8/2/13

Ironman Lake Placid RR: 2.4 mile swim

2.4 mile swim



Back in Feb 2013, I traveled to Utah with Oakley Women for a product testing trip on the beautiful snowy mountains at Snowbird resort. 


As a swimmer all my life, I would consider myself more of a fish than a snow bunny but I am all about trying new things. I have had the opportunity to snowboard several times in my life and I always love the challenge of strapping in my feet and gliding down a mountain. But if I were to race in snowboarding, I wouldn't do very well and probably would be too scared to start. I could probably improve my skills if I snowboarded more often, worked with an experienced instructor and developed a passion for snow more than water, but I will be honest and say that I am not a great snowboarder and I am just happy with my ability to have fun and get down a mountain in one piece (although sometimes with a sore butt afterwards). 

In life, we have many opportunities to step outside of our comfort zone but like most people, we often get really comfortable in our comfort zone. Sometimes we have no choice but to step outside of our normal but I am sure that most would agree that doing something that you don't normally do is not the best feeling in the world....at least when you do it for the first time and aren't very good at it. 

As most people know, my husband Karel decided to move from Cat 1 cyclist to triathlete this past June (2012). 



Karel loves to push like most competitive athletes and for him, running came naturally. Suffering in cycling races transferred really well to running....push hard and suffer and run faster. 

But for Karel, he was often very frustrated by swimming. He found it so discouraging that he couldn't just push in the water. He could push on the bike, push on the run but in the water, pushing meant gasping for air, feeling like he was getting no where in the water and experiencing extreme fatigue. 


Even if something is hard, uncomfortable, scary or new, the most important thing is that you recognize that everything that you are feeling is normal. For if you only did things in life that were easy, simple and effortless, you likely wouldn't get anywhere in life. You have likely achieved things in life because you were willing to step beyond what is comfortable and embrace something that is not easy. But the defining point is knowing that you are not going to give up until you get to where you want to be. Perhaps you can't define where it is that you want to be and when but the most important thing is making sure that you are having fun along the way and seeing yourself grow. You are moving forward for you and for no one else. If you don't like something at first, don't give up. But you have to have the right motivation, passion and commitment ensure that you are doing things for the right reason. 

Every athlete has a a weakness. You can't be good at everything if you want to get better at what you do. There is always a way and reason to be better than you were yesterday but you have to really want it and the work that comes when you get there. 

I don't think I'm ever going to race in a snowboarding event but I know that I will never stop the opportunity to snowboard. I will always be a little scared but I will figure out a way to get to the bottom and get back up again when I fall. For now, I will continue to work hard for my triathlon goals and enjoy every journey that my body and mind gives to me during training and racing. I am willing to be patient as I better understand endurance triathlons and the skills required to race strong and consistent and I will always be sure to have fun along the way. 


Once I entered the water, I felt good. I felt comfortable, smooth and confident. This was my comfort zone and I knew what I wanted......
1:07, 1:06, 1:04, 1:02, 1:08....I've been chasing that 1 hour swim time for 2.4 miles for the past 8 years. It's something that drives me to push in the pool, even though I have been pushing in the water since I started swimming around the age of 11. I love dreaming big and having goals helps me jump out of bed, get out the door and see what I am capable of achieving for the day. 

As I made my way to the outside of the crowd of swimmers in Mirror Lake, I found myself with clean water. Knowing that the cable running under the water (visible to the eye) is directing the fastest swimmers (all trying to swim like Andy Potts) on a straight course, I was still spotting the 1-9 numbered buoys ahead of me but really focusing on my catch in the water.

As I neared buoy #4, I felt good. My plan for the two loop swim was to swim the first loop feeling "good". I never wanted to feel exhausted in the first loop and depending on my perceived effort in relation to my time after 1.2 miles, I would decide if I could take a risk or two in loop two. Realizing that swimming is a strength of mine, I always give myself the opportunity to deviate from my race day plan just a tiny bit if I am feeling good in the water. There's something about chasing a time that excites me and at the end of the day, I am 100% responsible for my actions when I race. I can blame nobody but myself and I am willing for the consequences if I let my ego + dreams get the best to me. But then again, how do I ever know if my thoughts will fail me if I don't give things a risky try. 

I was very tempted to look at my Garmin 910XT (outside of my wetsuit) before the right hand turn at buoy #9 but I didn't. I saved that surprise for when I made a slight turn to the right on this very narrow out and back rectangle loop. I took a look at my watch as I started heading back to the start/finish and it said something around 14 minutes. I am pretty sure I smiled in the water not only because I was really excited about my 6th Ironman in Lake Placid (especially since I went from extremely nervous to very calm and relaxed) but I felt like this was the day I could release my inner nemo. 

As I swam back to shore I was careful to not go too hard. The water was smooth and I continued to stay to the outside of the buoys to get cleaner water. I still wanted to draft off other swimmers but I was careful to not get too close to the cable under water as I knew that battling flying arms would only get me out of my rhythm with my stroke. 

The buoys were going by really quickly and all I could remember was the breakthrough big swim set I did in prep for the IM, alongside putting all those individual workouts together for this one very special day. #4, #5, #6....the first loop was almost complete and as I spotted ahead of me, I could see spectators and the dock. #7, #8....I was so tempted to look at my watch and I gave myself permission after #9.....

But I resisted. Just stay steady, I kept thinking to myself. 

I made my way out of the water and ran onto the shore as I cleared my goggles with my fingers. It felt really great to stand up and get some air into my lungs and when I saw 29 minutes on my watch, I got super excited. So excited that I sprinted through the start banner and dove into the water for my 2nd loop. 

Did I really just swim 1.2 miles in 29 minutes and I made it feel easy? 

The 2nd loop was a bit more congested compared to the first due to the seeded start but I didn't let it get to me because I knew I could still have a good swim to start my journey of 140.6 miles. As much as I wanted to pick up the pace, I kept reminding myself that this was a very long day and I can't win anything in the swim. 

I found several pink caps around me which was comforting knowing that I was swimming strong and around similar fitness abilities. As I neared buoy #9, I couldn't believe that I was making my last two right hand turns to finish my 6th IM swim!

I looked at my watch again and I think it was around 46 minutes. I was starting to battle swimmers who were on their first lap but I didn't get frustrated. I coach newbie triathletes, my hubby is competing in his first tri and I know I was not always a great cyclist when I started. We must always respect those who are learning new skills for we have all been there, done that in some way or another.

As I found a few open patches, I looked at my watch one last time. I can't remember what buoy I was at but my watch said 56 minutes. I didn't get frustrated but instead, I gave myself permission to go for it. I picked up the pace, careful to not waste any energy in my legs that I needed for 112 miles of cycling and 26.2 miles of running but I found myself catching the water a little stronger and really focusing on getting to where I wanted to be...as fast as possible.

