9/17/10

IMWI: Post-race

I couldn't be more excited to write my post-race report!!!
Now that the painful part is out of the way, this is the fun stuff!

This part of the report means so much to me. Not only because I finished my fourth IM since 2006 but I get to write MY report on behalf of all of the triathletes out there, who aspire to one-day sign-up and finish an Ironman. And even if you don't aspire to do a triathlon or an Ironman, or you have done an IM, this is for all of the people out there who have set a challenging, and perhaps, unthinkable, goal.

It is hard to describe the feelings that come with finishing an Ironman. For many of us, we devote a good 6-12 months of training to one event. That's right, an entire year dedicated to one event! And to make things even more nerve-racking, you pay a lump sum of money for the event.... 365 days before the race! For myself, this race was 4 years in the making and I sacrificed many other local races (and wants) to offset the expenses for this event.
For many of you, you are forced to put the hurdles and obstacles that you experience day in and day out, behind you, in an effort to train on most days of the week. On some days, your training may last most of the day. On other days, you may be up at 4:30am just to be finished before the sun comes up. But at the end of the day, you know your priorities and you quickly realize that only in your dreams would you train like a professional. That's right, no scheduled massages, no sponsorships, no free race entries, no purse prize. You have a family alongside work responsibilities and somehow, you are happy just make it all work. Why? Because you have goals. For many of you, perhaps your love for living a healthy life was taken to the next level and somehow, your goals became a lifestyle.
For myself, I was forced to balance a dietetic internship and training. Just like you, I had ups and downs with my training and the rest of my life and just like you, I didn't always think it was possible to achieve long-term goal(s). You developed a support team and perhaps, there were some people on your team that bailed on you. However, by staying in the positive, you surrounded yourself with people who gave you energy, rather than take it away from you. Without a doubt, with IM training you are always searching for extra natural energy!!!

When I crossed the finish line, I was satisfied. I had given everything I had during the race and I couldn't have asked for anything better. For in an Ironman, every person who crosses the finish line is a winner. Everyone gets a medal, everyone gets a finisher t-shirt and every person becomes a member of a select group of people. Even for those who don't reach the finish line during an IM, they are still in a select club...for only a small part of the population even considers signing up for an IM. Reaching the starting line of an IM is one of the biggest accomplishments you can ask for. Finishing an Ironman is just the icing on the "healthy" cake.

Ironman training is tough. However, through following a periodized training plan, you should find yourself improving on a weekly basis. By allowing your body to recover through active recovery, weekly planned rest days and planned recovery weeks you should find yourself enjoying your IM training and enjoying the journey.
Ironman training is 10x harder than the Ironman event. In an effort to get to the starting line of an IM, you must train your body to complete a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. Because you have 365 days to train for a 140.6 mile event, most athletes arrive to the starting line trained and ready to go. Sadly, many people arrive to the race overtrained and/or injured, so certainly, balance and a smart mind (and coach) may be necessary when planning for your IM journey.

It's hard to describe the emotions and feelings that flood your body at the IM finish line. Perhaps you want to envision yourself crossing the IM finish line but you may be asking yourself....will my body ever let me do an Ironman??

For those who like to swim bike and runANYONE can do an Ironman.

Here's how I can describe the Ironman journey.
Remember, it's a LONG journey with a one-day finish line.

Imagine yourself driving 140.6 miles on a daily basis. For the first few weeks, it probably seems really boring and you ask yourself "can I really continue doing this every day?"
After a few weeks, the drive gets easier and you become content with the drive. Maybe you even look forward to the drive because you are alone with yourself, your thoughts and feelings. Maybe you come up with new ideas and thoughts during your drive and feel inspired to change something in your life.
Certainly, some days do feel longer than others but overall, you are happy with your decision to do the drive.
Eventually, a group of your close friends tell you that they are going to ride with you during your drive to keep you company. The drive becomes much more enjoyable because you can laugh, smile and share stories with your friends during the long ride.
Down the road, you notice that thousands of other people are doing the same drive as you. Although they are in different cars (some nicer and more expensive than others) and drive at different speeds, they are all going to the same place as you. Some how, you look forward to the drive even more and you almost don't want the drive experience to end.
One day, you notice that there are lots of people on the road wanting to help you. They want to make sure your car is fueled, it is in excellent working condition and that you have everything you need to feel happy during your drive. It's amazing how special you feel during your drive and you feel compelled to tell your friends about the drive, almost as if you are motivating others to do the drive with you.
On your last drive, you notice that your closest friends and family are on the road waving at you. You couldn't be more excited to see them and they bring tears to your eyes because they are supporting your decision to drive 140.6 miles. They think you are crazy for doing it but they love you anyways and they want to see you finish the drive.
When you get to the finish of your last drive, you notice that there are thousands of people cheering you on. You tell yourself "but it's only 140.6 miles" but you know that not many people would make the decision to do this drive. A drive that you once thought was never possible and you finally made it to the finish line. Happy that you don't have to do the drive anymore, you are kinda sad and are ready to sign up for another 140.6 mile drive.

But because there are so many other people out there with you, wanting to reach the same finish line, you feel the need to help the people behind you, reach the same finish line.

When I reached the finish line, I was ready to see all of the future "IMWI" athletes cross the finish line. A line that once seemed impossible, was in close reality.

