easy 6 mile run.  This run was scary.  I could not even hold the pace I ran at Wisconsin, for just 6 miles.  But as my Coach continued to say, I kept moving forward. By the end of that 3rd week I had a pretty solid swim, decent tempo 6 mile run, and a solid 12 mile run.  Then Sunday came (exactly 1 week from the race).  My coach had me scheduled for a 3 hour ride, with 2 hours at IM watts.  This ride was terrible. Looking back, my heart wasn’t in that ride.  I had some personal issues going on that was distracting, and I was taking it out on my legs.  I bailed 1 hour and 45 minutes into that ride, which turned me into the biggest head case for the next 7 days. I wasn’t worried about the swim, but I was incredibly worried about my legs not being recovered for the bike (which would ultimately affect my marathon).  I didn’t want to hit a wall early in the bike and suffer through the rest of the day. Now that I had a taste of Sub 12, I wanted more of it.  But, I just didn’t know, and I HATE that feeling! 

The rest of that week is a blur-traveled to Kentucky on Thursday night after work.  Friday I met up with some great friends also racing (Ashten and Dave) for breakfast, which is when Dave and I decided to spend the rest of the day Friday doing a food and drink tour of Louisville. So many athletes were already so paranoid about what they were eating, but Dave and I sure weren’t.  We had an amazing breakfast, a Louisville staple (the Hot Brown) for lunch, and went to the athlete dinner with Ashten later that day. I’m pretty sure we needed an Ironman on Sunday to burn off what we ate on Friday.  After the athlete dinner, we met up with some college friends of mine (Steve and Dan-Steve ready for his 2nd IM, and Dan his 10th!) and drank some beer.  Ended up staying up FAR too late, but I’ve decided that is my new Ironman strategy.  Getting little sleep the Friday before (which is typically the most important night of sleep) has actually been a benefit to me, for then I am able to go to sleep early Saturday night (which I was-I was passed out by 8:45pm Saturday!) Saturday included a spin shake out ride, lots of food, meeting up with more family and friends, and an early bedtime.

Ok Fast Forward to Race Day:
Because of my 8:45pm bedtime the night before, I was wide awake by 3:30am.  Coffee, English muffin with peanut butter and honey, banana and Gatorade is my prerace breakfast of choice. We all walked together to transition, pumping tires, then started the long walk to the swim line. Louisville’s swim is a time trial start, which means lining up in a ridiculously long line and all jumping in the water one at a time.  After a long wait, we were off.

As nasty as the Ohio River is, I actually enjoyed the swim for the most part.  I loved the time trial start.  Mass starts give me the worst anxiety, and starting off this way was a very calm way to start the day. I got into my groove early and focused on passing some of the slower swimmers that lined up ahead of me.  Counted strokes, sighted as best I could, but still exited the water with my Garmin reading 2.61 miles. I really need to learn to swim in a straight line.

My transition today was long due to the lack of assistance I had in T1. It was pretty cool out in the morning, so I wanted to put on a dry tri top (only swam in shorts and sports bra), arm warmers, and gloves.  Putting all that on a wet body is not easy, especially without assistance. But I did the best I could and moved as quickly as I could. 

Bike-6:04:XX, 18.4 MPH
Here came the scary part. I knew this ride would make or break my day. I honestly had no idea if I was ready for it or not, but my Coach spent so much time in the days leading up to the race trying to convince me that I was ready to go. I am very stubborn and hardheaded though-so I didn’t believe him.  I started off the ride fairly conservative.  Hit quite a low point around mile 35.  I truly didn’t feel like I could keep on going, and I was only 35 miles in, which really scared me.  But I tell people all the time that Ironman race day is 90% mental, so I spent the next 10-15 miles talking myself into feeling fine. Literally, out loud, telling myself you are fine, keep going, move past this, etc.  My goal watts were 140 NP but my legs weren’t feeling that great, so I dropped to 135.  I stayed fairly consistent with that, and was moving at a good clip.  But, I must have been drinking too much because I had to stop to use the bathroom 3 times on the bike! I was getting so frustrated with my bathroom breaks that I told myself after the 3rd time that if I wanted to pee again, it was going to happen on that bicycle.  Sure enough, around mile 90, for the FIRST time in my life, I was able to pee on my bike!!! Now, if only it happened earlier in the day…J  Besides the one low point at mile 35, I seemed to be in a pretty good place for the rest of the ride.  I was moving well, mentally staying very positive, and enjoying how pretty the Louisville countryside was in early Fall.  Definitely would do this race again at this time of year, because it was gorgeous! I had really been looking forward to the last 15 miles of the ride, because I remember them being all at a slight downhill from when I did the race in 2007 and 2010-but a nasty headwind took the fun out of that portion of the ride.  I did my best to keep on spinning the legs, staying on my nutrition, and stretch out my legs to prepare for the marathon.

