Essential Sports Nutrition

9/22/18

Executing a tune-up race




Hello from Augusta! This is my first time in Augusta and the downtown streets are packed with triathletes. I am thinking it's not always this way but this weekend is the 2018 Ironman 70.3 Augusta event and the town is booming with multisport lovers.

To be honest, I really wish I was racing. I bounced back really quickly from IMWI and feeling fit, healthy and strong. While I only have two "fun" races left on my racing calendar, I have a feeling my FOMO from Augusta may lead me to look for one last triathlon race in 2018. We will see if I can find anything for Karel's racing calendar is keeping us busy over the next 7 weeks as he still has a lot of racing left. Speaking of Karel, it's his birthday today!! Today we are celebrating Karel's 42 years of life!

While IM Kona is Karel's big key race of the season in 3 weeks time, and he is then following it up with IMFL 3 weeks after, Karel is racing Augusta 70.3 tomorrow as a tune-up race as part of his Kona training. Racing in the final prep of his IM Kona training is not for the faint of heart as it requires a no-ego and courageous athlete who can keep things in perspective to execute a tune-up race properly just before the Ironman World Championship. Karel is a smart racer and never chases times for validation of his fitness so I know that no matter what happens tomorrow on race day, he's going to be race ready for IM Kona.

Speaking of tune-up races, many athletes will race before a more important race. Often, these tune-up races will occur a few weeks (3-5) or months (1-2) before a goal race. Most of time, athletes will race a shorter distance or the same distance as the big key race.

To execute a tune-up race properly, there are a few important strategies that athletes should apply to ensure that a tune-up race helps and does not sabotage the upcoming big race training or performance.
  • Many athletes will use a tune-up race to test current fitness. It is important to recognize that fitness is not linear. In other words, if your goal race is the most important race of the season, don't get too attached to the results or metrics of your tune-up race. You don't need to PR or see improved watts, paces or times to feel "race ready." While a tune-up race can assess how effectively your training is or isn't going, your tune-up race should ultimately help you gain confidence for your more important race. Therefore, if your tune-up race occurs less than 4 weeks before a goal race, the preparations have been done and there's little time to change your training before your more important race. Thus, you need to race with a smart mindset that this tune-up race is seen more as training than as a validation of your fitness or race readiness. If a tune-up race occurs more than 5 weeks out from a goal race, there's more time to adjust training to continue to move in the right direction, if needed. As I mentioned above, don't get too attached to your tune-up race results. Many athletes have had a sub-par performance at a tune-up race only to excel at their upcoming key race because they were able to race smart, bounce back quickly and have trust in the final training preparations, while nailing the taper and nutrition for the upcoming race.
  • Although you may not be able to drastically changed your training between two races (the first being your tune-up and the second being your key race), you can change your nutrition (pre-race, race morning and during the race), specifically if you found yourself with a nutrition-related issue in your tune-up race. Reach out to a Board Certified Sport RD, who specializes in your sport, for help. 
  • Because every race is different (ex. weather, course, terrain, etc.) there's little benefit in testing paces at your tune-up race to determine what paces you you should hold at your upcoming key race. Instead, check that ego at the door and race by feel. Feel what you want to feel at your more important race, even if that means racing below the intensity that you feel you should be racing at. While it's ok to take some risks with pacing, be mindful of how those efforts will impact your recovery, especially if you need to quickly get back into structured training.
  • Tune-up races are great for going through the racing motions and emotions. Never in training can you experience the nerves, anxieties, worries and excitement that you will feel on race day. Tune-up races are perfect for practicing your race day routine (including the days leading up to the race) and what you will do before, during and after the race. This includes waking up early, dialing in your pre-race meal and pre-race warm-ups, racing in/with your race day clothing and equipment, going through pre-race rituals and dealing with racing stressors like traffic, bad weather, delays, waiting in line, feeling rushed, idol time and race-day adrenaline. You can also practice and test race day nutrition in race day conditions.
  • Many athletes struggle to pace a race well in race day conditions, despite having great fitness going into a race. This can cause fear, worry and lack of confidence for the upcoming race. Many times, athletes underperform on race due to fear of messing up (or failure) whereas others overperform, blow-up and race below their potential. To develop confidence, be ok with holding yourself back and then building into an effort. Many times, this strategy becomes the perfect race strategy for you to nail your nutrition, pacing and form for a well-executed race. 
Remember, racing is about putting your physical and mental abilities to good use on race day. To do so, you need to master your nerves, expectations, emotions, self-control, ego and self-belief. Many times, this is more mental than physical. Far too many athletes have the fitness to perform well at an important race but fail to understand how to use that fitness properly at a tune-up race. With your big key race in mind, do what you need to do at your tune-up race to gain confidence, familiarity and excitement for your upcoming big goal race. 

9/18/18

IMWI '18 Race Report - 26.2 mile run

Photo: Jay Baker
After dismounting my bike, I quickly removed my cycling shoes as I ran my way into the terrace to grab my T2 (Run) gear bag. My legs were a little tired from 112 miles of biking but I didn't let it worry me. My athlete Diane was out on the course and on lap 2, she told me I was still leading but the girls behind me were closing in. At this point, I assumed I was still leading my age group but I didn't know by how much. Anything can happen in an Ironman marathon and I had a game plan that I trusted and I was looking forward to seeing if I could put together a solid run after what appeared to be a solid day of swimming and biking.