I started swimming toward the shore and I tried to stand up when I saw others standing....ok, 5 feet tall Marni has a ways to go. I kept on swimming and looked at my watch as I tried to stand again.

1 hour. 

YIPPEE!! But of course, there was a few steps to the arch to stop my timing chip and my final time read 1:01:02. 

Oh well. I'll take it as I felt amazing and I was super excited to get on my bike and anxiously await Karel zooming past me somewhere on the bike to tell him about my swim and to hear about his swim. 

As I ran toward the strippers, I took my arm sleeve over my Garmin and then unzipped my wetsuit and removed the sleeves and pulled it down to my waist. I had my Trimarni kit (cycling shorts and zipper jersey), HR monitor and CEP calf sleeves under my wetsuit and slathered in body glide spray and my timer chip on my ankle (with a safety pin to secure), my body marked body was revealed as I laid on the ground with my feet up for the strippers to pull off my wetsuit. 

I said thank you to the volunteers and ran down a long carpeted chute to the transition area.....it didn't seem very long because the spectators were lined along the chute and cheering loudly for all of us swimmers. 

I noticed that many people had rain coats on and all of a sudden it occurred to me that it was raining! Oh boy, this is going to be an interesting start to the race....just stay calm and focused. 

I ran toward the transition bags and grabbed my T1 bag w/ my cycling gear. 
-helmet (not aero helmet but my regular training helmet which I love)
-Oakley Commit sunglasses
-Pill container (back up pills, electrolytes, endurance aminos, tums)
-Pill packets (electrolytes and aminos) in a baggie
-Gel flask (300 calories of Hammer heed espresso)
-Socks
-Cycling shoes

As I ran to the transition area, there were a few women in the tent (age groupers and pros) and two volunteers dumped out my bag which included separate large zip lock bags for my gear items. As usual, the volunteers were amazing and as I put on  my socks and shoes, one volunteer put my nutrition in my pockets (gel flask in right pocket and pills in left - I asked her to do this and she did it perfectly) and the other put my helmet on my head. Done! What a quick transition and it was exactly as I had visualized. 

I said thank you and ran out of the tent to the end of the transition area and to my bike. 
Transition time: 4:36

A volunteer handed me my bike, I said thank you and powered my Garmin 500 (turned it on) and ran toward the mount line.

I couldn't believe that I was mounting my bike with two professional women around me but I bottled in those thoughts as I felt like this day was going so great....I hadn't even raced more than 2.4 miles and with 112+ 26.2 miles to go, I really didn't want the day to end. As I always say, all that training just for a one day event.

My bike was wet but that was fine. Karel put great bar tape on my bike which made me feel good considering the technical descends and turns heading out of transition. 

And before I knew it, I was on my bike and excited to see if all that bike training, sitting on Karel's wheel, had paid off......

112 miles...here I come!



A little about Karel's race, he felt really good and had no major issues in the first loop. He found the 2nd loop to be a bit busy for him but he stayed calm. Karel said his biggest mistake was having trouble getting off his wetsuit, especially the arms over his Garmin. He said he was really frustrated by the wetsuit but he was able to move on quickly and remind himself that his major goal during the swim was to just swim efficient so he could get on the bike and have 5+ hours to be in his comfort zone. Karel's transition was 6:59 due to the added time from the strippers and him struggling with his wetsuit so although a rookie mistake, Karel still had a great swim considering that he just learned to train for swimming just 13 months ago.
Karel ended up swimming 1:10.20 which I find so funny considering that I swam 1:01.02!! Crazy to just move around the numbers and we swam the same time!!

Here is a great video of the swim start that I found on the internet:




8/1/13

Recovering from an endurance event

So, the work is done.......


It's time to celebrate!!!



Ok, this was day #2 after the Ironman as veggies were not on my mind the day after racing 140.6 miles. The first day post Ironman included our first "real" meal since Saturday evening at the Lake Placid pub for lunch. A veggie burger with fries for me and a real burger w/ fries for Karel. I just love how the body craves fat and salt after an endurance event and I am happy to feed it whatever it wants for it sure does taste perfect post race.

Athletes often love racing not just for the finisher medal but for the post race treats.... which are absolutely enjoyed the best when celebrating a major accomplishment and giving the body exactly what it is craving. But after 2-3 days, it's time to get back to the normal routine in terms of eating...that is, if you have discovered what is normal for your body to maintain optimal health and to help with recovery after your recent endurance feat. 

Endurance racing is not normal for you do not have to exercise more than an hour a day to keep (or get) your body in good health. If anything, endurance racing can be damaging on the body and the distance should be respected with a balanced training plan alongside a diet that provides the body with nutrients to prevent disease and illness as well as to fuel workouts and to help with recovery. 

A lot happens to the body during an endurance event....even if you don't have the perfect race, reach your goal time or find yourself slowing down. I find that many athletes forget the stress on the body (emotional, physical and mental) after the race if the race did not leave the athlete with a personal best time or "great" race. From muscle glycogen depletion, to overheating to dehydration, there are many things that can occur inside the body...regardless of finishing time. It takes time for the body to train for an endurance event so you better believe it takes the body time to recover. 

The number one rule for recovering from an endurance event is to not rush the process. The second rule is to not compare yourself to others. I see it many times that athletes get back into training way too soon and brag about how great they feel. A few days to weeks later, an injury occurs OR the athlete is hit with the flu or a bad cold. Recovery depends on many variables and from my experience as an athlete to helping others with training and nutrition to observing Karel as a cat 1 cyclist, I feel that recover depends on many factors and not always can you "feel" yourself being 100% recovered. Poor daily dietary choices, improper fueling during an event, lack of proper hydration during an event, extreme weather, high intensity, long duration, extreme under-trained fitness, improper pacing and being over-trained before the race can all negatively affect your recovery.

Even if you feel "normal" and can walk down stairs fine after the race, this doesn't mean your body and mind is ready to bounce back into training. I know for myself, it typically takes me a full 2 weeks to feel 100% recovered although my legs begin to feel 100% around 4-5 days post race. The worst days are the first 2 days post race when my body feels like it will break with every step. Oh what we do to our bodies to cross a finishing line just for a medal, a hat and a t-shirt. You better believe I thank my body A LOT when I train and race.

Ruptured fibers, inflammation, displacement of red blood cells, disruption of hormones (cortisol, glucagon, epinephrine), low white blood cell count, oxidative stress, GI distress, electrolyte imbalance, brain fatigue, tearing of connective tissues and muscle fiber damage are a few of the many physiological effects of pushing the body for x-amount of time. It sounds absolutely brutal but with the right training, racing and recovery plan, it can be done and you can still maintain balance in your life while reaching your personal fitness goals.

