Ironman Arizona Race Report, Part 2

Okay….so I left off at the end of the bike leg in my last post.  One thing I didn’t mention was that at the end of the bike I had noticed a nagging stomach cramp. In the aero bars it just hurt, but if I sat up to stretch it out it wasn’t going away either. It was really uncomfortable and when I handed my bike off to a volunteer in T2, I literally had to walk to get my bag for the run. When I heard Claire and Mike yelling for me I managed a jog, but I was not sure how things were going to go from here. The volunteers in the changing tent were great and got me suited up for the run. I opted to do a full change here into my Oiselle stride shorts and singlet….comfort on the run was a big factor to me as I was trying to do everything I could to change even the smallest things that bothered me in Louisville.  As I headed out to the run I could still feel the stomach cramp, but I could tell that step by step it wasn’t necessarily getting much better, but it was bearable. And that’s all I was asking for.

Now I’ll insert a bit of background here. Since February I have had numbers written on my bathroom mirror. These were 1:10/5:40/3:50….all told with transitions those would give me around a 10:45 race. I had done my share of research and I knew that going into either of my Ironmans this year, a 10:45 would offer me a fair shot at a Kona spot. I also felt that these time goals were achievable, and at the same time if I was capable of racing a 10:45 by the end of the year and that didn’t yield a Kona spot, I would still be proud of getting to that point.

Back to the race. As I headed out for the run, I had no clue where I stood. Between getting the flat and not being able to pay attention to who was flying by, as well as getting confused with the loop course as to who was passing who, I could have been first or last and been none the wiser. But I did know that in Louisville I had similar splits and was 3rd coming off the bike, so I held onto that for dear life and hoped it was close. I also knew that if I wanted to get that 10:45 I still had a chance – I just had to find a way to do it on the run.

It turns out, I was in 6th at this point. As the first mile mark passed I took a split and had to do a double take – 7:53! Whoa. Keep it easy, relax, breathe. Mile 2 – 9:20. Ha! After these first couple splits I realized I had to stop taking them or I’d drive myself crazy. My legs felt good and the bottom line was that I was RUNNING! Around the 5k mark I ran into the amazing support team we had out there – Claire, Mike and Ryan’s parents – who looked as relieved as I felt that I was moving. As I made my way to the other end of the run course I found Hillary – another person happy to see me running 🙂 She gave me my first update on the field in front of me and assured me that I needed to do nothing other than keep going at the pace I was running.

As anyone knows, a marathon is full of ups and downs. For the first time though I felt in control. Each time something came up and my confidence began to waiver and my legs began to slow, I kept my head. What was the problem? How could this be fixed? The first couple times I had issues the solution was simple: a trip to the porta potty! I have a strict no pooping-your-pants-before-mile-23 rule so I was okay with a brief stop at mile 6 and again at mile 17ish. The first half marathon felt surprisingly good but when I hit mile 13 my body let me know that I was going to have to work for this. Right after I started to slow I ran into Hillary again who’s advice hit the spot – keep pushing the calories, everyone is going through the highs and lows, just push through it. Again reassured, I kept my eye on the prize and just kept moving.

The run course is very contained and was getting fairly crowded so I kept my sights on everyone ahead and kept picking people off. It felt good to finally have a race where I was doing the passing. In fact, for the first time ever in a marathon – open or triathlon – I was running through the water stops and running up the hills.  Finally I was entering the third and final loop. My mental state must have been a little loopy though because I remember that when Claire and Mike yelled to me “Third! You’re in third!” I thought they were implying I was supposed to be finishing my third lap or something and tried to yell back at them that no I still had another loop to run! As I kept going and thought about it more though, what they had said finally registered. I was in third place. That’s not a garunteed Kona spot. That’s just *almost* a Kona spot. I didn’t feel comfortable enough at this point with how I was feeling to ignite any sort of back burner so I had no choice but to keep plugging along and try to hold pace. At the 10k-to-go-mark Claire and Mike were waiting again. I had actually lost 30 seconds on the girl in second (probably due to my bathroom break).

It was here that I figured I may as well give it a shot and begin to pick it up. Let’s see what I have in me. So I just ran. Around 22 miles in I saw Hillary and she just looked at me and yelled “GO. GO NOW. LEAVE IT ALL ON THE COURSE.” Those words struck a chord yet again. She was right – I needed to leave it all out there or I would always wonder if I held back and it cost me a trip to Hawaii. So I found another gear. The funny thing about the Ironman is that you can be running 8’s and feel like you are absolutely flying because the general pace of the crowd slows considerably after the 10 hour mark. Mile 23. A downhill. Mike and Claire were there again. I see Mike look at me, look at his watch, and look at the paper he was using to keep track of splits for the girls ahead of me. He couldn’t even contain his own surprise that the gap to 2nd place was now down to 3:30. I was gaining ground pretty rapidly, but did I have enough miles ahead to get it?

