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

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ironman Lake Placid - Run Humble

When asking people to pray for my run, I asked them to pray for me to "run humble".  Running is my baby. My strongest leg. I KNEW once I got the run injury free, I would be fine.

E and I around the first mile
Starting off with E was a real boost for my morale too. We chatted away about the race so far, how we felt and how we were going to be Ironmen in a few hours.

We had all trained to run 4 minutes/walk a minute which is exactly what we started to do once we got out of town. Another training strategy we had worked with was walking all the hills. E felt great and I could tell that she was running faster than I was comfortable with. I tried to stay with her and not walk the hills in the beginning, but it was started to affect my confidence. I knew by mile 3 that I was not going to be able to hang on to her the whole marathon. We saw a bunch of people we knew and it really helped our spirits. In fact, around mile 5 for us, and 9 for the boys, we saw TG and E's boyfriend, B. Wow. It felt like we were immediately lifted up. A HUGE boost for us. And more importantly, it made me feel good that they were together, conquering the course as a team.

We got to the first turn around and at the water stop, we saw our Tri-mate, D. He was sitting with the medic team. He did not look good. E and I immediately started to get upset. We asked him if he was ok, and did not get a coherant response from him. The medics said they were treating him for dehydration. I kissed his bald head and E and I started running again. We ran upset for a few miles and when we heard the ambulance coming, we knew it was serious. I have to say it was one of the toughest things to do - to leave someone you know out there. (Turns out that D had a serious heart issue and spent the next few days in the hospital - happy to report that he is all well now!)

The positive thing that we saw on the turn around was that J wasn't that far behind us. J was a faster runner than us. She was gaining on us. E and J were very close and for some reason it gave me a peace of mind to let E go. At the next water stop around mile 8, I stopped and walked and told her to keep going. She did and it made me happy. She had her own race to chase and I had mine. About a mile later, when I was walking up a large hill, J passed me and I told her E wasn't that far ahead of me. (Turns out that J caught E and they ran the rest of the race practically together and finished very strong together!)

Around mile 11
 I kept with the 4/1 and walked all the hills and was feeling really good. But something happened at mile 11. It is very hard to put into words. Basically, I looked at my watch and saw that I had like 4 hours left. I started to weep. I was going to be an Ironman today. I WAS GOING TO BE AN IRONMAN TODAY.

I was so excited and at peace. And I did something that I had no plans to do... and thinking back it makes zero sense to me. I walked. Practically the rest of the race. Literally walked 15 miles.

I chatted with every one I passed, everyone that passed me. High-fived all of the kids because I was really missing mine. Thanked ALL of the volunteers. And I smiled. I was smiling from ear to ear. Everyone commented on my smile. I walked when I saw others that I knew. I walked when I got back to town and started my second loop. I walked.

At mile 13, I went into my special needs bag and got the hat my mother had sent me to wear in honor of my brother, Kenny, who had passed away a few minutes after he completed his first HIM. It made me cry again. I did run this part a little. I think having Kenny's hat on, made me feel like he was with me. I knew that Kenny would be proud of me. I also ran a few down hills because well, running down hill is just fun.

Andy, the man who convinced me that I could do it.
Heading back for the second loop was a little jolt to the spirit. I could hear people finishing and I had to go back out. I was doing a lot of walking here. I did see my teammates. It was a nice boost.

I felt fine but something just told me to walk. I walked fast, but rarely ran. Around mile 16, I started to get cold. I saw an older lady handing out some thermal blankets to the people heading back into town. I crossed the street and asked if I could have one. She gladly handed me one. About a mile later, it started to rain and I was so glad to have the warmth of the blanket. If I was running, the rain would have been a nice treat, but since I was walking and the sun was setting, it got cool.

As I was heading back into town, about 3 from the finish line, I saw finishers walking their bikes back. This hurt my morale for a few, but then someone said: Look here comes an Ironman. It made me smile ever bigger. I knew I was going to make it. I knew I would have plenty of time to spare.

Let me just tell you the last mile, the crowds and music was AMAZING. I felt so pumped. With less than a mile left, I started to jog. My body felt good. I wasn't sore or tight. I got to the finishers shoot and was overcome with emotions. I was going to be an IRONMAN.

I was so overcome, I never heard Mike Reilly say: Jen Green You ARE and Ironman. My friends said they heard it. I crossed the finish line and was so elated.

Look at that smile/cry face

Immediately they grab you and ask you your shirt size. I mean like literally. And they hand you a finishers hat while asking if you are ok. Then they usher you over to get your official finishers picture:

Not bad for 15+hours
Even better: the gang was all there to see me finish. Waited for me, the last one, to cross the line. It was humbling for them to do that.