Here are a few of my tips for boosting the recovery process (keeping in mind that no too athletes are alike):
-Stay calm post race. Your body finally gets permission to collapse, lay down or sit as you likely made yourself stay focused for x-amount of time to get your body to the finish line. Don't be quick to rush out of the finisher area. Take your time but don't spend too much time sitting. Cool off, re-hydrate and if tolerable, have something to eat. But do not make your body do something that it doesn't want to do. Try to walk (hobble) around and keep moving in order to prevent a sudden drop in blood pressure if you suddenly lay down and try to get up quickly. Be mindful of the hormonal shifts and digestion of nutrients in the GI tract that may cause you to feel semi-ok when you cross the finish line to absolutely horrible, where's the potty the next minute. Everything will pass within 24 hours (if not, consult a doctor) but your main priorities are to rehydrate, replenish and to refuel within the next 1-2 hours.
-For the next few days, keep moving but NO training. Remember, you can't train a damaged body or one that is low in fuel. Exercising is fine to get some blood flowing but give yourself at least a day or two before you do anything non-weight bearing (absolutely no running or lifting weights for at least 7-14 days) and remove any pressure that you have to do something. ENJOY your accomplishment and for the next week, any exercise should be gadget-free, non weight bearing and energy-focused. Stop when you feel good and if you don't feel like doing something, don't.
-Compression, ice, epson salt (cold), elevation. It doesn't matter the order (although ice and compression will help reduce inflammation -that is why I love110% play harder) but whatever you can get to first will help you out. Avoid heat post race. Foam rolling or massage can be done post race but I find that unless the massage therapist is very educated with endurance athletes, the massage will be best enjoyed around 3-4 days after the race. Massages after long/hard workouts are fine but post race, you may need just a little time before letting someone press on your damage muscles. Walking, compression, ice, yoga and epson salt will help remove metabolic wastes and to get your body back to a semi-normal state instead of doing nothing.
-Sleep. This is typically non-existent for me the few days after a race or at least, hit or miss in terms of a restful night of sleep. But try to rest as much as possible and recognize that your body is going to be off from the normal routine which means that your cravings for food may affect your sleeping and vice versa so the sooner you can get your body back to balance, the sooner you will feel recovered.
-To replenish glycogen and to help with tissue/muscle damage, it is important that you focus on a high carb diet with moderate protein, by eating every few hours for the next 2 days but especially within the next 24 hours post race. Eat as tolerated - if your body isn't ready for solid food right after the race, have an electrolyte drink (ex Hammer Fizz) and then when you are ready, a glass of milk, yogurt or recovery drink. Carbs can be wholesome in my opinion and still help with recovery but you will know after the first try as to what foods sit the best post race. My favorite post Ironman foods include bread, pizza, banana, pretzels, pringles, watermelon. Recognizing that I eat well most of the time, I certainly do not worry about what I put into my body post Ironman as I know that I am not a science project in a lab setting. My body lets me know what I want post race and give myself at least 24-48 hours to listen to my body..and typically it wants salt, fat and carbs so I start slowly with small carb rich meals, typically a few little combinations of foods and not a big meal until around 12-24 hours post race. Your body is going to act like a sponge to carbohydrates post race which is great for athletes who can eat with the first two hours post race. But if you can not stomach anything post race, just take your time and be careful not to be outside your home/hotel room as you may experience a quick drop in blood sugar and you don't want to find yourself fainting, dizzy or without a potty. I recommend to carry saltines, pretzels and juice with you if you happen to be moving around post race but can not stomach any solid food for a few hours. The body doesn't really care where you get carbohydrates from so just listen to your body as you stay hydrated and be sure to not consume too much too soon or else you may find yourself sick. Consult a medical professional if you do not urinate during a long distance event or if you do not urinate within an hour post race as you may be extremely dehydrated which may affect your heart rhythm.
-You are going to be sore post race. Avoid rushing to the anti-inflammatories as you do not want to damage your liver, kidneys or GI tract or make yourself believe you are feeling normal when you are not.
-You are highly susceptible to illness and infections post race. Be sure to keep your immune system healthy by washing hands, keeping chaffing areas clean and being aware of any blisters or lost toenails.
-Set a goal so you are motivated to train again but I encourage athletes to wait at least 4-6 weeks before racing again. I find that after an endurance event, my body is craving some speed around 4-6 weeks later and light activity around 5-6 days later...but certainly nothing structured for at least 2 weeks. The body and the mind need recovery and your sport of choice should be something you want to do forever so keep that in mind if you try to get back into things too soon. You have plenty of time to race again, be patient and respectful to the body. You may feel fine but your body is going to let you know a few weeks later if you were really recovered when you started to get back into training again. Many athletes experience long-term/chronic fatigue from getting back into racing or training too soon after an endurance event. Yes, maybe some can do it but you are only responsible for yourself and your one and only body.

When in doubt - give yourself 2 more days after you feel 100% recovered before you return to structured training. It's always better to take it easy for a few extra days and give yourself a little more time to soak-up your recent accomplishment.

7/31/13

Ironman Lake Placid RR: IM Prep and pre-race

Ironman prep
(If you do not want to read my recap of our Ironman prep, scroll down to the bottom for pre-race)

If you could work less hours and get all your tasks completed in less time and still get paid the same amount, would you?

If you took a road trip and could drive an easier route to your final destination, instead of one that was of more difficulty, but still arrive to the same place at the same time, would you?

If you could study for an exam a little every day for a few months and get a B+, instead of cramming it all in over 2 weeks and get a B-, would you?

As athletes, I find we think differently than many people. For when you finish a race and your garmin lets you know that the race course was shorter than advertised, you are quick to let others know, almost as if you are disappointed that you didn’t go the full distance (albeit, likely it was a matter of tenths but still it matters). But when a race course is long, it’s easy to complain and let others know that the finish time is not accurate, feeling frustrated that your time is not comparable to similar distances and past results.

But when it comes to training, it seems as if many athletes do more than necessary often spending more time doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Often taking the longer route and feeling impatient by the journey ahead.

In preparation for Ironman Lake Placid, Karel and I gave ourselves a 10-week training plan to specifically focus on the Ironman. 1 week being taper followed by 1 week of active recovery and 8 weeks of solid Ironman training. Not too much, but just enough of quality training to prepare our body and mind for race day without compromising the many other areas in our life that require focus, energy and commitment.
In those 8 weeks, we never found ourselves not making progress. Maybe the workout didn’t go as planned due to variables out of our control, it had to be shortened for time constraints or we played it smart by modifying the planned workout in order to keep consistent with training. What I love so much about endurance training is that the body adapts over time, not in just one workout.  

