Monday, May 25, 2015

IMTX Take 2

I haven't wrote a blog entry or an in-depth race report since my first 140.6 in September 2012. I can't believe I didn't write one after IMWI in September 2014 because it was my best 140.6 race execution to-date, and still is, but after yesterday's second stab at Ironman Texas, I wanted to jot down some things to make sure I learn from as I'm addicted to this sport and there will be many more to come, so I might as well fine tune what I'm working with. Plus, I know it will make my coach happy. It's the least I can do because I'm pretty sure he's the only coach who would continue to keep coaching and reiterating things to me when I want to do things my way.

I'm pretty sure I got one of the last 10 race entries, as I was bib #3089. Thanks to Michelle LeBlanc with OutRival/QT2 for that! Steve was concerned I wasn't actually registered because my name wasn't on the release of race numbers posted in early April, but I was relieved when my name was on the All-World Athlete roster of athletes racing, though I didn't have "AWA" on my bib or get one of those fancy swim caps, but it did come in handy cutting the packet pickup line and getting in to the athlete dinner early. I think it was dumb that some people wore the AWA black swim caps for the race. Why on earth would you wear a black swim cap in poop brown water?!? I enjoyed passing a handful of them with my "speedy" swim (I consider myself a slow swimmer...maybe because I have a lot fast swimmer friends. No, I am slow, but have made some significant improvements over the years in this sport mostly due to working with Coach Greg with COOG's Masters.) Thanks Coach! I do need to spend more time in the pool though.

Coming off a great race in Wisconsin, I couldn't wait to do another Ironman, and contemplated going to do Coeur d'Alene with my friend Genevieve who coaches CrossFit with me and is doing her first IM this June, but financially, racing local is smarter (especially now that we have a wedding to pay for!!! :) :) :)) I'm super excited for her though. She's going to rock it!

video

Once I had secured my spot, finding the time to get the training in that I did for WI, was impossible with my new job that I love, so I just had to figure out ways to make it work. Everyone can come up with excuses as to why they don't have time to train, it's just about prioritizing and finding balance in life. Something always suffers, but you have to make sure whatever is suffering is only temporary and that you mend it when not in heavy training. One of the training sessions I look forward to every week is my long bike ride. I really enjoy long training rides and meeting new training buddies who enjoy this crazy hobby as well. I've met some really awesome people on long rides and am pretty good about making sure I don't miss those unless I'm traveling. My social life has become less and less about the next party or trip and more about the next race, and I'm totally okay with that. When I find the right balance and discipline, watch out world because my passion for triathlon and this distance is pretty out of this world, and I've been able to execute some decent races off of "somewhat following the plan."

With this being my 4th Ironman (140.6), 14th marathon, and I don't even know what # endurance event, I feel like I've got my nutrition pre and during down pretty good because I really haven't had any nutrition, gut, or bonking issues, just my lack of preparation/not dedicating enough training time to get the results I want. What I've struggled with is getting in enough fluids and calories post event. I always end up with headache though in WI I downed two chocolate milks in the finisher tent that resulted in post race stomach issues. My coach came into town recently for Galveston 70.3 with his awesome wife, the new North American Ironman Champion, Angela Naeth Duncan and they both witnessed this post-race hangover I tend to get, so I decided to listen to him and make some nutrition adjustments not just post-race for IMTX, but leading up to and some minor during adjustments. I had actually been having some stomach issues leading up to the race, but I didn't think anything of it, just thought it was stress.

I think the tweaks I made were all for the better, except for the fact that I couldn't go #2 before the race, which if you are about to do an 11+ hour event is kind of a necessity, so I decided to light jog from transition to the swim start (I believe it was just over a mile), but I got to North Shore Park, waited in the line for the real bathroom (which was shorter than the port-o-pots) and still couldn't go. (Apologies if  this is too much information, but if you know me, I have no shame, and this is normal triathlete talk.) I even sat there and had my non-caffeinated red apple GU to see if that would help LOL (not sure my thought process there...) I struggled to find Steve, Muffy, and Rob who had my swim gear for a little bit, but knew if I could stand high enough, I would spot Steve and sure enough, I stood on a boat trailer and found him. Muffy said to me, "If you can't go, it's not going to happen..." and then there was something mentioned about not giving myself a hemorrhoid before a 112 mile bike LOL. I love my friends. I got my new Roka swim skin on that I had swam in open water in twice before race day and love, Steve's TYR goggles  that I had NEVER swam in, and my swim cap and headed to find a spot to seat myself in the rolling start. The reasoning behind the last minute goggle change was because I had been having some serious fogging issues with mine and my swim coach taught me a trick of putting baby shampoo in them at practice earlier in the week and it worked, but then I was worried about it irritating my contacts. I was very pleased with his goggles and will be claiming them or buying my own pair.