2% of athletes qualified for Kona at IMWI. That statistic is pretty consistent at most IM events. I'm guessing that around 8% of athletes are shooting for a Kona slot.
An amazing 98% of athletes at an Ironman are there to finish. 98%!!! If you feel as if you can't do an IM, you have absolutely no idea of what you are capable of doing. The body is truely amazing. Although many components play a role in finishing an Ironman, the Ironman event is very mental. With all of the training behind you, you are simply putting your training to the test and enjoying the day with 2500-3000 of your closest friends... a day that you have dreamed about for x-year(s).
If anyone has ever told you that you were "slow" for finishing an Ironman above the average IM finishing time of 13-14 hours or questioned why it took you 14,15,16 or 16 hrs and 57 minutes (that was the last finisher at IMWI 2010) to complete an Ironman....I give you permission to stare that person in the face and tell them "I am an Ironman and no one can take that away from me!"

Or
"I just swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles...what did you do today???"

After my long-awaited massage that I dreamed about during every mile of the run, I hobbled my way to the car and we drove back to the hotel in Middleton. My mom prepared a bath for me, Karel and my dad went to get some dinner (Subway) and I soaked my aching body in the tub as I washed my gel-filled hair and scrubbed my long-awaited body markings off my body. I discovered blisters, chaffings and a few bruises. All of the rewards of Ironman racing.

I immediately put on my compression tights and collapsed on the couch.
I couldn't eat much because my stomach was in knots but I managed to enjoy a slice of pizza w/ pretzels on the way to the hotel, as well as some soup and triscuits after my bath. Aching in every part of my body, I counted down the hour until Karel, my dad and myself drove back to the race. Karel picked up my bike from transition (you are given two ticket stubs for family or friends to pick up your bike from transition) as I moved like a turtle to the finish line.
Karel and I enjoyed Starbucks and we all watched the last 90 minutes of the race.
That's right...my day was not over until I saw the very last person cross the finish line. From 10:30 until Midnight, Karel and I cheered for every person down the finishing chute with plenty of high-fives to go around.

Without realizing that there was even a chance that I would get a Kona spot, I was joyful that I finished Ironman Wisconsin and I was super happy to share my accomplishment with every athlete who crossed the finishing line.
Congrats to all of the Ironman Wisconsin Finishers!! You are amazing!
























Last finisher!!
Check back...I'm trying to upload the last finisher but I'm having trouble....
Time for me to go on a bike ride..be back later!

9/16/10

IMWI: 26.2 mile run

"You run HOW FAR????"

Whenever you tell a non-triathlete about the Ironman distances, you typically get the wide-eyes (or a jaw drop) when it comes the mileage of the Ironman run portion. Or "You are CRAZY!!!"

As I handed off my bike to a volunteer, immediately after the dismount line, I noticed that there weren't a lot of bikes in the transition area. Not knowing my time on the bike (I didn't check it) or the time of the day, I knew that there were a handful of girls ahead of me from the bike portion. I really conserved my energy during the last 2 hours of the bike so that I could put my run-training to the test and run like I have trained myself to run.
I have been craving a long, hard run for a few years now and as I was running to the T2 gear bag room, I felt amazingly good and ready to run.
The volunteers called out my number as I ran into the gear bag room but the volunteer had trouble finding my bag. That's ok, I knew exactly where it was cause I could see my bright yellow and silver ribbons on the bag straps. I thanked the volunteers as I exited the room. I ran to the female changing room and was greeted by not one, but TWO volunteers. I felt special!
One volunteer asked if she could dump out my bag and I say yes. The other volunteer asked if I wanted water and I had to think hard about it because I needed to pee SOOOO bad. I said yes to the water as I took off my cycling shorts and put on my Louis Garneau compression running shorts (I have not worn regular running shorts in over 9 months and I think the compression has really helped my running form, as well as keeping my muscles healthy while running).
I removed all of the nutrition from my back pockets so that I could see what I needed from my run transition bag (which had the exact same nutrition that I used on the bike - hammer pills, loose gels and a gel flask). I grabbed two coin purses, one for aminos and one for anti fatigue caps and grabbed a full 5ounce flask of Hammer vanilla gel. I put on my garmin watch but completely forget to turn on the satellite while I was running. That's ok, I am not one to look at splits during an IM. Some how, it all seems to work itself out at the end of the day.
The volunteer asked if I wanted my knee strap thingy (I wore it at IMKY) and I told her "nope, I'm feeling great!". I guess that strap is security for me but I was positive that I wasn't injured and I was ready to run!
I put on my compression socks as well as my shoes. I didn't need my other race belt w/ number because I wore the same belt as I did on the bike. However, I always put another race belt (they give you two numbers with your name on it for an IM) w/ the number in my Bike to Run bag in the case of loosing my belt or number on the bike.
This was my first time running in compression socks during a race and I had only tried out my compression socks while running, on the weekend before the race. I figured the socks could only help me, and not hurt me, and I can honestly say that compression works wonders for the body.
I grabbed my visor and skipped the sunscreen station. I sipped out my water and asked the first volunteer "where's the bathroom". A guy pointed me to the port-o-potty and I must have peed for a good minute. I couldn't stop! I think I had to pee during the middle of the swim! Finally I was finished using the restroom and with my visor on my head, I headed out to the run.








