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,


Monday, March 31, 2014

Swim Camp Week

My outseason is complete!  It's hard to believe that my outseason training is already over.  It was shorter than most years, because I signed up for the Grand Rapids Half Ironman on June 8th-so I have to start getting in half iron shape a bit earlier than normally.  

All in all, I am very happy with my outseason.  I had a few goals for myself during my 11 week build: 1. Ease into the running as I was recovering from my heel stress fracture 2. Bike, Bike, Bike-3 days per week, short, intense workouts. 3. Get my FTP up to last year's end of the year watt equivalent 4.Get some moderately long runs in (8-10 milers, consistently over the course of the last 5 weeks).  I can HAPPILY say I achieved (or was very close!) to achieving all of those goals.  My heel feels good-not 100%, after longer runs it definitely doesn't feel completely normal, but I've comfortably worked up to 20-25 mile weeks and don't feel like I'm backtracking at all.  Where I'm at biking is extremely close to where I was in August last year (certainly NOT endurance wise, but speaking in terms of FTP).  I hit 3 rides a week in all but 2 of the weeks (that I only hit 2) and most weeks I hit or exceeded my number goals.  Unfortunately, the last 2 weeks I was definitely feeling the effects of overachieving the bike intervals, and my last few workouts weren't the numbers I would've hoped for.  But I know that that was my body saying cut it out with the overachieving intervals, so I'm ready for this easier week I'm starting.  I was consistently able to get in 7-10 mile runs over the last few weeks, at paces I'm extremely happy with considering I was not able to run more than 3 miles in December.  So, I'm happy with my outseason, my dedication to the training plan (of course-did not do each and every workout as planned, but modified as need be, listened to my body, and maintained consistency), and most of all-happy its over.  While the workouts were all relatively short, they were HARD.  Ready for an easy week, thats for sure.

Thus begins my 1 week swim camp-a time that is supposed to jumpstart my swimming since I haven't been in the pool since October.  Today was my first swim of the week, I completed 2,000 meters relatively comfortably-threw some fast 50s in at the end, just to see what I was working with after nearly 5 months out of the water-and I'm not terribly disappointed.  While not up to my normal pace by any means-I can't say I hated the swim.  I actually missed the smell of chlorine.  Sick, but true :)  I followed up the swim with an easy 3 mile run.  Over my season training, I complete a number of swim/run bricks, and I actually missed it.  This week will consist of a total of 3 swims, 3 run workouts (still streakin' though-today was day 90), and only 1 bike-an easy, transition week, as I get into an 8 week half ironman plan to end on June 8th.  This is actually the earliest I've been in the pool in the last few years-it usually takes until May to drag my butt back to the pool, but this half is forcing me to get in the water early-which I'm sure wont hurt me any!

Most importantly-I feel great right now. My head is in the right place going into this half ironman plan and my body is feeling healthy.  Certainly not as fast as I'd like to be, but being healthy is so much better than being a little quicker and injured in one of the 3 disciplines.  Let's hope this continues!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Training ups, training downs

I cannot believe that I'm already in week 9 of my outseason plan.  The last 8 weeks have absolutely flown by!  I can happily say I've been hitting my plan with full integrity- hitting each workout mentally strong, focused on my numbers, with few setbacks.  Unfortunately, this has been the week of setbacks!

I started the outseason with an extremely low FTP-I know this happened for a few reasons. 1. My first true ride back was the day I did my FTP test-so I couldn't expect any great results after a few months out of the saddle.  2. I was pushing-but not FTP test style pushing (the starting to see spots, clock moving backwards, almost near puking style testing).  So after a few weeks of riding, I was hitting numbers that were 10 watts above what I had tested at-and fairly comfortably (I felt it was close to my actual FTP).  As I started hitting numbers higher and higher, I was really looking forward to my next FTP test.  Week 8 (last week) was a test week, and I went into it positive and motivated. I could not wait to see what I could do after a consistent 8 weeks of training.  Sure enough, my hard work paid off. I jumped nearly 20 watts from where I originally tested, which is huge!  I know I saw that much of a gain due to the reasons I stated earlier, and also truly hard work and testing smart.  I was ready to start hitting my new numbers for the next chunk of my training!  