When I entered the women's changing room, I was all smiles as I was the only one in the room and I had all the volunteers to myself. I had a few Trimarni followers in the room (volunteers) giving me cheers which made me so happy. I put on my Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo, emptied my pockets from the bike and put on my visor. I grabbed my hydration belt and race belt (which had my bib number on it) and headed out of the room. Rather than immediately running, I fast walked as I put on my belts. From experience, I know how good it feels to completely empty myself before a run so I made a quick stop in the port-o-john and I felt so much better afterward. 

I've learned a lot from Ironman racing and one major tip always comes to mind when I start the marathon - be patient. 26.2 miles is a long way to go. I see athletes all the time chasing paces, rushing out of T2 and treating the marathon as if it is a sprint triathlon as if every second matters. Sure, you don't want to waste your time doing silly things but you want to make good decisions as it's a long day of racing and what happens in the first few miles of the marathon can potentially make or break your race. I had no time goals or paces for this run. I trusted my training and my nutrition and felt confident with my run fitness going into this race. And even though I knew my competition was likely close behind me, I needed to be smart with my execution which meant taking care of myself in the early miles and really listening to my body.

Plus, I had a very specific game plan for this marathon. Walk within every mile. 



Photo: Brian Comiskey

Yep, that's right. My strategy was to intentionally take a walk (or reset) break within every mile. Not always at each aid station but instead, to walk to reset my form. This is something that I have practiced in all of my long runs and something that we encourage our athletes to do as well. Committing to walking in an Ironman can be tough for many athletes view it as failing. There's a big difference between unintentional vs intentional walking. The later makes you feel in control whereas the earlier makes you feel like defeated. I'm not saying that unintentional walking is bad but there's something very powerful about having a plan to walk and sticking to it. I figured that it wasn't if I got caught on the run by my competition in my age group, but when. However, I didn't let this thought of being caught scare me as I needed to focus on my strategy to get to the finish line.

In addition to my walk breaks (which were rarely at aid stations until the last 6 or so miles), I was also confident in my fueling plan. I had two flasks, each with 1 scoop Carborocket hydration (108 calories, 10 ounce water, 331 mg sodium and 27g carbs). Each flask was a different flavor - one with kiwi lime and the other with raspberry lemonade. For the second loop, I had two flasks in special needs filled with 3 scoops per flask of Osmo women mango (105 calories, 10 ounce water, 552 mg sodium and 27g carbs). I also carried an Enveritine cheerpack with me to start the run (and one in special needs) in case I needed a little pick-me up (I didn't end up using either). I have practiced with all products listed above as I use sport nutrition in every training session - even easier workouts. I am comfortable running with my Nathan Trail Mix hydration belt (I actually love it so much I don't like to run without it), drinking when I run and I enjoy the taste of my products. I also know that I can eventually move to coke in the later miles of the run and still sip on Osmo. The reason why I run with my hydration is that I can drink when I want to drink. Because muscle glycogen stores are declining, keeping the brain energized with sugar is key. Since the liver is responsible for this, the nutrition that I take in on the run is not only helping me muscles but also keeping my brain alert. In other words, I can always stay one step (literally) ahead of my blood sugar to prevent bonking. Also, I find that it's incredibly easy to overdrink at aid stations when you feel very thirsty or low in energy so by bringing along my own nutrition, I can use the aid stations just for water and then coke, when or if needed. 


Photo: Jay Baker
Within the first mile, I realized that I didn't completely empty myself when I exited T2 so I stopped in the port-o-john right before an aid station. I figured now was the time to go as I didn't want to wait too long and then struggle to find a potty and I knew once I went, I would feel so much better. And it worked! Plus, after a quick sit and rest, I felt a million times better. This also confirmed that adding in the reset breaks was going to help me delay fatigue and hopefully run fresher longer.

As usual, the first few miles were a little tough as I was trying to get my rhythm, settle into a good stride, find my form and just put my mind into a good place. The walk breaks were also a nice distraction from how far I still had left to run as I only focused on one mile at a time. This actually made the first few miles go by really quickly. My friend Jacqui (who was the overall amateur female) blazed by me (she ran 3 hours!) and we had a quick little convo. Based on this, I knew my effort was conversational and I was not over-doing it. Sure, it felt hard as I had been racing for over 6 hours but I wasn't forcing my effort or trying to chase a pace. I would glance down at my watch every now and then and see paces in the low 8 minutes and I felt like I could hold this effort for some time so I just ran with it - literally.