Everyone here but C who wasn't feeling 100% and D who I would find out was at the hospital.

And then, an even more humbling moment was to see my GBA runner friend whose only purpose to be in Lake Placid was to see me finish - to be there so I wouldn't have to be alone at the finish line. I will NEVER forget her selfless act (and the good Doctor's) and I will without a doubt be there for her IM finish.

Ginny = GBA runner and friend

Final stats:

Run: 6:41:42 (not bad for walking 15 miles)

IM Finish Time: 15:42:41

My goal was to finish. I thought for sure I would barely make the 17 hour mark. I am happy with my time. I had zero heart issues the entire race and for that I know I am blessed.

This was an amazing experience. I want to do it again. I WILL do it again. I want to see just how well I can do if I did push it more. The hard part is over, I know I can finish.... now I want to see how fast I can finish, safely.

For those reading who think they could never been an Ironman. Believe me, if you want to, you can. I had only been riding my bike for 2 years. I trained using the Be IronFit book. I started in January and raced in July. If you commit to the workouts, you will finish.

Believe in yourself.

And you can call me Ironmom from here on out! ;-)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ironman Lake Placid - Hold Back

start of bike
For the bike portion of the Ironman, I asked people to pray for me to hold back. Cycing has always been my weakest link, but I had gained noticeable improvements by the end of the training. I was nervous that I may push to hard and then have no legs for the run.

Immediately there were two things that I knew that I needed to do when I started the bike. The first was to drink. I was incredibly thirsty and knew hills where approaching. Second was to eat. Fueling had never been my strong point during training but I knew I needed it. I ate a whole cliff bar before the first hill.

Suddenly, I realized that my bike computer had shut off. I fiddled with it some and gave up. I had no idea my cadence, speed, or distance. I immediately switched my garmin so I could see distance.

I had taken the first several miles too fast (based on time) and finally settled in. I was happily surprised by the camaraderie of my fellow athletes. People talked to me during the entire 112 miles. Encouragement and warnings the whole time. I got tons of comments, all positive about my Tough Chik jersey and spectators cheered for my rainbow colored arm warmers.

bottom of major downhill - view was stunning
My tri-mates had previously ridden the course and warned me about the 3 mile down hill where pros reach 40 mph. The warning was not to get in aero. At first I was very nervous and the hill was littered with tons of bottles, fuel, tubes, and other trash. This was more dangerous than the downhill. Athletes in front of my pointed out the hazards just like you would do on a training ride and I did the same for the riders behind me. After the first mile, I decided it wasn't too bad and went aero. Boy was it FUN!

By the time I got to the bottom, I really had to pee. There was no rest stop in sight. You guessed it, I peed on the bike. First time for everything, right? It wasn't as easy to do as I had thought it would be. Initially starting proved to be difficult, but once the flow began there was no stopping it. Gross part was that it sort of pooled in my shoes. GROSS.

I took water at every stop even if I didn't need it. The volunteers were awesome. They seemed trained to run along to get me the bottle without me slowing down too much. It was fun. As the ride continued, I took bananas and pretzels at some of the stops. On the second loop, my fuel was not sitting well on my tummy and I had hoped the bananas would settled it down.

It was around mile 30 on when my tri-mate passed me on the bike. I had expected him to catch me earlier and was a little happy that it took him that long (swim is his worst leg). Also on an out and back that I saw some of my tri-mates that were ahead of me. It was AWESOME energy to get shout outs. I did not see any of the chicks so I assumed I was in front of them. Finally, I saw one of them and guessed I was about 6 miles in front.

Around mile 45 my left leg was hurting around my timing chip. Like stinging and sharp. I tried to reach down and move my time chip, but nothing was working. I decided to push through it.
Heading back into town, the three bears (three hills that increase in size) definitely hurt. The amazing DCTri Club was there in full blast and it felt great to get shout outs here too. It helped me to pedal hard up the hills (probably too hard). Once back into town, I saw a few more people and heard my name. I LOVED it. And knew that I was half way done on the bike.

My second loop was not filled with as much joy. The thrill of seeing everything for the first time had dissipated and now it was just about getting done. I was super focused. Everything was like a science. When I ate, when I drank, when I pushed it and when I glided. I took the hill downhill the next time in aero. WOW... it was awesome and way fun.

bottom of major downhill  - 2nd loop
I had peed 3 more times by the finish line. By mile 95, I was beat. I wanted to get off of the bike. My left leg near the time chip hurt really bad. My shoes were soaked (with pee), my back was starting to ache and mentally, I was DONE. The three bears were vacant on the second round. Signs littered the sides of the road but no spectators. It was tough mentally. I tried to focus on what I was doing. Just get OFF the bike. This was my mantra.