I completed that FTP test last Sunday (March 2nd) and had additional rides scheduled that week for Wednesday and Friday.  Sure enough, while the new numbers were tough to attain, I hit them and felt so proud of my new zones I earned.  Seeing progress is such a boost in motivation, and I was ready to start this challenging week off with a bang! Unfortunately, my body had other plans.  Saturday I came down with a head cold (which I'm sure an 8 mile run in the sleet that morning didn't really help the situation), and still have it today (Tuesday).  Yesterday was our first 50+ degree day of the season, so I rearranged my workouts for the week in order to throw on my new capris and hit the pavement.  I cannot begin to describe how crappy this run went!  I felt slow (ha-not felt slow, WAS slow), sluggish, my head cloudy, it was difficult to breathe, my heartrate was skyrocketing-an all in all mess.  I wanted to be picked up and driven home-but the negative of an out and back loop is that you HAVE to run back as far as you run out.  So, I kept on truckin' home, to discover my total run time was almost equal to my 8 mile run time Saturday.  Just a terrible run!

So I wanted to really hit it today to make up for that terrible run.  I had on the schedule a 2 mile easy pace run and 60 minute bike, with 3x12' Zone 4 intervals during the ride. Going into this workout I had little to no motivation, but due to time restrictions later in the week, I knew I had to get it in.  So I got on the treadmill and jogged my 2 miles, felt fine, but sluggish still.  Then I got on the bike, warmed up, and tried my first interval.  I was dying! I was nowhere near the watts I was able to hit last week for my test and workouts.  Typically, if I'm experiencing this, I'll throw on some Linkin' Park (guilty pleasure-but nothing pumps me up more), throw my head down, and dig deep-but it was just not happening.  I was at the bottom of my zone 4 with heart rates way into zone 5.  I recovered after the first interval and tried the next-actually felt worse.  I ended up just riding in zone 1/2 for the remainder of the hour.  While disappointing to have 2 sub-par workouts 2 days in a row, I realize that my body is probably telling me I need to take it easy and recover from whatever bug I'm trying to beat.  I'm happy I got the time in the last few days, but may need to back off on the intensity until I'm feeling better.  Hopefully I'll wake up tomorrow feeling better, because I have 4x5' Zone 5 intervals on the schedule (which would be incredibly tough even 100% healthy!!!).  

I can't believe I only have 3 more weeks of my outseason plan!  I'd love to jump a few more watts getting into my next training block-a Half Ironman plan to build to the Grand Rapids Half Ironman on June 8th. I'll then have an unstructured week of training (which will end with the 200K of the Horribly Hilly Hundreds-so much for an off week).  Finally, my 12 week build into Ironman Wisconsin begins June 16th!  I am really excited for this year of training because I'm feeling good so far (besides this little cold)-my heel is feeling better, hammy is holding up so far, and most importantly, my head is in the right place beginning this year's journey!

That's all for now-I'll hopefully be checking in far more frequently now as training hours are beginning to add up :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

1 down, 13 to go!

The first week of my outseason plan is complete.  I did fairly well hitting my workouts this week, but I did tweak the run workouts a bit for a few reasons.  As I recover from this stress fracture and ease into a regular run volume, I do want to ensure I do not tweak anything from pushing too hard on run intervals.  Thus, I did not do a typical EN run test this week.  I made my run test a tempo run as a mile warm up, then 3.1 miles with my HR at a Z3.  Speed is certainly not where it was at this point last year, but I have accepted that this will be a gradual build after a significant injury.  

That all being said-I was able to get out to Waterfall Glen this morning for my first loop of 2014.  I met Katie Mertz out there for a fun, easy paced loop-I know I shouldn't have busted out 10 miles quite yet, but I really wanted to get back out there and of course, have an opportunity to chat with Katie :) But what I thought was going to be an easy jog, turned into quite a challenging run. The conditions at WFG were pretty awful.  There was a good 5 inches of fresh snow, atop of several inches of packed down snow, with a wonderful layer of ice that was far from smooth.  Every step turned into sliding around on the trail, which made keeping any kind of a steady pace extremely difficult.  We couldn't even lift our feet above the snow-I was literally shuffling through the snow with every step.  But we finished-slow and steady-and had a great time doing it!  I was happiest that even though every step was uneven, and my feet were shifting awkwardly with every step-I had NO pain in my heel whatsoever!  It took me about 2 hours to thaw out after this morning's snowy run :)

