Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ironman Louisville 2010

Unfortunately, this race report does not have the fairy tale happy ending I was hoping for.

To say I was nervous leading into race day is an understatement. I hadn't slept well in a week, my stomach was upset for days, and I just wasn't dealing well with things. The night before the race I slept horribly. My alarm went off at 3:45 and I reluctantly got up. I kept telling Dave, "I don't want to do it. I'd rather spectate." I was too sick and nervous to eat anything substantial. I had a piece of toast and a bite of a banana. Looking back, this may have been a mistake. At 4:30 we began our walk down to transition and it was already hot outside. Like, hot! I put the remaining things in my transition bags, pumped up my tires, and began the next long walk to the start of the swim. The line was already long and it was still more than 45 minutes before the start of the swim. I sat with my fellow competitors, chatted a bit, and tried to keep my mind off the race.

Soon the line was moving and things were happening quickly. Before I knew it I was running down the dock and jumping in the water. My race had started. I was quickly into my rhythm in the water. There was no "washing machine" effect and I only got bumped in the head once. The river was wide and the buoys were so far apart I couldn't see the next one after passing one. I felt very alone in the water. I kept telling myself to relax and be comfortable. Before I knew it I had passed under the bridges, I could hear the crowds, and I was upon the last buoy. The swim was over so fast.

Out onto the bike, I did what I had trained to do: stay in zone 2 or under, drink every 5 minutes, eat every 40 minutes, take salt tabs at the top of the hour. At some point I remember a guy coming past me who said, "It's HOT and it's only 9:30." It was hot. I can't even describe how hot it was. It was like, melt-your-skin-off hot. HOT!!! I found myself drinking sports drink every 5 minutes and also drinking water every 5 minutes in between those sports drinks. I was dumping water on my arms, my neck, my head, my face just trying to keep cool.

Things were slow going on the bike and very lonely, but I was doing what I was supposed to do. By mile 80 I was ready to be off my bike. The aid stations were running out of water, there were people lying on the sides of the road in the shade, and my skin was feeling really hot. I kept wondering, how in the world was I going to be able to run a marathon after this? The best thing about being pokey on the bike is that no one cares if you are breaking rules. For about three miles on the way back on River Road I had a gentleman ride beside me and talk to me. It was one of the better parts of the day. We were both looking forward to being off our bikes.

And soon we were. I had the best volunteer in the tent for T2. She did everything for me. She put on my shoes and tightened the laces. She held out my shorts so all I had to do was step in them. Really, she was awesome. Thank you volunteers for being out there!!!

Finally out on the run and I was surprisingly feeling really good. My pace was steady under a 10:00/mile. I LOVED running across the bridge at the beginning. Bet you would never hear me say that?! There was a wonderful breeze and it was peaceful and rhythmic. I just loved it. I was continuing to follow my nutrition: water, ice, and sponges at the aid stations, taking my gels every 4 miles starting at the 2 mile mark. Things were going great. I actually thought to myself, I wonder why they tell people not to do a marathon before doing an Ironman? I was really pulling on all my marathon experience and it was helping me tremendously.

Then things got bad. Around mile 9 I noticed my pace start to slip. Not really a big deal but with that slipping brought on a really bad stomach ache. At mile 10 I started walking. I would walk a cone, run a cone. It was all I could do. I saw my friend Andrea and she walked with me for a while encouraging me as we walked. I started substituting cola at the aid stations instead of gel to settle my stomach. For a while it did. At the special needs area, I picked up my headlamp. It was going to be a long night. When I came back in town and saw my family, I lost it. Dave walked with me for maybe a mile and helped me get my head back in the game. I saw Andrea again at mile 15 and she told me that Coach had called and said "I was bigger than this." I was. I started doing a little more jogging and then BAM! Things went horribly wrong. I didn't want to walk anymore. I noticed I wasn't sweating. I just wanted to lay down and take a nap. NOW! At the mile 16 aid station things spiraled quickly. I had "the runs." (Sorry for the gory detail.) I told the volunteers there that I didn't feel well. That I was feeling sick. I kept repeating it over and over again. They sat me down in a chair and my arms went numb all the way up to my biceps. They took me over to the grass, laid me down, and put cold sponges on my neck. Next thing I knew I was throwing up. Medics on bicycles came by and checked me out. And suddenly, my day was over. I was being helped onto a stretcher and loaded into the back of an ambulance along with another athlete who was also in bad shape. They put an IV in my arm, oxygen in my nose, and I sobbed all the way to the medical area.

