Friday, October 21, 2016

Ironman 70.3 Arizona Recap Part Two

The plan was to be leaving Breezy’s by 5-5:10, walking into transition by 5:30, out of transition by 6:15 (to wait forever, this was the worst part of the way this race was set up), wetsuit on around 7:30, gun goes off for the swim at 7:56! Mission accomplished. We chatted with Ron, cheered on the guys that started at 6:20 when they came out of the water, took more photos, and went to the bathroom a billion times (stress man, it’s no fun). I got my wetsuit on at 7:30, kissed my husband goodbye, took one last photo with Ron and then off to the swim! 
I'm right in the middle! You can see the glare of my goggles from the sun.
The swim went well! The best part was swimming along the sea wall and having Chris and his parents walk with me the entire time. It was so encouraging to look up to breathe every time and see them cheering. They motivated me to really smooth out my stroke, concentrate on attempting to swim in a straight line and to be as fast as I could while still feeling pretty comfortable. Let me just say, the water was pretty gross. It was a great temp but it was murky as all heck. You could not see someone kicking directly in front of you! However, I’ve swam in similar conditions so it wasn’t too big of a deal. I did get a quick foot cramp maybe 10 minutes into the swim and I remember thinking ‘this is not how I wanted to start this race!’ I was able to relax my foot enough that it didn’t come back but then on the backside of the race course I dealt with cramps in both my calves (thankfully not at the same time!). I told myself if I could just use my arms the rest of the swim then my legs would feel fine on the bike and that I could take a salt pill as soon as I got to transition. I finished up, was helped up the stairs and then helped out of my wetsuit. Seriously, all tri’s need wetsuit strippers. I saw so many people not take advantage of this and I’m just confused as to why you wouldn’t. SO HELPFUL.
Swim time: 39:54.
I was having A LOT of trouble with my dang watch. Thankfully one thing remedied this: wetsuit strippers ;)

