One week later..I can recount all the funny things and thoughts that happened during the race!
First of all, thank you to friends for your support and encouragement! It really means a lot and I am truly grateful for it. While not many people I know would think of taking on the challenge of an Ironman distance race, my heart smiles every time I get an email from a friend to tell me that they're attempting their first triathlon, whether it'd be a sprint distance or an olympic. Many people have said that I've been too hard on myself for what I thought to be a disappointing race..my thoughts on my race have not changed however I have gotten over it and am ready to move on!
Below are a few pictures from race day! First one below is an aerial shot of the swim start. The picture of the mass swim start of 2,166 athletes (2,035 finished). I've decided that the swim is really where I need to make big improvements on before my next Ironman! I've also communicated this with Coach..we'll see what he says but I have a feeling that he will agree. He once said that the swim was my biggest limiter. I didn't know what he meant at the time because I figured the swim was the shortest part, therefore least important but during the race, I had an epiphany, he was right! I will elaborate more on this later on, maybe when I get into the thick of things next season :-). Before the start, I am chatting with Coach and he mentions that he would love to be a guide for a challenged athlete which i think would be awesome but the conversation itself was a bit amusing. Coach, "Yeah..I think I can slow my pace down a little to guide a challenged athlete." Me.. confused look which consists of head tilting to the left and scrunched eyebrows thinking, "You? Slow your pace down? Hm." It would be a very awesome thing for Coach to do though!!
The picture below is during the bike leg. I don't know what mile as I wasn't aware the photographer was there. So the thing with the bike is..I'm not supposed to get off... ever during the race especially when it comes to pee'ing. "You don't get off the bike to pee." says Coach. I've done a great job of following that direction at Oceanside 70.3 and Wildflower but last Sunday, I had to get off because I simply couldn't relax enough to go on the bike and I really couldn't pass up the offer of this couple out on the course. This lovely couple has set up a station in front of their house on the bike course. They had a table of tools and two large signs- "bike help" and "bathroom" ...heck yea bathroom!!! Ha ha. The support from the CDA community was truly amazing!
The run during the Ironman is always special. It's where you're trying to gut it out to get to the finish. It's also where you start to meet friends...your fellow Ironman athletes who you started at 7am with. The highs and lows you go through during the run is not something one can describe...it's just meant to be experienced. Last year, at IM Loo, I did the entire marathon on flat coke, water and bananas. This year, at IM CDA, I wanted nothing to do with the flat coke but I welcomed the warm chicken broth and pretzels! The Ironman is a really funny guy who likes to screw with you during the race. I was in no mood or shape to run but everytime I passed by the Ford Motivational mile, my favorite song to run to- Infinity 2008 by Guru Josh Project- was playing, WTF Ironman? First, you take the functions of my heart rate monitor and now you're mocking me- thanks! The finish line...with the voice of Mike Reilly is something that every Ironman athlete looks forward to! The guy in my finish photo, that's Joe. I met him at around mile 21. We agreed that we should just run into the finish shoot together and not try to out do eachother.. afterall.. it's the 16th hour.. how much sense would that make?! Ha ha. I held on for 16 hours and below is what I get.. a heater would have been nice and a big hot cup of cocoa! And why does the medal look like a Christmas tree?
So it's Wednesday, Mary, Eric and I were at the Spokane Airport enroute to home. Going through security, they took my little Swiss Army knife. I was quite peeved as I've traveled with it for years and have had no problems but leave it to the little airports to think it was an issue! While sitting by the gate, Eric gets paged to the ticket counter though we didn't think it was a big deal, his bag was probably just too heavy. As I sit there still ranting about my knife incident to Mary, Eric comes back and says, "They're reporting me to the FAA for my CO2 cartridges." Mary and I bursted out laughing so hard that we could barely breathe.
And at last, I leave you with the link the Ironman Coeur d'Alene race highlight video featuring yours truly about 5 minutes and 49 seconds in. My friends Kara and Brian are also in it about 8 and a half minutes in. Good stuff!!
I've never DNF'd a race before but on June 21th, 2009, that thought crossed my mind...!
