Pre Race – Woke up at 3:45 for pre race chow down. Sourdough English muffin with peanut butter & agave nectar and honey Kix with light soy milk. I savored every bite, as I knew it would be the last solid food I would have for a looooong time. Washed it all down with a little coffee w/milk.
My mom dropped my buddy Scott aka Gumby and I off a block from bag drop off. Perfect location, we walked down the street, dropped off bike and run special needs and moved on to get body marked. From there I pumped up my tires, added race nutrition to Carnage - my baby girl was set to race. I spent the next 20 minutes sitting and stretching on the Paula Newby-Fraser sidewalk plaque, hoping she would give me good racing luck.
The “blue room” lines were starting to get long so I decided to get in for one last visit. Along the wait I conversed with an advanced Ironman who done the course 6 times. She gave me a few tips and then let me borrow her marker so I could write the following on my hand “☺ Smile, it does a body good”. I’ve gone by this saying for a long time; I wanted a consent reminder while I was racing. I was nervous as shit before the start. Nervous about things that were out of my control. Lord knows I put the time and dedication into training, now it was in the hands of the racing Gods. I would perform only as I knew how and the rest would be up to them. I had time goals for my first IM. Silly, this I know…so I decided to have emotional goals as well, this was something I could have control over. My objective in each discipline was to smile and find a bright side of the dark side…… I’ll let you know at the end how that turned out….
I ran into “The Fruitcakes” shortly after the blue room visit. It was these friends whom I signed up with last year, 14 of us – 9 of which were all doing our first IM. Scott aka “Gumby” joined our group with his friend Jill, we suited up and made our way to the water.
Swim – It was a beautiful day for a swim. The sun was shinning and the water temp was a nice and comfortable 71 degrees. I positioned my goggles under my swim cap and went out for a little warm up. No leaking, nice tight fit, wetsuit felt good, body felt good, I was good to go. Seth, Devin, Scott, Jill and I positioned ourselves in the 3rd row back, far right side, closest to the buoys. We were in the direct line of fire. I wished my friends luck, said 2 Hail Mary’s and horn fired off.
Ouch, Ouch, Ouch…..we had to run into the water on a sea of rocks! Should have tested that location out pre swim – oops. I ran as far as I could before I tripped on a rock and fell on my face. What’s a race if I don’t fall? I quickly decided that face in water was the way to go and started swimming. The first 1500 or so meters weren’t too bad. I caught on to some big bodies and just drafted along. Combat didn’t really happen until the first buoy or should I say house boat turn. I was stuck doggie paddling, keeping my head above water as we all bobbed around the corner. It was complete chaos. From there a female swimmer decided it was a good idea to swim by my side and dunk me under every time she took her right armed stroke. I took this for about three strokes before I got mean. Seriously, when I would swim over people it would be one push down and I would move out of their way or they would move. It would not be a repeat offense. WTF? I got in front of her and kicked hard. She didn’t swim over me again. It sounds cruel but out in the OW swim with 2600+ athletes it was survival of the fittest, eat or be eaten.
For the next 500 or so meters it was pretty congested and there was a lot of swimming over and getting swam over. Mostly people just hit you once and moved on. Combat was taxing. 2/3 of the way out I was in a clearing by myself. It was kind of nice, as I didn’t have to worry about combat, yet at the same time I didn’t have the steady drafting. I’m sure I was still being pulled along as we were a mass in the water but I didn’t get the feel of the direct draft effect. I enjoyed the solitude swimming and this is where I looked up at the mountains on my breathing breaks and smiled. This was it, I was racing an Ironman and all the hitting, kicking, and water gulping in the world couldn’t take that from me. I came off my giddy high when a guy in front of me kicked me in the chin. Ouch! Karma’s a b^$#@, Luckily my tongue wasn’t in the way or I could have bitten right through it!
The last 500-1000 meters were hard. I grew tired and felt slow. Throughout the duration I felt I took the swim portion relatively easy. I never really pushed my stroke and just focused on smooth breathing. I think the combat was what took a great deal out of me. I spent the last 5-10 minutes visualizing transition. I ended up walking out of the water a bit disoriented. Looked at my watch and it read 1:23. WTF?! Was this time correct? No, my watch was wrong but I didn’t learn that until after the race.
Swim finish was 1:10:16 / 1:51 avg
T1 - I was a bit disappointed with the start of T1. First off, not one single wetsuit stripper grabbed me. There were a lot of people getting out at the same time but still, I wanted to be stripped. I stood there for a moment and said “hello?” and I got nothing, so I thought to myself “frick it” and disrobed myself. Then I ran over to my bag. Good thing I didn’t count on a volunteer getting my bag because no one offered. I quickly grabbed my things and headed over to the changing tent. From here on out my volunteer experience got better. A kind lady grabbed me and emptied out my bag. She unzipped my glasses case as I put on my alien helmet; she unstrapped my shoes and had them lined up by each side of my feet. A quick 3:19 later and I had mounted Carnage and we were off to our next adventure.