In the medical area it looked like a scene from a war movie. There were cots FULL of people, each with IVs in their arms. People were throwing up, moaning, and crying. And I was one of them. They started my second IV and took my vital signs. My heart rate was in the low 60s, which is low for me, and my blood pressure was 90/60. Yikes!!! I spent an hour in the medical area until I was ready to go. I walked out, found Dave, and just cried. I was so sad and disappointed. I had done everything right and couldn't finish.

It took me about a day to recover from no food and being sick. I'm really tired. I've pretty much slept since I got home. I'm going through my emotions: sad, anger, acceptance, revenge. I've cried a lot: in the shower, in bed, on the phone. I'm not sure what's next. Do I want to try again? Do I want to do it soon at a non-Ironman event? Will it be the same experience? Will I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment or will it leave me wanting more? Or do I just want to move on with my life? I was so looking forward to being done and taking a break and living as all my friends live for a while. Am I ready to do that without this accomplishment? I'm still processing and it's going to take a while.

Thanks to all my friends and family who were there to support me and all those who supported me from afar.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This Is It

This is it. It's here. Tomorrow we travel to Louisville and the festivities begin. I can't believe 20 years of dreaming, one year of hoping, and nine months of training will all be reduced to one day. I'm scared. I'm nervous. I'm excited. I'm ready.

I'm taking my computer with me but I don't think I'll have internet access. This will, most likely, be my last post before the race. There will be lots of pictures taken and great stories will be told, but it will all have to wait until next week. I will have my iPhone and will be updating my Twitter and Facebook pages up until the race.

The fun starts Sunday approximately 7:00am. You can follow my progress here. I'm number 333. Make sure you tune into the live broadcast so you can see me cross the finish line. I think Dave will also be updating Twitter and Facebook too.

Next update, I will be an Ironman.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thank You

One of my favorite quotes from the 2008 Ironman World Championships goes:

"Then you start wondering, as you might every year, what did that person sacrifice to do this?"

There are a lot of things I sacrificed but more importantly, there are a lot of people who sacrificed for me. I can never say thanks enough, but I'm going to give it a shot.

Coach: I initially was hiring Elizabeth with the intention of doing Ironman a few years ago, but I got too scared to even sign up so I hired her to coach me to a better marathon time. And she did--a 6 minute PR. When Dave and I visited her a year ago she saw me swim and said she would make me a triathlete. She knew how important doing an Ironman was to me. She pushed me (gently) and now here I am. Thank you for helping me to believe in myself and making me the athlete I've always wanted to be. (The picture is a joke. I HATED to ride my bike when I started this journey.)

Dave: I'm not going to lie, training for an Ironman is tough on a marriage. Last year when he trained alone we fought a lot. This year we have fought less but it's still been tough. Nothing gets done around the house. We spend no time together, besides working out. And to add more stress, we got a dog nine months ago. But, I have really enjoyed having someone to train with on occasion and someone to commiserate with. We are not going to know what to do with ourselves when all of this is over. :)

My Family: I feel like I've lost a year in the life of my nieces and nephews. We have tried our hardest to attend at least one of their baseball/softball games, wrestling matches, basketball games, etc. We try to attend family functions, often rearranging our workout schedules. My family has been really accommodating in putting up with our training and realizing that we're just not that available. I'm looking forward to seeing them on the course this weekend. My mom had surgery on both her knees just a few weeks ago and will be on the course. My sister and I have had a rocky relationship our entire lives and she'll be there this weekend. I can't say it to her face, but it means A LOT to me that she'll be there. Thanks for putting up with me. :)

My Friends: My friends didn't really understand me with the whole "running thing." They really don't get me with Ironman. I haven't seen my "real life" friends in a year. It's a goal of mine after the race to get my friends back. Expect the phone calls soon. To all my real and virtual friends, thanks for supporting me. Your comments and encouragement mean the world to me.

My Clients: Had I known how quickly and successfully my business was going to grow, doing an Ironman this year may not have been a good idea. Many of my clients have no idea that I'm doing an Ironman. That's a good thing, I think; means I'm doing my job right. For all my clients, thanks for being patient with me. Thank you for leaving messages and emails and allowing me to get back to you on my time. I'm looking forward to seeing how the business grows without the stress of Ironman.