I saw Karel as soon as I excited transition and he told me that there were two girls, less than 2 minutes ahead of me. I guess I was feeling really good because I passed those girls, as well as a handful of guys.
Somehow, I kept passing people. I wasn't sure of my pace but my legs were feeling good and was excited to see Madison.
Around mile 1 my mouth was super dry and I was really really hot. I started to feel a bonking feeling but knowing that my nutrition was spot-on for the bike, I had a feeling I was just getting hot.
I grabbed a water at the first aid station (mile 1ish) and instantly felt better.
Playing it smart, I took a swish of my gel flask every mile. I didn't have a goal of "calories" per hour but rather, "energy per hour". Because it was feeling hot out, I didn't want to grab a sport drink until I really felt like I needed it. I wanted to keep myself cool and quench my thirst but I didn't want to overhydrate with sport drinks or water. I decided to do a sip of gel and cup of water for the first 3 miles and I was feeling really good. My goal was to take 1 amino and 1 anti fatigue every 30 minutes but it turned out to be 1 amino at each 30 min mark and then 1 antifatigue at the hour mark.
Along with grabbing sponges at each aid station, I grabbed cups of ice and put them down my shorts and moved the ice around so that it cooled my quads and groin.
The first few miles of the run went by really quickly and before I knew it I was in the stadium running around the field. My quads welcomed the soft field/grass but I didn't enjoy the steep, yet really short, incline to exit the stadium.
By mile 3 1/2 my body was hurting SO bad. I saw Karel and all I could say was "I hurt". I think he was worried that I was experiencing previous injuries but rather, I was pushing hard and feeling my hard effort.
At mile 4 I needed to stop. I quickly walked through the aid station, grabbed a cup of Powerbar perform, sipped it quickly and began running again. I grabbed a sponge at every aid station to cool myself between the miles. The aid stations were stocked with water and sponges and plenty of perform. The volunteers were absolutely awesome and I loved that almost everyone called me by my first name!
I didn't know the run course (expect looking at it on the race course map) and I did that purposely so that I could treat this run like a "training" run. You ever have the feeling where you just want to leave your house for a run and have no plans on where you want to run? You just let your legs be your guide...and you are on for the ride?
I was treating this run like a training run and every time I had a low moment (which was at least once per mile), I imagined myself during my training runs, looking around and enjoying the beautiful outdoors. I envisioned myself running with Campy almost as if he was pulling me to each aid station.
I approached a trail by the water and it had amazing tree cover. The sun was really hot, despite being 77 outside. Not knowing the course, the trail section seemed to go by rather fast and before I knew it, I was on the infamous state street.
The crowds were AMAZING!
I spotted Kate and her bf Mark and they were telling me how awesome I looked. I also saw my mom and dad. I asked them what place I was and my mom said "either 5th or 6th".
I figured the only way I could get on the podium (at this point, a Kona slot was out of my mind, considering that the top 2, maybe 3, would qualify for Kona) was to dig deep and continue with my race plan.
After mile 8, I decided to stop at every aid station (or if I was feeling good and there were people around, I would maybe go every 2 aid stations) for a quick breather to stretch my back, grab some nutrition, and continue running.
I am all about intervals while training AND for racing and it seems to work very well for me. I have noticed that I can clear lactate very quickly so running at a faster pace for 1 mile (it took me a good few months to improve my threshold to run fast for a mile) and then taking a 10-15 sec. break, really worked in my favor.
I was catching other females on the course and when I saw Karel around mile 10, he told me that I was doing awesome and looking strong.
Not knowing my place on the way back to town, I noticed that my core/abdominal muscles were incredibly tight. I felt as if I was doing crunches over and over and over again. The course was NOT flat and I found myself shuffling up some gradual inclines around the town.
I finally made it to mile 12 and not once did I tell myself that I wanted to quit or that I couldn't finish the race. Of course, looking at all of the people walking on the course didn't make it easy to dig deep and push, push, push.
I have to say, despite being incredibly sore from my effort (imagine running as hard as you can for a 10K..that's what I felt like during the entire marathon...but without a high HR), I didn't feel as if I was slowing down.
I ran next to the special needs bags and knew the turn around was in sight. I don't use special needs so I ran on by and saw the finish.
Of course, the finish line chute was right next to the turn around and I made my way to the left (with the finish line in sight) to turn around for my last 13 miles.
I took a look at my watch to see what time of the day it was and I figured that
the last 13 miles would take me at least 2 hours and 5 minutes. I wanted to get as close to 11 hours as I could so I hoped to come in around 6:05pm.
Although I wasn't bonking and I didn't have any GI issues, I was hurting from head to toe. Every part of my body was sore and my game plan of stopping every mile or two really helped me out. I had something to look forward to during every mile...another stop at an aid station!
I continued passing people on the course and while running next to another female, I heard someone tell her that she was the 20th amateur female. I thought to myself....hummm, if I am running next to her and she is the 20th amateur female, I am really running fast!!
Back through the stadium and another welcome to the soft terrain, I saw Karel and he told me that everyone was texting and emailing Karel, letting him know how "fast" I was running.
He told me that I was moving up into 3rd or 4th place and once again, I told him that "I hurt SOOO bad". I also told him that I don't care about Kona anymore and I just want to make it on the podium.
After I ran by Karel I had a little self-talk moment and for the next few miles (on the trail) I imagined myself on my training runs.
During every training run I saw myself in Madison, running for a Kona spot. With all of that hard training behind me, I really didn't have a good enough excuse to not try for a Kona spot.
Rather than telling myself that I didn't want to be passed by another girl, I decided to give it all I had for the last 7 miles and try to get third.
As I entered State street, the crowd was giving me SO much energy...energy that I really didn't have but I really really needed.
I heard my name from people in the crowd and I really got a boost of motivation.
A few miles later I hoped to see Karel but he wasn't there. I suppose this was his time for a break (he rode the hybrid bike all over the run course while I was running and cheered for all the athletes on the course) and later I heard that he stopped for Cold Stone and a BIG spotted cow beer.
Although I only saw Karel 4 or 5 times during the run, he really lifted my spirits because he was so encouraging.
He kept telling me how awesome I was running and that I was running so fast and that he was so proud of me and I kept telling him "Babe, I can't run any faster....I just want to finish".