Bike – Oooooeee my HR high when I got out on Carnage, something like 178. I kept talking to my heart, “come on baby, relax, drop down.” I paid close attention as to manage my power and keep it uber low for the start. I didn’t want to blow my wad within the first 50 miles. The first 20 minutes I kept my watts around 125-140, let my legs spin out and focused on Yoga core strength breathing. My HR hit comfort zone 10 minutes in.
The first climb was on McLean Creek; it was short with a moderate grade. Since my legs don’t warm up until an hour into a ride it inflicted a nice burn. The descent was curvy and cautioned with signs. Apparently there were a few racers that were either over confident or just over zealous as one racer took out 2 others. I just happened to see the disaster as I started the descent. I wanted to stop and see if everyone was ok but it was race and it turns out the marshals were on their way. I also figured the more people that stopped in the middle of a curvy descent the high risk for another accident. So forward I went.
The next 25 miles or so were pretty flat with nice tail wind. I was stuck in the middle of masses at this point and the marshals were all around. My only choice was to push it and pass the lines going by, as I was not going to get put in the penalty box for drafting. Apparently two dudes were as they got red carded for drafting off of me. Ha! Drafting off of little ‘ol me, that’s funny. I wouldn’t have even known if a racer behind me didn’t tell me so. Speaking of the racer that told me…I met the dude the previous day during the bike check. Odd he was able to recognize or even remember me. I passed this woman who had a smiley face on each one of her calves, they were awesome and I told her so. We ended up playing cat and mouse for 50-60 miles of the ride before I dropped her. Right before we turned on to climb Richter Pass I had a nice solid avg of 20.9 mph.
The climb up Richter was much more difficult then driving, let me tell you! I shift into my small ring (double compact) and just spin along. I start singing to myself. “I like to climb, climbing is fun. Hills are for me, just not for everyone.” This little ditty made me smile, and made a few of the athlete’s I passed and passed me laugh. The climb up Richter was pretty badass. The streets were lined with people cheering and music playing. I felt like I was in a movie. I looked to my right and there was a guy in a Tigger suit and then 2-3 hot dudes in 70’s short shorts and run apparel….super cute! I thought it was too early to be hallucinating. I saw a purple and green TNT kit next to me, it was Carly. You go girl!
After Richter came the 7 B^&$#s and B%^#’s they were. Up, down, round and round…it all started to nauseate me. I’m not sure if there was head wind or that the “rollers” were really that long I couldn’t ascend up them. Regardless, flying down and powering back up started to take a toll on my legs.
From the rollers we moved on to the out, back and out. I came up on Don somewhere around mile 60. It was bittersweet, good to see a friend yet sad as his fitness and training was such higher then mine, I knew something had to have gone wrong for me to catch him. We exchanged positive words and he continued on past me. The remaining out and back to special needs I enjoyed. I’m good at flats and was uber thankful to be done with those damn rollers. I had mentioned previously that I would only stop and get my special needs if I “really” needed it. I suppose I didn’t but the Pringles Devin gave me where calling my name. I stopped, took in a small handful, along with a few bite sized pieces of a honey and pb sandwich I had cut up. Real food was yummy. Washed it all down with a sip of chicken broth, rinsed out with Scoop and I was on my way again.
The Dark Zone – I only had one “dark” moment and it lasted for what felt like forever. It happened 15-20 minutes after special needs, right before the Yellow Lake climb. I rode through a cloud of smoke, which made breathing difficult. Thankfully I had my inhaler on me, which helped a bit. I’m not sure if I was on false flats or I was hitting headwind but it brought me down to a pathetic 15-16 mph pushing 180 watts. Aid stations were every 10 miles. I was going slowly, on an exposed course with the blazing hot sun, they did not come soon enough. I tucked into my aero’s tight, dropped my head down and allowed the fatigue to inflict pain and suffering. My “dark” zone came with nauseous and the consent need to cry. I came up on Scott H. shortly into my “dark” zone. It was a breath of fresh air to see a familiar face. I confessed I was between a rock and hard place. At the state of mind I was in not much could help me. He offered words of encouragement and I remembered what Sam McGlone had said about the bad places coming and going. I was just hoping it would go sooner than later.
The climb up Yellow Lake was a B$%@. I’ve climbed harder climbs at longer durations on my training rides. I think it was the mental state I was in that made it so damn tough. As I climbed up the hill I had people on the right and on the left in my face, yelling “Go Katie”, “Looking good”, “Strong legs” “You can DO IT!” It reminded me of The Tour. This was uplifting and I think the energy of the crowd carried me up that stupid hill. As I reach the ascent I comment aloud on how happy I am to be done with the hill. Then on the guys near me goes on to explain we were not done. A climb here, a flat, a false flat, a descent, another small climb…..which I head as yadadadadadada. I said “Goodlord, I can’t wrap my head around that.” He told me not to, just tuck down and ride….which I did.