Even with another bathroom stop, I know this transition should have been faster.  Something to work on for next year! I was starving come transition, so I ate another powerbar wafer.  I don’t know why I was so hungry, because my calories were up to close to 230/hour on the bike, but I was, so I ate. I was lucky that my stomach didn’t have a problem with this on the run.

Run-4:08:XX 9:29 pace
I started the run not feeling that great. My legs felt like bricks, and I was thinking to myself-this is where Ironman Wisconsin is going to start to show up.  But just like at mile 35 of the bike, I had a conversation with myself after mile 1 that went something like “You are fine, this is it.  This is your LAST day out here this year.  You’ve literally worked your butt off for 10 months, let’s prove it here, today.” So I kept on pushing. I could not believe my legs were doing what they were doing.  Around mile 14, my left heel started really bothering me-it started feeling like my right heel did 2 years ago when I had my stress fracture.  I was worried, but nothing was going to stop me, so I ran on the outside/ball of my foot as best I could for the remainder of the marathon.  I kept trying to play mental tricks as well-telling myself that I was fine, convincing myself that I could do more, I could keep going.  So I did. I was upset because up until this point, I had not seen Dave or Ashten all day-but right at about the turnaround of the run, I saw Dave, who was going strong.  It took until mile 19 to finally see Ashten, who was getting pretty sick but running her way to a killer PR.  Around mile 22 I met a guy from Arizona, who quickly became a best friend of mine.  We chatted about courses and PRs, then he looked at me and said, how about we get you a PR today (he had earlier told me his PR was way out of reach, as it was set in Florida).  I had my Garmin on multisport mode, and due to the time trial start, I had NO idea where I was at with time.  Mr. Arizona seemed to know though, so I stuck with him as best I could. After the mile 23 aid station, he took off and I was taking a little too long, he turned around and goes “Let’s GO LAUREN!”  Screaming it so loudly, everyone turned and looked at me. I started laughing out loud, because it was hilarious how he was yelling for me to run faster, so I did. One guy next to me said, “Wow that was kind of mean.” I just laughed and said, “No, I need that to keep pushing!” It was great having a rabbit out there, really kept me going. As we turned onto 4th street, Mr. Arizona (wish I knew his name!) told me to go ahead and enjoy my PR on my own-so nice of this guy.  As I ran through the finishers chute, I still I had no idea what my overall time was.  It wasn’t until I heard those words “You are an Ironman” again, that I stopped my watch, and saw 11:36.  What?!? 11:36??? Where the F did that come from??? Sitting here typing this, nearly a week later, I still feel like it hasn’t fully hit me yet. 

This race season has been a whirlwind. I feel so lucky to have had the experiences I’ve had. Triathlon can really be a crapshoot-but I lucked out by having great weather at my last 2 races, finally nailed my nutrition, and had the days I trained for. I’m thankful for what happened at Ironman Lake Placid, because it forced me to make changes for successful days at Ironman Wisconsin and Kentucky.  Another thing I’ve learned is that you can truly always do more than you think you can.  I didn’t even dream of an 11:36 this year, but having someone believe in me was enough to get me there.  I’ll try not to be too sappy-but Coach Ebe, I cannot even begin to tell you how thankful I am for you. You dedicated a year to training me, in both triathlon and life, and I am incredibly grateful to have a coach/friend as amazing as you are. Thank you for believing in me, believing I could do more than I ever dreamed, and getting me to believe it, too. I am a completely different athlete than the one I was 365 days ago, thanks to you! :)

 Now, it’s the offseason. I’m not a fan of the offseason because I love training and the triathlon lifestyle.  But I will step back a bit, because now that I know I can suffer, I’m setting some pretty high goals for myself for Wisconsin next year. We shall see what happens :)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ironman Wisconsin 2015 Race Report