Tyr Special Ops 2.0 Polarized Small Swim Goggles product imageI ended up finding my original triathlon coach's wife and Powerhouse Racing friends on the way. They confirmed my thoughts of seating myself faster than my predicted swim time, so I placed myself at the back of the 1:10-1:20 group to avoid the masses of the 1:20-1:?? chaos. I was pleased with my decision. I actually found a good current to draft for a good majority of the first straight, but then lost it at the first turn. The second long straight back towards the canal was pretty lonely. I was a little scared I was off course (I have been known to do that), but I checked a couple times, and I was right on track. It was just a really wide space. There was a decent amount of people who stayed left, but I knew a right turn was coming up, so I wasn't going to add unneeded distance just to attempt to catch a draft. I just enjoyed the calm (and probably lost some time there, but I remember Paul telling me to not stress about a few minutes on the swim and to save my energy for the rest of the day.) It did feel like eternity getting to the canal and I blame that I my lack of executing my 4000+ swims in training that I was good about doing leading up to WI. Once I got to the canal, I started passing quite a few people actually. I had a second little cough attack too, from the mucus that built up from the "pristine" water we were swimming in *says sarcastically.* I sometimes take an allergy pill before the race, but it totally slipped my mind race morning. I should probably mention I was not super focused going in to this race as I have been in the past making wedding dress shopping appointments the day before at 3 and 4pm because my mother and good friend Muffy were in-town. I don't regret that decision at all though. I think we all had fun and it was a good little distraction from pre-race stress/nerves, though I don't think I get nervous for these anymore. Plus, I felt really fabulous and made some progress on saying YES TO THE DRESS! Okay, back to the swim...I love how people are so close going through the canal because it makes me want to swim faster and look like a swimmer, haha. It's kind of a neat part of the swim and makes you forget that you can't see your hand as soon as it hits the water. Knowing the course well is definitely nice. As I approached where my JSC/SBS team tent and cheerleaders were, I through up a deuce (peace sign) and swam on in to the stairs. I wasn't nearly as stoked about my swim as I was with my 1:18 in WI, but it's still an improvement from my last swim skin swim on the same course, still respectable and not too far off my goal pace, especially after you calculate the time in the water after crossing the mats before I was able to start swimming, dodging through people at the exit, and swimming 2.5 (probably distance from water to timing mats at the exit, but I did do at least one "V" out and back on course you can see on my swim map). I told my swim coach on Tuesday my goal was 2:00/100 pace, and that's basically what I executed probably swimming closer to 1:50 the first 1000 meters before the first turn.

IMTX Swim 2013: 1:45:45

I felt like I was playing Frogger going through where all the T1 bags were, but I knew right where mine was and I made it stand out as it was double-bagged (in case it rained, which it did the night before and quite a bit leading up to the race) and the colored strings were hanging out the top. I ran from the VERY LAST ROW of bike racks, with my bike over my shoulder, carrying my shoes to avoid mud caking up from the mud pit that was transition due to all the recent rain. A volunteer held my bike as I stepped in a kiddie pool to get the mud off. I got out of there as quick as I could and just threw my shoes on and waited to tighten them until I was on the bike. My cycling shoes tightness is something I've struggled with for years (see last blog post).

I saw Steve on the first stretch and gave him a wave and then a little farther down, I saw my mom. My fans are the best!

Headed out of T1 and off to ride 112 miles!
I started drinking the Gatorade w/Salt Stick right away. I ate what I thought was the equivalent to one PowerBar in my bag of PowerBar pieces as well within the first few miles. I decided to refrain from having extra liquids on my bike this time to keep the weight of my bike down, so I did do a somewhat concentrated EFS/CarboPro bottle to sip on and rely on the on-course hydration since Ironman now has Gatorade vs Perform at the aid stations. However, my first aid station Gatorade grab was a fail when a young girl volunteer literally threw a bottle at me and I missed it losing my balance a bit. Go figure, the first time I actually attempt to grab something from the first aid station on the bike 10 miles in, it's a big swing and a miss. I did hear someone instruct her not to do that though, just sucks I had to be the lesson.