Heading back into town was all I could do to keep going. I wanted off. I got to the bike dismount and an incredible feeling overwhelmed me. I was DONE with the bike. I never had to ride that THING again. I started to cry, hyperventilate cry - I was so happy to hand my bike over to the volunteer.

(Note: my twin sister later would ask: "Were you crying off the bike? I was watching you on the live feed and saw you.")

Bike Finish time: 7:19:35 (goal: under 8)

I started to jog into transition. I had planned to completely change my clothes and I was happy that I had planned for that considering the fact that I was urine soaked. The volunteers were awesome. I had one dedicated just for me. It did get awkward when I was standing there full monty and she wanted to help me get my run skirt on, but I declined that help. Before putting on my compression socks, I examined my leg where the pain was... and nothing. No cut, no blood, but it hurt. I took my timing chip off and put it on top of my compression sock hoping it would help. As I was lacing my shoes, a tri-mate entered and since she was not changing, we exited T2 at the same time.

T2 time (due to a complete wardrobe change): 10:30

It felt wonderful to start the run with a friend! Only 26 miles left!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ironman Lake Placid - Just Breathe

Pre-race swim
When asking for prayers for my Ironman, I asked for people to pray for me to: "Just breathe" on the swim. Why? Because I have been notorious for my freakouts. Freakouts that sometimes last for the whole swim and only in open water - race or no race. Even during the swim pre-race, I tended to get really anxious - like my wetsuit was too tight kind of anxious.

Ironman Lake Placid's swim was in Mirror Lake. It was a nice lake, somewhat clear and had a yellow cord connecting the buoys. Andy, who did Placid the year before, gave sound advice: Hang back and try to swim on the yellow cord and you won't need to sight often."

I lined up with several of the MoCo Mafia (my Tri training group) to start the swim. The energy level at the start of an Ironman is unmatched by any race I have ever done. You could see the nervousness in each athlete's eyes. I began to tear up at the National Anthem.

And then: BOOM!!! Cannon went off. The crowd's cheers were loud. I felt ready.

Immediately I lost my tri-mates in the water. At first I felt alarmed and then I settled in. I attempted to swim near the yellow cord, but there were a lot of men flailing. I veered to the left and just kept swimming. Before I knew it, I was at the turn. At this point this at least 6 foot, 250 lb man swam over top of me. It happened so fast that I barely knew what happened. I decided to swim in his wake, but I made the mistake of touching his foot. WHAM! He literally (and purposefully) kicked me in the face, twice. OUCH! I hesitated and stopped to tread. Then I got mad. I sprinted to pass him. And immediately found my own.  I passed people left and right.

I made it back to the dock and headed to shore. The time on the clock said 43:01. I was immediately elated and hoped I could make the second loop as fast.

For the second loop, I made it to the yellow cord and swam the entire leg without sighting. It felt awesome and I felt strong. When I would start to think too much, I closed my eyes and pretended to be in the pool. Good thing I am a straight swimmer.

Before long the yellow cord was fading and I knew that meant I was close to the end. I swam until my hands were touching sand and stood up and immediately started to unzip my wetsuit. Clock read: 1:26 - I had practically even swim splits - Wahoo. (official results: Loop 1: 40:18, Loop 2: 41mins)

I had decided pre-swim that I would not lay down to get stripped at the swim exit due to the sand. I had about a 1/2 mile run to transition and it was chilly. I ran with my wetsuit peeled half way down and got to transition. I had minimal help as it was packed. I did a quick scan and did not see any of my tri-mates that I had started with. Either they were in front of me or I beat them out of the water.

I did panic a little because there were no available volunteers and I really wanted some water. I decided on arm warmers and couldn't get them to pull up on my wet arms. I handed my bag to a volunteer and headed to the exit. I asked the volunteer there if she could help and she happily did. As I was running to the bike, the volunteers called out my bib # and my bike was ready for me at the end of my row.

I was ready for the ride and all I could think was: here we go......

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ironman Lake Placid Day 1

Day 1: July 24th

Thankfully, most of us were able to leave several days before the actual start of the Ironman. I highly recommend this is you can afford the time away from family and work.

We met at a central location and the gang carvanned up to Lake Placid, NY. We knew it was going to be an eight hour drive, so we departed around 8:30. Unfortunately (at the time, more on that later), my ride had a change of plans last minute, so I had to drive alone. At first, I was disappointed in my ride's decision to not leave until late Thursday forcing me to drive and be by myself. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I despise to drive. If I won the lottery, I would hire a driver.

Excited to see the mountains.
Anyway, it ended up being a mixed blessing because I was able to think about my race strategy, listen to my own choice of music and sing out loud. :-) Despite a minor missed exit (20 minute detour), the ride up was uneventful.