We spent the first 3 weeks of our IM prep building our endurance with speed work and no long bike ride over 4 hours (or brick more than 4.5 hours). Every workout had a purpose and of course, with Karel being a rookie triathlete (just starting to train for triathlons last June) and me coming off my on/off hip/back/glute issues, it was important to not do too much too soon. I find every athlete has 4-5 great consistent weeks of training when they start a training plan. Often times, this comes in the early part of the season (often 16-20 weeks before the race) when training is not as race specific but athletes feel too good to do less. 

Additionally, many athletes go into training for a race with the intention of improving health and body composition, which is great. But the idea of the perfect body image or even worse, the pressure of being a certain weight by race day and consequently putting more pressure on the diet and body than the training itself. One of the worst mistakes that an athlete can make is wanting to restrict nutrition around workouts when the body is under the most intentional physiological stress and then “rewarding” the body with food that does not enhance performance later in the day. I see it a lot with athletes that there is this constant pressure to train for a number on a scale rather than for performance. In other words, athletes are not fueling according to their assigned workout at hand and refueling based on the workout accomplished but instead the workout is reflective of past eating habits or a desire for calories burned. Thus, rather than fueling in a way that allows the body to get stronger, faster and healthier, nutrients are restricted and training load becomes too heavy and athletes find themselves entering a dangerous area of overtraining/under-eating.

 I love helping athletes with their nutrition for endurance events because I want athletes to find balance with endurance training, to stay healthy and to reach personal goals. I love doing the same for fitness enthusiasts to see the diet as a way to reduce risk for disease and to maintain a great life with good health. Getting injured, burnout, sick or feeling isolated from friends and family or feeling extreme pressure for your body to adapt  just as fast as your training partners are not normal parts of training for an endurance event. Remember, your body does not have to allow you to do what it does when you train for an event and you can’t expect your body to adapt at the same rate as others. You must be respectful of your body and how it adapts to training stress and realize that you have to be just as dedicated and committed to your training plan as you are to other areas of your life. Never let your race day goal get in the way of you enjoying your journey to get to the starting line.

So after the first block of our training, we then spent another 5 weeks of periodized quality training with Monday being an easy swim or full recovery day and a bit more time on the weekends for the longer brick (long bike + short run). Nearing the end of our training, we were careful to not go too hard during the week, Tues – Sun knowing that the key workouts occurred early and late week (weekend). We never felt burnt out, fatigued or questioned the “whys” as to why we are doing this while rolling out the door by 7am most weekends.  Every workout for bike and run was based on time (not distance) and the swims were based on distance (not time).

We only did 2 rides longer than 100 miles, one being mileage focused (112 miles + 1 mile run off the bike) and the other based on time (5 hours + 2 mile run off the bike). Sitting on Karel’s wheel allowed me to cover more distance in the same amount of time that I could do alone but every workout included intervals where I was training myself to become more efficient in my Ironman zone. Without looking at my Training Peaks files, I have absolutely no idea how many miles I did within each bike workout or how fast I went. On average, we trained around 14-15 hours a week with typically only one workout a day in the morning. Nearing the last 3-4 weeks of peak training, the weekly hours increased to about 18-20 hours due to the longer bricks on the weekends as our training progressed.When we did Branson 70.3 in 2011 where I won as overall amateur female and Karel placed 5th age group in his first half IM (3rd triathlon) Karel trained only 10 hours a week and I trained about 12 hours (a bit more strength training and swimming and I often warm-up a bit longer than Karel).

Just like with our half IM training, we did a lot of brick workouts and speed work during the week for bike, swim and run which was totally doable because we were not burning ourselves in the ground during the weekend training.   I walked during every run that I did to simulate aid stations. Karel’s longest run was 20 miles but most of his long runs of 14-16 miles included a bike in between two morning runs (ex. 10 mile run + 2-3 hour bike + 4 mile run). I did 2 long runs, 13 miles and 15 miles as I do not believe in running more than 2.5 hours for Ironman prep. For IMWI (which I qualified for Kona by placing 4th and receiving a roll down slot), I only did 2 long runs of 16 miles. Also, my long runs occur after a 1-2 hour ride. I strength train year round, however, with IM training, it rarely included lifting any weights. More functional strength exercises than anything, specifically core work and hip focused strength. Sleep and nutrition were priorities as there is no way to be consistent with training if we do not prioritize nutrition on a daily basis to keep our bodies healthy and there is no way to recover and maintain a healthy attitude and mood if we are not able to sleep restful at night. We did not let training get in the way of life and we did not let life affect our ability to enjoy our time training.

I’ve certainly learned a lot since 2006 when I trained for my first IM. I was new to the sport at the age of 24 and worried about the distance, I started with a more is better approach. But now I have my own business where I can help others reach goals and find balance in life with eating and training/exercising.  By applying my background in exercise physiology and being less stubborn and more open-minded to my hubby’s thoughts (cat 1 cyclist as an “outsider looking in” approach) I’ve gradually learned that less is more and I’ve been able to execute in racing with this approach to training. Could I do more and take a risk? Sure, but that would mean that I am focusing more on what others are doing instead of thinking about myself and what I can balance in my own personal life, with my own personal goals.

Ironman training involves so much more than just putting in the miles in training. I find that many athletes waste their best performance in training by doing too much too soo. Training becomes monotonous and lack-luster. It starts as something that you want to do and turns into something you have to do, often at the expense of family/friend-time. The excitement dwindles and all of a sudden, the athlete who had high goals and expectations becomes brainwashed by his/her own thoughts to think that more is better. Never doubt the progress you have made with your fitness, which can potentially bring you to a great race day performance if you keep on doing what is working. If it isn’t working, adjust something but don’t just hope for different results or to be better tomorrow.

There are so many ways to train for an Ironman and that is why I feel so strongly that Ironman athletes should have an experienced coach to guide them along through this amazing journey. Anytime you ask your body to perform during endurance training/racing, it is important to recognize that your race day performance does not just depend on how many miles you covered in training or how much a scale says in your bathroom. Unfortunately not ever body is designed to do endurance racing but also, not ever body has to do endurance racing. Find something that challenges you but also makes you happy to make time for it. Never put so much pressure on yourself that you don’t enjoy your me-time.

We don’t own a scale in our home. We don’t force our bodies to get to a race weight, it happens naturally through training the body to perform. We do not detox, cleans, go gluten-free, paleo or follow any other extreme dietary pattern/fad that is advocated by the masses to change body composition and improve health (although I feel strongly that mass marketed diets are more focused on body image than health). We do not have an off limit food list posted on our ‘fridge and we never feel guilty around food. I am a 20-year vegetarian for animal reasons, Karel is not. We eat real food most of the time which leaves little room for the other stuff the rest of the time. There’s still room for it but it is consumed in a way that is enjoyed and appreciated.