I felt really good out there, probably almost too good. I have rode this part of the course probably more times than I can count on my fingers and toes over the last 2.5 years, so it was nice knowing what was around the next corner and how to approach certain intersections and hills. I did a lot of passing per usual given my less than stellar swim performances, but was actually quite surprised to pass two friends pretty early on who I would have put money on would have had better bike splits than me and I think another who had to have been stopped at an aid station somewhere along the way because I'm pretty good at spotting people I know and giving them some encouragement out there. Watching the Strava Flyby, I also discovered that a friend we made at Ironman Cozumel also flew by me (he's a freak on the bike...went 5:02). I had a very good rhythm going and was grabbing Gatorade at the aid stations, but didn't start grabbing water until a little later when I had realized I hadn't peed yet more than halfway through the bike. I didn't notice a tailwind, if we had one, but it's a good possibility we did given the headwind we had on the way back South. The couple mile stretch through the National Forest is my favorite part of the course, and it was funny to me that people were slowing down in there. I wouldn't say that I took it hard, I just kept my heart rate right around 150 like I had been doing thus far. I knew that part of the course was closed to vehicles and that there wouldn't be cars coming at us like there sometimes is in training rides out there, and knew what to expect on the turns. I will say that both times we crossed 105 with traffic stopped was pretty awesome too. Take that huge truck jerks of Montgomery! I only threw the bird at one truck on the course because he was honking at the non-moving traffic that was stopped because of the race. I'm pretty sure if you paid any attention to what was going on in your neighborhood, you would know what roads to avoid on race day. Some people just think they are God's gift to earth. Let us own the roads one day a year as we bring in a nice little paycheck for your town. I didn't think about it when I crossed the tracks, but I'm glad I didn't get stopped by the train. Maybe they actually coordinated that properly this year. I did glance over at the gas station we always stop at on training rides and give a little sigh of, "ugh, I usually get to rest here..." I didn't make any stops though. There was no need though it was almost as if they replaced an aid station with bike special needs because I did start to get dangerously low on fluids out there on that stretch. I was going to make an attempt at stopping to down my RedBull in my special needs bag, but the volunteers weren't by the high numbers where mine was, so I just keep on trucking and decided not to mess with it.

I started to regret that decision as we had been fighting the 25-30 mph gusts from what I'm seeing people post. It definitely was rough, but I've been in worse before. Right around the halfway point I ate more of my PowerBar bag and got a good little refuel on the tank. I think it was right about mile 65 on the bike when I started to have a revisit from my bunion pain on the outsides of my feet. I popped 400 mg of Ibuprofen and tightened my shoes a bit. I also think this is when I ate my Cherry Cola Stinger chews and I started to use my Cherry Limeade Nuun's somewhere in here and grab more water at the aid stations to actually drink and not just use to cool/clean myself off. At about mile 80 I wanted to cry my bunions hurt so bad. I'm fairly confident I was cursing up a storm too. I was trying to do everything I could to get my mind of the pain and was praying they wouldn't hurt for the marathon. I kept reminding myself that "I get to run a marathon when I get off this bike." You have to keep it positive out there. I even started to think about all the work I have to do for my real job a few times and immediately shut it out because there is no sense in getting worked up out there about something out of your control at that moment. No need to raise the heart rate for the wrong reasons, though my heart rate did drop in the headwind. I totally wasn't putting out the same power anymore once my bunions started to hurt though I did get a second wind when it looked like many were starting to really suffer out there and got my heart rate back up a little bit as coach always wants me to build my heart rate throughout the course, but I just couldn't get it back up in the 150's. It was tough though as much of this part was real narrow with the traffic on our left at a standstill. (Also where I threw out that bird.)

