Saturday, November 9, 2013

IRONMAN FLORIDA

IM #4 for this momma!

WOW! Where to begin....

Well, obviously I haven't written in a while and with good reason. Abby keeps me super busy and now that she's walking  running everywhere, I barely get a moment to myself. 

So, I guess I will start with training between Ironman Louisville and Florida. First off, most normal people only do one Ironman in a season, but not this momma. I missed it so much last year, as you know I had to tackle two of the big boys this season and I really didn't think about how tough it all would be with a baby. After IM #1 in August, I would have loved nothing more than to kick up my heels and chill but oh, no...I still had training to do. Things changed a lot between the two. Having trained basically all of this year, I started to feel major burn out between the two races. After Louisville, I pretty much had to jump right back into things and to be honest, I was getting bored with it all. So, after talking to coach, I decided I would only do what I felt like doing. I have always tried to get in each and every training session and have done exactly what I supposed to in the past, but that all changed to if I'm tired...I'm not doing it. So, I pretty much went into Florida with leftover fitness from the summers training. For my Florida 'training', I would sometimes only swim once per week. Sometimes I would run once or maybe twice per week. I did do most of my cycling just because I love it so much, but trying to do all of this with an active one year old who's mobile is just exhausting. So, I chose to train on how I felt. If I wasn't too tired, I would train. If I was tired, I wouldn't. I knew I had enough fitness for Florida so really wasn't worried about that. Going into it, I knew I would have a better day than in KY even on less training, after all the weather for FL is pretty much perfect for the race and the course is flat. 140.6 miles is never easy, but I can tell you after doing IMKY, Florida is a piece of cake and one that I will absolutely add to my list again.

So, we set out on Wednesday night at around 8pm so that Abby would sleep on the way. We ended up stopping off in Atlanta and after much confusion with hotels, we ended up finally getting into our hotel and to bed at 3am. Not ideal and that late night would hurt me for the next two days!! We got up and on the road around 9 the next morning en route to Panama City Beach. Abby is not a child who sits still, so just the long ride alone was brutal. She wanted out of her car seat and we had to stop loads. A fussy baby for an entire drive like that...exhausting. Finally we arrived around 4pm on Thursday and headed straight over so that I could check in. Since it was Halloween, there was a costume contest for the kids and it was so fun. So proud of our little Abigail who stood up there with those big kids like it was nothing. She's so brave.
Our Cute Little Bumble Bee
After the Halloween festivities, we had an early night as we all were completely shattered. We were too tired to even go out for dinner so opted for the nearest Publix and just snacks. Off to bed! On Friday, it was time to pack up gear bags, special needs bags and get the bike all set up in T1. The weather was a bit crazy on Friday, so I didn't even bother to try a practice swim. We had a busy day and I got all of my gear into transition and ready to go. All of the Princes of Bahrain drama was amusing and I found myself racked right behind them. While I was racking my bike, the Princes were there doing an interview and I accidentally walked right in front of one of the Princes while he was talking on camera. Ooops. They seemed very friendly and a couple of the guys from their entourage actually spoke to me and wished me well in the race. 

I was getting anxious. Race morning was fast approaching and I was excited. We had dinner in once again and off to bed by 10pm. The alarm went off at 4 am and it was time to get moving.

Trying to get going on race morning with a baby in tow is interesting but Abby is pretty good with it. Even so, we got to transition only 15 minutes before it closed and I didn't even get suited up for the swim until 5 minutes before the start. I was still in mommy mode. Fortunately, I got on my Helix and ran to the swim start. I had a quick chat on the way down with friend and fellow IM athlete Kent and then I was there. Right in the middle of the pack. This year there were self-seeded corals and oh, what a nightmare. Rich had mentioned the day before that he thought that was nuts as athletes who swim the same pace are going to be around each other the entire swim beating the shit out of each other. Boy was he right. I put myself in the 1:10-1:21 corral with no time to spare. I didn't even have a chance to think about my nerves let alone have a nice pee in my wetsuit. The gun went off and the chaos began...and I needed to pee! Bad!!

