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 :)

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