Photo: Jay Baker
Once I found my running legs, my smile grew bigger. I was actually enjoying running and I felt very strong and healthy. Because I don't do the typical "long" runs in training (my longest run was 2 hours/14 miles with a main set of 10 x 1 miles slightly faster than IM marathon effort w/ 30 sec walk between) but instead, many brick runs, double run days and a lot of frequency running, I not only felt fresh for this marathon but I was looking forward to the mechanical fatigue that I knew was coming. Because I only like to put myself in that deep uncomfortable place on race day, it was something that I was welcoming but I wanted to delay it for as long as possible. My goal was to run a very steady and sustainable effort for the first loop (13 miles) as if I was holding myself from going harder. This actually made the effort feel rather "easy" but within the context of Ironman racing (it's never easy). And that tired feeling that I felt on the bike was gone. I was alert, happy, energized and fresh. This rarely happens so I couldn't stop myself from smiling. The course was packed with spectators and I felt like every corner welcomed me with new cheers and faces. I love all the turns and terrain changes on this course as it helped me break it down mentally into small segments. Once I approached Observatory hill, I saw Karel and I was super excited to see him and hear an update of how I was doing. Karel and I have developed an ability to know what the other person needs to hear in the moment when we are racing and Karel said the right thing to me. He told me that I he was so happy with how I was running but the 2nd and 3rd place girls were 2 and 3 minutes behind me. I told Karel that I was feeling really good but I was sticking to my walk-break plan. He told me to not change what I was doing as it is working. All of this conversation occurred in about 30 seconds as I was running my way up the hill. Since I was being very strategic with my walk breaks, I made sure to walk anytime I felt like I wanted to feel good for an upcoming segment. Once I made my way on State Street, I could feel the crowds giving me so much energy. I was just happy that I felt so good and could smile my way through that section.


Photo: Joanne Marshall

Going into the race, my goal was to get a Kona slot. I figured we would have two slots but I wanted to win my age group just be sure. While this goal was important to me, I made sure not to take risks and to stick to my plan. At the end of the day, the only person I can control is myself. If the other girls were to run faster than me, so be it. I wanted to put together a race that I was proud of and at the end of the day, the athlete in my age group who put together the best race (in other words, who is the best at not slowing down) was going to win the age group and get one of the two Kona slots.

When I saw Karel for the second time, he told me that the girls were running just a bit faster than me but to not change what I was doing. This news worried me a little bit as I saw the two girls running in the opposite direction on State Street and I felt like the gap was closing. It was still hoovering around 2-3 minutes which is not that much time in the marathon. I also heard Karel's mom cheering which just made me smile so big as she was having a blast out there with her cowbell. 

Once I made my way on the gravel trail section, my legs were happy. I really enjoy running on gravel and I tried to stay on the gravel section for as long as possible (even if that meant running on the side of the run path with just a small patch of gravel). On the next out and back, I saw the girls and they were getting closer to me. Still, I was feeling good and stayed with my run/walk plan.

The first loop went by really fast which is exactly what I had hoped for. I was also really happy that my form wasn't breaking down. While I thought it would be hard to make the u-turn to lap two within a few hundred meters from the finish line, I was actually looking forward to lap two. Bring it out, I thought to myself.

I made a quick stop at special needs and then made my way back out of town. For this second loop, I needed to take a few small risks but also remain calm. Since I was very patient in the first loop with my effort, I had a lot of trust in my body for the next 13 miles. I knew the mechanical fatigue was building and it was going to get really hard, really soon but I just kept taking care of myself and focused on running well. After the run through the stadium, I started to mentally take note of the segments of the course that I wouldn't have to do again. Stadium - check. As I got to Observatory hill, there was Karel again and he told me that it was still close. Perhaps the coaches/friends of the other girls behind me were giving information like "she's walking" which made the other girls speed up but it was getting close and Karel was on edge (he later told me that my race was a very exciting race for him to track!). Rather than walking up observatory hill(s), I ran because I knew that if I was going to take a risk it was going to be on the hill. So I made my way up the hill, took a reset break, charged down the hill and after state street, Karel told me that I had opened up the gap and it was now around 4-5 minutes. I couldn't believe it. Am I really running away from my competition? This never ever happens?!?! While I knew I was slowing down, I was still able to keep good form and I never felt like I wanted the run to be overwith. I felt like I was there doing what I had trained to do and my body and mind were ON!


As I past mile 20, I told myself to just think of my favorite 6 mile running route. Then when I got to mile 23, it's only 3 miles - that's like a typical brick run (even though I always go by time and not miles/distance). Then when I got to 24, I told myself when I got to mile 25, I could give it everything I had. While it wasn't much more than I was giving for the last few miles, I couldn't believe the day that my body put together. I sprinted my way to the finish (well, it felt like a sprint) and made sure to celebrate the last mile. I loved seeing my athletes on the course and I could not wait to get back out there to help bring everyone to that finish line.

Funny stories....At one point, Karel told me to keep myself cool. I was like, um, I am not hot at all. While a few sections of the course were a little warm, the weather was perfect. I grabbed ice a few times but I didn't hold it long because it was too cold. Also, when I was nearing mile 16, I thought in my head it was mile 17. Total disappointment to see mile 16 instead. However, I must have missed mile marker 24 so after mile 23, I just kept running on the course thinking "where is mile 24?? And then when I saw mile 25 I was like "SCORE!" That was the best feeling ever and it couldn't have come at a better time as my legs were not moving so fast in the last few miles. 


When I crossed the finish line, I felt amazing. Sore, tired, exhausted and short of breath but amazing. I couldn't believe it. When I saw Karel and his mom (and a new friend Lindsey) behind the barricades, I just lifted up my arms as I couldn't believe it. I just won my age group and qualified for Kona for the 6th time. 

There's nothing like that feeling of crossing the finish line of an Ironman!! It makes all the unknowns, challenges, worries and muscle aches worth it. 


My coach, best friend and life-long teammate.