Once we made that last left turn towards The Woodlands, I started to down all my remaining fluids and took some more bites of PowerBar. Keep in mind I still hadn't gone #2 yet all day it was approaching 2 o'clock in the afternoon. This was rather worrisome for me as I was preparing mentally to go out and try to throw down a decent marathon given my current bowl situation and everything I had put into my stomach all day so far, though my stomach has been good to me with all the mixed sugars in the past. I had a few people I needed to hunt down that I had to make sure I beat off the bike and tried to judge their running abilities to see if I'd see them again soon or not and one of the gals in her 40's certainly ended up flying by me on the run. We were like twinsies with our matching neon pink Rudy aero helmets, pink Fizik bar tape, 40ish mm front with a disc back, and she was even wearing a SOAS tri kit too! I'm a calf hunting AGer (meaning I check out everyone's age on their calf as I pass them or the rarity am passed on the bike.) Maybe one day I'll know my competition like our friend Larry who is a total bad@$$ in the 55-59 AG who races his competition year after year fighting for the coveted Kona slots at races around the world. I ran a few miles of the run with him and his competition who they both apparently knew each other and ran like 20 miles of the marathon together not letting either take the lead as I tried to interview "the competition" to find out his story haha, but those old dudes ended up dropping me like a bad habit. So inspiring. I love athletes that still legitimately compete in their 50's and 60's. 70s and up is more of a survival, but they are definitely still out there fighting too. There was actually an 85 year old nun out there in the mix with all of us. I dare you to watch this clip and not start to tear up as she says, "God, let me do my best, and you do the rest." Unfortunately, it sounds like she got pulled from the water an hour in. I did notice that none of the athletes over 75 finished, but there were definitely a few that started the race. Very commendable.


I wish someone had my graceful dismount on video because it was pretty. I mean I think I even pointed my toes on the leg I swung over. It's the little things that keep me going...Oh, and I didn't win any QOM's (Queen of the Mountain), but I did however have a segment faster that the North American Champion and I'm going to document it because I'm pretty sure she took home over a dozen of the segments on the course. My girl Morgan kept one of her QOM's though and is signed up for IMTX 2016 to try to earn some more! All in good fun. :)

Notice who's tied for 4th and who's tied for 8th...

IMTX Bike 2013: 6:06:25

Marathon time has always been the highlight of my IM races, but I knew I hadn't gotten in the run volume that I did for previous races and have been kind of in a running low for a bit, so I knew it would be pure luck if I was able to pull off a 4 hour marathon (which I really have had some darn good race luck in the past all things considering, so you never know.) I did the calculations though and new my only shot at beating Steve's 11:31, was to run a 4 hour or faster marathon at that point. I kept my thoughts positive and just got pumped to get out there in the madness with all my crazy friends cheering along the course. 


Moxie Racing out of Austin's cheer section right out of T2.
The best idea I had a few weeks out before the race was to put a toothbrush and toothpaste in my T2 bag to feel fresh for the run because EFS always sticks to my teeth and makes them feel grimy and nasty. I'm pretty sure my volunteer in transition thought I was off my rocker, but I quick put some toothpaste on it and ran out to the sunscreen folks (totally delegating like three volunteers to different body parts to get; I wore my cycling jersey for the bike to avoid the tri top red wings on my back because it never fails that the volunteers don't get down in there enough resulting in weird tan lines). I continued to brush my teeth until right under the bridge where the nicely tanned Moxie chiseled men and women were. Judge me for judging, but I came from the world of dance where your body is judged, so I will judge. I'm also pretty hard on myself, but it's good for you. I'm not going to mention any names, but if you're going to put your $h!t on blast, get it right, get it tight. Nuf said. As I approached the first aid station some dude volunteer must have saw the toothpaste around my mouth, lol so he threw water at my face. That was the second volunteer to throw fluids at me of the day. I grabbed another cup to rinse and spit and Gatorade and then ice too, to start cooling down my core, though I did a heart rate check and I was right where I needed to be in the lower 150's. The goal was to progressively get that higher, but that didn't exactly pan out. I averaged 146 for the marathon. In looking at my data, you can see where my first pot stop was right about the halfway point. It was actually a construction pot too, not an official race one because it was the first one I saw when I needed one. I was finally relieved, just a little mad that couldn't have happened at 6AM, but I had a weird feeling my stomach wasn't quite right. It actually hadn't been quite right all week. I really think stress may have been a big part of it, but I really can't avoid stress in what I do and I usually just cope. I felt better though as I was approaching Catapult Corner soon (where my crazy teammates were acting like they were on Spring Break). Steve was the best though, he would meet me about .25 mile before our team's tents and run me through the tent making sure I didn't throw any bows. I bet my heart rate totally dipped up as I went through there though I loved seeing my training buddies as I ran through.