There is no bad body image/food talk, there is no need to compare ourselves to how others train and there is a lot of emphasis on fueling before every workout, during every workout and after every workout. There is a lot of attention to each of our strengths and weaknesses as individuals in all areas of our life, as well as flexibility in our training plan as to keeping things balanced between triathlons and life. We stay active year-round but training is periodized to allow us to peak at the right time, without us burning out at any time. There is a lot of growth, confidence building and fun with every part of our training. There are highs and lows but never do we let training define us or affect how we live. We love what we choose to do for a hobby as it is our lifestyle, not our life.

Taper
The week before the race was our official “taper” – super light, exploring the course, soaking in the Placid community feel and keeping the body fresh for race day. The two weeks before the race included less volume than 3 weeks out but it maintained the same intensity. As the body recovered from the past few weeks of training, it never felt heavy, lethargic, sleepy or bloated. Nutrition didn’t change on a daily basis, only how we fueled around our workouts to support the current training load. We stuck with a schedule of 1 day easy, 2 days “training” during the two weeks out from race day until we arrived to Placid last wed to ensure that as the body started to peak for the race, we wouldn’t waste our best performance during taper as we were holding in all our energy for the race.
Wed – travel day to Placid
Thurs – lake swim (1.2 miles) + afternoon bike on climbs (rode down the last 12 miles or so of the course and then back up the climbs)
Fri – lake swim (15 minutes) to get comfortable in wetsuits (which we didn’t get until Thurs as they were with our bikes at Tri Bike Transport) followed by a 35 minute EZ spin (hard to find easy roads in Placid so we rode the run course on River Road).
Sat – race warm-up which included a 1 hour bike + 10-15 min run w/ a few “fast” efforts of 1-2 minutes on the bike (on the climbs in a high cadence) w/ 3-4 min recovery and a few 30-45 sec pick-ups on the run w/ walking in between. We also drove the descend of the bike course so that by race day we had seen all of the bike course except the two out and back sections.
Sun – 140.6 miles!

Nutrition
With 6 Ironman finishes behind my name and helping dozens of athletes cross endurance finishing lines, one thing I have learned with Ironman racing is that it’s not about preventing nutrition related problems  but knowing how to deal with them when they come about. There is no perfect nutrition plan even if you don’t suffer from nutrition related problems at one race because every race is different and the body is always getting more efficient. Nerves, excitement, swallowing water during the swim, pushing too hard, weather, concentrated drinks at aid stations, daily diet, food choices, not sticking to your plan – there are so many factors that can affect your race day nutrition that I find that the best thing you can do is to trust that what worked in training will work on race day and remembering that your race day performance is not a long training day. On race day, you are using the body that you trained for weeks and months. In other words, your body must be fueled during training in order to execute on race day. You don’t have to train on Power bar perform and coke just because it is on the course. Can you use what is on the course on race day if tolerated? Sure, but perhaps a better fueling regime will help you become more efficient, faster and stronger by race day.

You should know exactly what worked in training with your nutrition to have confidence on race day that you have a plan that should work but keep in mind that it may need to be adjusted based on many factors and sometimes by things out of your control. This is why I feel strongly that athletes need to have a nutrition coach to also help with training for I feel many training sessions are not appropriate for race day and do not allow the body to get familiar with race day situations and fueling. I am not a fan of Ironman “day” of training as I don’t feel athletes need to bike more than 112 miles in training (or 6.5 hours – whichever comes first as I tell my athletes), run more than 2.5 hours (or 20 miles – whichever comes first) or do a brick that is more than 6.5 hours (ideally, a 100 mile ride + 2 mile run or 4 hour ride + 1 hour run or a 2 hour ride + 2 hour run are perfect race simulation workouts that you can do near the end of your IM training plan). I am a big fan of bricks as well understanding your zones for IM racing. But when it comes to daily nutrition, I do not change my diet from what has fueled my training for months at a time. Karel and I don’t believe in using the off season to get lazy but also the body and mind need a break from structure. So really, we are always maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle without the pressure to ever be x-weight, to train x-hours a week or to “allow” ourselves to lose fitness. There is absolutely no pressure with the diet and training throughout the year for us to feel any pressure on the week leading up to the race in terms of how we eat or perceive our body to look. We don’t train for fitness pageants to stand on a stage and model our bodies. We are athletes who use our bodies to cross finishing lines and we can only do that if we stay injury free and nourished. I shared almost all my meals leading up to the race on my Facebook page but my main focus for nutrition fueling on race week included:
-Water (coffee is fine too)
-No energy drinks, new supplements/pills that are promoted as ergogenic aids (performance boosters) or other medications/supplements/pills
-Prioritizing food that is made from mother nature, not in a factory.
-Wholesome food prepared by me (or Karel) as much as possible (for Placid, we didn’t eat out at all before the race and saved that for post race. I controlled the ingredients for every food item that we put into our bodies.)
-Feel confident with food choices –every food should make us feel good after we eat it
-Small meals, eating every 2-3 hours. No big meals but breakfast was typically a very satisfying meal, daily.
-At least 20-25g carbs from a sport drink (ex. Hammer heed) or electrolytes (Hammer Fizz) on race week anytime we used our bodies for training purposes.
-Electrolytes as needed (Fizz or pills) as a back-up for electrolytes
-Lots of fresh produce (fruits and veggies that are well tolerated) for vitamins and minerals
-Low fiber and fat on the 3-4 days leading up to the race. Moderate protein and high emphasis on carbohydrates that make our bellies feel good (fresh local bread, potatoes, rice, granola, honey, raisins, etc.)
-Eat when we are hungry, no clock watching. We ate on our own schedule whenever we wanted knowing that we may be married but we each have different nutritional/fueling needs. For the most part, we ate at the same time but often different food choices.

Pre-race
I always write out an itinerary as to what needs to get done and when, before a big race as it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the race alongside getting yourself ready and the time just rushes by. On Friday after we rode our bikes and before dinner and the mandatory athlete meeting, we spent the late afternoon preparing our transition bags which saved a lot of stress and time for Saturday. We prepared our bike bottles and run flasks with powder only, for easy filling with water on Sunday morning. We put all our individual items into separate zipper bags inside the transition bags in the case of rain (which it did on race day) as well as to ensure that when the volunteer empties out the bag in the changing tent, nothing gets lost or forgotten. I tied a bright red ribbon on my bags for easy spotting in transition. I believe in planning for every situation with transition bags for an IM but trusting myself as to what I used in training will work on race day.