While anything can happen in an Ironman, I feel I put together a perfect race. The exciting part for me was that I was racing for all 140.6 miles. My competition was strong behind me and for most of the race, three of us were within 3 minutes of one another. For me, it wasn't so much about the time or place as far as why I am so proud of my performance but my execution. Everything I did on race day was practiced in training, I listened to my body, I arrived fit, healthy and physically and mentally fresh and excited to race. I didn't chase a result or metrics or an outcome but instead, stayed true to myself and focused on what I needed to do all day to deliver me to my 14th IM finish line with a smile that didn't go off my face for all 26.2 miles.

After the race, it took me some time to hobble my way to my gear bags and change in the terrace bathroom before heading back out to cheer for our athletes. I was so cold after the race that it took me some time to warm-up in the food tent! It got rather cold at night so I was happy that I had my warm clothes from the morning. I made sure to eat as much as I could after the race to help with the recovery process. The worst part of the day was hearing from Karel that our athlete Ericka crashed with just a few miles to go on the bike after she moved herself up to 6th place in the pro field in her first ever Ironman. She hit some gravel on a turn (accident as she is a great rider and bike handler) and went down - luckily nothing was broken but she was taken to the hospital. While we are incredibly sad about how her day ended, we know she will be back stronger and hungrier than before. We love you Ericka!



Here are my splits from the run, which include my walk breaks. I didn't have a set time that I was walking as I just walked to reset my form, stretch out and take care of whatever I needed to do to run well until my next walk break. 


Mile 1: 8:17 min/mile (didn't see the official start to the run so I started my watch late)
Mile 2: 8:43 (bathroom stop)
Mile 3: 8:11
Mile 4: 8:11
Mile 5: 8:05
Mile 6: 8:40
Mile 7: 8:34
Mile 8: 8:15
Mile 9: 8:28
Mile 10: 8:22
Mile 11: 8:23
Mile 12: 8:18
Mile 13: 8:40 (special needs stop)
Mile 14: 8:25
Mile 15: 8:36
Mile 16: 8:42
Mile 17: 8:57
Mile 18: 8:37
Mile 19: 9:16
Mile 20: 8:49
Mile 21: 8:40
Mile 22: 9:08
Mile 23: 9:09
Mile 24: 8:56
Mile 25: 9:05
Mile 26: 9:06
Mile 0.2: 8:26

I think I counted 21 intentional walk breaks over 26 miles (see below)
Per my Garmin: 25.9 miles, 3:44.09 (8:39 min/mile), 843 feet elevation gain

Ironman tracker results for the run: 3:45.44 (8:36 min/mile), 3rd fastest AG group, 24th female run, 113rd overall



RESULTS
Swim:
59.38
T1: 6:20
Bike: 5:37.44
T2: 3:03
Run: 3:45.44
Overall: 10:32.29, 1st AG, 5th amateur female, 2019 Kona Qualified

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2018 Trimarni Supporters and Affiliates

We would like to send a BIG thank you to our Trimarni sponsors and affiliates for supporting the Trimarni team:
  • Run In - for helping us with our running gear/shoe needs
  • Mg12 - for helping our muscles stay relaxed
  • Clif Bar - for quality, organic ingredients in quality sport nutrition
  • Carborocket - for providing a quality bike and run nutrition in tasty flavors
  • Base nutrition - for making delicious bars and a variety of products to meet the needs of endurance athletes. And for being all around awesome. 
  • Veronica's Health Crunch - for the most delicious hand made crunch - ever!
  • Infinit - for customizable sport nutrition with safe and effective ingredients
  • Levelen - for helping athletes optimize our hydration needs through sweat testing
  • Hot Shot - for boosting neuromuscular performance and preventing muscle cramps
  • Solestar - for maximum stability, better power transmission
  • KLEAN for making quality products, tested to be clean and safe for athlete consumption.
  • Boco Gear - for helping us race in style
  • Canari - for the most comfortable, functional and stylish gear and for helping our athletes race in good-looking kits
  • Amrita bars - for making the most delicious tasting, high-quality plant-based protein and energy bars. 
  • Xterra - for the fastest, most comfortable wetsuit ever.
  • Alto cycling - for engineering the fastest race wheels
  • Swamp Rabbit Inn and Lodge - for keeping our campers happy with perfect lodging options
  • Ventum - for designing a cool-looking bike that has been backed by research and top-notch engineering. I love my Ventum!




9/17/18

IMWI '18 Race Report - 112 mile bike

Photo: Jay Baker
If I had one complaint about this course, it's the first few miles on the bike path. Even though the course was altered a bit due to recent flooding, it's still a technical way to start the bike in a race. Thankfully, it's not more than a few miles of navigating cracks, turns and bumps and a railroad track before you are on an open road and heading out to the country.

With the temp around 50 degrees, I was happy I had my arm coolers on as they were keeping me warm. I felt very comfortable (body temp) when I started the bike but I still gave myself a few miles to wake-up my legs and to settle into a nice rhythm. I always start the bike with my helmet shield up so it doesn't fog and then after a few minutes I snap it in place as my "sunglasses" for the rest of the ride. It's also a lot easier to get on this way.

After losing both my rear bottles at Ironman Chattanooga last year in the first few miles of the bike, I was extra paranoid at IMWI with every bump on the road. I kept tapping down my rear bottles before and after every noticeable bump for the first few miles as I didn't want to make the same mistake twice (and this is even with very secure gorilla bottle cages). But just to be safe and not sorry, I filled my hydration flask with 2 bottles worth of INFINIT powder just in case I were to lose two bottles. I chose not to use my hydration system for this race because I am very comfortable grabbing my bottles and it's easy for me to see how much I am drinking and to get in full gulps. But since it is more aero with the hydration system, I keep it on my bike. I've only had my new Ventum to ride for just a few weeks but I have tested out the straw and plan to use it for extreme conditions (ex. rain and wind).