I threw my gel flask away as I passed the next water stop, grabbed one more cup, and then began one of the most nerveracking 3 miles I would ever race. I felt like a crazy woman as I made each turn, making my way down to the final stretch along the lake. By now the sun was set and through the darkness, around mile 25. 5 I heard familiar yelling.  Claire and Mike were there, yet again, and they were no longer making much sense. Just a lot of words, plus my name, plus “30 seconds.”  Finally what they were saying came clear – I had made up 3 minutes. The look of panic and excitement that the gap was now under a minute was clear. I only remember one thought from this point: Oh Shit.

Over a million thoughts began racing through my head at this point. What do I do? Which girl is it? Can I see her? Do I sit and wait to make the pass? Do I have the energy to go any faster? What do I do???? Somehow, I managed to compose myself and push everything else out. I found the ability to just run. As fast as I possibly could. Within a quarter mile I made the pass and I felt like I was running for my life as I made that final turn into the finishing chute, practically throwing myself at the finishing mat.

10:45:51. Second place. A 50 minute PR. A Kona spot. A dream come true.

The volunteers helped me over to where Hillary was waiting and I could barely believe it myself as I told her how the final mile unfolded. They moved me over to the med tent to make sure I was okay – more than anything I think I just wanted out of the craziness of the finish area and the med tent was quieter.

After having a couple days to reflect I am still reliving the highs and lows of the race. Most surprising to me is still my 3:47 run split – the fastest of the age group! After having run splits of 4:06/4:18/5:12 from my last Ironmans, a 3:47 is still unbelievable to me. There are so many people that I have to thank and who deserve recognition for helping me make this race happen, so please look out for that post as well as my other post-race reflections in the next few days!

Hopped off the plane at PHX

Since arriving in Phoenix last night a general scan of Tempe shows a rapid increase in the sighting of compression socks, lock-laces, and IMAZ cycling kits (for this current year’s race!) so you know the race is getting closer. Yesterday I knocked out a swim and bike before travelling the rest of the day. We arrived here in Tempe at 6ish and had time for a quick shakeout run and dinner (Z-Tejas – definitely recommend it!) before feeling the effects of the time difference. That meant bedtime was an early 8:30 and I slept full through until 7ish the next day. Gotta love how dark hotel curtains keep the rooms 🙂

Today is a rest day so after a good breakfast and couple loops at the expo I have been staying off my feet. We did get lunch at Chronic Taco though which was clutch. AND I got to steal some of Hillary’s time as we met at Starbucks for a pre-race catch-up/pump up! The weather out here is wonderful and I really am looking forward to a solid race on Sunday…I will update more tomorrow with tracking info and my final race thoughts!

New York City?

(That’s supposed to be said like in those old Pace Picante salsa commercials)

After last weekend’s whirlwind 5K adventure we made one more stop before heading into NYC. We met up with Brian Shea of Personal Best Nutrition. Brian has been a friend of Ryan’s for quite some time now. Ryan and I will both be using some First Endurance products at IMAZ and Brian has been a great contact and a wealth of information about nutrition in general as we made our race plan. I definitely recommend him as a contact for any nutrition needs you have!

We hit the road and got to NYC just in time to throw our bikes in my sister’s apartment and head out to dinner.  By the end of dinner Ryan and I were already falling asleep so we kept things quiet and got to bed at a reasonable hour. Despite getting an extra hour to sleep it was still tough for me to get up the next morning for my long run. The plan was to try to get it out of the way before the marathon even started (with a 10 am start time that’s actually possible). It was my lucky day as Ryan was running with me for the first 80 minutes or so; he helped me keep the pace honest, and once again I found myself surprised with the pace I was able to keep over that time. After his run was done I had a little bit more to add on before we headed out to the marathon course.

We made it out to mile 17.5 just as the elite men were passing by and staked out a good cheering spot. Lucky for us our friends are fast and so we knew we’d never have to be in one spot for too long. This was especially lucky because it was a chilly day in the shade of the buildings. While we waited here we met up with Erin and Meg, some more of the greatest support team ever for a marathon!! Seriously – we had 10 people racing, and over 10 people out there supporting.

