Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ironman Lake Placid - The Run

In short, the run was amazing. I left that changing tent, a smile plastered on my face, bursting with happiness.

As I left town, I smiled at everyone, but also knew I had to reign it in. A marathon is a long way, and I hadn't run the distance in a long time. I focused on getting in my nutrition, and just moving from mile marker to mile marker. I looked my watch when I crossed mile 3, just to be sure I hadn't gone out too fast. That would be the last time of the day I looked at my watch.

Around mile 7, my belly felt super bloated, and although I attempted to manage the issue while running, I eventually needed to pull over to the porta-potty (mile 9). I jogged in, spent a couple minutes have a conversation with my belly, jogged out and continued on. I stopped eating for a little while, just to let everything settle. Knowing my body was simply done with the chews I had been using, I ditched them and tried the food at the aid stations. Orange slices become the best thing to ever cross my lips, and seemed to agree with my body, so that became the fuel of choice.

As I came around mile 13, I could hear Mike Reilly announcing people finishing. I practiced for this moment, smiled and said to myself "lets do this one more time". There was never the "poor me" moment, just a deep breath, a smile, and the will do execute one more loop.

When I descended out of the town the second time, I set myself a goal - I wasn't going to walk one single step of the marathon. I had run the whole first half without walking (minus the porta-potty stop), and I was feeling awesome. I knew I had it in me, but setting the goal helped motivate me even further.

There's not a whole lot to say about the run, other than that I am extremely proud of the way I executed my plan. I had another porta-potty stop at mile 19, but other than that, I run every step of that damn marathon. Every person I saw walking, I thought to myself "that person is a cyclist. I'm a runner. Runners run. Runners don't walk." Sounds crazy, but in the moment, it worked to convince myself to keep shuffling forward.

Similar to mile 100 on the bike, I fist pumped crossing mile 20 of the run. That was the first time of the day I thought "as long as I can hold it together, I WILL be an Ironman today". It made me insanely happy, and motivated me to get through that next 10K.

Miles 20-24 I found fatigue (shocking, right?). There isn't one particular thing that stood out, and it wasn't the wall I've hit in marathons before, it was just deep fatigue.

I trudged up the steep climb that is Mile 24, and finally let myself soak it all in. The crowds, the energy, the music the cheers. I lifted my visor a little bit, and high fived everyone I could find. I put a little more pep in my step, and tried to remember every moment of those last 2 miles. I patted Caitlyn's barrette, which I had fastened inside my sports bra at 4am that morning, and smiled. I thought of all the early mornings, the shuffling of schedules, the patience of my family and friends, and the tireless efforts of my coach. All for this very moment, when I get to hear Mike Reilly tell me that I am an Ironman.

I entered the oval and was overcome with emotion; I smiled so hard my cheeks hurt, and was trying to get to that finish line as quickly as I can. A friend captured this video, which shows my trip around the oval to the finish line.

That moment is one I will never forget.

July 27, 2014.. the day I became an Ironman.

Ironman Lake Placid - The Bike..

The bike... Ohhhhh the bike... My weakest discipline in triathlon, and something I have worked so hard on since starting with Katie in November. I'm fortunate enough to have a lot of growth ahead of me on the bike, and I'm excited to see the type of cyclist I can become.

I came out of the changing tent, grabbed my bike, and went to the mount line. And there I stood, far over to the right in my own little world. I watched the rain coming down, and listened to the rumbles of thunder. I stood there for probably 3 or 4 minutes, and I don't know what finally made me go, but I started turning the pedals. Ever so slowly, and my hands securely fastened on my brakes. In all of my scenarios that I came up with, "rain while descending into Keene" was among the "worst case scenarios". I rode by Scott and Lisa, and yelled "this is my worst nightmare coming true". Dramatic maybe, but it's how I felt at the moment.

Off I went, spinning up the big hills leaving town, watching as everyone passed me at 150 miles per hour. I saw the sign that marks the descent into Keene, and took each portion of the descent as it came. I went slowly, in an effort to stay in control the entire time. I watched as people around me flew down the descent, wishing I could steal their confidence and bike handling skills. I stayed far to the right, out of everyone's way, and just burned through my brakes.