And to all of those who don't fall into those categories, thank you, thank you, thank you for putting up with me. I know I'm sick of talking about Ironman and I'm sure you're sick of hearing about it. Thank you for your patience, kindness, and encouragement. Thank you for sacrificing with me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Foto Friday

I have already started packing. Make fun of me if you want. :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

Ten days!!! Wow!!!

I basically have three goals for this race:
  1. Have fun.
  2. Enjoy the experience.
  3. Finish.
I kinda also have a time goal in mind. Of course, it's a two hour window, but I'm being realistic here. :)

So, what's your best guess for my finish time?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sloopy's Birthday

Yesterday was Sloopy's first birthday and she lived it up! After work and our workouts we took her to the dog park where she got to run around and play with friends. I've taught my little girl well. Anytime a dog tried to mount her, she would put her tail between her legs, pull her little hips under and then roll over. Good girl! Don't be huggin' no boys! (That's what my mom used to tell me--ha ha!) After the dog park we took her to the pet store where we picked her out a dog bed and bought her some doggie yogurt. We got home and she DEVOURED that yogurt. She loved it! After messing with the bed, which I'm convinced she will destroy in a month, she laid down in it and fell asleep. Happy birthday, Sloopy!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

By the Numbers

At breakfast on Saturday I nonchalantly mentioned to Dave that I think I noticed the IM Louisville Athlete Guide was online. He immediately whipped out his iPhone to look to see if I had a number. Then it was, "Guess your number." Gosh, Dave! Just tell me my number!

333. Yep, I might have the coolest number ever. 333. That's like triple lucky. :)

Upon hearing I had a number I broke down in tears. This has pretty much happened everyday, but this was the first time in public. I have been so emotional about this race and now that I have a number, it's really real.

I have been training for nine months. It's been a really long time; it's been a really short time. I have logged hundreds of hours and thousands of miles. Yet, the distance still scares me. I'm trying to keep it all in perspective. Since November I have...

  • Swam 164,025 meters. That's equivalent to 102.5 miles, which is over 42 Ironman length swims.
  • Biked 2,100.8 miles. That is nearly 19 Ironman length bike rides.
  • Ran 501.38 miles. That is equivalent to 19 marathons.
The hard work is done. The taper is going so quickly. In 13 days I'll be on the starting line...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Foto Friday - A Poll

This post is for the ladies. Dudes, you're not going to understand or care. :)

Girls, I've had bangs for the last 2+ years. I have thought about and tried growing them out, but really, I have no patience. Plus, I hate a side-swept bang (so annoying!!!). I have currently not cut my bangs in approximately 8 weeks. With all the swimbikerun, it is too time consuming to always stop and fix my hair, which is what you have to do when you have bangs. But, I'm starting to hate my forehead again (he he!) which is the whole reason why I cut my bangs in the first place. So, to cut or not to cut? What do you think? Convenience or stylish?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

I like to reward myself after races. You know, get something for myself that says "good job on getting through the training and having a success race." It doesn't necessarily have to be race related gear, but just something nice for myself. I am already planning on purchasing a finisher's jacket (I have two Boston Marathon jackets, so this is a duh!) and getting a tattoo (I have a tattoo to celebrate my marathons, why would I have one for Ironman?).

So, what should be my reward?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Last Long Ride

Last weekend Dave and I headed back down to Louisville to ride the bike course again. This time we would be riding the whole course--all 112 miles. Last time we were in Louisville riding, some dude rode with us for a good amount of time and talked to us about organized rides in Louisville specifically for the Ironman. He was kinda weird so I didn't think too much of it. Then our friends Colleen and Tom said they were doing an organized ride with iamtri and I was totally on that bandwagon. :)

So Saturday morning we met a large group near transition. We paid $10 a piece to be able to ride with the group and be provided with aid on the course. We got started a little behind the group because Dave's brake kept sticking and it needed a little attention. But it didn't really matter because we were going to be behind the group anyway. I don't really understand why everyone is SO much faster than me at bike riding.