It wasn't too long into the bike when I heard my name and it was my athlete Ericka who was racing in the professional women's field. She is a super strong biker and she loves to ride her bike. It was great to see her ride away from me and I was so pumped for her to experience her first Ironman - and to share the day with her.

The Ironman Wisconsin course is tough. There's little time to settle into a rhythm with over 91-turns per loop (over 200 turns over 112 miles). While the course has 5600 feet of elevation gain, you are either going up or down and rarely do you get a lot of momentum to get yourself from one downhill to the next uphill. There are a few technical sections with tight turns that can be executed safely but you have to be on alert, especially when other athletes are around.  And when there is a flat-ish segment, you usually get wind. On our race day, the wind was angry. And lastly, the road conditions are rough. While several segments have been paved over the years, it's not a "fast" course. However, having said all that, the scenery is beautiful (think farms - lots and lots of farms and fields), there are designated spectator-heavy spots that you can get a ton of energy from the crowds, the course is very-well marked, the course is safe (even though it's not closed to traffic, there are police and volunteers everywhere) and it's a fun course!

NUTRITION
I keep my nutrition super simple during an Ironman so that I can focus on my execution but also ensure that I can optimize digestion and absorption of all calories consumed.  For my nutrition in an Ironman, I use 1 26-ounce bottle of INFINIT per hour (I use my own custom version of my endurance base formula, discount Trimarnicoach if you'd like to try it) with around 500mg sodium, 250 calories, 62g carbs and 15g of sugar. One of my 6 bottles (3 for the first loop and then 3 in special needs - already filled with water and powder) contains caffeine and aminos (mixed in my custom formula) - 50mg caffeine and 1g aminos. I use this bottle as my third bottle on the bike (so around 2 hours of riding). This is the same strategy I use for every long ride. To help with taste bud fatigue, I bring along 4 different flavors (watermelon, pink lemonade, fruit punch and grape) so that each hour is a different flavor. My front bottle cage holds my primary bottle and when I am finished with it, I either toss it at an aid station (I use an old bottle that I am happy to get rid of) or move it to my rear cage and replace with my rear bottle. I keep rotating bottles so I can always grab my front bottle. For this race, I didn't grab water in the first loop but grabbed water at each aid station on the second loop to use for sipping and cooling. While I like to have a plan for an Ironman, I am also always listening to my body. I always bring "extra" fuel with me for those just-in-case situations and in this Ironman, I brought along a Clif PB and pretzel MOJO bar as it's something I have practiced with in training and have had good runs off the bike when I nibble on the bar throughout my ride. So I broke up the bar in advance, put it into a baggy and stuck into my bento box for easy nibbling throughout the ride. I mostly went through the entire bar throughout hour 2-5 of the bike. I also had a small flask filled with 1 Enervite cheerpack (caffeine) that I took a swig from anytime I needed a little burst of energy. Again, I practiced with this in training. So aside from drinking my INFINIT bottle every hour, 4-5 chugs every 10-12 minutes (give or take depending on the terrain and how I was feeling), the extra nutrition was based on how I felt.

Picture: Brian Comiskey

TRAINING PREP
The IMWI bike course is very similar to what we train on in Greenville so I think that helped me a lot with my execution and knowing how to ride my bike on the course. While we have a lot to climb where we live (and bumpy roads), this helped my bike handling skills, terrain management and strength on two wheels but it leaves very little opportunity for steady state riding. So my long rides are always outside and my more specific rides are typically on the trainer. I usually ride my road bike once a week for an easy spin and I have found that I need to incorporate variable cadence work (riding at a very low or very high cadence) during my workouts to keep the fibers firing, versus just focusing on steady state efforts. I haven't done a power test in over a year so all my rides are by feel as I know what each effort should feel like and I adjust based on how I feel for the day. My bike fit is all dialed in thanks to Karel as it wasn't a difficult fit as my new Ventum fits me so well. Whereas my Trek Speed Concept was a size small (700 wheels), it was a bit too big for me. This new bike is just perfect and with my 155mm cranks and Dash saddle plus the shape of my aerobars (Ventum product), the bike feels extremely comfortable and rides so well. And with the wind, I felt like I was just slicing through it! This never happens to me as with my old bike, I felt like I was always getting pushed around. With no downtube on my Ventum, there is less for the wind to hit. Also the chain stay is shorter than on most bikes which brings my weight more towards the center or the back of the bike while still maintaining an aero position. This makes the bike feel more like a road bike compared to a heavy tri bike. The bike road so well and I was so happy with my choice to ride my new Ventum at IMWI (even though I had only completed 2 long rides on it prior!).

As for my training going into this race, my longest ride was 5.5 hours and that was with our campers in August. Other than that, the majority of my rides were around 4-4.5 hours. While I don't do many "long" rides, my workouts are very specific and intense. Either the terrain brings up the inside or the workout itself. Plus, our miles go by very slow where we live so it's not uncommon for us to average 16-17mph for a long ride. Thus, completing a 100+ mile ride would be a long day in the mountains and we feel there are other beneficial ways to gain fitness versus spending so much time in the saddle. While I love to ride my bike and train, I'm always looking for the most efficient way to gain fitness in the least amount of time possible.