Me, Erin and Meg

After all our runners passed us here – and they looked great – we headed over to Central Park to catch them in the final miles.  For us, this meant another mile or so of a run to make sure we got there with time to spare. It’s always inspiring to watch others at mile 24 of a marathon, so I really liked being at this spot. Soon enough though our runners were through again so we headed on to the finish. Of course though, not before I got a hot dog. And maybe nachos.

All our runners finished the race in under 3:25 – INSANE! Carly NAILED it and got herself an 8 minute PR – only positive splitting the race by 12 seconds. Does it get any better than that?? I don’t think so!!!

I really wish I knew what Melissa was looking at in this picture. Oh well.

After the race it was back into the car and back to Baltimore! Congrats to everyone who ran NYC on a great day!

Video: Trainer Tips

 

If anyone out there works for a public television broadcast and wants to offer us our own segment…we accept.

 

Oops….I PR’ed.

This past weekend was a fun last build to IMAZ for a couple reasons. First and foremost, Team That’s What She Said had 10 people running the NYC Marathon weekend. My roommate, Carly, was one of them so there was no way I was going to miss this event. Seeing as my older sister lives in NYC, it would be the perfect chance to also pay her a visit!

But before getting to NY , Ryan and I made a quick overnight stop in NJ. This allowed us to have somewhere that was not Central Park for our Saturday long ride (I did that once this year and once was enough!), and Ryan also wanted to make it to a cross country race being held in Holmdel Park – the site where he ran for a good bit of his youth. I was on the fence about running this myself. A 5k? Cross country? Yikes. Both immediately strike fear in me. And I was clearly out of my element as the rest of the runners showed up on Saturday with spikes and flats and the college girl uniforms complete with ribbons in their hair! Oh, to be young again…haha.

In the end, I did end up running, and was I happy I did! I had heard Ryan and others discussing how tough this course was – and after seeing the first mile in the warm up I knew they weren’t kidding. My first priority was to try to run a smart race and remain in control. This was just a freebie workout on the day – I still had my “real” workout ahead. I was a little more at ease though with the cross country culture than I am with a road race. $5 for a no-frills event and looking ahead to some trails to run on makes my heart happy. We lined up behind a white chalk line in a field and started the race. I hit the first mile in 7:10 and it felt okay despite having been entirely uphill. I knew there was one more big hill of note so I settled in with 2 other girls as we swung around “the bowl.”

“Settled in with 2 other girls” —-what?! I know, this seems crazy. I have to say, that after the past few weeks where I have put myself into situations running with faster people, I am finally starting to “get it.” My mind is slowly starting to understand pacing, and running fast, and the benefits of running with a little group while racing.

That being said, the real reason I did this was because CC girls are crazy! They make ultrarunners look like saints! Every time I tried to pass someone (on the left, as it should be) elbows were flying and ponytails were in my face! I was getting boxed out like….something that gets boxed out. Sheesh. So, before I got myself any more worked up and started hurdling these girls (I was probably like 2 feet taller than most girls there….it was weird) I just settled in. They were, after all, at the end of a CC season in college and were probably more aware of what they were doing and *how* to race a 5K.

This turned out to be true. After hitting the second mile with a 6:50 split and I still felt good, I let myself push the last mile in. I crossed the line in 21:00, a 57 second PR for the 5k! Granted, I have only raced a handful of 5k’s before (previous PR was set in August of last year), but I’ll take it. It almost makes me want to find a road 5K next month to see what I could do there. Note: almost.

BUT the real neat part of all of this  is that I am in no way shape or form training for a 5k. To see that much improvement without meaning too is really neat. It felt good to accidentally stumble into something like that. What did not feel so good was then having to finish the weekend workouts on tired legs 🙂

After wrapping up the workouts for the day we headed into NYC to meet my sister and her husband for dinner. Sunday was going to be another long day – but it had more great results! More on that later!

This little piggy stayed home

I need to have a few words with whoever scheduled Halloween this year. October 31st? Seriously? Don’t you know that’s like peak training time before IMAZ? Jeez. What was wrong with October 3rd? 10th? Or better yet, perhaps mid-February so all the Valentine’s Day naysayers can avoid annoying  holiday lamenting and occupy themselves. Ha – #occupythis should be a movement.

But, I digress.

I did not make it out for Halloween this year, despite the fact that Baltimore is very fun on this night. I even had a costume in mind! Why didn’t I go out? Well, since you asked, I was feeling like my bicycle on Halloween. You know – two-tired?

Haha. Man, I’m pretty funny today.  (Okay, I admit it, pretty much all my jokes are shamelessly stolen from someone/something.)

