Sunday, October 30, 2011

Three Weeks

Three weeks ago I was in Hawaii racing the finale of my season, the Ironman World Championships. Three weeks ago today I was celebrating a near sub 10 hour finish among the best competition in the world. Three weeks ago, I was celebrating with some of my most cherished friends and family over lava flows and mojitos. Three weeks ago, my "off" season began. So where does that leave me now, three weeks later? Mark and I celebrating at the Fairmont
The 2011 season went better than I could have imagined, but it went as I knew it could. This already has me thinking to the 2012 season and what "can be" for me next year. Some wise coaches say that you have to have a plan in place to make your dreams come true, otherwise they are just that...dreams. I have been begging Mark to put a plan together for 2012 and to plan the races out and he tells me to " patient", you are not even supposed to be THINKING of that yet. "Later", he says. Can you tell we're have an age gap, and I am the eager beaver and he the wise sage? Mark Racing Cross:
So what have I been doing in the three weeks since Kona? I have been making up for lost time with special girlfriends who only know what I tell them about triathlon and that I am "crazy", sleeping so much that I am actually waking up on my own, rested and ready to go! I've also reversed the roles with Mark and have become Super Supporter at the local cross races where he has been getting fitter and faster each week...with the exception of this week since he took a digger and sliced his knee open...guess he just wants to match the scar I have from years ago taking a digger while running along Crissy Field.
What haven't I been doing since Kona? I haven't been running,that's for sure. I had a nagging Achilles going into Kona and I am determined to come out of the off season with a happy body, ready for the work ahead for the 2012 season. So that means, building back up the strength again with TRX...lord how I have missed that pain! And biking in the sun and trying to keep my Kona tan...we'll see how long it lasts.
Pretty soon, my off season will be over and it will be time to move onto the hard work ahead. But for now, I will continue to enjoy the less structured days and see how much fun I can cram into a small space of time.
See you on the road soon!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Racing in paradise, tales from the Hawaii Ironman

10:06:14. Shut. The. Front. Door!!! Long story short? I raced for my second time in Hawaii this past Saturday and with the time listed above finished 8th in my AG, 16th amateur female and 36th female overall...including the pros. Can I get a whoop whoop!!! Picture me doing my hands in the air dance right about now. I also dropped 48 minutes off my last year time along the way, having the race that I KNEW I was capable of. Read on for the blow by blow of race day.

Friday night and it's time to sleep. I managed to sleep better than usual, with only about two middle of the night wake ups. 4:30 and it's time to get up. Time to eat a massive bowl of peanut butter Puffins (I need sponsorship from Barbara's Bakery), a banana and a packet of Justin's honey almond butter. Yum-o! Combine it with a huge Gatorade and I hit my targeted 1000 kcal breakfast. Sunscreen and braid it up and its time to get to T1 to find my team gals and get the bike prepped and my swim gear on. We were lucky enough to get a pic with legendary 81 years young Lew Hollander...nothing says inspiration like this man!

SWIM: 1:05:21
Faster than last year but not by much. I got into the water with the Mark Renshaw of swimming, Kebby! Kebby was only going to swim and vowed to knock over loads of men and clear a path for me in the beginning of the swim. We decided to start next to the floating car which is far left and where I started last year. Last year I remember having really clear water from the get go. This year was MUCH different. From the beginning we were in the thick of it. We should have sensed this was coming from the massive number of men around us and how close they were getting...nothing like a little pre race action to get you pumped to swim! By the time the first bouy appeared we had gone from far left to right along the bouy line. Good for swimming, bad for body contact. My least favorite thing during an ironman swim is while taking a breath catching a glimpse of the chaos behind you. It's an indescribable image, hundreds of people swimming towards you in a very selfish mindset trying to propel themselves to the swim finish as fast as possible. I hit the turn around and glanced at my watch and saw :31, and thought to myself, yes this is going to be a 1:02 ish swim as we had already rounded the boat and were headed straight for home. And I even tried to push the way home after thinking I had taken the first half out way too easy...saw the clock on the way out with a 1:05 and said OK, let's get on and ride that bike!