Photo: Jay Baker

RACE STRATEGY
As for the race, I hit lap every 30-35 minutes once I got on the loop (~40 miles per loop). I used the stick part of the course to build into my effort and I made sure to keep the first loop very sustainable. I felt strong but tried to hold myself back. There was a lot of sitting up in the saddle or standing on the climbs which I liked as I am much more comfortable changing my position than being stuck in aero for miles at a time. The crowds were incredible on the two longer climbs on the course, in addition to the 3 sisters (or b!tche$ - however you choose to call them). I saw a lot of familiar faces on the course which was awesome - thank you Ed, Diane, Cory, Michela, Tim and all other friends/family for being out there! I was getting updates on my position that I was leading the female amateur race and first in my age group. While this news was motivating, I didn't let it change my game plan of riding my bike well. After a stop at special needs to get three fresh bottles (for those who thinks special needs is a waste of time, my stop was only 12 seconds according to my data), I was looking forward to the second loop. Knowing that fatigue was building, my goal was just to ride the same effort as before but to save a little for the stretch going home as I knew it would be windy and in my face. I was starting to warm-up and while I probably could have kept on my arm coolers, I decided to remove them around mile 60 just to feel something different. I tucked the arm coolers into my jersey pockets. Not too long later, it hit me. A low. After 14 Ironmans, I know these lows come but it's always a guessing game as to how long. While the miles were going by very quickly, my low stayed with me for some time. Maybe it was the wind, the part of the course where I was riding (I was alone for a very long time) or being passed by two very strong girls but the low stayed with me for more than I would have liked. It's hard to describe this feeling but it's easy to get negative and to start having doubts. I took in some calories, did a few check-in's with my body and all was still feeling ok so I just rode it out (literally) and was able to bounce back from it.

Karel was spectating around the 3 sisters and I was super excited to see him. I gave him a big smile but also told him "I'm feeling tired." He yelled back "you should be, you are doing an Ironman." Sometimes it helps to say what I am feeling as it's kinda like a little self-talk for myself to get out of my funk. It helped and I felt stronger soon after I saw Karel. I was prepared for the final section of the bike (the last 14 miles) to be very tough and it was. It was slow but I just focused on smooth pedaling, staying relaxed and doing my best to deliver myself to the run as fresh as possible after riding a super windy and tough 112 miles. While I was passed by two girls, I was still first in my age group so that gave me a lot of motivation to keep taking good care of myself and giving my best on this day. While sometimes our thoughts tell us negative things, thoughts aren't always actions. I had nothing to convince me that I was having a bad race so even with a low on the bike, I still told myself that I could have a great race. I reminded myself of all my hard training sessions and no matter how I feel on the bike, I can still put together a solid run. To be honest, I had my normal thoughts of quitting and questioning why I do this crazy sport but something deep inside myself loves to prove myself wrong. 

As I neared the helix, I couldn't believe how fast the day was going and that I was about to start the marathon. Only 26.2 miles until the finish of my 14th Ironman! With the lead in my age group and 3rd female amateur overall, I questioned if history would repeat itself and with only 2 and 3 minutes between me and 2nd and 3rd place in my age group, I was in need of the run of my life to take the age group win.

112 mile BIKE RESULT (per Ironman tracker)
5:37.55 (19.86 mph)
2nd fastest AG (35-39)
14th female
141th overall

Bike specifics:
Any questions about these components, email me and I'll send your question along to Karel. I don't do bikes - I just ride them :) 
  • Ventum One Frame size 46 (custom paint) 
  • Ventum handlebar set up with TriRig ultra light elbow cups with CeeGees pads
  • Wheels: Alto CC 86 rear and Alto CC 56 front wheel with Specialized S-works 24mm tubeless tires and Ultegra 11-28 cassette.
  • Crank: Rotor 3D24 crank arms 155mm with Rotor Qarbon 53 aero big chainring and 39 small chainring with Power2Max pwoermeter. 
  • BB: CeramicSpeed bottom bracket (red) 
  • Saddle: Dash Stage Custom saddle 
  • Other components: Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 and Utegra 8000 Di2 group set with CeramicSpeed oversized pulley system (red) 
My race data (Garmin 810): Each split represents when I lapped my computer (I wasn't always perfect, sometimes I would forget)

-14 miles (39 minutes/21.7 mph), 169w NP, 87 RPM
-11 miles (30 minutes/21.3 mph), 168w NP, 85 RPM
-10 miles (31 minutes/19.3 mph), 180w NP, 84 RPM
-10 miles (32 minutes/18.9 mph), 170w NP, 83 RPM
-13 miles (37 minutes/20.9 mph), 164w NP, 83 RPM
-12.4 miles (37 minutes/20 mph), 169w NP, 82 RPM
-9.66 miles (30 minutes/19 mph), 159w NP, 81 RPM
-10 miles (34 minutes/17.6 mph), 161w NP, 80 RPM
-6.6 miles (19 minutes/20.9 mph),135w NP, 80 RPM
-14 miles (45 minutes/18.5 mph), 140w NP, 78 RPM
Data recorded 111 miles in 5:35.59 (19.8 mph)