I could write an entire blog on the swim alone, but I will try and condense though to fit it here. First off, let me begin by saying I am not really afraid of much, but the little hairs on my arm do tend to raise a little when I am swimming in the ocean thinking about sharks. I never used to be like that. Not until I did St. Anthony's and felt something huge swim underneath me during the race. I felt it swim by and my hand brazed it as well.  I don't know what it was, but it was big and solid. I nearly had a heart attack and from that point forward, I turned into a wuss when it comes to swimming in the ocean. In Greece, I don't mind as the water is crystal clear and the only sharks there are lemon sharks. Not a big deal, but when you have Bulls, Hammerheads and Tigers swimming in the same water you are, that causes a little shiver in my spine. So the picture below is how I anticipated this swim ;)
This is how I anticipated the swim for months ;)
Rich did IMFL in 2006 and was actually leading the swim when he saw a huge shark swim under him. He freaked out and swam back into the swim pack. Knowing that made me all the more wussified. All that was forgotten though when the cannon went off. No fear of sharks in my mind. That all changed to survival. Survival from the other 2800 athletes around me. 

Just a bit choppy heading in. That was interesting.

The waves were pretty tough and everyone around me was creeping in through them. Trying to get through to calmer water to actually start swimming. Once I was able to start going, I actually felt good and was excited to start this swim.
Pretty much how an Ironman swim feels....BAM!
That was until my first blow. Bam, punch, bam, kick, elbow to the head, bam. Kick in face. Bam. Kick to the side. Bam, punch.  I nearly lost it. This was my first mass start as my other 3 IM's have been in Louisville and that is sooooo much different that this. Within probably 2-3 minutes of the swim, I popped my head up and looked around me and all I could see were arms and legs splashing, thrashing and chaos. I had to keep moving or else get pummeled. I had to continually talk myself through the first 15 minutes of the swim..."breathe, stay calm, breathe, stay calm." After 30 seconds or so of talking myself calm, I started relaxing and even though I was still getting beaten to a pulp, I was ok. The self seed start is in my opinion not the best of ideas and Rich was right. I was beaten up throughout the entire swim. If everyone around you swims the same speed as you, well...no one leaves you. It's literally a battle to the end, but what a beautiful battle. An ocean full of arms and legs. People all chasing a dream. It's amazing really.

I'm in there and this is where I found out what I am really made of. Right there in the middle of that ocean. Loved it!
Then, cue the riptide. The riptide flags went up as were swimming and once I made the turn to head back to shore, I could actually feel it pulling me the wrong way( both times). Not a big deal really, it's just part of swimming in the ocean, but I think it did make for some slower swim times. Once back in for lap 2, I felt great. I kept thinking inspirational quotes in my head. I felt happy and positive. Getting through the swim to me was everything. It was something I had been very anxious about for months and I was proud of myself and in my mind I kept thinking if you can do that...you can do anything! For any of you reading who have never done a mass start IM swim, it's a whole lot like being in a washing machine or a blender. For 2.4 miles. Oh, the Louisville swim is easy in comparison. Seriously!

I felt loopy coming out of the swim, but staggered my way into T1. Unfortunately ( sorry any guys reading) but Aunt Flo decided to visit me 2 days before the race. I've never had this happen while racing, and with just having finished breastfeeding Abby 8 weeks ago, it has come back with a vengeance. T1 was looking to be quick, quick that is until I had to stop at the porta loo to take care of girly business if you know what I mean. Slippy hands did not make it easy and my transition took ages. Oh well. Off on the bike and feeling good. I caught up to teammate Steven and we had a little chat. It was his first Ironman and he did great. I was feeling really good, so told Steven to have a great day and put the pedal down. I never get the chance to ride on flat road and wanted to see just how much fun I could have doing it. The winds were picking up, but nothing crazy. I was smiling and excited.

The flat and the temps were making for a great day. My average when I got to special needs was 19.7 which I was pleased with and my heart rate had been steady and low for those first 60 miles. Heart rate averaged 150 which tells me I could have and should have pushed harder. Next time. I grabbed my things at special needs and then had to stop off for girly business yet again and that took ages waiting in line for a port loo. My bike average was dropping because I was just stuck waiting to do my thing. Finally after what seemed ages, I was back in the saddle and off. Once we turned around though things got interesting. The head wind. I can't recall the actually mile this happened but I'm thinking somewhere around 65-85 there was a head wind. The riding got a little tougher and I slowed a bit. Plus it's at that magic mile 80 when things start to change. I kept pushing through, still having a good time. I was starting to get a little tired and bored around 100 and was ready to come off the bike. I rolled into town and and 112 miles later, felt pretty good. Into T2.

Quick transition in T2 and then a porta loo stop yet again to take care of the girly thing. Grrr. This cost me so much time during the race! I wish we could schedule races around monthly cycles. Wouldn't that be great?? Anyway, it was pretty warm out when I started the run and unlike Louisville I wasn't shattered after the bike. I know now that above all things at IMKY, it is the heat that kills me and my stomach. I was able to take in all my nutrition on the bike in FL which for the first time gave me energy for the run.