On Saturday, after we did our race warm-up, we ate a filling carb-rich French toast + fruit and eggs breakfast, re-packed our transition bags, did a double check of everything and then racked our bikes a bit before 12 (I think) and hung our transition bags, then headed back to the cottage for a light lunch. We rested in the afternoon and then around 3 we headed out for one last drive of the bike course, especially the bumpy descend, except the out and back sections (which included about 13-14 miles I think). We arrived back to the condo on sat evening and for our pre race dinner around 5pm, Karel had soup and rice (pasta and chicken and a small salad on Fri) and I had ½ large sweet potato, asparagus, rice, egg and a small salad (pizza and salad on Fri). We were both a bit nervous on Saturday evening and decided it would be best to sleep in separate rooms for a good night of sleep. We reviewed the course maps and we each had our own ways to relax. Karel listened to Czech music that his dad use to listen to when he grew up and after I face-timed with my parents, I watched YouTube videos of Lake Placid Ironman from years past to get me excited about race day.
We both slept very well and went to bed around 8:30pm and woke up with multiple alarms at 3:15am.

Race day
I couldn’t believe how nervous I was! I don’t think I have ever been this nervous for a race but luckily, I have Gloria. I found myself letting a lot of things out of my control get to me which I discussed with Gloria on the phone on Friday. The weather was constantly changing (temps and rain) so although I couldn’t change it, I was concerned how to prepare for it with my clothing. This was a challenging course so of course, I was trying to stay confident with my race day plan. Then there was the unknown of how my body will perform and as any athlete knows, the mind does some crazy things before a race but seems to settle out when you are on the course. My body had been playing a lot of games with me the day before the race which was new to me and very weird. Actually, both Karel and myself. We would have waves of feeling great to feeling like we had the flu.  I continued to trust my plan but I had to welcome a lot of crazy things before a race alongside thinking about my hubby and athlete Laura, both doing their first Ironman. With the coach inside of me, I felt more relaxed helping them than thinking about myself. I joked with them on race day morning as we were walking to the transition area that even with 5 Ironman’s behind me, it never gets easier to feel total calmness before a race.

My pre race meal sat perfectly as I knew it would because of how many times I did similar foods before training. I had 4 rye Wasa crackers with peanut butter, honey and raisins and ½ large banana w/ cinnamon and a few almonds. With training I have milk with my 2 wasa crackers, honey, PB and raisins and banana slices but before races in the morning, my tummy doesn’t like milk. I guesstimated this to be around 450-500 calories but did not measure. I gave my athlete Laura exact amounts of her pre race meal because I didn’t want her to doubt herself with her pre race nutrition. I did not lecture Karel at all about his pre-race meal as I know he eats according to what works in training and neither of us have nutrition/food related issues with training or racing.

Karel started his morning with oatmeal and berries and then had a waffle sandwich with peanut butter and jelly (we choose natural peanut butter and 100% fruit and sugar, no HFCS or “diet” options for jelly). He also sipped on a Bolthouse yogurt based drink (espresso/coffee I think) which has worked well for him in his past few races. We took our time in the morning with our food, coffee and water and kept the morning positive with our thoughts. Karel listened to his Czech music and I read quotes on the internet as we were waiting for our food to digest.

At 4:20am we grabbed our morning clothes bag from home and our prepared bottles (4 bottles for me, 2 with 350 calories for the first 75-90 minutes of each loop since the course consisted of only a few climbs but mostly descending and gentle rollers so I knew this would be the ideal time to take in more calories with a lower HR to ensure proper digestion and absorption and 2 bottles with 300 calories for the back half of each loop. Karel had 3 bottles with him of his custom-made Infinit formula that I created for him which was around 350 calories (around 300 calories per 2 scoops). We each had packets of pills that we made in saran wrap which included 2 Hammer endurance aminos and 1 electrolyte tablet and taped together for easy consumption by just popping in our mouth and biting off the tape. I’m a firm believer in prioritizing liquid calories as much as possible as I find too many athletes having too difficult of a race day fueling plan which requires a lot of time with a hand off the bike to eat, drink, snack, etc. and not enough time to actually digest what is being consumed. I don’t take in any solid food during training or racing but Karel had a sport bar (from Czech when we traveled there in May) for the bike. Since we both planned to use water at aid stations, we both had a gel flask in our pockets (300 calories worth of Hammer Espresso gel for me).

We also had our gadgets (Garmin 500 for me, Garmin 810 for Karel and our 910XTs), a bottle for sipping fluids in transition, sun screen, body glide, wetsuits (Xterra for me and speed suits just in case), change of clothes for post race, shopping/grocery bag (to help Karel put on his TYR wetsuit), goggles (+ backup goggles), swim cap, chip w/ safety pin to secure and bike pump. We both did not have a special needs bag for the bike and run because we both have spare tubs and CO2 on our bikes (I have two of each and the aid stations also had extras as notified in the athlete briefing). I took an electrolyte tablet and 2 endurance aminos before the race while I was eating.
We drove to Laura’s house down the road (1.5 miles, our cottage was on the run course, about 3.5 miles or so away from the race venue) and parked and finally, we both felt at ease with everything. Finally, all the training was about to be executed and the day was finally here that Karel and I had patiently waiting for. The day that he would cross his first Ironman finishing line and race for the longest he had ever raced before.  I was super excited to share the day with Karel, Laura, my nutrition athletes (Fran, Maria, Stephanie) and the other 2500 athletes and as well.

We walked with Laura’s parents and boyfriend Duran to the race venue (about 15 minute walk or so) and I finally felt like I was in a good place. Everything was now out of my control. I made a few swaps with clothing for the race (jersey and arm warmers and gloves were in a backup baggie now since the weather warmed up a tiny bit and went with my Trimarni cycling shorts, tri jersey and CEP compression calf sleeves to wear under my wetsuit), I put my bottles and computer on my bike, Karel pumped up my tires and checked out my bike after he did his and it was time to make a few more stops at the potty and make our way to the swim start after body marking.
Taking a few deep breaths while walking to the swim start helped me feel more relaxed. Also, I bumped into a few people that I knew, one being a social media/twitter friend that I have never met, Kendra, who is a phenomenal athlete and person, also in my age group. Karel, Laura and I made the long walk from transition area to the swim start (on carpet) and put on our wetsuits on the beach area of Mirror Lake around 5:45am. Although we arrive to transition around 5am with the race starting around 6:32am with the new rolling age group swim start, the morning didn’t feel rushed or like we were waiting very long. Bags were racked, the bike was ready and all we needed to do was to trust the training and to let things happen as they happened.
At 6am, the new swim start was in effect as the race director let athletes swim in the side of the lake which was great to get the wetsuit adjusted and comfortable. Karel and I swam a little and I finally felt much more relaxed and ready to go. The energy was about to be released and I was reminding myself that I don’t want this day to be over. I always tell my athletes that in an Ironman, it’s a lot of training for just a one-day event and it will be over before you know it and life will be normal again the next day.