9/16/18

IMWI '18 Race Report - Pre-race + Swim + T1


Pre-race

I was looking forward to my 30-minute swim on Friday morning at the Pinaccle Health Club. Karel joined me but swam about double my distance as he is still in training mode for his upcoming races. Because two days out from an Ironman is a relatively light day of training for me, I was really looking forward to connecting with our 13 athletes who were racing IMWI (and seeing their family members). In usual Trimarni fashion, we had our pre-race pizza party + course talk as a way to connect everyone and provide last minute advice and tips. Our athlete Lisa lives in Madison and offered up her rooftop deck/clubhouse for our party. The views were incredible. Plus, you can never go wrong with pizza two days before a race. We ordered pizza from Pizza Brutta and it was amazing!
The rest of the day was very low-key for me and it was early to bed to try to get a good night of sleep as you never know how sleep will go on the night before the race. 

Saturday was all about waking up the body and fueling for the long adventure that awaited me on Sunday. Interesting, I never felt “too full or heavy” despite eating far more than I normally eat before a race. I started the day with my typical pre-training snack (2 waffles w/ PB, syrup and Greek yogurt) and a small cup of coffee and water. Then it was off for a 55 minute spin on the race course (with the terrain dictating my efforts to raise the intensity) followed by a 15 minute run off the bike. I’m not tied to any specific goal times, paces or distances to achieve with my pre-race warm-up as I’m looking to warm-up until I feel good and then save it all for race day. Karel started with me (and our athlete Thomas) but then continued on with his ride as he had a big day of training planned with a 6-hour ride followed by a 20-minute run. After a big glass of milk while cleaning up, I prepared myself 2 big slices of French toast w/ scrambled eggs and fruit. 

                                        


                                         


I re-packed my gear bags (I had them all laid out and almost packed as of Thurs evening) and then around 11:30am, headed downtown with Thomas, Karel’s mom and Campy to check-in our bikes and gear bags. Because the wind was gusty, I noticed that a few other athletes had used duct tape to secure their saddle on the transition rack. This was a great idea since my bike is too small to touch the ground so I did the same by taping down the saddle rails to the bike rack. After dropping off our gear bags, we walked around the outside expo and checked out the finish line and then headed home. 


But first, we had to make a quick stop at a local bakery to pick-up a few treats for Karel so he could survive his day of spectating on Sunday. Sadly, they were out of croissants but I substituted with two scones and a huge cinnamon roll (for me). If you didn't know, I LOVE cinnamon rolls. 



When we returned home, my lunch consisted of leftover pizza (from Pizza Brutta), cottage cheese, a handful of arugula. I really cut back on my veggies in the 48 hours before the race. I also yummed over some of my cinnamon roll (it was calling my name and I couldn’t wait to dig into it). Then it was time to fill my bottles with my sport nutrition powders (topping off with water on race day morning) and put my feet up and relax. Since I am not the best relaxer, I found a movie to watch on Netflix which distracted me for a while. Karel eventually came home from his workout around 3pm and he provided us with some great feedback on the course (since he did the entire course and a little more during his ride). I snacked on corn chips and fruit throughout the afternoon and ended the day with a bag of microwave rice (high in carbs and lots of sodium). Our professional athlete Ericka (doing her first IM!) came over with her husband in the evening on Friday for a last minute pre-race chat with me and Karel.

Since carbonated water can sometimes irritate the gut, I avoided it and just drank plain water all day plus 1 bottle of precision hydration (1500). Even though the temps were not predicted to be warm for race day, I still found it important to load on sodium to optimize my hydration level before the event. Since Karel was tired from his training, we both headed off to bed around 7pm and lights were off around 8:30pm. I think Campy was the first to fall asleep – this Ironman stuff is tough for his almost 11-year old body!


Race morning
My alarm went off at 3:45am and surprisingly, Karel was quick out of bed. He was starving and ready to eat after his big day of training on Saturday. This made it easy for me to get out of bed but I made sure to sit up slowly as to not throw off my blood pressure and faint (which happened to me at IM 70.3 World Championships in 2017). Campy (as you see below), was not quick to get out of bed. 

While I felt a little nervous, I didn’t let it get to me too much. I knew once I got to the race venue, my nerves would disappear. I ate my typical pre-race meal (which is also the same thing I eat before every training session – just in higher quantities for race day and a few extra toppings) of 2 waffles, PB, yogurt, syrup, banana, cinnamon, granola. I had a cup of coffee (instant is what I like), glass of water, 3 MAP BCAA’s and 1 scoop Osmo pre-load. I filled all of my 6 bike bottles and 4 flasks with water (since I put powder in them the day before) and then packed up my race day bag. 


Karel’s mom and Campy stayed at the house as Karel planned to go back to the house before heading out on the bike course to cheer. Karel drove Thomas and I to the race venue and we parked on the street just a block from the capital. We walked first to special needs to drop off our bags (Bike and run bag drop offs were both by the capital, before the finish line) and then headed to our gear bags inside the terrace to drop off any last minute items (like nutrition). I kept myself warm with pants, a jacket, a hat and gloves because it was a bit cool out (in the low 50’s) and a little windy. For every race, I always bring a bag of "extra" clothing like gloves, ear covers, shoe covers, arm warmers, leg warmers, rain jacket/vest and anything else I may need if weather changes. I made a mental note of where my bags were before heading to body marking and then to our bikes. 