I arrived in Coeur d'Alene on Wednesday on a connection flight from Seattle to Spokane from SFO with Kara. We waited for Caesar as he was landing at the same time but different carrier. Got bags...got in Kara's rental car...made our way to CDA! Our house was sweet! About 3 blocks to race central and the transition area- score! We basically spent our day getting settled, went to do some grocery shopping and drove the bike course. First impression of bike course- a whole lotta turns- 81 to be exact- 41 per loop on the two loop course and while that may not sound like a lot over 112 miles.. most of the loops were during the first part of the loop!!
Thursday..went to the Gatorade practice swim. Coach had us swim for 40 minutes but we did one loop..20 minutes and called it a day because the water was way too choppy to want to go back in for a second loop of buoys. I was getting pounded in the water and my face got the brunt of it heading out. On the way back, the water was so jerky that it almost felt like the water was jerking you back and forth as the current pushed you forward but having swum in the waters by Alcatraz..we were able to deal!
Friday & Saturday was race prep- getting our T1, T2, special needs bike and special needs run bags together. Checked in our bikes and bags for race day! All week, we've been tracking the weather and up until Saturday, the forecast for race day was cold rain...and more cold rain which led me, Brian, Kara and a lot others to spend the quickest $100 ever on a thin windbreaker for the race! Of course, Saturday came and the forecast for Sunday had gotten a lot better. No rain..just cloudy.. we breathed a sigh of relief!
Sunday- race day!! Got up at 3:30am..started breakfast at 4am and kept hydration and calories from 4am until 6:30am. The house (myself, Caesar, Mary, Eric, Mai and Ted) walked down to transition at 5:30am..got body marked and got prepped for race! I saw Coach while walking with Kara to the potty and he gave me a hug and asked me if I was nervous. I said, "a little" but really I was about to break out in tears which surprised even me! The swim distance of an Ironman is just about 2% of the race but it takes up about 80% of one's emotions! I just wanted to get started!! As we dropped our dry clothes bag off and walked down to the beach, I had lost sight of everyone but was able to spot Ariane and Victor on the beach for a little bit of comfort. 7am- canon goes off- comfort goes away..away we go.. over 2000+ triathletes in the 62 degree waters of Coeur d'Alene Lake!!
2.4 Mile Swim-1:53.59- swim start was not as chaotic as I had imagined it in my head. It was choppy but nowhere near the pounding I got on Thursday when we did a practice swim in there and plus having swum Alcatraz a couple of times in the past helped in dealing with the swells and waves. First loop done..got out..ran around timing mat and back in for the second loop! The second loop of the swim felt a bit longer- I think the wind must have picked up because the swells were definitely heavier going out for the second loop and my time was 10 minutes slower for the second lap- argh! I also started to feel a muscle strain that started from top of shoulder and ran down the middle of my arm. While going out on the second lap and swimming through the swells I had a thought, "Now I know why Chris makes us do head up drills!" The swells felt like wheels barrels that we had to crawl over!
T1- 8:51- Coming out of the water..headed for the wetsuit strippers.. wetsuit off..they turned me around and asked me
if I was okay? I said.."Yes! Gotta go!" and was handed my T1 bag... into changing tent! My volunteer helper emptied
my bag on the ground as I told her what I needed and what I can skip.. changed into my bike shorts..put my
sunglasses on and helmet..volunteer put my cycling shoes on and next thing you know..I am out of the tent headedto my bike! So while in T1, I looked at my heart rate monitor and it read 23 beats..it didn't dawn on me that that wasn't normal and couldn't be right..I thought that I must have been really relieved from getting out of water that I was calm. Started riding... heart rate read 33 and that's when it hit me that hrm wasn't reading correctly so I restarted while on bike but same numbers.. restarted again...instead of numbers.. it gave me two flat dashes...uh oh!! This has never happened before with my HRM..