A few other things that made me smile on race day, 2 Chihuahuas that made me miss Campy. They were as loud as could be, barking at two bigger doggies. I couldn’t help but laugh because Campy has small dog syndrome as well. Also, as we were swimming warm-up in the lake, 5-6 ducks were swimming in a line through a massive amount of people in their lake. They were awfully mad, quaking at us but didn’t let a bunch of swimmers get in their way as they somehow managed to find clean water to get to the shore side of the lake.

Around 6:15am, Mike Riley told the swimmers to exit the water and to seed ourselves in our respected anticipated swim times. Rather than a mass starts that I have done in all my Ironman events, I was really looking forward to this new swim start which took place for the first time at IMCDA in June. I feel this is a much better way to start and a lot safer than a mass start and I really looked forward to it as oppose to getting beat up by a bunch of guys trying to swim over me and my pink cap.

I found Karel seeded in the 1:01-1:10 area and gave him a big hug and kiss and wished him a great race and I told him I can’t wait to see him at the finish line waiting for me.  I then seeded myself in the very back of the 60 minutes or less area. With my past 5 IM swim times being 1:08, 1:07, 1:04, 1:02, 1:08 (Kona – choppy!) and feeling confident with my swim training, I decided to challenge myself with the 60 min swimmers since many of the ladies around me said that they anticipate swimming around 60 minutes. Although the swim seeding works like a running race in that you don’t want to put yourself around individuals much faster than you, I knew that with my comfort in the water, it was better for me to get swum over than to try to fight my way through people in the first 100-200 meters of the race.

I couldn’t help but look behind me a few times at Karel, nervous for him as his first time swimming 2.4 miles in open water and starting his first ever Ironman. Laura seeded herself in 1:11-1:20 and I also tried to send positive vibes to her as well knowing that the swim leg is often a scary part of triathlons for many people and often the reason why many people do not sign up for triathlons in the first place. I was so proud of these two, along with so many other athletes for moving beyond their comfort zone by training for Ironman Lake Placid.
After the pro’s went off, we all walked a little closer to the starting banner on the sand for a walking start where our chip would start when we crossed the line on the sand. Around 6:32am, Mike Riley was pumping us up along with the crowds cheering and the techno music playing loudly.
Mike Riley said something along the lines of “have a great day athletes and I can’t wait to call you an Ironman at the finishing line.”

All of a sudden, body marked bodies and wrapped in wetsuits with bright colored caps moved quickly in front of me and I started my 910 on multisport zone and thought to myself….there’s no turning back now!!!
My feet touched the water and I skipped my way to deeper water as I looked ahead at 9 numbered buoys ahead of me. I dived into the water, started swimming and all of a sudden I was in my happy place for the first of 2 loops of this 2.4 mile swim.











7/29/13

Ironman Lake Placid RR - never give up


It seems logical to write a race report starting with the beginning of the race and then progress to the finish. But I want to do things a little bit different this time around for my 6th Ironman. One thing I have learned throughout the past 7 years since starting endurance racing, is that patience, hard work and commitment can bring an athlete very far in his/her fitness, let alone with reaching personal goals. It doesn't matter if you are an athlete racing for a finishing line or a fitness enthusiast that wants to workout for health and fitness, if you want something in life you have to work for it but most importantly, you can't give up when things get tough. Life is not easy and as an athlete for most of my life, I often use similar tools for getting through life and sports as life brings obstacles, just like sports and if you don't have the right mindset, you get yourself no where. 

I am sore, exhausted and drained. But it was all worth it. Yes, in some crazy type of way, we pay money to do this and then walk extremely funny the next day as we remember the highs and lows of race day. This time around, I am able to share stories with my Trimarni Coaching athlete Laura G who placed 6th age group (25-29) in her first IM (11:02) as well as with Karel (hubby) who placed 13th age group (35-39) in his first IM (10:03) and I can't stop thinking about all the amazing athletes, volunteers and spectators who encouraged each other to move forward to get to the finishing line and I am so grateful that we choose this Ironman for Lake Placid became a village of Ironman athletes and the community was extremely supportive. 

Many times in my racing career I am plagued with a chronic injury that keeps me from running for 8-12 weeks at a time. I have seen many doctors, had tests and I am thankful to my PTs and massage therapists who help me stay injury free when I can put all the pieces together correctly. Although I see this often as a limiter in my training and racing, oh what I would give to just have my mind as my only limiter, I have never let it define me or what I am capable of achieving. I know I can only race and train injury free so since I get hickups along the way when I train for races, I find myself forced with three decisions.
1) give up
2) be stubborn
3) focus on the can's and never give up 

I always choose #3 and this time around, it is important to me that I share with everyone that I often a get the flare-ups in my hips/glutes/back and I absolutely want to quit triathlons when that happens. Yes, I want to quite something that I love so much in life. I tell Karel how much pain I am in and that it is not worth it for I don't want to be disrespectful to my body. I have never had a stress fracture or broken bone and I hope to leave this earth with the same body parts that I entered it with. Therefore, I am often stuck with the decision of #1 and #3 which leads me to my message at the beginning of this blog. 

Life requires hard work, patience and commitment. I gave myself a goal when I signed up for Lake Placid Ironman to try to qualify for Kona. I didn't care about times or places but instead, to race to my full potential and to leave nothing out on the course. There are very few athletes out there who can "race" an Ironman and I acknowledge that I am one of a small group that chooses to put a lot on the line to compete for 140.6 miles instead of just hoping for a finish (which I always remember is the ultimate goal). This group, however, still goes into the race with the same dedication, passion and commitment as those who finish in the top 50% of their age group and as those who finish within the 17 hour time limit. Even though some of us use our bodies to race the Ironman, we are all there to endure the physical feat that is the Ironman. 

Through the highs and lows of life that I encountered throughout my Ironman-in-training journey, I reminded myself that the only thing I can do on race day is to race with my current level of fitness. There is absolutely no reason to dwell on the past that can not be changed, unless it is for a reason that was within your control to bring you to a better tomorrow. Therefore, I wanted to make sure I did not give myself any reasons to wish I would have done things differently. 

I feel the Ironman teaches athletes a lot of lessons. Many times, athletes are numb to these lessons and think beyond what is within their control. I like to have control over situations and I feel this is something that has been learned through my history of endurance racing. I like to know what the course looks like, what type of competition is on the course, what the weather will be like, where the wind is coming from, what paces are reflective of my current level of fitness and most of all, that at the end of the day (on race day), my mind is my most powerful weapon. If I don't stay positive, stay in the moment and love what I am doing (have fun and smile!), I accomplish nothing on race day that I trained myself to do in training. You can give yourself a thousand reasons why something won't work but if you can think of the one reason why it will work, you will find yourself doing what the mind believes...and the body will follow. 

                                                  

On July 28th, 2013, I gave my best effort in an Ironman. I raced smart, paced myself well and never stopped believing in myself. I had many opportunities to think it wasn't possible to achieve what I wanted to achieve back in July 2012 considering the setbacks I was given this year. But I know better than to think like that. 