Karel stood outside of the transition area and gave my tires a touch to see if they were good to go for the race. Since we pumped them up the day before (gave the bike a full charge for my electronic shifting on Friday night), they held their pressure on race day morning. It was nice to see so many familiar faces throughout the morning, including several of our athletes. Of course, I made sure to untape my saddle – that would have been no fun if I would have forgot! 

                                  
It was nearing 5:45pm when I was finished with my pre-race to do’s. I made a potty stop inside the terrace (nice clean bathrooms with no line) and then did a little light mobility work on the floor in the terrace for the next 10 minutes. Around 6pm, I put on my wetsuit, gave Karel a kiss and hug good-bye, found a doggy to give a kiss (can't forget the furry ones) and then made my way down to the swim start. It was a little crowded to get down there so I was happy to give myself extra time. I was hoping to get in the water but it appeared they weren’t letting anyone in the water so I just kept myself loose before getting into the corral. I had an Enervite pre-race Jelly around 20 minutes before the start. With the pros going off at 6:40am (in-the-water start at the first buoy), it was getting rather tight in the corral by 6:20am. I wanted to get around the 1-hour group but the only sign was 1-1:10 (predicted swim time for the rolling start). This created a lot of chaos even before the start for there was a wide range of swim abilities all crammed together (plus those that probably shouldn’t be near the front anyways). While it may seem like standing around for 30 minutes in a tight corral would be stressful, I didn’t mind it for I knew that for the next 10+ hours, I would be moving and using my body. 



Swim 2.4 miles - 59:38 (2nd 35-39, 6th female, 24th overall)

Once the gun went off, the line moved quickly. I first stepped over the timing mat and then walked to the water. It felt like forever until I crossed over the mat and then entered the water but I’m guessing it wasn’t more than a 30 seconds. I made a poor decision and started on the left of the swim start which was a bit more crowded since we needed to keep all buoys to our left. I found it very chaotic in the water for the first few buoys due to the large amount of athletes who lined up in the 1-1:10 time frame plus the sub 1-hour swimmers. There were many times that instead of focusing on staying on course, I was sighting to find clean water. The best part of the early part of the swim was swimming next to my athlete Stephanie who is a great swimmer. I immediately noticed her as we both wear the same Xterra vengeance wetsuit and I know her swim stroke. I eventually swam away from her but she wasn’t too far behind me as she had an awesome swim. The stretch to the first buoy went by rather quickly. While I found myself needing to swim by many swimmers, I finally found my groove.



However, once I made my way around the two turn buoys and started to swim back toward the start, the water became incredibly choppy – more like an ocean. Since I have a pretty straight-arm stroke, I really focused on catching the water and trying to time my stroke with the chop. While it worked for a little bit at a time, the chop would change and then I would need to reset my rhythm. Since it was a good mile of straight swimming against the chop, I had no time to think about anything in the future (bike and run) but to stay in the moment. Since it takes me some time to feel warmed-up (this is for any sport), I like to pick up my effort as the swim progresses. I found myself around a few other girls (pink caps) which gave me a little boost to keep my effort going and to swim really strong to the finish. Since I always wear new goggles for an Ironman swim, I could see perfectly throughout the entire swim which also helped me stay on course. Although the long stretch felt long, the final stretch to the shore came rather quickly. I felt strong throughout the entire swim and felt I paced it well. Since I don’t wear a watch, I didn’t know my swim time but quickly glanced at the race clock and saw 1:10 – which I figured was for the pros. I quickly did the math and figured I was right around an hour which I was happy about. It was a nice tone to set the day.  Karel stayed inside the terrace and then made his way near the mount line to cheer me on (and our other athletes) for the start of the bike.



T1 - 6:10


The transition from swim to bike at IMWI is a loooooong one. I first got my wetsuit removed by the “strippers” and choose to go to the very end before laying down as to not get stuck around other athletes. I kept my cap and goggles on as two less things to carry up the helix. Oh that helix. The crowds were incredible as they were 3-4 rows deep cheering as I ran up and up and up to the entrance to the terrace. This race is also special because the transition area is inside! The volunteers were great as always and directed me into the room with our blue bike gear bags and then into the female “changing tent” (a room). My volunteer helped me put on my gear and held my timing chip as I put on my compression socks (typically I put it in my mouth so I don’t forget it). I wasn’t planning to wear my arm warmers as the swim really warmed me up (water temp was in the 70’s) but the volunteer told me it was rather chilly out and in looking back, I was glad I had them on. They were actually arm coolers so they were really light but provided my arms with just enough warmth for the early miles of the bike (well – actually until mile 60!). While the Ironman is a very long day requiring patience and not taking risks, transitions are nothing more than “free speed.” 


Since this transition is naturally long, I made good use of my time by removing my cap and goggles right when I entered the terrace, put my helmet on as I ran to the changing tent and then carried my bike shoes with me until I got to my bike. While running the entire length of the parking lot to my bike (on the very far side near the mount line), I also put on my arm warmers while running. Once I got to my bike rack, a volunteer held my bike, I turned on my bike computer and then put on my shoes. I grabbed my bike and then I was off. I felt like it was one of my best executed transitions, even though it’s a long one. As my first race on my new Ventum, I was really excited to put it to the test and see how it dealt with the bumpy roads, gusty winds and technical terrain that was ahead of me for 112 miles of riding.