The first several miles of the course is flat, flat, flat. It's a nice way to pick up some speed but not really since I'll be conserving my energy for what's ahead. Then there is a detour that may or may not be there during the race. If it is, it's not cool because it's a pretty steep climb. After the climb there's a turn onto Route 42 where there's a steep downhill. The next part is pretty flat as you roll on out of town. There's a right turn for the out and back. Now the fun begins. The out and back may be the hardest part of the ride all day but at least you only have to do it once. It's deceiving because it starts flat but then there's a crazy downhill leading right into a long, steep uphill. Then you turn around and do it again in the opposite direction. Finally you're back on 42 for a little bit of rollers until it's time to start the loop you'll do twice. The loop is not so bad, just long--30 miles. The first road, 393, has one big climb in it. Then it's into LaGrange where all the spectators will be. Next is what I've dubbed "School House Rock Road" and for me, this is the road I hate the most on the whole ride. And you've got to do it twice! A few more roads, a few more climbs, and then it's into Sligo and back to 42 for a long 12 miles back to the start of the loop. Once you've made it to Sligo again the last 30+ miles don't seem so bad. I picked up A LOT of speed heading back to Louisville--a whole 1/2 mph! That's a lot when we were out there for 80 miles prior.

The best part is, I did it. And I did it a lot better than I thought I was going to. Sure, it took me a whole hour longer than most people are going to ride it, but I also know I won't be the last one on the course either. My goal is simply to finish the race and enjoy the experience. I'm going into the last few weeks with a little more confidence and ready for the taper.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

All Decked Out

About two weeks ago my mom had surgery on both of her knees. It was outpatient surgery and I went over to my parents' house to help her and my dad out. Last year when Dave was preparing for his first Ironman I surprised him with letters of encouragement and congratulations from his family and friends and other triathletes throughout the country. I knew he might be surprising me this year, but I was expecting anything. So, with my mom completing drugged up, she proceeded to tell me about the T-shirts that she and Dave were doing for my friends and family that were going to be at the race. Um, mom, I don't think I was supposed to know about that. Woops! In any case, I got to help design the shirt and here it is:

If you see a group of people wearing these shirts in Louisville during the race, they belong to me. Say hi!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A Few of my Favorite Things

Megan asked me in my last post about my favorite workouts I did during Ironman training. This is a really hard question for me to answer because the workouts were so different than what I am used to for marathon training. With the past three marathons, those which I worked with a coach, there were very distinct workouts that I remember that made my training unique: deep water swim training, circuit training on an indoor track, etc. With Ironman training, I feel like everything has been long and within low heart rate zones. I'm not sure there is a workout that I can point out that has been unique and especially challenging (except all bike workouts have been hard).

There have been things I've really enjoyed about this training, though:
  • I haven't had a training partner since 2008, so it's been great to have Dave around during some of the workouts. We rarely have the same workout schedule but when the stars do align it's been nice to have someone beside me during the tough workouts. Even if he isn't working out with me, it's nice to know there is someone around to understand what I'm going through.
  • It's great to have new friends Colleen and Tom. I didn't know there were local people like Dave and me. :) We've hung out, we exchange emails often, and we're looking forward to Louisville together.
  • I have really enjoyed being pushed emotionally and mentally in addition to physically by Coach. She understands how important this race is to me and has helped me to focus fully.
  • Funny enough, I've really learned to enjoy biking. There I said it. :)
  • I am so glad I got picked to be on Team Trakkers. Not only have my sponsors provided me with great stuff, the camaraderie and support from my teammates has meant so much to me. I can't wait to see you guys rock it at Cedar Point.
  • Finally, it's been good to step away from marathoning for a while. I have thought for a long time that I'm only good at long distance running. But through this training I've realized that I'm at least okay at triathlon and that I have other options besides just running marathons.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Firsts and Lasts

I remember training for my first marathon back in 2001. Every run was a "first". On Saturdays or Sundays I would go out for my long runs and it was always my longest run ever. I did my first track workout. I ran my first 5 miler, 10K, and half marathon. And then I waited at the start line to run my first marathon.

This year has included a lot of "firsts" too. I rode my first century, change my first flat tire, and swam over 3000 meters (and a lot further) for the first time. I set new personal bests in the olympic and half IM distances. But now eight months after I started this journey I'm reach the "lasts." This week includes my last long run, my last long swim, and my last long bike ride. Next week I start to taper for Louisville. My journey is quickly coming to an end. I am both scared and excited.

Four weeks....