Transition 1: 4:28
Salt pill in, socks and cycling shoes on, helmet on, slather on sunscreen as well as I could, chapstick, wave to Chris and tell him I have calf cramps lol and then on to the bike!
The bike course was three loops in and around Tempe. For the most part it was flat and FAST with one hill and one longer gradual uphill that I disliked more than the actual hill. There were lots of turns and I was really grateful that most of my practice rides also include lots of tight turns. They were no big deal! I went out a bit too fast on my first lap but heck, this is my first rodeo so I’m okay with it. I was having a lot of fun. Smiling at spectators, passing people (!), and enjoying my aero bars. The one major hang-up was some bizarre cramping about halfway through the first lap. I was just in so much pain. I couldn’t inhale fully and was having to really focus on pushing my stomach out with belly breathing. I think it was the salt pill which helped the calf cramps but possibly caused some GI issues. Also, it was really hot. That second and third lap it really started to heat up and I was looking forward to the aid stations just so that I could grab a bottle of water and douse my head and back with it. My race plan called for UCAN at 1:30 which helped and then rice cake at 3 hours. Worked perfectly. I did not want that rice cake and I remember fighting back tears on the last lap of the bike course because my quads were cramping but I was scared of taking another salt pill, my nether regions were sick of sitting on the damn bike and that this was fun but not some miraculous experience and that I should’ve put more raspberries in my rice cake lol. The emotions you go through! I did stop on the second lap to fill up my two bottles. One with cold water (which wasn’t that cold) and one with ¾ water, ¼ Gatorade which I was using to try and stave off cramps and foggy brain from needing sugar and forgetting my honey stingers. Overall, I averaged 15.7 mph! I have never ridden this fast in my life, it completely makes sense that I was in quite a bit of pain when I got off my bike. This is also proof to Chris that I am very much a “recreational rider” for the most part but that I can bike much faster than I normally do. To which I say NOPE. Flat and fast is so much different than the hills we ride on in Vegas!
Bike time: 3:33:49, avg 15.7 mi/h
Transition 2: 4:28 (yup, exact same time. Who knows how I pulled this off)
Bike shoes, socks, gloves off, helmet off, suck down part of a UCAN, swig of Gatorade (disgusting, it was SO hot), race belt on, visor on, balegas (run socks) and run shoes on, wave to Chris and family, tell them the salt pill nearly killed me lol, shuffle out of transition!
The run course was 2 loops around Tempe Town Lake and let me tell you, it was HOT. I ran by Ron right out of transition and he complimented me on my good rhythm and form. I was feeling slow but my legs felt surprisingly okay. The race plan was to skip nutrition on the first 4-5 aid stations. This wasn’t going to work as I was pretty darn thirsty coming out of T2. I aimed for a little bit of water for those first couple aid stations and knew I would add in Gatorade on the later ones. The best part of racing Ironman (and something I witnessed firsthand when I volunteered for Silverman) is that they do a REALLY good job of taking care of athletes. If the day is hotter than expected they make sure there is ice at every aid station, they stock their aid stations full of volunteers so you don’t have to work hard to get nutrition, they WANT you to succeed, it is awesome. I chatted with other athletes when I needed to walk, tried to run as much as possible and accepted that the run was not going to be my fastest because it was just so darn hot. That being said, I somehow got a second wind on the second lap. I knew that I just had to make it one more time around the lake and then I would be DONE. Then I could cheer and celebrate and get out of my wet kit and everything else I had been hoping for. I ran a good portion of miles 6-9 and got so many encouraging comments that I was looking strong, that I was killing it on the run when so many people were walking and that I was almost there. I dumped ice down my bra and did water-gatorade-water at every aid station. It worked perfectly. I took pretzels on lap 1 and on lap 2 around mile 10 to help with quad cramps but for the most part felt good (just hot). On mile 12 I told myself to run that last mile. I kept looking for Chris as he had met me at mile 5-6 on the first lap but eventually realized that he would likely be in the finishers chute and that I had better pick up my damn legs and finish. I walked for a bit and then picked up the pace when I had maybe a half mile to go. The thrill (and pain) of that last section is something I will never forget. The energy is infectious. So many people are cheering for you and they don’t even know you! I gave Ron a high five, ran up that last hill and then threw my hands in the air as I crossed that finish line! 
Overall finish time: 6:59:31
DONE AND DONE. Officially half crazy, officially completed 70.3 miles in 90+ temps. I collected my finisher’s medal and hat, took my water and shuffled over to my family to cry lol. We took photos, I stood in front of the mister truck (which was AMAZING) and then was even more thrilled to find out that they had PIZZA, fruit, cookies, beer, etc for the athletes.
You guys, this was one of the best experiences in the world. I got pretty badly sunburned, my tan lines are even more outrageous than they were before, my back is chafed, and for several days my quads felt like they had pins and needles in them but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was so worth it. Worth all the soreness, the never getting to sleep in, the long training days, the lack of work being done around the house, the never-ending tiredness, the not always getting to eat what I wanted because food=fuel and all the $$ that went towards this dream. I loved it, I love this sport and I really can’t wait to do another one.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ironman 70.3 Arizona Race Recap Part 1

Annnndddd, just like that it’s done. It is such an odd feeling to be on the flip side of this journey that I’ve been hoping and working towards for 3 solid years (and many more years before that). I’ve wanted to compete in tri’s since I worked as a lifeguard in high school. In 2013 I finally got the chance to compete in my first sprint distance tri (Irongirl) and I’ve been completely hooked since then. The race and the entire weekend was (for the most part) everything I wanted it to be. I worked really hard to get to this point and I really am proud for what I’ve accomplished. Today I’ll recap the overall weekend and tomorrow I’ll post about the race!
Overall weekend:
SO much fun! We left on Friday morning after getting brunch at our favorite place and it was a wonderful way to start the weekend. Traffic wasn’t bad heading down to Tempe and I did a good job at making sure I stayed hydrated as I knew the race was going to be a warm one. We got my stuff dropped off at my dear friend’s house and then headed over to athlete check-in. This part of the weekend was one of the parts I’ve been looking forward to the most. I remember being a lifeguard in college and seeing the Ironman village at multi-gen and wanting so badly to be a part of it. I remember seeing friends post about their Ironman athlete wristband and wanting so badly to have one of my own (still have it on by the way). So to go to the check-in and sign the paperwork and walk through the merchandise tent knowing that I was days away from being able to call myself a (half) Ironman was so overwhelming. We picked out the bag I was eyeing and a hat and took a few photos before heading over to my other bestie’s house to have dinner and make rice cakes :)