112 Mile Bike- 7:39:36- So..I was in "uh oh" mode with my HRM since my entire bike plan was based on my heart rate, I tried to stay calm and not go out too fast but my perceived exertion is never quite right as I had found during training sessions. So while I am trying to stay calm, I am really thinking "f*ck f*ck f*ck!" I stopped twice to try to re-adjust the position of the heart rate strap but didn't work.. no heart rate reading. I saw Coach out running in the beginning of the bike and I was very close to stopping (again) to ask him what I should do but that would have required me to make a U turn and well didn't want to do that so just kept riding and hoped for the best. I had an idea of what my avg mph during the longer training rides were and just used that as my base but a little harder- in fear of going too hard or not hard enough- I still felt very lost during my bike not knowing if I was doing the right thing? The good thing was that the course looked a lot tougher in the car than it did on the bike. The second loop of the bike definitely got a lot windier but also more interesting! While riding the second loop, I noticed two men on a scooter next to me. I initially thought they were course refs but I looked over..saw a man holding up a video camera and he said, "tell me about your day!" I said, "Seriously?" Apparently they were, so I gave them a little interview as they rode alongside me. As I found out the next day, an edited version of that interview ended up making the race highlight video! And thank goodness it was edited :-). So looking at my bike splits for the entire 112 miles, they were pretty consistent but I could have definitely pushed harder!
T2- 6:08- glad to get off the bike! Took the HRM off and left it at T2 but had my garmin and kept arm warmers on since wind was picking up and temperatures were dropping.
26.2 Mile Run- 6:20:53- 1st couple of miles were good but mentally, I was still bothered by my HRM malfunction and didn't know how to shake that off. I ran the first 14 miles or so and came upon #3 (Miranda Alldritt), a pro woman who was walking her second loop of the run who said, "keep going girl" as I passed her. But eventually that run turned into what felt like a jog. It started to get cold and joints were starting to feel stiff. Then eventually it started to rain and temps were beginning to drop- fast! Took a space blanket that was being handed out but was still very cold! Tried to keep running but mentally, I wasn't at a good place. Physically, joints weren't at a good place either with the cold. Instead of the one little birdie that told me it was okay to walk, I had many other birdies around me that told me it was okay to walk! I've never thought about DNF'ing a race before but during that run in the cold and feeling as miserable as I was..it definitely crossed my mind. I normally like running in the rain but not when it's freezing at the same time and in a tri top and shorts! That $100 windbreaker would have been a lot more useful had it been in my T2 bag vs. my T1 bag!
Finish Line- finally!! Crossing the finish line and hearing Mike Reilly's voice will never get old and the crowd approaching the finish line was AWESOME! They stuck it out through the cold and the rain. My finish photo shows me running across with my space blanket still on- I mean it's only fitting since it was a big part of my 26.2 mile journey! After you cross the finish line, they put a medal around your neck, then bring you to another person who gives you your finisher hat and then another person who gives you your finisher t-shirt but all I really wanted was a heater! Ha ha!
16:09:27- Overall- I know I should be happy and thrilled that I finished another Ironman and I am. I feel extremely fortunate to have the physical capabilities of toeing the line at such an event. At the same time, I am pretty disappointed with myself for letting the malfunction of a HRM trump the race that I could have had with the training that I had put in the last 6 or so months.I am pretty frustrated for not staying more focused on the run and just keep pushing through...but it's a learning! I do want to come back through for a do-over..maybe in 2011 as I am taking on Ironman #3 in St. George, Utah on May 1st, 2010! My 1st Ironman in Louisville...well I didn't really know what I was doing. This second one here at Coeur d'Alene, I learned a lot from. So hopefully, my 3rd will be a charm!! Thanks for reading! Photos from weekend- here! Race photos coming soon! But for now, thank to my friend Hez for my race finish video- if I had waited two minutes, I could have finished with one of the original Ironman's from 1978! And if you noticed how bundled up the woman who finished in front of me..that explains the temperature..apparently 40's??
I will be on the run course! I am in the midst of packing but as you can see, I am easily distracted by the chore of packing. As I head into my second ironman race, I can't help but compare how I feel this year pre-race vs. last year pre-race. Friends tell me that I seem and look a lot happier, stronger and fitter and I think that comes from feeling more excited overall. I thoroughly enjoyed training this season and feeling my progress and seeing it on paper is always a plus. I am 9 pounds lighter than I was last year pre- IM and injuries wise..last year I over stressed my right rotator cuff a month out and this year...none!