BIKE 5:21:48
The bike was a 31 minute PR from last year and while I know that the winds were not nearly as bad as last year that meant that it was HOT out there in the lava fields. I remember going too slowly last year through town and knew that I needed to push from the beginning and try to catch Jess who had exited the water 4 minutes up on me. I am like a machine with my bike nutrition, an alarm sounds every thirty minutes indicating its time for a 150 kcal gel and every other beep it's time for two salt tabs. This combined with one initial bottle of Gatorade and then only water is my strategy and it has never failed me (touch wood Iris). I got on this from the start of the bike and never skipped a beat. I was feeling SO good all the way out and was telling myself as I passed girls in my AG who usually beat me, that this was the plan, this is how I know I can ride and to have faith in myself...there was lots of talking to myself on race day, some even out loud! Got to the turn around in Hawi and knew that I had to take advantage of all the free speed that the hill offers and move it back home. I was flying back and talking to myself about how much I love the wind, I am one with the wind, my aerobars are the best place to be in the wind, and before I knew it, I had no gears left and was going for broke. When all of these good patches came, I told myself to bank these moments and feelings as there were sure to be bleak spots ahead. And there they were, from mile 80-T2 I was in a rough patch, my back hurting keeping me from being aero and the head wind that prevailed all the way home. Sarah P came flying by during this section and I saw Beth as well. Coming back into T2, I was excited to see my running shoes, friends and family. Time to bring this sucker home.

RUN 3:33:14, 8:08 pace/mile

I have to say it. My major goal for this race was to hit 3:30 on the marathon. I wanted to improve in all disciplines, but I am no fool. I know that my run is the biggest weak link for me and to do what I want to do, it must get faster. My run here last year was a 3:46. Starting the run I felt pretty poopy, but who doesn't? Then my garmin beeps at me and tells me my first mile was a 7:22...ok well if that's what poopy feels like, bring it on! The plan for nutrition was to eat a gel every 2 miles and to get ice down the chest each mile and grab a few cups of water. And then salt tabs every hour. Thank god the aid stations are every mile, sometimes they couldn't come soon enough! The first 10 miles were at an 8min/mile pace and I was very comfortable, but the heat along Alii was crazy, no breeze and just HOT! Starting the climb up Palani, Mark is telling me to use my power to get up the hill. My"power" only allowed me to walk up Palani. When the watch said 8:45 for that first mile I knew it was still ok, as the next 7 miles out to the Energy Lab are a steady uphill. I wasn't getting passed at this point and was feeling pretty good. Mark had told me that I was likely in the top 15 for amateur women and I was thinking, seriously?!!! This is good news. In the energy lab I passed another gal in my AG and knew that there was only 6 more miles to go. With 2 miles to go, I allowed myself to really look at the garmin and see that I was on pace for a 3:3x marathon. I was really going to do it.

Coming down Alii is one of the best feelings in Ironman, you know that your day is almost over and the amount of high fiving is awesome. Everyone is cheering so loudly and you realize that all of your training and sacrifices throughout the year have indeed been worth it. I hit the line in 10:06 and busted into the top 10 in Kona. This is the real deal and I couldn't be happier. Of course I am already planning how I WILL get faster next year, but for now I am taking some time on the beach soaking up some sun eating some delish food and not caring about the calories, Dairy Queen anyone and enjoying some down time.

It's funny how I always tell Mark how I see other girls doing SO much volume and not as much tapering as I do and he always tells me to trust in our plan. And I do, but man alive did the plan work out this year. I think Mark has always known what I am capable of and I am only just starting to see it. Thanks babe! I also have to give a big Mahalo to my mom. She has always believed in me and told me that I can do whatever I want. She doesn't always think this for herself and sometimes thinks that I am a bit crazy, but her confidence in me is unwavering. Not everyone can say that and I am truly blessed. And how many other moms come swimming with their daughter into the Pacific for a recovery swim?!!

My other thanks go out to my unbelievable sponsors. Their help has made me faster and I hope to keep providing them with an excuse to sponsor me! TYR keeps me in the fastest and most comfortable swim products, arriving in Kona was like arriving to Christmas with TYR! The team keeps me looking good and keeps me comfortable all day long in their awesome kits...did you see us during the underpants run?!! Gray wheels make my bike splits even faster and nuun keeps me hydrated along the way. THANK YOU!!!

Enjoy the off season, gain a few pounds and let's do it again next year!!