Ironman Wisconsin Race Report 2015
Total Finish time-11:46- 59 minute PR

Since I know many of my tri-geek friends enjoy reading race reports, and because I never want to forget this day-Here is my incredibly long race report J Scroll down for the race report, as the first 1.5 pages are background of the year J

Pre Race Information:
Those of you that follow me on Facebook know that I registered for 3 full distance Ironman races this year; numbers 10, 11, and 12.  I did this to be eligible for Kona Legacy.  I knew it was nuts but thought to myself that I could potentially have a great day at least at one of the races and simply “complete” the other two.   I had no idea how to properly prepare for a season like this, and I was lucky to have a good friend offer to coach me for the year (coach me, help me survive, either way).

Back on December 1st when I started training, we had a conversation discussing my goals for the year.  Besides completing all 3 Ironman races healthy and in one piece, I let him in on my secret goal I’ve had for many years-to break 12 hours. My PR for the Ironman distance to this point was 12:45, back in Madison in 2011. I haven’t been able to touch it since-my times were actually getting much slower.  He told me it was possible this year, and that my A-race would be Ironman Wisconsin. I was skeptical-Wisconsin was 7 weeks after Ironman Lake Placid, and 4 weeks before Ironman Louisville, so I didn’t see how that could be “the” race.  He seemed confident, though, and was all year-so I put my trust in him and just did the workouts as I was told.

This season was tough-lots of speed work, long trainer rides, and mind-numbing treadmill workouts.  I completed Ironman Lake Placid in July having a sub-par day after bonking at mile 3 of the marathon (I did not execute a proper nutrition plan). My coach was confident that my fitness was there, and that I was just a few hundred calories away from a perfect day.  After such a terrible time in Placid, I kind of kissed my Sub-12 goal away for the year and just hoped to get my nutrition right for a potential PR in Madison. I spent the weeks between Placid and Wisconsin focusing on recovery, building back up, and dropping some excess weight to get into prime race shape for Wisconsin.  I was feeling strong and ready 2 weeks out, and knew that a PR was possible. 

3 days before Ironman Wisconsin I texted my coach asking what he thought I could do that day.  We discussed a lot about single sport times, but I really wanted to know what he thought I could pull together that day.  His response text read “11:48”. I’ve never laughed out loud from a text the way I did after reading that, and said, “What do you REALLY think I could do?” and he said another goal to pacify me “12:14”.  My goal for the race was a PR, but thought I could potentially be around 12:20, provided my nutrition stayed legit.

Race Weekend
Thursday-I had to drive up late Thursday night, as my school had curriculum night until 8:30pm.  I arrived around 11pm, unloaded my car, and tried to go straight to bed.  Ended up tossing and turning most of the night, though.

Friday-I was up early to do a group swim with some friends and try out my new wetsuit I just purchased Tuesday-my other one was a bit too big and I didn’t want that slowing me down.  The wetsuit felt great and I really enjoyed running into lots of tri friends I only get to see a few times a year.  Afterwards I registered, went to the EN 4 Keys talk, and headed back to start packing my bags. My coach got into Madison a bit later to help me with a few last minute bike issues, and then I was off to dinner at the Great Dane with the tri-crew.  A fun first day!

Saturday-Up early again (I cannot sleep in anymore to save my life) and took a short spin on the bike.  It was freezing out so I started second guessing what I should wear race morning.  My favorite part of Ironman weekend though is the Saturday morning carb-loading breakfast. Met Ryan, Dotty, Ebe and our new friend Melanie for all you can eat pancakes. I love carbs and missed them the last few weeks. Then dropped off my race bags and bike, and off my feet for the rest of the day. While I barely slept the whole weekend, I did well staying off my feet Saturday.

Sunday-Actually got close to 6 hours of sleep the night before (probably because I was sleep deprived all week) and up at 4am.  Breakfast was an English muffin with peanut butter and honey, banana, bottle of Gatorade and coffee. Got to transition, pumped my tires and loaded my bike with my bottles.  Then headed to meet Ebe and Ashten for some pre-race pictures.  Ran into Jeff also, great to see him prerace.  I’d end the day finishing within 5 minutes of him, which was great. Our post race celebration was epic as well J I was incredibly nervous for this race.  I worked so hard this year, and wanted at least 1 race to show for it.  I knew Kentucky would not be the race being 4 weeks after Wisconsin, and I’m not sure I’ll be recovered in time for that, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to really execute at Wisconsin.

