Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Los Cabos Round 2!

The view from our condo
I was SO excited to go back to Los Cabos this year, I really like having raced somewhere before...I know what grocery store to go to, where to get good dinner and I've ridden the course before, so I just have to go in and race my butt off!  I was not only excited to race, but we hadn't been away from work since Kona, so it was time for some VACATION!! As soon as I left work last week, I was just was time to go to Mexico, be with friends and race...all things that make me extremely happy.  I had been feeling great in my taper, but kept reminding myself that while that is a good indicator, it would be best to keep my confidence in check as in Ironman, anything can happen and the best days can be turned upside down lickety split.  We were in the same condo as last year (literally, the same condo...we like consistency, what can we say?), and were staying with good friends so this made pre-race easy and calm.  Mark had to remind me that it was race time, not play time a few times, but I argue that being relaxed is mentally just what I needed- I already get the "I want to vomit/poop my pants, I'm so nervous" feeling often, so anything that can take my mind off of that is A-OK in my book!

A few pre-race rides and a swim and before you knew it, bikes were racked and it was time to sleep one last time before race morning.  Thankfully we brought ear plugs as just like LY, there was a MASSIVE live music concert two resorts down the beach and fire works were included this year! 

Pre-race nutrition: 2 eggs scrambled with white rice and soy sauce, a whole milk mocha (is that acceptable to even type that I had that?!), one bottle of Osmo active, one bottle of Osmo Pre-Load and a banana while prepping transition.  Total kcal's: ~900 
Pre-Race hug from one of my BFF"s Jenny!

Roka Swim: 56:38, new PR by almost 5 minutes and I swam a 1:01:59 on this exact course LY, so I am calling it a legit, apples to apples comparison. Maybe the swim PR was brought on by my new Roka wetty?  Maybe it was just years of swimming Stanford masters with Tim paying off?  Maybe it was having the confidence that I KNOW I am capable of swimming under and hour and finally doing it? All I know is that I am THRILLED with this new swim PR. I have been wanting to bust the 1:00:00 barrier on the swim for a while now and have known that it was looming.  CHECK!
The swim in Cabo is a gorgeous rectangle in the Sea of Cortez and only the first stretch is into the rising sun.  The first half of the swim is into the chop and then the back half you have a much smoother ride home.  I knew from last year that the current pulls hard to the right and so I lined up in the front left (where are all the other women?!!  Turns out, they are hard to find in a race of only 200 gals) and ran hard into the water as soon as the horn blasted.  It felt super congested until the first turn, with me at one time feeling like I was on top of some guys and still moving forward.  Do they really not notice that they are doing that? I could see space open to my left, and got knocked around a fair bit, but as soon as we made the first turn, I made it a priority to just get on a pair of feet, sight and not stay mixed in with the masses.  With so many people around, I couldn't tell if we were all on pace to swim an hour (do that many people really swim that time?) or if I was swimming slow.  Every time I had a slow moment, I thought to myself, "no, you WANT this, it's way too early to go easy...pick it up and increase your turn-over".  In choppy water, it seems to make me more efficient if I also adapt a shorter, choppier stroke to just break through the water.  This was working and I was feeling good and the buoys were ticking away nicely.  We rounded the last turn for home and I thought that I was swimming next to buddy and fellow Stanford swimmer, Kayla, but couldn't tell.  Turns out we were right next to each other and exited the swim in 1st and 2nd position for the AG and 2nd and 3rd amateur females.  I saw the clock said 1:08:xx on it and thought, wow, did we swim that slowly?  No disappointment allowed, just time to get on my bike and move it along.  Turns out, as I was exiting transition, I heard the announcer say that we were just rounding an hour for the amateur swim, meaning that I must have swum under an hour!  BONUS smiles heading onto the bike!! 

mmmm, sandy transition
Side note: Whose Idea was it to place a carpet over loose sand and call it run-able?  My heart was trying to jump out of my chest and I was doing my best to not feel like I was dying a quick death only an hour into what is a long day in the sun.  Turns out, I would need all of those smiles as running through a loose sand transition really takes it out of you and the first few miles of the bike were all, woah buddy, let that HR calm down a bit before you start going OK? 

Bike Nutrition: 10 salty balls (yes, the entire recipe's worth), 8 bottles of Osmo Active (3 from the start and additional single serves carried and dumped into the Speedfil), 1 bottle of 1scoop pre-load from special needs, (hallelujah it was still cold after being wrapped in foil frozen- will def do this in Kona), and additional water as needed at aid stations.  Total kcal's: 2060 or 374/hour.  Don't tell me I'm not a good eater!