Over the last few days..I've been getting asked the same questions multiple times from different people..mind as well address them on my blog as well :-)
Q: Are you nervous?
A: Of course I am nervous! It's an Ironman- it's HUGE! But I can say that I am more excited than I am nervous.
Q: How are you feeling?
Q: Are you ready?
A: I will never understand why people ask me this question because really, I have no choice but to be ready!
Q: Do you have a time goal?
A: Um...no. I even went as far as asking coach if I should have one? And he also said no although I have a feeling that he has a time in mind for me but he just won't share. I did tell him that I will race my heart out and see what happens so that's what I plan to do. And to be honest, if anything, I am too afraid of the Ironman course to set in any time goals because I know anything can happen! I'll leave it on the course and hopefully the course will reward me in return! One can only hope :-).
And with that, I read this great quote somewhere and I couldn't have said it any better..
"Respect this event, and be prepared to fight it. Be prepared to dig deep, bloody deep and then reap the rewards that last a lifetime - as with all great achievements. Yes it is going to hurt, it's an Ironman so be prepared."
and another one from one my coach's articles..
"Live it, feel it, breathe it, enjoy it and love it. Every single Ironman is a once in a lifetime experience."
That's it for now.. I'll check in again pre-race when I get settled at Coeur d'Alene. Leaving first thing Wednesday morning!
Kara and I @ Pt. Reyes..we played cat & mouse with our friend Brian. 5 hours of riding on a work day- fun times!
Below- Kara and me with our coach- Chris Hauth at the Escape From Alcatraz triathlon- Workout Summary-
I think it's been 10 weeks since my last LT test where my power improved by 30%! Took another test this past Tuesday, my pre-IM test which showed no increase in power but did show my blood lactate level drop 1.2 which means I've become more economical and efficient in my efforts- pretty sweet before a long distance! I had initially thought that I under-achieved my test but leave it to coach to school me on that one! And he is right- I am a completely different athlete now than I was last summer- much thanks to him!
Speaking of last summer vs. this summer. As you know, last season, I finished my first Ironman with IronTeam, and decided to hop on board this season as one of the volunteer staff. I have not trained with them much this season nor have I been the Community Captain that I had wanted to be and there are many variables to that. For some people, calendar template training works and for some, they don't. I fall into the don't category as I found out last year! When I decided to ask Chris to coach me, I knew that I would have to stick with his plan and work only as hard as he wanted me to work in terms of efforts in focused workouts. Every training session has a purpose, the prior to the present, the present to tomorrow so it was almost impossible to incorporate TNTs training into mine but I tried where I could. I do feel bad for not being around as much for the Team but I will be around more after CDA. With most of the Team workouts based in the East Bay, the commuting back and forth definitely puts a toll in training and recovering which is also another reason I haven't been around much. Perhaps, after CDA, I will put in more of my volunteer efforts with the Team! Anyway..enough about that!
Saturday- big workout for Chris' CDA athletes- known as the Dave Scott triple brick (20 mile bike, 5 mile run, 20 mile bike, 4 mile run, 20 mile bike, 3 mile run). Bike at race pace Z3 and run at IM pace. Caesar and Ted left the city at 4:45am and started at 6am in Napa. I decided to leave with the later group of myself, Kara, Brian, Dana and Jennie at 6:30am with an 8am start on the Silverado Trail! It was a hard but a good workout! Felt strong for the most part with the exception of the last bike loop as head wind started to kick in during the afternoon- not fun!! After Dave Scott? XL Pizza and a pitcher of rootbeer to wash it down- awesome!!
Sunday- Congrats to Heidi & Alex! Heidi is a dear friend of mine and I can't imagine two people who are better for eachother! Best moment of the day? When Heidi pulled out a kleenex from her boob to Alex during the ceremony Classic!!
Two weeks from now, I'll be on the run course at Ironman Coeur d'Alene!