Still not wanting to slow down, I gave it everything I had for the last 6 miles. I kept telling myself "marni, you can do this..only 6 more miles, less than an hour!"
I thought about all of my training sessions and how bad I wanted to actually race this race. It was absolutely astonishing to me that I was racing an Ironman...140.6 miles!!

After tackling the last few gradual inclines, I was making my way to the finish. With only 3 more miles to go, the crowds were getting bigger and there was no way I was stopping.
I passed mile 24 and Karel told me that the 3rd place girl was in the lead and that she was slowing down. He told me she was only 20 sec. ahead of me and I told him "I can't run any faster!!!"
He said "that's ok Marn, just keep running strong, you are almost there and I'm so proud of you!"









When I passed mile 25, I was feeling great..sore..but great.
I felt as if I was sprinting the last mile and never once during the race did I look behind me, doubt myself or feel as if I was injured. Despite all of my stops at aid stations, I was smiling from ear to ear that I was going to be on the podium.
As I made my way to the finish line chute, I saw the turn around sign and moved as far away from it as I could....
I wanted to make sure that everyone knew I was NOT doing another loop...it was time to head to the finish.

Enjoying every foot strike, I saw the finish and could hear my name. With around 100 yrds to go, I was high-fiving all of the spectators and soaking it all in!
Looking up at the clock, I moved my arms above my head and crossed the finish line. Never once thinking that I could break 11 hours on this course, I finished 11th amateur female, 205 overall and 22nd female overall!!







I collapsed in the arms of the volunteers and slowly made my way to the photo area to smile for the camera with my medal.


Karel and my parents ran over to me and told me that I was either 4th or 5th. Either way, I was glowing with happiness because I just finished the hardest race of my life. Never once did I give up or think that it wasn't possible. Sure, I didn't get my immediate Kona spot but hey.....I become a 4x IRONMAN!
The words "you are an Ironman" sound amazing. It's like seeing an A+ on an exam (with a smiley face and sticker) after spending a whole year preparing for the test.
I told my parents and Karel that I didn't really care that I didn't get the Kona spot because I left everything out on the course and I was satisfied with my effort.

Splits for the run:
RUN SPLIT 1 6.35 mi. (51:50) 8:09/mile
RUN SPLIT 2 6.65 mi. (1:00:01) 9:01/mile
RUN SPLIT 3 6.23 mi. (55:45) 8:56/mile
RUN SPLIT 4 6.97 mi. (1:03:47) 9:09/mile
TOTAL RUN 26.2 mi. (3:51:23) 8:49/mile

Now, time for the post-race report (my favorite!).....








9/15/10

IMWI: 112 mile bike

Before I attempt to sum up the 112 mile bike, I must confess two little bike-related concerns which occurred prior to the race.
Karel and I decided to not bring a bike pump and to borrow one from my mom's cousin in Madison. I was anxious to pump up my tires so I ended up borrowing a pump from a guy in the hotel (Bill, who I met at breakfast on Fri morning) on Fri afternoon. Excited to ride my bike on Sat morning, my wheels were ready to go as soon as Karel arrived to assemble my bike.
Because I was fast asleep when Karel arrived (and finished with my bike) he told me that my valve must have leaked throughout the day because my tire was flat (forgot if it was the front or back). This has happened to us before because of the valve extender on my dish wheel, but because we didn't want to take the chance of possibly having a flat in my tire, Karel pumped up the tire (after putting on a different valve) on Sat morning and we waited a good 3 hrs before I went for my warm-up ride. Luckily, the flat tire was due to a leaky valve and not because of a tire itself or a hole. Wheww. Because I ride with tubular tires, it can be very costly to re-glue a brand new tire on my wheel. However, my tubular tires have been great to me and I've only had one puncture since I have gotten them...plus, it only takes me about 90 sec. to change a flat and put on a new tire.
Excited that the rain had stopped on Sat morning, Karel joined me on a hybrid Trek (my mom's cousins' bike) to accompany me on my warm-up ride. Karel new exactly where to take me because he recently did the Gran Fondo century ride (which was shortened to 50 miles because of pouring rain...Karel was about to win that event until he got a flat tire with about 500 yards to go :( ). For the first time ever, Karel couldn't keep up with me so he gave me my warm-up set (5 x 90 sec @ 100+ rpm w/ 5 min recovery, easy spin) and he followed me as I warmed up. I got out of the saddle to start my first interval and noticed that my gears weren't shifting properly. It was almost as if my chain kept slipping off my gears as I would get out of the sadle and push on the pedals.
So, on top of being convinced that I had another flat (because I was freakin' out about the valve as we started the ride) I had a mini breakdown on the side of the road that something was wrong with my cassette.
Karel rode up to me and asked what was wrong and I told him about my gears. Karel told me to get off my bike and he rode it (with his regular shoes) to test it out.
Crossing my fingers that Karel could fix it in 1 minute and that I was just doing something wrong, he told me that he would need to change the cassette because the new chain was tighter than my old chain and that my old cassette did not fit the new chain.
With tears in my eyes, Karel gave me a hug and told me that he would take care of everything, not to worry and to continue with my warm-up without getting out of the saddle.
Karel rode back to the hotel and I finished my 55 min. bike ride. As I returned to the hotel on my bike (trying to stay positive), there was my dad and Karel, pulling in to the parking lot of the hotel.
Karel told me to go for my run and he would take my bike into the Trek store down the road. Karel new exactly what needed to be done to my bike and he let the guys at the Middleton Trek Store work on my bike and put on a new cassette. Talk about last minute!
My pretty pink chain was very happy and to make things better, the new cassette gave me an extra climbing gear which would come in handy during the race on Sunday.
When I came back from my really comfortable 1.5 mile run (average pace 7:44 min/mile) I went back up to the room to shower and eat (second breakfast of the day). It was around 11:30am and in walks Karel and my dad with my ready-to-ride bike.
Karel had such a busy week last week that he didn't get a chance to ride my bike outside prior to boxing it up (he always test-rides bikes around the parking lot when he works on them). But thank goodness for Karel. I am so grateful that he knows exactly what to do with bikes as well as knowing how to keep me calm. My athletic confidence is something that we have worked on over the past few months and this little incident really tested the waters. With only 3 hours until the bike check-in was closed, my bike was happy...and so was I!