Enve & Argon18 Bike: 5:34 over a course of 5k of climbing.  LY was 5:57, but they have changed the course, so not really comparable.
The only way to describe the Cabo course is unrelenting.  There is no flat ground, you are always either going slightly up, more up, or the opposite with wind ;)  It was really windy last year as well and the day was calling for 20 mph gusts with consistent 12-15mph wind.  Mark packed extra wheels so we could make a timely decision and I ended up riding a really shallow 3.4 wheel in the front and my 8.9 in the back.  My comfort with cross winds is growing, but I feel so much more mentally comfortable when I'm not being blown all over the road, so we opted for the more conservative front wheel choice.  I did my usual, timer to go off every 15 minutes, time to eat alarm and like clockwork, had half of a salty ball every time that timer beeped.  Sometimes I don't feel like eating in which case I become fois gras and stuff myself regardless, but this was not that day.  I was actually anticipating the alarm sometimes and was like, "yep!  must be time to eat!" I drank at every opportunity and just tried to really never stop drinking.  I know that carrying single servings of my own hydration product seems so high maintenance or even unnecessary, but truly, the Osmo doesn't mess with my stomach the way perform does and it goes down SO much more easily so for me it is 100% worth it.   This year, the bike course was 3 loops in an attempt to make it "easier" this requires an entire separate rant/post, Ironman is NOT supposed to be easy taking us between San Jose Del Cabo and San Lucas.  I was afraid that the course was going to get crowded with the multiple laps, but most of the time, it felt as if I was riding solo. The views are beyond spectacular...coming back to San Jose, with the Sea on the right, you just can't help but smile.  I had the usual low around mile 90 where my stream of consciousness goes something like: "I want to get off my bike, my lower back is hurting, isn't it time to run yet?".  As you come back into town, there are so many cheers and I hadn't been passed by many women, so I was confident that I wasn't coming off the bike in 11th place female like I did last year.  Thankfully, I was right.  I was off the bike as 2nd amateur female and it was time to run.

Run Nutrition: bottle of half pre-load/half active over the first two miles, 3 bags Cytomax energy chews, 1/2 of a banana, glucose tabs over the last 10k and countless cups of pepsi, gatorade chased by water and more water. Totak kcal: ~(hopefully) 700 or 200/hour

Smith Optics & Coeur Run: 3:34:35 vs LY time of 3:34:44
I came into this race telling myself that a sub 3:30 marathon is TOTALLY within reach.  I think though, that I have been telling myself that for a while now as I continue to run 3:33's-3:35's at EVERY.SINGLE.RACE I complete.  It's a bit baffling really- I am stronger, faster and had the confidence this time in my ability.  So what's the scoop people? Why can I not break that barrier?!! I did not, however have a Garmin as it proved to not want to function, and so I just ran. The first few miles went like they did in Kona, very hard to get settled and I actually stopped to pee.  This is a first for me at an Ironman...I either go without visiting the loo, or I don't go at all.  But I really had to and also, I think I just needed to stop for a quick second to get my life together.  Thankfully, Mark told me to remember that the first 30 minutes of the marathon are the worst for me and I told myself to just keep going, it would get easier.  And it did.  I ate, drank, took some tums, and I continued to tell myself to keep getting stronger. Thankfully, there were also friends ALL over the course cheering for me and telling me to keep it up, that my lead over the AG was growing from 15 minutes off of the bike.  There was a time at which, the running felt my legs were doing what they were supposed to do, and it was "easy".  That didn't last long, though, and then those nice miles were followed by a few, holy crap, my legs/feet are on fire, and my skin feels like it is swelling under the Mexican sun by the minute.  Soon enough I found myself at mile 20, and I told myself that I can run 6 miles any 'ol day, but still did not allow myself to get excited about winning, as it is never, ever over until the fat lady sings...or in a triathlete's case, until Mike Riley says "You ARE an Ironman!!!" I thought that the bike had taken me 5:45ish, so when I finally flipped my watch over to total time for the day and saw that I was at 9:35 with a little more than 4 miles to go, I though, WOW, I am going to SMASH that 3:30 barrier and got a bit peppier in my step.  I caught up to Alyssa, and would be remiss if I didn't thank her for her words of encouragement to push to the finish, so thank you chica!!! And then around mile 25, I got passed by a gal in the 25-29 AG for 2nd overall amateur...wait, wasn't I passed LY at this same spot?  No sorrows here though, as this gal out split ALL of the pros but one, and ran a 3:10 marathon en route to her 2nd place amateur spot.  I saw Mark at mile 26 and thought, YES, only .2 to go...and then he said "nice work babe, only a mile and a half to go!".  I almost lost my mind, and def dropped an F-bomb at him (the man needs some love here...he put s up with a lot from me on race day, I yelled at him twice in Cabo).  Turns out, it really was mile 26, but man did that last .2 really for more like .5...the street that the finish is along is not well paved and my very in pain feet were ready for the day to be done.  I rounded the corner to the finish line and got a massive smile on my face as I had just won my 2nd age group Ironman title, and defended my title from last year.

Post-Race Coco Frios
It was a very special day indeed!  I was also able to secure 3rd amateur overall and 13th place Overall female, besting my OA position from LY (19th) and beating a few pros! Quick visit to the massage tent with a protein shake in hand to avoid last years, med tent experience and then it was off to shower up and celebrate although who am I kidding, I took three sips of my wine and only ate a bowl of soup!!


Kona Bound girls!
Now we're back home, back to reality and all of the sudden it hit me.  I am GOING BACK TO KONA!!!  I think I'm pretty open about my love for the island of Kona and my desire to continue to race there as often as possible against the best in the world, so it means a lot to me that I have qualified again.  It's one of the times of year that I look forward to most.  I get to be with friends near and dear to my heart, have family cheer me on, visit with the honu and listen to the waves crash under the sun.  So now, it's time to rest and repair and then start to focus on the rest of the season!

2 margs at lunch? Yes PLEASE!!
I'd like to thank Mark for being the best partner and coach to me as well as my family and friends for their continued support and love.  And then I'd like to thank my extended family of sponsors.  These guys take such good care of me, it's hard to express my gratitude enough for them getting me to the starting line with not only the best gear but with all of their support.