John 8:32 "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." NIV

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

1/2 an IronWOman

What happens when I disappear for a few months? I sort of crush my first HIM.

If you can remember, I have been training for IM Lake Placid with the Be Iron Fit book! I love it and believe it is the right plan for the busy athlete. In the plan, it calls for a HIM to be done week #22, or as we do in Maryland on week #19. We had to bump it up because it was the closest one we could find and it was a tough course. The run is ridiculously hilly and the bike course had some nice ones too. (BTW: did I mention Lake Placid is noted as one of the hilliest IMs out there). So for week #19, I placed Kinetic Half Ironman at Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania, VA on my race calendar.

I was blessed as a friend from church had two houses near the race and offered them up for the Mafia for merely the cleaning fee. As you know training for IM is expensive and this was definitely a blessing as there were 13 of us racing.

Me, with Joyce and E!

The morning of the race was daunting. I couldn't help but think of my brother Kenny. I know I've mentioned him often but today he was on my mind as he went to be with Jesus after his first HIM. Nothing related to the race (a brain aneurism) but he collapsed about 15 minutes after he finished. My family was apprehensive about me even attempting it at first but seemed to seek peace as race day approached. I kept checking my phone hoping someone was up to give me words but I gave up at 6:30 am and turned my phone off. Transition closed at 6:45 and I had to recheck my gear and get my wetsuit on. Another tip: in case there is rain in the forecast, use a small rubbermaid container. E's advice was perfect - placed my running stuff on the bottom and my bike gear on top and closed it. All safe and dry!

I did a lot of praying, not just because I was struggling to get my wetsuit on but to calm my nerves and trust my training. (BTW: when I commented to my daughter that no one wished me luck before the race, her response without missing a beat was: "Well, maybe no one thought you needed luck!" Touche, dear daughter!)

Aren't we hot in our wetsuits?
We all gathered near the swim start and it was everything I could do to hold it together. I wanted to cry. The water temperature had increased to 69 degrees which was awesome. The rain had held off and Lake Anna looked calm. I watched as TG and B and IronJay started in wave two. E, Casey, and I were wearing our bright pink caps for wave three. Casey disappeared near the front (she is a bad a$$ swimmer) but E and I started together.

Swim start, I'm the one with my head up.
The horn blew and immediately I panicked. I think I was chanting: oh my God and it wasn't in vain, I was praying. E witnessed my freak out and said: calm down and breathe. Thankfully it was shallow so I walked for a while. I ended up doing the breast stroke until the 4th buoy and then finally managed to start swimming. I never really got in the zone but somehow caught up to E and we pretty much swam the rest together. I breathed every stroke instead of every third like I practiced but kept the tree line in my vision and tried to make it to 10 strokes before I sighted. This is how I finished. E had a good push at the end and managed to beat me by at least three minutes out of the water.

Happy to be DONE!
I was happy to be done the with swim. I made it to transition only to see IronJay. We were racked really close together and unfortunately the swim is his worst leg. We chatted as we prepped and headed out of T1 together just as the rain started. Yes, I said rain. Up until this point I have never rode my bike in the rain. I was glad I put my shades on and decided it was easy not to get a drafting penalty as the bikes in front of me were spitting up rain water and debris. I didn't see IronJay on the bike again, he is fast.

Since I rode the course the week before I knew what to expect. I felt great on the bike. I cannot believe I just wrote that as the bike is my worst leg. My friend Joyce's advice the night before on how to save your legs for the run: every time you really feel like you are working really hard, back it down. And that is exactly what I did. I dropped to lower gear on the hills, I didn't pound it away on the flats. Around mile 25 I thought, wow if I was doing an Oly, I would be done! :-)

Finishing ride
The rain stopped about 7 miles in and when the sun came out it was scorching. The road debris started to bother me but overall, I was thrilled as I re-entered the state park and started to mentally prep for the run.

I should note here my fueling issues:

1. I ate three blocks right before the swim. For breakfast I ate 1/2 of a Powerbar as my stomach was upset - 100% nerves.

2. Right off the bat on the bike I drank 1/3 of my Gatorade and took 3 more shot blocks.

3. 45 mins into bike I took another 3 shot blocks with Gatorade. Finished first bottle.

4. Another hour passed and I choked down 4 more shot blocks followed by Gatorade. My stomach started to feel sick. I knew it was too much sugary stuff so at the next bottle exchange I took a bottle of water to clean my mouth and throat out.