The crowds in town were amazing and I saw my Rev3 teammate Chloe cheering me on. She's so awesome and it was nice to see her smiling face. I saw another awesome teammate Ryan while I was in the first few miles of run course which was nice. A whole lot of Rev3 love out there in FL last weekend. The first few miles were slower than I wanted, but I had found a somewhat steady pace. I made the effort to take in nutrition each aid station and would alternate between cola at one, perform at one, and water in between. I find it much harder to get in the calories on the run, so really had to make the effort. So far, so good. I saw Rich and Abby out there cheering for me and I stopped to grab my baby girl and give her a hug. Rich gave me some words of encouragement and I was on my way again. I liked the run, apart from the state park. What a snore! I kept pushing forward and had to stop at the porta loo again for my girly business halfway through. What a pain!


 Back into town and the turnaround and I still felt pretty good. Tired, but good. I had to run/walk after mile 14 ish as was starting to feel really flat. I pushed forward and knew that my time would be so much better than the my last IM and just that feeling alone kept me positive and able to keep moving. I saw teammate Steven again on the run and also teammate Susan. It was great to see the Rev3 colors out there all day. Anyway, I could go on and on with this, but I've just realized that this is a rather long post. I will wrap it up now.


At mile 25 of the run (and always the longest of the whole day) emotions took over. I was tired, no...I was exhausted and running back through town I could see the lights. Chloe ran over and all I could say to her was how exhausted I was. She really talked me through the last bit and even ran next to me to until I made the turn to head into the finishing chute. I can't thank Chloe enough for being so supportive and her smiles and cheers really made my day out there. Thank you CHLOE!

There it is...the lights. The magic. The moment. The moment that you've worked for. That you have earned. That you have sacrificed for. The finish. The pearly gates if you will. No matter how many times, that finish line never gets old. It's truly a magical place and I think that only we, who put ourselves out there can understand it. I can't explain the moment really, I can't truly describe the feeling, but no matter what pain you go through during the day for a moment in time, when you see that finish, and you can feel it, all of the pain and exhaustion melts away. You feel like you are floating on air. You become invincible, even if only for a second. It's such an emotional place. A place where months of all of the hard work finally come together. A place that you just have to get to. I was overwhelmed and sobbing after crossing the line and thankfully the fabulous Krista was there as I made my way through and she gave me such a big hug.  She saw my flood of emotions and I just couldn't stop crying and smiling at the same time. Thanks Krista for the bear hug.

 140.6... such an amazing feeling of accomplishment. I am proud to have just finished my 4th Ironman and two of them this year after having a baby 13 months ago.

I am excited to think of the many to come. It's part of who I am and it's definitely what I love. Now one week after the race, I am feeling pretty good. I've cycled twice and was able to get in a 4 mile run yesterday. The only lingering issue is that I cannot seem to eat much. My appetite is just not there yet as have been a bit nauseated post this IM. I'm sure that will be back in no time. Probably side effects from the two double cheeseburgers and double fries and brownies that I had after the race ha!


One more thing...Here is a page from The Triathletes Guide to Mental Training Book. Love that book. I've read this page over and over before and after each Ironman and I love it. It sums up exactly how I feel out there on the big day.
As the season ends, I have to express my gratitude to those who stand behind me. Thank you so much to my husband and children for putting up with me and always supporting me with my Ironman dreams. It has not been easy and I certainly could not do this sport without their love and support and for that I am forever grateful. Thank you to my sponsors Rev3, Pearl Izumi, PowerBar, Blue Seventy, Compex, Normatec, SBR Sports Inc. Also thanks to SKX Performance for the RNR Tri Camps Coaches Sponsorship! You all certainly helped this girl to get through this year.  I am truly grateful! Also a special thanks to all of the Rev3 Teammates who have supported me throughout. You guys truly feel like family and I love ya! Thank you to all of my friends as well for all of your kind words, cheers and support, and also thanks to my best girlfriends for understanding when I have to reschedule dinner dates, friend time, girls nights, phone calls, catching up with life, etc because this little monster called Ironman takes over my life. I love you all and I am ever grateful for your support. Also shout out with thanks to Cindy Livingston at Davidson Therapeutic for being the awesome therapist that she is and working out my kinks prior to FL.

It is time to relax now and since next year is my big 4-0, there are some mighty big things being planned for this girl. Looking forward to it. Details to come soon.

Cheers~ 

2 comments:

Cher said...

Loved it!

Frederic said...

Great race report, congratulation!