The house we rented was awesome. E did all of the leg worth and while it wasn't cheap, if I was to do it again with such a large group of racers/sherpas/children, I would use this house. There were three floors and we fit 7 (4 adults and 3 kids) on the top floor, 9 on the second floor (6 adults and 3 big kids), and 2 adults on the first floor.  With a full kitchen, dining area, hot tub, deck and walking distance to transition, it was perfect.

We unpacked and headed to town for a nice dinner at local joint (slightly expensive) and walked around the town. The vibe of the town was totally Ironman related. I saw a lot of eye candy rolling in for the race ... meaning hot bikes. The nerves turned to excitement. Months of training was coming to an end. The race was upon us.

As the sun was setting, I was excited to be swimming in Mirror Lake tomorrow.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Throw Back Thursday

With the Marine Corps Marathon approaching, I thought I would share my MCM pics from the first time I ran it: October 2010

At the start line. My dear friend, Beth captured this shot.

Around mile 8, feeling happy.
Bob met me at mile 10 and this was around mile 12.
Around mile 20 - hurting!

Race Report (Yes, I was wordy back then):

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mother Runner House Party

I know. It has been a while. And I promise to catch everyone up.

Tonight, I attended the Mother Runner House Party, co-hosted by Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell from Another Mother Runner  and Julie Sapper and Lisa Reichmann at Run Farther and Faster and it inspired me to reconnect with fellow mother runners.

SBS, Lisa, Julie, and Dimity

First I hooked up with Erika from MCM Mama and found out she will be in Richmond too in her quest for 5 half marathons before the end of the year! Woot! Can we say blogger dinner?

The Mother Runner House Party consisted of a lot of mothers. I believe there were 200+ registered. SBS and Dimity reading from their books and even giving us a hint at their third book that in it the works. LOTS and LOTS of giveaways, sadly I did not win anything... but Erika did!

Right before the start of the book reading.

It was nice to meet other mother runners, be recognized from my blog despite my hiatus and see that there is still a rich community of women who are authentic and willing to offer support.

So, with that: I pledge to reconnect and let you all back into my world.

Anyone else attend a Mother Runner House Party out there? Apparently the DC one tonight had the largest turn out thus far! Woot!!

(I know you can see my Ironman pictures above... so yes, that means I finished. Yay, right?! I had delayed posting my race report until I could give Bob, my running partner, the story in person. And while that did happen a few weeks ago, I sadly, did not like the tone of my race recap. It was very negative, because it wasn't all rainbows and sunshine; but I have decided that it wasn't what I wanted you to hear. As I have had time to reflect, I have a different perspective and perhaps it will serve my readers better. I promise, it is coming!)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Managing Progress

I am not sure if it was my recent "success" at my first half IM or whether it was when a friend PMd me to tell me he asked a group member: "Do you know who has really stepped up during training? He said: Jen! And that's correct. You are doing great!"... but I decided to examine my progress so far in IM training. And let me tell you, I was surprised.

1. Every Tuesday, the "group" rides bricks usually in LAV. It is a semi-hilly stretch with one of my highly hated hills, Griffith. Our brick is only 45 minutes and last night we had to add extra to our ride. Why? Because apparently, I have gotten faster. How fast? Well, I examined my data. In March, it took me 47 minutes to do that stretch. Last night, 33 minutes. What? No, I'm serious. Some of it has to do with my confidence on the bike. I still feel like it is my worst leg of the Tri, but I am coming along. Here is another example. First time, my average was 13 mph, last night it was 17.4 mph! Woot!!

2. Also, on Tuesdays, part of our brick is a run. In February, my 15 min run netted just over 1 mile... average was 1.2. Last night, we ran 1.67 in the same 15 mins. Again... that is a nice increase. Another significance is that I am riding faster (harder) and still able to run faster after! Woot!

3. During the Build Phase of my IM training plan, we swam 3000m. Once every 2 weeks, we had a straight 3000m swim without stopping. It became a great tool for examining my progress. The very first time I swam 3000m in 1:10. The last time: 1:02. That is an 8 minute decrease with the same effort level meaning I wasn't trying to beat my time. I simply swam and timed it.

The Peak Phase of my training began this week. As I told my husband: 9 weeks of hell before the big day. Swims increased to 3500m, long rides will get to 5 1/2 hrs and long runs to 3hrs. It is really going to wreck havoc on my family - basically mommy is busy during the weekend.... so I am making every second I spend with them count.

And I hope, when I am down about my training, when I have a workout that just plain stinks... I will look back at my progress and smile. Training for an IM isn't easy. The willingness to put in the required training and to be proud of my progress thus far will carry me to the start line.

How do YOU examine your progress?