Just testing out the gears to re-assure myself that my bike is in top-shape!


Happy Trimarni


Now, onto the bike recap....

How does a Florida-girl recap this 112 mile bike course, which included 33 right or left turns on EACH loop???

As I left the transition area, I rode down the Helix which was a windy 3 floors down and eventually made it to the bottom. As soon as I arrived on the street, I picked up the pace and got into my zone. The first 5-6 miles left town and included a paved bike path (no passing zone) and a loop around the Alliant center. Having already driven the course, I knew that I could ride hard for the 16 miles because the course included a lot of rolling hills.
Karel told me my power zone for the race (around 120-130 average) after analyzing my IMKY bike ride, as well as my previous long ride workouts. Because I only did a handful of long bike rides (4 x 5 hr rides, 1 x 100 mile ride and 1 x 120 mile ride) Karel had a really good idea of what I was capable of pushing for "hard" efforts, as well as an idea of what I feel most comfortable with during my longer rides.

As soon as I arrived on the loop section of the course, I realized that there weren't a lot of people out on the course. I think I got passed by one or two females but other than that, I was kinda alone.
The scenery was great and I welcomed the hills. What a change from FLAT Florida. Karel told me that I wasn't allowed to say hi to animals while I was riding (he knows me very well) because it's really easy for me to get distracted while I ride. Knowing that my three bike goals this year were
1) increased cadence
2) improved endurance
3) increased average watts
I decided to break the course down by hour so that I could stay focused and avoid feeling fatigued from pushing too hard at any one section.
I found it to be rather windy out on the course and with several flat sections, it was tough to keep my speed without seeing my power quickly increase.
I think my power meter is one of the best investments for both Karel and myself. I find that way too many athletes focus on speed rather than their effort. Because it is hard to judge your effort by an odometer, a HR monitor is a great way to know how hard you are pushing. However, with a power meter, I can control my effort by changing gears and seeing how hard I am pushing (watts). Whereas HR can indicate how hard you are pushing, a power meter really allows you to stay conservative as well as know when to push. There were sections on the course when I was cruising at 21 mph (flat section) and realizing that I was only pushing 91 watts. I instantly shifted into a bigger gear and saw my speed go up, as well as my power. Trying to stay in the 120-130 watt zone allowed me to conserve my effort when it was windy or during a long section of the course (power doesn't work so well with climbing but it can be helpful so you don't overcook yourself). I found myself riding in the small chain ring more than I imagined on the flat sections of the course. A year ago I would have tried to push a hard gear into the wind but I found it really easy to spin my legs, all while keeping up my speed and power.
Although I had a goal time range for this course, I wasn't too concerned about my speed during the bike. Every IM course is different and it is really hard to compare bike times from one course to another. Even though I biked 5:43 at IMKY last year, I knew this course would be challenging because the hills never let you give up.

The course consisted of a lot of rolling climbs as well as some sharp turns and descends. It almost felt like a stretched out roller coaster. There were so many sections with crowd support and I really looked forward to seeing my family and Karel on the course.
Of course, there was Karel and my fam on a section of the course which included 3 big climbs (one right after one another and then a steep, but short, climb after the last one). I was so happy to see them! And then, I saw them 4 more times during the next 3 hours!
During the entire bike I had to pee SO bad. I tried peeing on my bike but in the back of my head I hear Karel's voice "don't you dare pee on Trimarni!" hehe
My rt side started to hurt (I'm assuming cause I had to pee so bad) but after 20-30 min, it seemed to go away.
For nutrition I finished all 3 bottles of Sustained Energy + Heed and grabbed a bottle of water at two separate aid stations (took a big sip, cooled myself on my head and neck and tossed the bottle). During the last hour I grabbed a water and kept that on my bike for the rest of the ride. Thinking back I probably should have grabbed a bit more water throughout the bike ride but I felt good and the weather was a comfortable 72-74 degrees. The sun was shining so it did feel rather warm.
I took in 1 endurance amino and 1 anti fatigue every 30 min (give or take 10 min) and took in a swish of gel from my gel flask every 40-60 min. Everything I did on race day, I did during training, so I was very confident that I wouldn't have any nutrition-related problems. Since using Hammer (for the past 4 years) I have never had a nutrition-related problem during a race. Thank you HAMMER!!
I was very surprised that I didn't have any aches or pains on the bikes and no leg cramps. I assumed that my quads would get tight with all of the climbing but because I climb out of my saddle (always in the small chain ring) I guess I saved my legs throughout the ride.