Once at the bottom, my teeth were chattering, and my hands white. This was the only time of the entire day that I thought about quitting. I was freezing, it was still pouring, and I was miserable. Then I thought about all of the work I had done, all the people who had sent all of their love, the people who got me to that starting line, and then fact that there was nothing "truly" wrong with me. I was scared and miserable, but physically, I was fine. There is a long out and back section after Keene, so I told myself that I had 30 minutes to take in food, try to get the heart rate back up, and if after those 30 minutes I was still miserable, I could re-consider. I decided to solider on, and in those next 30 minutes, I came back around. The rain had let up a bit, I was finally warming up, nailing my heart rate, and cruising right along.

The rest of the bike was pretty uneventful; I executed my plan, never looking at my speed. I didn't want to know how fast or slow I was going, everything was driven by my heart rate numbers. I spun up the hills, smiled a lot (even when the thunder and lightening made a re-appearance!), and fist pumped when I rolled over the 100 mile marker. This was now the furthest I had ever ridden on my bike, and oh my God I was doing it!  I chatted to a few people, took in all of the energy from the spectators, and joked about how beautiful the scenery would be if we could actually see it!

I rolled back into transition, apologized to the volunteer for the amount of pee that was on my bike, and clack clack clacked into T2. I changed out of my tri shorts, and into my Coeur run shorts, which was one of the best decisions of the day. It was so worth the 30 seconds to peel off those soaking wet tri shorts, and into a dry pair of my favorite run shorts. As I was about to head out of T2, I heard them announcing Amber as the women's winner. What the what? She was WINNING, and I still had to run a MARATHON? I only sat with that thought for a few moments, and then remembered that I now got to do my favorite part of the race - the run!

With that, I headed out to the roads, with a huge smile on my face. I had conquered my biggest fear in Ironman, and executed my plan beuatifully!

Ironman Lake Placid - The Swim

When I signed up for Ironman last year, I knew I needed someone by my side every step of the way. I needed someone who would put me on the line healthy and strong. I needed someone who would be my personal cheerleader, but also kick me in the ass when I needed it most. Someone who would save me from myself when I wanted to do more more MORE. I needed someone who would work with my crazy life schedule, and most importantly understand that I wasn't willing to be a crappy mom, just to satisfy the selfish desire of completing an Ironman.

I reached out to so many coaches, as the "fit" was so incredibly important to me. There are a lot of GREAT coaches out there, and I was fortunate enough to speak with many of them. When I found Katie, however, something just clicked (yes, fully aware I sound like I'm recapping a first date here...). I was able to check off of the boxes, and knew I could completely trust her. I tell everyone who asks that hiring a coach was the best thing I could have ever done for Ironman, and that is 100% the truth. I was fortunate enough to get a really great friend out of it too; a win/win!

All that said, Katie put me on that line happy, healthy, and prepared. It was that calmness and confidence that helped me to execute an amazing first Ironman.

I am going to skip over the days leading up to Placid, because I don't think anyone necessarily cares about what I ate, how terrified I was, and how intimidating being in a sea of 3000 ridiculously fit people can be.


I lined up a few steps in front of the 1:20 sign, and ran into Amanda in the corral. It was so nice to see a familiar face, and if I remember correctly we sang along loudly to "Call Me Maybe" while waiting for the cannon to sound. When it finally was time, this face came out. Holy shit.

I happily bounced into the water, but I immediately got tangled up in a mess of people. I tried to swim just off the line, and ended up swimming WAY too far out. Once I realized how far out I was, I would head back towards the line, get my butt kicked, move back out again, repeat. I know many people who have had calm peaceful Ironman swims at Placid, but that definitely wasn't me this year. I adore swimming, but I never felt like I could get in a good groove. I was either surging forward, pulling back, sitting up, or changing direction. I believe the fix to this is simply more open water experience, and overall, it was a good swim. I tried to smile as much as I could, reminding myself that I was swimming in my first Ironman!

I don't wear a watch when I swim, and therefore had no idea of my time. It wasn't until I was on my bike that I heard people had gotten pulled from the swim due to the lightening around Mirror Lake. I was fortunate enough to be able to complete the 2 loops, and for that, I am grateful.

I hopped out of the lake to downpours, hit up the wetsuit strippers, and made my way towards T1. I absolutely took my time, as it was slippery, and I wasn't willing to end my day due to a faceplant on the way to the changing tent.

Once there, I found an open seat, ate my snack, and let the volunteer do most of the work (minus the chamois cream... I spared her that responsibility). I took the extra minute to make sure I had everything I needed, and clack clack clacked my way out of the changing tent. I could hear the rain coming down, and truth be told, I was absolutely terrified....