On Saturday my main goal was to stay hydrated, memorize my race plan, stay calm, MEET MELISSA HARTWIG and get to bed at a decent time. Mission accomplished. We got my shakeout bike and run done (which helped calm all my nerves), went to the athlete briefing, got a delicious breakfast, dropped my bike off and then headed over to a local bookstore to meet Melissa. You guys, this was the second best part of my weekend. She is even more gorgeous in person, so kind, so down to earth and genuinely wants to see every person succeed with Whole30 and life after Whole30. I know I can be a bit of a nut job with Whole30 so this was like a dream come true. To tell her (quickly) about how whole30 has changed me for the better was just so exciting. She is awesome. And we got a couple photos and I about died from excitement! To end the day, my dear friend's Nikki and Niki found this awesome restaurant where we could order gluten-free delicious food that was pretty much exactly what I wanted. It took SO much stress away from me. The restaurant was gorgeous and it was so fun to chat with my girls about whole30 and the race and life in general for a couple hours before heading back to Breezy’s to go through my bag one more time and get some sleep! 

Tomorrow: Part 2! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

3 Days Out

That’s it. 3 full days away from my first 70.3 and of course I have ALL THE FEELS. For the most part I have done a really good job distracting myself. Over the weekend I was worried that I would become a stress ball so to circumvent that I just planned lots of activities! On Saturday I slept in (it was glorious), made a lazy brunch, prepped the dessert/main dish I was bringing to the family get together that evening, shopped for birthday presents and enjoyed getting a bit dressed up. On Sunday I got up early and visited the local orchard with my sister. We picked apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, greens, and zucchini. We ate apple cider donuts and kettle corn and it was wonderful! I came home and Chris and I began painting our bedroom (something we’ve put off for MONTHS). We still have one more wall to do and some touch-ups but it looks so good! And on Monday I had the day off so I cleaned the house, did more painting, went to lunch with Chris, got my race nails done (!!) and cooked dinner. ALL these things have worked miracles on helping me manage the stress excitement of the race. And for the most part I do feel really good.
In previous races I’ve been just so worried about everything that could go wrong for the week up to my race. This time, I KNOW I’ve put in the training. I know that I am very well prepared for this race and I know that come race day, everything I’ve been working towards will kick in and the stress will melt away because I’m doing something fun, something I love.
After 4ish days off from working out I was so incredibly grateful to hop in the pool yesterday. It didn’t matter that I was swimming later than normal because my usual pool is closed, or that my stomach wasn’t feeling the greatest. All that mattered was that I was in my element. One, two, three, breathe, one, two, three, breathe, kick harder, pull stronger, turn on the ‘after burners’, rest, start again. Those thoughts are the best part about swimming. Everything else just tends to fall away and all that matters is that you’re working hard, fighting for that pace despite it being the last set and racing the person next to you without them knowing ;) And for that, I am grateful. Grateful for this body that has adapted to every challenge I’ve thrown at it, that has leaned out in ways I didn’t think were possible (not that I really care these days what it looks like), and that has carried me to this point. I CAN NOT wait to toe that start line on Sunday. To pull harder than I have on a swim, to use these legs to their fullest potential, to fuel properly, to push hard on the run even though it’s going to be hot and then to cross that finish line so I can give my husband the biggest hug ever for putting up with this training and to hug my best friend for constantly listening to me ramble on about bike seats and tri kits and to kiss her adorable little baby because I hope she grows up knowing that she can do ANYTHING she sets her mind to. Wow. That was a run-on sentence if there ever was one. But really, this is going to be good. I really really hope it goes awesome. Catch you on the flip side ;