Ok, here’s the actual race report J

Swim- 1:10:xx
This was my 7th Ironman Wisconsin start and first that I didn’t start by the shoreline. I HATE ironman swim starts-the mass start stresses me out and I really don’t like all the contact early on. But I wanted to give absolutely everything for this race that I had, so I decided to start as close to the buoy line as I could. Cannon goes off, and the race starts-surprisingly, I had fairly open water until the first turn buoy.  I didn’t have my typically panic attack to start the swim, and I was able to settle into a rhythm early.  The first buoy was crowded, then holy sun.  I wished that I had goggles that blocked that sun for me, because the rest of the swim (until I turned back towards the shore) was brutal for sighting.  But I kept on and was happy getting out of the water in 1:10, without pushing hard at all.

Transition 1-9:XX
The IMWI transition is brutal. The long run up the helix and through the parking lot adds time, but I spent WAY too much time in transition putting on dry, warm clothes for the bike.  The air temp was in the low 50s and I did not want to be cold, so I took time to put on a dry tri top, arm warmers, and bike jersey.  It took awhile but I was very comfortable for the bike, so in my eyes this was worth the extra few minutes.

Bike- 6:10:XX, 18.19 average
My plan for the bike was to stay at 140 watts and keep on my nutrition.  I’ll hit more on nutrition later.  On the bike, I was excited to see that the wind didn’t seem too bad yet.  The congestion at the beginning of the ride was typical for IMWI-anytime you have a mass start swim, and swim a fairly average time; you are going to start the bike in a big group of people. I did my best to pass fairly, but at mile 4 of the bike a motorcycle (race official) pulls up next to me to give me a penalty for not completing a pass quickly enough. Oh did I want to argue at this point, because it is nearly impossible to stay at legal bike lengths that early in the bike, but I kept my cool and accepted the penalty.  I threw myself a pity party for this for the next 12 miles, until I hit the penalty box and had to serve my 5-minute penalty.  This was the first Ironman in 11 starts I received a penalty. I was really not happy about it, but I knew that the day was too long to let it be ruined this early from a penalty. So I told myself as soon as I left the penalty tent I would forget about it. And I’m pretty proud that I was able to pretty much do that.

The rest of the ride felt great.  I felt strong and nutrition was going well.  I was staying away from Gatorade on the bike, as I feel that Gatorade all throughout the bike is what hurts my stomach year in and year out on the run.  So I stuck with EFS drink, water, and ate an uncrustable, 2 powerbar wafers, a half of a banana, and mini clif bar (because I was getting hungry) out on the bike.  This all seemed to work great, because my stomach felt great the whole ride.

I really looked forward to the big hills on the bike.  I love the crowd support, and I knew that some of my close friends would be there, so it really helped break up the ride for me.  Ashten ran some hill repeats up bitch #2 with me, which was a blast-Ebe was out there as well, and Dave and some other friends on bitch #3. I couldn’t believe how quickly the ride went.  Now there was nothing left to do but pray that my stomach would hold out for the run.  We had a great tailwind on the way back into Madison and I was able to spin out my legs a bit to get ready for the marathon.

Transition 2-5:XX
After a near collision on the helix (Love you Katie) I safely made it to transition.  I tried to quickly transition (not successfully apparently) and left to see what my legs had left for the run.

Run- 4:11:XX, 9:36 pace
I started my run by not looking at my watch and running by feel.  I saw Ashten right away, which really helped give me energy.  Running down State Street is amazing-so many people cheering; it is impossible to not have energy to start the marathon.  First mile- 8:18. I thought to myself, oh shit.  I really need to slow down.  The EN 4 Keys popped into my head, so I definitely tried to back it down after that first mile.  2nd mile-8:45.  I’m thinking to myself, WTF. How are these miles happening? But I was only at mile 2, with 24 to go, so I figured, really try and slow it down.  The next mile was in the low 9s. I was able to slow it down a bit, but my body also didn’t want to.  Ebe told me something before the race that really stuck with me-you are always going to slow down in an Ironman marathon, so why not start a bit quicker and see how long you can hold it?  A few weeks ago I thought he was completely stupid for saying that, but with the way I was feeling 3 miles in, I thought-What the hell.  My stomach seemed to be holding up, I felt that I had my legs underneath me, so I figured, let’s see what I’ve got today.  So I kept trucking along. The next few miles were in the low 9s and upper 8s, I couldn’t believe I was seeing these paces in an Ironman marathon.  Then I saw Ebe out on the course. Without him all over that course, I don’t know if I would have had the mental strength to keep pushing along.  He rode his bike all over the place to see me at the places on the course that he knew were most difficult for me, and it really made such a difference. 