I was playing cat and mouse with another girl, almost the entire ride. I was also passed by a massive group of riders and wanted nothing to do with drafting off of them. I passed a lot of guys (which made me smile) and all of my rides with the guys on the Lodge ride, really paid off! I had several comments on my pink bike and that also made me smile.
My favorite sections of the course were toward the end of each loop (around 8-15 miles before Verona, I think). There were 3 really big climbs (I was in my smallest gear) within around 10 miles of each other, which took a few minutes to climb. There were spectators EVERYWHERE!! I literally felt as I was in the Tour de France on the Alpe d'Huez. There were cow bells, people dressed in funny costumes, campers, tents and SOOOO many people!! It was unreal! I had heard about one climb that was filled with people, nearly letting only a few bikes come up the hill at once, but I was thrilled when there were 3 climbs with spectators!!
After passing through Verona (the "hot" spot) I couldn't wait to finish my second 42 loop in order to see the people on the climbs for the last time. Although the climbs were really really tough, it was almost as if I was being pulled up with all of the energy from the spectators. That was totally the best part of the bike course! Well, aside from seeing Karel and my family, happy as can be!

The way back to town was rough. I knew we had 16 miles and the wind was in our face. There was a gradual climb that seemed to take forever and my 12 mph pace seemed to go on forever! Finally I made it closer to town and my speed picked up and I pushed it into town with everything I had left.

Compared to IMKY, I improved my peak 1 hr wattage by 7 watts (154 at KY and 161 at WI) which is great considering that Karel has been fully dedicated to coaching me for only the past 6 months. My average power for the race was 134 watts which was 17 watts higher than IMKY!! We certainly achieved our goal of improving my power, as well as my endurance. As for cadence, that has been a LONG work in progress since I use to be a BIG masher with my big chain ring (I hated using my small ring when I was riding hard because my HR would soar and I would get SO much lactate in my legs..it would burn so fast!). My average cadence for IMWI was 80 rpm and my cadence at IMKY was 74 rpm...another improvement!!
As you can see, I much stronger this year, compared to last year, even though my pace was slower. I know we all (myself included) love looking at speed but I find it really helpful to have another way of marking improvements, rather than just looking at your speed.
Here is the breakdown of my race (all averages):
(my power meter often skips so my wattage and speed may be a little off...we've had it for a while and Karel will be sending it back in this month for a repair)
First hr: 19.8mph, 157 watts
Second hr: 19.8mph, 141 watts
Third hr: 19.3 mph, 137 watts
Fourth hr: 18 mph, 133 watts
Fifth hr (53 min): 119 watts, 20 mph
The last 27 min of my race I averaged 21 mph and 110 watts.
Total time: 5 hrs and 53 minutes (19mph average)

The bike course was the most challenging thing I have ever done. I felt amazing during the entire ride (minus needing to pee) and my nutrition went as planned. It felt so good to race a plan and to feel the results of working so hard for so many months.
Knowing that I didn't do a lot of long "IM-style" rides, yet still met my personal bike goals, I still believe that IM training is all about quality and not quantity.

As I was riding back into town, I was getting myself prepared to ride up the helix and I was ready to run a marathon. I could believe that I just finished the most difficult bike IM bike course that I have ever ridden. The course was filled with sections of gravel, bumps, potholes, smooth roads, sharp descends, long climbs, series of climbs, head wind and tail winds, cow pastures, horse farms and neighborhoods and I couldn't help but smile throughout the entire course because my body felt great, my bike handled beautifully and I was thankful to be alive and well.














Thanks KATE and MARK for the awesome pics!!

Recovery from Ironman




Today is my first day of interning for my 11-week Food Service and Management rotation. Oh how time flies!!
I'm moving a lot faster than the last few days but still in need of sleep. I finally had a restful night of sleep last night (8 hours!) but it's going to take me a few more days to feel rested throughout the day. My quads aren't hurting as bad but inside I still feel drained. Yesterday, Campy was very confused when I walked down our 3 flights of stairs backwards and quite upset that I wasn't walking at our normal pace. That's ok, there will be plenty of Campy miles during the fall and winter months. We are both looking forward to the cooler temps and Campy is excited to wear his favorite sweater.

It's going to take me a bit of time to sum up the 112 mile bike course (pics included) so I wanted to talk about my recovery from an IM.

After 11 hours of consuming gels, my stomach was in need of real food. The first thing I go for is Pizza and then I just listen to my body and feed it whatever it wants. After pizza and pretzels, I waited an hour or so (after showering back in my hotel) and had a glass of milk with some more pretzels. Karel and my dad went to get Subway (the only thing around us that was quick and open at 8:30pm on Sunday) and Karel picked me up a can of Progresso Tomato Parmesan soup (my fav!) and triscuits. I was super happy because that's exactly what my stomach (which felt really weird and tight with no food in it) craved. I had 1/2 can of soup and a handful of triscuits.

After my small "dinner" I had an Apple and Cherry muffin at Starbucks and shared a Latte with Karel (while watching the finishers around 10:45pm). I also had a banana.

Over the course of the evening I drank lots of water and just listened to my body. It wasn't saying much except for "OUCH!"

The next morning I got up super early (from a night of very little sleep) and was craving sugar, salt and protein. I first started with a cup of coffee and lots of water and when the breakfast opened at the hotel I enjoyed a little of the breakfast breads (poppyseed, walnut and cinnamon strudel) that I was eyeing on the 2 days prior to the race. I also had a big glass of milk w/ fruit, cottage cheese, mini pancakes and an egg. It wasn't a super big breakfast but I just wasn't in the mood.

Later that morning I had 1/2 of a Mojo bar while waiting for the Kona Roll Down and then about 30 min. later, Karel and I enjoyed the awesome Banquet Brunch which consisted of French Toast topped with berries and syrup, a banana, milk and scrambled eggs. Karel had ham with his brunch.