5. I took 2 more shots as I was entering the park to head back to transition on my bike and knew instantly it was a mistake. Chugged some Gatorade and wished I had water.

As I was approaching the dismount area, I saw E and Casey beginning their run. My first thought: wow, I must have crushed the bike as they aren't that far ahead of me! It was just the kind of mojo I needed to start the run. I grabbed another package of blocks but was pretty sure I wasn't going to use them.

1/4 of a way up the hill on loop one.
At the start of the run, my legs felt great. Too good actually was my first thought. But after about 200m the start of the first hill checked me. I had previously decided on a 4:1 for the run. With Placid being my main goal, I'm positive I won't be able to run the marathon straight. So I wanted to test my body and see how the 4:1 worked. It is also worth noting that I trained this way for the last 5 long runs.

The ONLY thing that was great about the three loop run course was that you get to see your friends, a lot! I decided to make the best of it and every person that passed me or that I passed, I cheered on. This helped me more mentally than I could even imagined. It got me to look at people, make eye contact and keep spirits alive. And almost always they returned the favor! I loved it. The first loop I felt great. Passing the finish line chute to make my third loop - yeah it sucked!!!! Some of my friends were there having already finished and I wanted nothing more than to be there with them. Thankfully the MC got my bib number and gave me a personal shout out that carried me up the next hill.

Start of the 3rd loop.
I took water at every water stop. Three swallows and dumped the rest in my hat to cool my head. When the sun came out it was steamy. Towards the end of the second loop I took some electrolyte tablets, spit out the first one and managed to swallow the other two, followed by a whole cup of water. I was still unable to fuel. My stomach was starting to feel better but my sugary blocks were not going to do it.

At mile 10, I decided I needed some fuel to finish and took 2 more blocks and dropped the rest so I wasn't tempted to eat any more. The next walk period turned into a 1:4 but I switched back once my stomach felt a little better, but it gave me enough to make it to the finish line.

As I approached the chute, a chick was in front of me. I knew I could smoke her and prayed she didn't try to race me in. I beat her and claimed my first 1/2 IM medal.
Yeah, I beat her!

Here is the thing I didn't tell you before: I thought my finish time would be between 7:30-8 hours. I have no idea how my bike was so fast (average 17.5 mph) and it wasn't too fast to kill the run entirely. I could have done better on the run for sure, it was a mental thing. And the swim, I could have crushed that if I just get my freak out under control.

Swim & T1: 00:48:56 (45:24 according to my Garmin)
Bike: 03:06:59
T2 & Run: 02:36:40  (2:34 run according to my Garmin)

Overall time: 06:32:35

The best thing about this race, besides doing it with 13 of my friends - I feel like IMLP is possible. I know it's going to be tough, but I kinda feel like I will be able to finish in 17 hours!

Most of the MoCo Mafia after.

I need to:

1. Figure out my fuel. Those sugary sweet blocks are not going to work for the whole race.

2. Get my freak out in the swim under control. Losing an easy 300m to the modified breast stroke (head above water) is not helpful. Try it sometime. You use completely different muscles and way too much legs for that stroke.

3. Figure out mental for run. I never doubted I would finish the 13.1 but I am sure that the daunting 26.2 miles will send my head into a tailspin.

So I came home to some awesome children who were quite proud of their #1 Iron Mom - a title I proudly wear!

I hope you continue with me on my journey. And if you do, I'll promise that my updates are more frequent!!! :-)

BTW: Would you put a 70.3 on your car or wait for the 140.6?


MCM Mama said...

Congratulations, my friend! You rocked it!

Perhaps try a nutrition source that's more like real food. I've had decent success with animal crackers and oreo cookies, but I've never done a tri, much less a longer distance one.

Yes, rock that 70.3 sticker! It's something to be proud of. And honestly, I'd keep it on the car and add the other one when you earn it. They are two separate accomplishments.

coach dion said...

That is great, don't worry about the swim, I've done 2 x IM and both times I was worried about the swim, I think for the 1st one I was one of the last people in the water. For the 2nd one I started on the side and swam wide for a bit.

I'm not scared of the bike and well running is my thing...

So you did great, and that picture of you finishing the run, you are flying and look great.

Melissa Cunningham said...

Great job!!!! I was wondering where you went!!! I have so much respect and admiration for you!!! You are awesome and slightly crazy !!!!
In a good way, lol!!!
Cant wait to follow you along to the next big adventure!

Jay Cochran said...

You had a great race, and should be proud.