At mile 13, I saw Ashten again.  She ran a few steps with me and really just coached me along. Lied and said I looked great (this was a very low point;)) and was incredibly encouraging.  I got to see her again after the turn around in Madison and heading out for loop 2.

This is when I started trying to do math in my head.  After racing for 9 + hours at this point, it is nearly impossible to do mathematical calculations, I’ll tell ya. I knew that my PR was going to happen, but part of me thought that my secret goal I refused to say out loud was a possibility-going under 12 hours.  I started trying to add paces and do calculations and was failing miserably, so the next time I saw Ebe I asked him to do the math for me. He quickly was able to tell me that as long as I maintain a 12-minute pace, I’d break 12. I almost cried at that point, because all of my miles had been significantly under a 10 minute pace to this point. Then he said, push 10s and you’ll be at 11:45.  When he said this time I was absolutely shocked-that time was never even a goal in my head, and now I had a legitimate chance of getting it.  I had a quick conversation with myself here and said, think about all of those hours-those long treadmill runs, 5+ hour trainer rides, 5000 yard swims (#coachebeisaprick)…you deserve this day. You’ve EARNED this day.  Now go get it.  So I put my head down and just went.  It hurt, my legs were retaliating, and I got to a point where I literally told my legs to F off (out loud, people were staring but I couldn’t care).  Once I hit mile 22, I started asking every aid station what time it was to make sure I was going to finish by 7pm.  At mile 23 I started crying.  Even now, I’m not sure if those were tears of joy, pain, suffering, or what-but I cried.  Mile 24 hit.  Good god did I hurt.  But I was going to do it.  At mile 25, it was almost like all the pain was taken away-I was going to kill my PR. I still couldn’t figure out what time I was coming in at (I get so stupid at these things). Coming down State Street and rounding the capital, my cheeks started hurting from smiling.  At this point I felt like I could fly.  Entering the finisher’s chute, seeing 11:46 on the clock ahead of me, I can’t even describe the emotion.  So many hours, so many sacrifices, 10 years of this sport-I felt like ALL paid off at that moment. Dave Rodda was a finish line catcher, and I literally ran right into his arms.  What a feeling.  Unbelievable.

Ebe and Ashten were both waiting for me at the finish. We took pictures, and then Ashten had to drive back to Iowa (Thanks again so much girl for coming all the way out!).  I ended up going out celebrating that night with some of my favorite people, closing down the bars.  It was amazing how much energy I still had.

This all would not have happened without the support from my family, friends, and Coach Ebe.  I’m so thankful to have such great people in my life that support this crazy addiction.  And I can’t say enough-thanks to Ebe for believing I could do even more than I ever thought I could. He set the bar high for me, was tough, but gave me the push I needed to finally reach my goals.  I’m forever in your debt.

I’m a week post-Ironman and starting to feel semi-normal again.  This crazy year isn’t over quite yet-I am toeing the line at Ironman Kentucky 3 weeks from tomorrow. I don’t know if I’ll be recovered, or I’ll feel great, but at least the pressure is off because I was able to reach my goal (well beyond it!) at Wisconsin. Thanks for reading! J

Monday, January 26, 2015

New Superfruit-Check it out!

As a triathlete, I am always looking for different ways to improve my daily nutrition.  When a friend shared her new kickstarter business, I was extremely excited to learn more about it and selfishly to see how it could improve MY lifestyle.  So, I tried Sant.

First, I should probably share a little background on this new superfruit. Per the Sant website, the fruit, Garcinia indica, is super itself.  It's been used in Ayuervedic medicine for thousands of years to prevent & treat illnesses and to balance the mind & body. It has Garcinol, HCA, xanthones; vitamins B1, B3, B9, B12, C; maganese, magnesium, and potassium and 5x more antioxidants than Kale. (WHAT? I thought Kale was pretty much the Holy Grail of superfruits-So this MUST be great!)