I had an apple on the way to the airport and finally, around 5pm I had a REAL meal at a restaurant (diner) at the airport.
A bagel w/ cream cheese, an egg white spinach and feta omelet and strawberries. I also stole some of Karel's and my dad's french fries from their meals. Oh the fat and salt tasted SO good.

When we got home around 11:30pm in Jacksonville I had a small bowl of cereal.
Tues was rough for me because I was sore, exhausted and really tired. I probably slept 10 hours in the last two nights and my stomach was not in the mood for food.
I was excited to have a smoothie but I only ended up drinking about half of it and giving the rest to Karel. Lunch was toast w/ eggs and triscuits and finally for dinner, I had a yummy colorful salad w/ french bread and tofu.

I think I am getting my appetite back but I will just continue listening to my body.

It's very important to me that I recover properly from a race, especially an IM, so I am in no rush to get back to any type of structured training...especially if my body is not in the mood to replace all of my burned calories.

Since I didn't move much on Mon or Tues (except walking) I really looked forward to a swim/float this morning. I swam a really SLOOOOOWWWW 500 (with lots of stops) this morning at Master's swim and then floated in the therapy pool and finished things off with the hot tub. My body is feeling so much better today but it'll still be a few more days until I feel somewhat back to normal.

As far as "training" goes, there will be no structured training for a good month. For the next 2 weeks I will ONLY swim and bike and I will not be running. Because swimming and biking can be very therapeutic for the body, I don't want to place any extra weight on my body as it is trying to heal (and hopefully becoming stronger that pre-IM).
I think many athletes rush back into training (or take too long off) after a long distance race and it is very important to me that I keep my body loose. I trained for Ironman Wisconsin for a good 6 or 7 months so I don't expect my body to heal in a week, let alone a month. There are 52 weeks in a year, I do not mind just "exercising" for the next month and giving my mind and body some downtime. I love to exercise so I welcome a break from structured training.

In mid to late October, Karel and I will sit down with our goals (for both of us) for next season and start thinking about some key races as well as our base training for the winter.

Wow...I can't believe I am going to Kona in 1 year and 4 weeks!!

9/14/10

IMWI: Pre race + swim + T1

It was Sat evening before I knew it. My transition bags were packed and my bike was sitting in the transition area. All that was left on my itinerary was OUTBACK and a hopeful good night of sleep.
After an excellent dinner from 5:20pm til 6:15pm we went back to the hotel and it was time to enjoy my last evening of being a 3x Ironman finisher. I was very calm and not too nervous on the days leading up to the race. However, every now and then I would get a feeling of "OMG the race is tomorrow!" In all honesty, my body has never felt so good before, prior to a race, and it was more of excitement, rather than worry, and I knew the feeling was that I was ready to go.





I had a very good night of rest after laying down for bed around 8:45pm. With 3 alarms set for the morning, it was no surprise that I woke up 5 min prior to my first series of alarms. 3:40am and I was up and at 'em!

Breakfast consisted of 1/2 raisin bagel w/ PB and regular jelly, a small banana, 1 packet walnut/raisin oatmeal (with skim milk) and an egg. I also had a cup of coffee and a bottle of water. For supplements I had 2 endurance amino's, 2 anit fatigues and 4 tissue rejuvinators (all from Hammer) about 1 hr prior to the race start (w/ water).
I took my time eating and ate until I felt satisfied. Because I typically eat very early the night before a race, and don't eat until I am stuffed, I was very satisfied after finishing my typical pre-IM breakfast around 4:30am.
Around 4:55am I grabbed my pre-packed IM bag (wetsuit, clean clothes for after the race, goggles, swim cap, body glide, water bottle w/ 1/2 scoop hammer, 1 hammer gel, bottle of plain water, timing chip, sandals) and put on some warm clothes for the 15 min drive to the race venue.

Of course my stomach was in knots and Karel kept reassuring me that it was nerves. My parents, who are so supportive and wouldn't miss an IM for the world, and Karel joined me for body marking. After being body marked I went to my bike to check my tires, brakes and gears and to put on my sport bottles and power tap.
I prepared three bottles for my bike which consisted of 1 1/2 scoops Hammer Sustained Energy (160ish calories) + 1 scoop (heaping) Hammer Heed (110ish calories). The rest of my nutrition for the bike was in the form of gels, which was in my T1 bag in the transition room (inside the Monona Terrace).






Around 5:40am we all headed inside the Terrace and I relaxed for a little until it was time to head to the swim start.
Between my pre-race meal and race start I didn't consume any solid food. I sipped on my Hammer Heed (1/2 scoop), took my supplements and sipped on a little plain water. I also made a few stops at the restroom to help settle my stomach.


We made our way through the massive amount of people down by the swim and after Karel zipped me up in my wetsuit, I said see ya later to my parents and Karel and made my way into the water. It was about 6:45am when I took about 3/4ths of a Hammer gel (vanilla), entered the water and I managed to see the pro's start as I was warming up.
This was my first time wearing a full wet suit and I couldn't imagine being happier with my selection. I wore the Xterra Vector Pro X2 wetsuit (small) and it fit perfectly! It was really easy to get on and I literally floated in the water for 15 min. The water was a bit cold when I entered (65 degrees) but I felt really comfortable. I knew it was going to be a warm day for Madison (high 76-77) so I welcomed the chill in the air.