Notice my bodyguard to the left and my initial reaction to that disgusting red thing he was keeping from getting near me. #bestfianceever
I tried to give my mom a heads up as to how ridiculous some of my teammates were by comparing it to our family's annual 4th of July celebrations, but I guess that didn't do any justice. She's a wanderer anyways, so I saw her all over the course cheering me on. It was kind of nice to have spectators spread out across the course. Actually the fact that I knew someone like every half mile along the run loop prevented me from walking even once like I had 2 years prior aka the "hot year." I really enjoyed running parts of the marathon with many of my friends who were out there racing too. If I saw anyone I knew walking, even teammates of my coach on Team EveryManJack who I didn't know, I did my best to get them moving again.

I believe this was my 2nd lap through Catapult Corner. I love Muffy's enthusiasm behind me!
One of my highlights on the run course was when I saw a leader bike riding right alongside me. I thought, hmm..."that has to be for one of the lead female pros." I tried to make out what it said, reading it backwards and made out a "1" and "female." Right about when I figured out what it said, I saw a friend who was volunteering at an aid station and who said, "that bike's for you!" I was hoping it was for Angela, my coach's wife, and within a minute, I saw her creeping up on my right. Of course I cheered for her! It was quite a while before Leanda Cave, in 2nd came strolling by. I knew they were on their last lap as I was finishing up my 1st, which was similar two years prior, however the lead female passed me a few miles later in 2013, so that gave me a little confidence boost. I got excited for Angela because I knew she had it at that point though Leanda did gain on her, as I saw them on one of the out and backs right before the finisher chute, but looks like Angela had realized she had it too, and relaxed a little that last mile.

I survived the run with a faster marathon than two years prior, even with three potty breaks. I really can't complain though. There was excellent support out there which made it fun as always. I did chase down a girl from the CobbMobb in the last 2 miles who was in my AG that I had been tailing the whole marathon. It was rather strange, I got this burst of adrenaline in my last few miles that allowed me to pick up my pace. I had been running a little with a friend who was walking the aid stations prior to that and in my mind, I wasn't going to let someone who had been walking beat me when I hadn't walked once the whole run besides going in and out of the port-o-pots. So much of IM racing is mental, and my mind has weird thoughts, but mainly thoughts of how to push through pain and get the best result possible given the current conditions. As I was approaching the last 5 miles of the marathon I really started to think my stomach wasn't going to hold up and thankfully ran into my mom. I asked her to call Steve and to tell him to have my recovery drink (chocolate protein UCan, banana, and almond coconut milk blended together and on ice all day) ready for me before I approached Catapult Corner the last time. That could have had something to do with my last little burst before the finish. I was then able to decide that I of course needed to finish with my signature cartwheel across the finish line though I wanted to make sure there weren't others crossing at the same time, so positioned myself appropriately and enjoyed a red carpet all to myself.  



IMTX Run 2013: 4:51:55


video



Once again, all things considering, I pulled it off. It was by no means a podium performance, but I'll take top 20 out of 85 who started the race in my AG that day having a blast doing what I love with all my triathlon friends out there enjoying the day as well, and even having my mom out there walking all over The Woodlands (I guess she walked over 11 miles along the course). 

Redman Triathlon (1st 140.6): 12:27:46, 1st OA/42 females
IMTX 2013: 12:54:06, 16th AG/61 starters
IMWI 2014: 11:43:07, 11th AG/110 starters
IMTX 2015: 12:11:49, 18th AG/85 starters


I of course want to register for another as I am slightly addicted to this sport, but I think I may sit out doing another full until after the wedding, but we shall see! I do know, I'm not registering for another until I've put some serious run and swim work in to really see more gains in my next full performance. For the time being, I'm going to get back to my CrossFit I've missed to get some strength back, and run and swim as much as I can, but of course won't be able to go much longer without biking. I can't believe I haven't touched my bike in over a week!

I will say that I am more sore today (finally wrapping up my thoughts a week after the race) from Memorial Day Murph: 1 mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, 1 mile run wearing a 14lb weight vest than I was after my Ironman, so there is something to be said about training for your sport and I think I do that well for triathlon and will continue to add in the CrossFit I have fun with to stay physically and mentally strong. 

Thanks to all for the support pre and post race. I look forward to the road ahead! 


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