All of this on paper sounded amazing, but of course I asked the question-What exactly will this do for me?  Kim LaPaglia, founder of Sant, replied that the product will:

                Promote digestion-(FANTASTIC)
                Regulate sleep and mood-(Who doesn’t need help here?)
                Increases muscle tone and manages weight-(Get fit with Sant!)
                Strengthens heart-(All ages can appreciate this benefit)
                Stabilizes cholesterol-( I don’t think about as often as I  should)
                Cleanses skin-(Now I’ll save money on make up)
                Decreases inflammation-( How many products is this in one?)
                It makes you feel good!-(SOLD!!!!)

When I received my first bag of Sant, I was really excited to try it.  I took several of the fruits and dropped them into my Nalgene bottle and watched the color of the water slowly change to a pretty shade of red.  I sipped on it throughout the day, not knowing that my health benefits had already begun.  Immediately I saw the advantages of this product. The quickest improvement I observed was in my digestion.   I’m excited to continue use and achieve the other not so obvious health advantages from this great new product.
Sant is currently in its kickstart faze-So head over to this link and support an up-and-coming business that will be sure to help you out considerably!

Sant Kickstarter

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ironman Wisconsin 2014 Race Report

Ironman Wisconsin Race Report
September 7th, 2014
9th Ironman, 6th In Madison

Pre Race Weekend Info:

This year I was going into Ironman Wisconsin with some fairly high hopes.  My PR for the course is a 12:45 and I was hoping to break that (fairly significantly) this year.  I started riding early on in the season preparing for the Horribly Hilly Hundreds in June, followed by falling into the Endurance Nation 12 week Intermediate training plan leading into Ironman Wisconsin.  The weeks leading into Madison I did everything in my power to stay healthy-Loading up on the Emergen-C packets, my vitamins, and was getting lots of rest. Besides a few chronic injuries (left hamstring, slight heel discomfort) I was feeling healthy and ready to toe the start line-or so I thought.

Race Week

Thursday 9.4.2014
I worked a half day and drove up to Madison at lunchtime.  Before I left school that day, my students were all wishing me luck when one sneezed DIRECTLY in my face.  Like, I felt it spray all over me. Now I know this is not what probably led to my demise, but seems like it was really the starting point for everything I was about to go through race weekend.

I made it to Madison fairly quickly and checked into my hotel. I was planning on doing a quick spin on my bike but a nasty storm moved in so I decided to drive over to the Monona Terrace for athlete check in.  Checking in on Thursday truly is an advantage. I was in and out of line in about 10 minutes!  I scoped out the Ironman store, bought a kids size IMWI t-shirt-seriously I am going to do this from now on, because it was close to half of the price of the adult sizes! Then headed back to my hotel to shower and get ready for the Endurance Nation team dinner.  I was the EN race captain this year, so I had been in contact with the event coordinators over at the Hilton Monona Terrace planning this dinner. I was excited to see our team members there, many vets, only a few first timers, ready to tackle the IMWI course.

 After dinner, several team members headed over to the Great Dane for a drink and more triathlon talk-one of my favorite memories of the weekend, as I was able to run into Mary and Sue (Madison townies), Ebe (my favorite person to hit the town with in Madison), Dave (of course we ordered cheese curds), Katie (so glad you made it out) and Coach Rick-I’ll never let you hear that down ;).

Friday 9.5.2014
7am wake up call for coffee and to walk over to Lake Monona for a practice swim.  Unfortunately I woke up with a sore throat-I was hoping it was from the dry air of the air conditioner in the room, but would later find out that it was the beginning of a full blown cold-more on that later.

After the obligatory team EN picture at the lake, we put our wetsuits on and got a feel for the water for the first time this weekend.  The water was WARM. I felt comfortable from the moment I entered the water, which made me nervous because I knew a 2.4 mile swim could get quite uncomfortable if I was overheating after only 20 minutes.  But still, I felt good. I did not do much swimming this summer, once (maybe twice) a week, but my swim times never change so I don’t see the need to get to the pool 3x a week.