We are often limited in life by thinking of our past instead of staying in the moment. For in the Ironman, we do the opposite as well - we think about what we didn't accomplish that may have made a positive impact on race day and we can easily think about what's to come and worrying how we will deal with it. I admit I did a little of both while I was racing but Gloria (my mental coach/sport psychologist) always reminds me to stay in the moment so I had to constantly get myself to that place over and over for 140.6 miles. 

As athletes, we often compare ourselves to others, wishing for better, more or something different. I did not do that this time around for this Ironman. I knew what I wanted to achieve on race day and I kept within my own box but with a peephole to keep an eye on what others were doing on race day. I did not deviate from my plan or worry about something that was not happening at that point. Why worry about what's to come if you have to be in control of the present moment? 

My 6th Ironman performance landed me in 5th place. Only three Kona Ironman world championship spots were available for my age group (30-34) and I knew I had stiff competition - but amazing, nice and supportive athletes. 

                      
(first and second amateur females which also happened to be in my age group. Katie and Kendra - amazing people and fast, strong, talented athletes!)


                                          
But as usual, I strive to better myself as an athlete and the only way I can do that is by being pushed by those who are better than me. I do not wish to be at the front more than once for then I stop growing as an athlete. I am constantly seeking ways to challenge myself as an athlete and I find I do that best on hard, difficult courses with strong competition.


Before the award ceremony today, I heard there was a chance that there would be a rolldown slot for Kona. That means the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place girls would receive spots because the 1st place girl (Katie T.) already qualified for Kona by winning her age group at Eagleman. But if there was another person to not take her slot, that would mean the slot would roll down to me. Roll downs do not happen that often but that is why you should never give up or count yourself out. 




As always, I did not celebrate until the time would come that I was actually hear my name from Mike Riley, telling me that the slot rolled down to me. 

After waiting and waiting, 11:05am came and it was time for roll down. 



I chatted with Karel about me qualifying for Kona and he was supportive of the decision that if I qualified, he would want me to go as we make all our athletic decisions together for the IM is no easy distance to train and prepare for, not to mention my second Ironman within 3 months and I have a busy August with speaking engagements. 

I couldn't help but think about the possibility of qualifying for Kona for it was something that motivated me every day when I trained and kept me balanced when I questioned if I should do more with training or rush the journey. But then I thought about race day which I will explain more in my race report. I thought about how hard I dug during the race and battled every demon in my body that wanted to give up. All that training, focus, time, money and prep to make excuses and give up? Absolutely not. I raced injury free, with a clear mind and with my hubby for the first time. Nothing was in my way on race day and all I needed was patience, commitment and hard work and I was willing to execute on race day in the same way that I do in training. Have fun and don't give up out until the body gives every reason possible to give up.

What if I would have counted myself out in Feb, in March and in April. Seriously - 3 months of no running and I expect myself to run a marathon after biking 112 miles, let alone race against athletes who have no limiters with their body? 

On July 28th, 2013, I earned my Kona slot which I received July 29th via roll down. I will be heading to Hawaii for the 2013 Ironman World Championships, which will be my 3rd time racing in Kona. Luck was not needed for a Kona slot. On race day I didn't need luck on my side. The answer was simple for Placid. I didn't give up for the past 12 months, I never counted myself out. Believe me - this is never easy, especially when you can't step without pain or you wish things would be different in that moment. But there is always something inside me that believes I can get myself to a place that I feel is not possible at the present moment. Sometimes it doesn't work as planned but I try to do everything within my capability to dream big and work hard for my goals.  

I did all I could on race day and if I would not have given everything I had on that course, I would not have gotten the opportunity for the slot to roll down to me. The entire race came together with my best Ironman racing performance and Kona is just the icing on the cake. Race results are not told by a piece of paper or on the internet but by the athlete herself for what she had to overcome before and during race day.

As I finish the beginning of a series of race reports, I hope today's blog post always motivates you to never give up, to never count yourself out and to always work hard for what you want in life. 



And onto even more exciting things.....YAY - real food from the Lake Placid brewery!!!! Veggie burger for me, real burger and local IPA beer for Karel. We both joined the clean plates club after today's lunch. Looking forward to recovering from this Ironman for the next two weeks and thanking my body for all it went through on race day. Race reports to come.......

2013 Ironman Lake Placid FINISHERS!



You know the saying that sometimes words can't describe what you are feeling. This is not that time. But just in case, I have videos to help.

My quads are killing me, I am in love with the Ironman Lake Placid bike and swim course, the spectators, volunteers and athletes were amazing, I absolutely love what I can make my body do when I train it to perform, I never realize how strong my mind can be until I need it to be strong, I love creating memories with Karel and sharing experiences with other athletes, my quads are killing me (oh - I already said that), I am so grateful to have another IM finish to my name, I never thought I could dig so deep before, cheers from the crowd can be so energy-giving, my husband is amazing.

Sunday was a great day for both Karel and myself. Sure, we trained hard for this day but the day was all about execution, perseverance, determination, confidence and the understanding that we choose to do this and we can do this with our body. There was rain, wind and plenty of difficulty on this incredible course but it was just as beautiful as it was challenging. Never would I think that an Ironman run course could be so hard but Placid didn't let us down as we knew what we wanted in our first Ironman together. Easy is boring, we love a challenge! With plenty of hills, climbs and rollers from the moment we exited the swim, until we finished the run, we certainly got what we paid for...and a finisher medal to show for it.

140.6 miles - 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking, 26.2 miles running.

Karel is now a member of a very exclusive club that is not easy to get in to. He has earned his Ironman finisher medal, t-shirt and medal and no one can ever take that away from him. He overcame obstacles on race day and as a rookie, he was still very impressive. Sharing this course with Karel made me so happy as I always need him to keep me going when I race an Ironman but when I could see him pushing hard, I ignored the many voices in my head that tried to convince me to give up, slow down or stop.

We would like to thank all those who cheered for us from afar and on the course, sent us text messages, emails and facebook posts. We are completely amazed by the support of our friends and followers and we are extremely grateful for your support. I only hope that our performance inspires you to set a goal, work hard for it and enjoy the journey along the way.



The race report will come soon as I need to gather some thoughts in my head when they fresh in my exhausted body and mind but for now, a few quick stats:

Marni  race results  - IM #6
Swim:1:01:02
Bike:5:46:11
Run:3:48:36
Overall:10:43:14
5th overall age group (30-34)
21st overall female (including pros)
12th amateur female

Karel's race results - IM #1!!!
Swim:1:10:20
Bike:5:16:26
Run:3:26:19
Overall:10:03:26
  13th age group (35-39)
66th male (including pros)