The bike this week went as expected.  The first week back on the bike is always challenging for me, because it is hard to see watts so much lower than I ended the season with, but does inspire me to get to work and see where I can be at the end of this outseason.  On Thursday I has a VO2 workout that was sick.  Last year, the first VO2 workout of the OS was 6x 30s/30s off Zone 5-This year's first VO2 workout was 6x 1.5'/1.5' Off...Which is a considerable difference from 30/30s!  But I was able to hit my numbers-just felt exhausted the rest of the day!

Running everyday is still going strong as well-couldn't be happier that the 10 miler this morning was pain free!  Ready to ride again tomorrow and get a great start on week 2!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Day 1

It's been quite some time since my last post-but I wasn't doing much training, and my purpose of writing this blog is to reflect on my training so it only makes sense that day 1 of my road to my 9th Ironman (6th in Madison, Wisconsin) I write a blog post :)

I could not be more excited for my training this year. Last year I did complete Ironman Wisconsin in September, but did not put forth the kind of effort I had in previous years (I feel that it was 100% race execution that got me the time I earned in Madison this past year-I was only 4 minutes off my PR on minimal training).  I love all things Ironman and triathlon, but my heart just wasn't into the training last January-June.  So my crash training (as I like to call it) in July and August adequately prepared me to complete the distance, but left me with a heel stress fracture that I am still trying to recover from.  Even today I feel it-but I am set on gradually increasing my mileage this year with running in an effort to not reinjure my heel.  One way I am planning on managing my running mileage is by bringing back my running streak.  In 2012 I ran a minimum of a mile each day, and while that sounds excessive, I feel it helped me keep a careful eye on where my mileage was all the time-while getting me faster, without the speed training (frequency and volume were increased, so it really helped my times drop).  So I started my streak again on January 1st, 2014-today is day 13, and so far I am at a minimum of a mile each day. Most days have only been a mile-there have been a few 3 and 4 milers in there, but I want to be extremely gradual so I can monitor my heel and not injure anything else.

I am going into my 4th season with the Endurance Nation triathlon team.  It's truly a unique style of training, a more less is more approach in terms of volume in the winter months, but heavy intensity in the shortened workouts.  Volume won't really increase until much later in the spring, which I am alright with because in the winter I enjoy doing a variety of workouts since the summer months are dedicated to swimming, biking, and running.  Speaking of swimming-Endurance Nation (EN) preaches no swimming in the offseason (a whole time investment strategy) that I love because I am not the biggest fan of swimming.  Many people disagree with this strategy, but to each their own.  Truly, I can swim 3x per week for 6 months or start swimming 3 months for Ironman 2x per week and my Ironman swim time may only be about 5 minutes off the previous-so it's really not worth it for me.

So today marked my first day of my EN outseason training plan. Like I stated earlier, the outseason is all about fast before lots of intensity, with short workouts.  To start the outseason, a bike and a run test need to be done to gather my training numbers I'll use for the first training block.  For the bike, this meant an FTP test-a warm up, 5 minute all out interval (Zone 5), 10 min recovery, then a 20 minute FTP (Functional Threshold Pace) interval (around Z4).  95% of this number becomes my FTP for the first training block.  One thing I learned today-I lost A LOT in the last 3 months.  Typically this would have left me pretty upset-losing about 25 hard earned watts off last year's end of the season FTP-but I'm in a pretty good place right now and I'm looking at it positively.  I can not wait to put in the work and watch that number skyrocket!  Last year I really did not put much effort into training-hopefully, my attitude will stay the way it is now and I'll be ready to rock this outseason out!  I finished the hour session on the bike with a mile transition run on the treadmill.  Stayed conservative-about a 9 min pace, because I have a run test later this week. I still don't know if I want to do the typical EN style run test (warm up, and then a timed 5K) because I'm really worried about aggravating my heel.  So we'll see where I go with that.

Alright-time for some food and a shower.  Day 1 done-237 days until IMWI! :)