After the swim, I headed over to the Overture Center to help check in folks at the Endurance Nation 4 Keys talk.  Close to 200 people showed up to listen to Coach Rich give his talk on how to properly race Ironman Wisconsin. For any newbie, this talk is a must!  I overheard many people walking out of the 4 Keys talk changing their strategies for the race, which ended up being positives for them in the long run.

After the talk, Dotty, Jeff, Jon and I went for lunch and to the expo.  After this I went back to the hotel to lay down-my throat was really bothering me and I figured a quick nap wouldn’t hurt.  After my nap I did an easy 30-minute spin and showered to be ready for the Athlete Dinner at Monona Terrace.  The talk was great-because of Dotty’s quick entry we sat right in front of Mike Reilly himself!  It was early to bed after this because I was still feeling under the weather.

Saturday 9.6.2014
This was the morning I knew I had something to worry about-woke up with an extremely bad sinus headache/congestion and just overall not feeling great.  Had to stay positive though-because it was Saturday morning-which meant PANCAKES and as many as I could eat of them J I was unable to sleep Friday night either, so after fighting through I got up for a 20 minute jog. Legs felt GREAT so I was staying optimistic. Finally Ed showed up at the hotel and we went to a breakfast buffet with Dave, Dotty, Jeff, and their families.  After breakfast, Ed and I went to pack our transition bags. We were just ready to wheel out the bikes for check in when I noticed a huge gash on my front tire-NOT happy about this, because now I needed to go stand in the mechanic line to get a new one.  Thankfully this process did not take long at all so I was in line to check my bike in before I knew it.  The rest of the day feet were up and resting for what would be a LONG day Sunday.

Sunday 9.7.14 RACE DAY
Saturday night/Sunday morning I did not sleep-at all. Not your typical race nerves get a few hours of sleep type thing, either. Laid down at 8:30 and was laying with my eyes closed until 2:30-2:45 when I got up and starting crying, thinking my race was over before it even began. I even contemplated not starting-which I’ve never done before in my 9 years of participating in Ironman events.  But with my cold and no sleep, I knew I’d be in for a VERY long day.  After my little meltdown I was actually able to doze off for about 45 minutes tops.  Not a good way to start my race day-that’s for sure.

At 4am we got up and Ed and I got breakfast.  Left the hotel around 5 to drop off special needs bags and pump up tires.  6:30am was our team EN picture, and I was happy that after that I ran into Ashten for a quick pic and we were off to the water.

Ed and I lined up fairly close to the shore and several rows back from the front.  Now, this would be my 9th Ironman-and EVERY year this was the part of the day I dreaded the most. I HATE mass starts. I get panic attacks every year from getting kicked, punched, swam on, etc.  This year was no different-actually may have been a bit worse-because swimming congested in a panic-y environment is NOT fun. It took me quite a bit of focus to get my heart rate down and breathing in a normal pattern that did not involve exhaling through my nose.  About 10 minutes in a guy gave me a good kick to the ribs-felt like they were bruised, let me tell ya, but needed to keep on moving forward.  The back half of the swim seemed to take forever but I was pretty happy when I saw my time getting out of the water.  On to transition-slow is smooth, smooth is fast-Mary was an AWESOME volunteer in the change tent and she got me on my way quickly. 

BIKE-6:27:xx 17.33 MPH Avg
My goal for the bike was to stay at a low HR and save my legs for the run. I’ve ridden this course so many times so I was well prepared for what the 112 miles had in store.  I got on my bike with my legs feeling good, but I was so congested that my heart rate was staying very high. Nothing I could do about that, so I focused on what I could control-my nutrition plan and watts. Spin the uphills, power the downhills, a bottle-bottle and a half of perform between each aid station, gus on the :30s, 1/3 a powerbar on the hour.  I’ve practiced this nutrition plan many times before and have had success with it.  One thing I realized as soon as the first hour was up that I left my bag of salt pills in transition-NOT good. But I thought that with the amount of perform I’d be drinking and the sodium in the gus I was taking I’d be ok, especially because it wasn’t set to be a hot day.  Maybe this is why I had the stomach problems I did on the run?

Bathroom stops at miles 25, 50, 65, then nothing after that.  At mile 50 I had my 2nd meltdown of the day. I was thinking to myself, my head is killing me, I can’t breathe, and I’m not even halfway through this bike ride…but then I reminded myself of all of the extreme highs and lows one experiences on an Ironman course so this feeling would pass.  Sure enough, it did about 10 miles after the meltdown. I began really enjoying the course.  Late in an Ironman bike ride is when the folks that took it out too hard start falling back, so I started flying by them-such a great feeling! I was feeling great coming off the bike and ready to run my marathon.