I noticed that I was amidst a group of red caps which made me wonder if I was making the right decision to start at the very front of a massive group of males. I did see a few other females with white caps but I just wondered if we were all making a big mistake.
With a 5 minute countdown I noticed that everyone was getting closer and closer to one another and that the line of people in the front row (which included me) spread from the buoy's to the shore. Considering that I haven't done a group swim start since Kona 2007, I could feel myself getting anxious for the gun to go off. You could hear the techno music from the terrace/shore and looking afar at the amount of people watching the race, I was really excited to be an Ironman participant for the day.
With a 1 minute countdown, I was at ease. I was ready to go and I was ready to get this day started. So much time, effort and money went into this race and I had no negative thoughts or fears that I wouldn't finish this race. To devote so much time for an event is just amazing to me and as much as I wanted to visualize myself crossing the finish line, I had to be in the moment and take this race mile by mile.



3,2,1....BOOM!
Off we went!!! Kick, hit, slap, kick, push.....
I wondered if it would ever get any better? The first part of the swim was brutal but that's expected. Every person trying to get in front of another person, only to find someone else trying to do the same. I tried to focus on my breathing and not choking or swallowing water but of course, I had a few gasps for air as I was being pushed down or being clobbered over. Although this may sound terrifying, I was being very brave (and perhaps a bit naive) that I could keep the same pace as the other males around me and behind me. Eventually, 10-15 min went by and I found myself swimming with a group of swimmers, without getting too beat up. I tried to draft as much as I could but often I would find myself swimming away from people in order to avoid getting too beat up on. As we made our way around the two corner buoys (the swim is a 2 loop, counter clockwise rectangle-ish loop) I noticed that it was much more difficult to swim in the opposite direction. I figured the current was pushing us away so I tried to find a group to draft off of. As soon as I caught up to a group, I found myself getting hit so off I went, again, to the outside, in an effort to save myself from this rough swim. I suppose I was doing a lot of weaving in an out as I was swimming in an effort to avoid getting hit during the end of my first loop.
I made my way around the next two buoys and started the second loop (no out of the water exit between loops). Because the sun was in our eyes on the way back from the 2nd loop, it wasn't until I made the corner before my 2nd loop that I looked at my watch in the water. I saw 29 min and I figured that I might have a chance to PR in my swim.
Once again I tried to draft as much as I could but I never felt as if I could stay with a strong group of swimmers. I stuck to my own effort and tried to stay focused.
I was very happy that I felt strong during the swim, although I was getting bits and pieces of exhaustion throughout the swim. This is nothing new, I'm sure, for any athlete, so without telling myself that I am going to be too tired to bike, I gave the last part of my swim everything I had to try to beat my IMKY time of 1 hour and 4 minutes.
I briefly looked at my watch at 1 hour, looked up, and sprinted to the shore. Semi-exhausted, I pulled myself out of the water and happily saw 1 hour and 2 minutes on the Swim Exit clock. YEAH!!!! 2 minute PR!




I pulled down the top part of my wetsuit, went down on the ground with my feet up and my wetsuit was stripped off by the wetsuit peelers.
Knowing that IMWI has a really long transition, I hurried my way to the helix and was greeted by hundreds of roaring fans all the way up the helix. Although I felt as if I was running in circles and the circles were never ending, I couldn't believe the crowd! If the swim start was any indication of spectator support for IMWI, I knew I was in for an exciting race.

I made my way to the top of helix, ran through the glass doors and went inside the T1 bag room (inside the Terrace). A volunteer handed me my bag (I always put bright colored ribbons on my bag so I can see it if a volunteer can't find it) and I ran into the female changing room.

I kept on my Zoot sports bar and took off my bathing suit bottoms and put on my cycling shorts. As usual, my volunteer was so helpful and kept asking me what she could do for me. I had her open my glasses and get out my nutrition from a big baggie. She asked if she could dump out everything from my bag and I said of course. I didn't have a lot in there so it was really easy for me to get myself ready to leave transition.
My volunteer helped me put on my Hammer tri top (with 3 pockets in the back) after I put on my Hammer cycling (w/ padding) shorts.
I put on my Pink Oakley glasses and GIRO pink aero helmet, as well as my Pink zoot race belt w/ number (number goes on the back of you during the IM bike) and black Trek socks. I had a 5 ounce Hammer flask filled with vanilla gel, as well as a few loose vanilla hammer gels. I had 2 coin purses, one with Endurance Amino's (hammer) as well as Anti Fatigue caps (hammer). I also had a baggie of race caps supreme and I took 1 race cap as soon as I got on the bike. I brought along a hammer bar (which I kept in the open package but cut up into 3 small pieces with a butter knife) as well as Twizzler bites (they are with me for every IM) just in case I needed something solid (although I never used anything solid during training). I ended up using a hair rubber band to keep all of my nutrition together so that when I dumped it all out of my transition bag I could quickly put my nutrition into 3 separate pockets.

Knowing that I had a long run from the inside of the changing room to my bike, I grabbed my cycling shoes and ran to my bike. As I ran to my bike I put on my cycling gloves. This was the first time that I used cycling gloves during a race and with all of the climbing of the course, I am really glad I had cycling shorts and cycling gloves.

As I made my way to my rack, a volunteer handed me my bike and I made my way to the other end of the transition area. I was careful to hold my nutrition in my back pockets as I was running with my bike so that I didn't loose anything.
I looked up and saw Karel on a walkway above the transition area. What a great surprise! I gave him a big wave and smile and finally made it to the top of the helix. I was feeling really good and I had a nice 2 minute PR to start off my IMWI journey.

I quickly mounted my bike, started my power tap and carefully made my way down the Helix.....off for the 112 mile bike ride!
*since Karel stayed on top of the transition area during my swim, he saw a lot going on while we were all swimming. Volunteers were going around to every bike rack during the race to check for flat tires. Karel said that a few bikes had flat tires and the bike mechanic volunteers changed the tires while we were swimming! Talk about service! Way to go Ironman corporation and volunteers!!