But yeah, this little shorty was tired and in bed by 9:30 on Halloween. It’s “about that time” in the training cycle. That means the following things are deemed big: workouts, hunger, tiredness. The following are small: spare time, daylight, and my patience. You can see from my extensive vocabulary choices here my energy management skills are in full effect and I have no extra energy to fancy up this post!

But the good news in all of this is I feel good and my workouts are strong! I can sense the taper is near…..

Time

On a day when Kim Kardashian’s marriage is ending after a mere 72 days, I began thinking about time today. Psyche, I was planning this post before I even found out about that, but now it seems especially fitting.

My life revolves around time. 45 hours of work a week. Thirty-five minutes commuting each way – 40 if I’m going to/from the pool.  Ten minutes of walking back and forth from my car to my house with my groceries since I got home after 5:30 and had to park far away. Then I get to fit in my workouts – this is where it gets especially interesting. Some days I end up with barely a minute to sit and decompress before I am in my bed drifting off to sleep. And by drifting off, I mean I’m usually asleep before my head hits the pillow.

Somewhere along the line I developed a fairly unique way to rationalize the time of my training – TV shows. I don’t know when I began doing it, or what prompted it, but at some point I began to measure my workouts in the unit of “episodes of Friends.” I figure at this point it was probably 2002 and Joey was dating Rachel for a bit before Rachel had a baby, so really those were the highlights of my days.

Apparently, not much else has changed. When I have been on the trainer for an hour and have 30 minutes left, I actually think to myself “you can do it, it’s only one episode of Friends.”  As my workouts have grown in length though, I have had to become a little creative and sometimes my swims are 2 episodes of the OC (without commercial – DVD Box version!). Or on the longer days, I’m on the bike for the length of the Titanic….twice.

Hillary and I use Workout Log to track my workouts and they make this neat little graph.  It’s weird – they measure things in TV episode and movie time units too…..


Changing it up

The past couple days I had some challenges on my plate. In addition to my usual daily battles of “how to not be hungry all. the. time” and “how not to attempt to fulfill that hunger with twizzlers and chocolate,” the challenges were:

-A BIG week of training

-One that must be completed while travelling to Huntsville, Alabama for work

-A quasi-unknown schedule due to work travel

I am not done the first one – in fact, I’ve just begun to scrape the surface because I have some long hours to put in this weekend.  But, I am on my return trip from Huntsville where the last two days were surprisingly productive thanks to Andrew who gave me all the info I needed on the Brahan Spring Natatorium.

Wednesday afternoon I was able to get to the pool right at 4:30 when public lap swimming became available. I even had a whole lane to myself for my long pull set before I headed out to the streets of Huntsville for a run. Andrew also pointed me in the right direction here – literally. He said to run East from the pool. I had a moment of disorientation though and ended up running West at first….but I soon realized my mistake as I began to notice the “questionable” landscape around me. While sidewalks were a little scarce at some points, running East was much more fruitful. I then met Andrew and his friends at Jason’s Deli for their weekly dinner – naturally all of his friends are badass athletes themselves!

This morning Andrew was a trooper and met me at the pool earlier than he probably would have otherwise since my work schedule was calling for an early day. Not open to the public in the morning, he took me in to the Master’s practice time where I had my own lane once again and was able to knock out my 30 x 100 set! The downside was I was swimming in yards (usually I swim in meters) so I felt slightly off; nonetheless I was able to get the job done before 6:30 am! Win.

While I am definitely someone who likes their routine – my pool with the schedule I know, my running routes, etc – these days of travel ended up being a good change of pace and allowed me to change it up a little. It was fun to swim with Andrew too – I think the last time we were in a pool together was the spring of ’08 so it has definitely been awhile! And I know I wasn’t knocking out 4300 meter days back then 🙂

Science Project

For the past couple months I’ve been drinking a lot of Nuun at work. Since I had been watering my plant from my cup, and I am apparently too lazy to refill the cup with plain water first, the plant was also drinking a lot of Nuun.

Recently we realized that my plant had grown a mutant limb!

Now if only I can get Amelia to drink some Nuun for experiment #2…..

Sometimes….

Your saddle comes loose when you’re leading a half-ironman with 20 miles left to ride….so you just stand for the last 20 miles.

-Your girlfriend brings you compression socks instead of arm warmers by accident and you have no choice but to ride 3+ hours in the cold with bare arms (oops….I am so sorry about this one!)

You take a wrong turn and lose the lead. But you still push to try to get it back.

You just want to wear a tiny pink leopard print dress.

Just a little Friday reminder that people are out there doing what they do and getting the work done even when it’s not easy! Happy training this weekend 🙂