RUN-5:47:xx Ugh
After a quick (4:58) transition, I began my marathon run.  I was really feeling great running out of transition-I had legs underneath me and did not feel cashed from the ride at all.  I started doing math in my head and realized that even if I maintained the pace I ran last year (which I’m in better shape this year) I’d crush a PR-so I was very optimistic and stayed very conservative early on in the marathon. My first 2 miles were sub 10 minute pace and I was actively trying to slow myself down.  I walked 30 steps through each of the first aid stations, focusing on getting in my perform/water/coke. 

Still running at this point J
Then mile 4 came.  My plan was to do a Gu every 4 miles, and I grabbed my first Gu at the aid station and took it with water.  That did NOT sit well-actually, I noticed, nothing was starting to sit well.  Within minutes that Gu (and everything else I ate/drank that day) decided to come up.  I barely made it to the side of the road before vomiting for several minutes.  Oh was I feeling terrible.  I started to walk for awhile to try to settle my stomach down before attempting to run again.  Started jogging-started throwing up again.  It was a terrible cycle that lasted several miles.  I’d arrive at an aid station and try to sip water (or at least rinse my mouth out) and I’d get sick again. I was incredibly frustrated-going into a race with a PR goal and barely being able to jog a few steps is so disheartening.  Quitting crossed my mind several times. But truly, my one thing was getting through this race to get closer to my goal of 12 and achieving Legacy status towards Kona.  So I kept going-one foot in front of the other-feeling incredibly depleted.  I hit mile 13 and ran into Coach Rich, who told me to do my best to get my HR down and try some cola/salty pretzels.  Around mile 16 I was able to sip coke/chips without it coming up, which I felt must’ve been a good sign. I was able to start jogging a bit at this point but my body was only able to take so much due to the extreme dehydration that had set in from getting sick out there.  Seeing friendly faces on the course made such a difference at this point-Seeing my friend Dave Rodda out there yelling to me “Finish this, it’s one more to Kona” really helped me persevere through those last miles.  Regardless of how terrible I felt on the marathon, I just kept putting one foot forward until rounding onto state street at mile 25.5-Seeing the crowds, hearing Mike Reilly in the distance, knowing that I was about to become an Ironman again-made all my sick feelings go away.  I gave it all I had left rounding the capital building and began tearing up when hitting the finish line.  Seeing the time on the clock, I knew that this would be one of my slowest finishes ever but one of the most proud-I didn’t even want to start this race being sick this morning, and dealing with what I had to deal with on the run I certainly didn’t want to finish-but I still stuck with it. I was determined to finish, and I did-So I have to take pride in that.

Like I previously stated, one of my slowest times ever-but proud nonetheless. I am a 9x Ironman and that is nothing to be ashamed of.  I still have no idea why my stomach shut down the way it did-could’ve been swallowing something in the lake, my lack of salt pills on the bike, or my cold going into the race-but whatever it was, it did not stop me from finishing. I have a busy year coming up for 2015. I signed up for 3 Ironman races-yep, 3-Ironman Lake Placid in July, Ironman Wisconsin in September, and Ironman Kentucky in October-to get to my legacy status-12.  I’ll focus on one of these races to be an A-Race to shoot for a PR, the other 2 will be done with the goal of completion.  I haven’t decided which one will be the focus race quite yet. I just know that I’m more determined than ever to bounce back from this “bad” race and find success at the next.  This summer was an amazing summer-I’m blessed to have met (and been reacquainted) with some awesome people while training in Madison.  I actually can’t picture my life without some of these people in it now and I just met several of them back in May and June.  Special thanks to team Endurance Nation and Coach Rick ;), Ed Lesniak, Carl, Ebe, Dave R., Ashten, Jon H., Dotty, Jeff, Jon S., Mike, and Katie for getting me through this year of training and more importantly, for your friendship. I am so blessed to be able to do the Ironman each year and feel so lucky to have you all in my life.  OK-done with the sappy stuff-I’m ready for some recovery time, food, beverages, and hitting the reset button-Here’s to a great 2015! J

Thanks for reading,