My dark zone diminished shortly after that. Power came back and I took the small hills with new-found energy. I was then rewarded with one BADASS descent. Prior to the race I had feared this descent. I had heard rumors of people hitting 50+mph on a curvy road that at times could have nasty cross wind. Today my fear was diminished. I was tired and enticed by the thought of “free speed”. I descended down maxing 41.5 mph with a 30-35 avg. For a girl who has had a long time fear and weakness of descending this was a major accomplishment.
The last few miles through town felt long. Fairview had a decent amount of headwind. I wanted to get out of the saddle to stretch out my body but wouldn’t as my watts climbed and my speed would suffer, instead I crouched down and spun it out. As I passed by a few guys I said “So rumor has it we have to run a marathon after this, you think there’s any truth to that?” Hehe, it made a few smile.
As I reached T2, the volunteer tried to take Carnage from me. I had to take her back to get my inhaler and give her a sweet kiss on her stem good bye, with a thank you for such a strong ride.
Max Speed 41.5mph/ avg speed 18.5mph
Max watts 302/ Avg norm watts146/ avg watts 131
Max watts per kg 4.97/ avg watts per kg 2.15
Max Cadence 142/ Avg cadence 71
Caloric expenditure via wattage = 2839
Caloric intake 1280 kcal of malto + 1910 mg of sodium + a handful of Pringles and a few bites of PB and honey sandwich, give or take 100-150 kcal
T2 – I thought T2 would be long but really I didn’t think I would be as slow as I was. Upon getting off the bike I could hardly walk let alone run. My legs felt fine but my feet were royally fricked up. 70 miles into the bike my big toes started to go numb, by mile 90 they were extremely painful. I had cycled without socks before but the furthest had only been 70 miles, plus I had never dumped water on my body during training rides. I grabbed my T2 bag and walked my way up to the changing tent. The volunteer was so kind. She dumped out my bag and organized everything. At this point I took of my cycling shoes and looked at my messed up feet. They looked like prunes and the bottoms had a grey discoloration and what looked like something growing on them? The volunteer grabbed a towel to wipe my feet off. Upon doing so the grayish whatever the frick came off with a whole lot of skin, it hurt. She layered some kind of anti-bacterial ointment on them. I applied mole skin on the new “holes” and possible blister locations and covered with my Zoot compression socks. I changed into my new Oiselle Distance shorts, body glided up, used my inhaler and I was off. Oh wait, I made a quick stop at the blue room, I could pee – this was a good sign!
Run – As soon as I run across the timing mat I realize I forgot to switch out my HR strap. I was still wearing the Power Tap strap which was coded and would not talk to my Suunto HR watch. Agh! I took ½ a second contemplating turning back….eh, I already wasted enough time in T2 and my official run time had started, so forward on I ran. I decided to just run off of feel.
The first mile I clocked in a super easy 8:40. I decided that pace felt overly easy and that I could stick with it and walk through the aid stations to refuel. At mile 3 I had to stop and take off my shoe. The mole skin had slipped out of place and was now rubbing the hell out of one of the holes in my feet. I wish I had the Zoot calf sleeves as the sock was a major b%$@# to remove. I sat on the side walk and conversed with two older woman. They asked how my race was going and then looked at my foot and both in unison said “Oh my!”. Lol, I replied that it wasn’t as bad as it looked. For the most part I was able to tune the pain out. Eventually I got my sock back on, bid farewell and was off again.
The first 90 minutes felt great. It was hot but I was able to manage the heat with ice chips and water at each aid station, it also helped that my electrolytes were on point. I saw the first pro run past me around mile 4, I wanted whatever he was taking!
The run started to get difficult once we started running by the lake. The smoke I crossed on the bike had made its way over the lake and we were running in this hot haze. This provoked my asthma and soon my 8:30 pace was long gone, I couldn’t gasp enough air to keep me moving forward.
The long rolling hills started around mile 9 or 10. I changed my run strategy to walk up the hills and run on the flats and descents (thanks Seth), my lungs wouldn’t allow anything more. Running along the lake was also difficult, as we didn’t have many people to cheer us on. It was just the runners, the open HOT road and the tantalizing lake. I can’t express how badly I wanted to jump in. I came up on some girls from a local tri club. I tried to make some friendly small talk but they weren’t really friendly, or social…it’s an IM, but what ever. I saw Tigger again at around mile 10. At this point I swear I was hallucinating. Who wears a full on Tigger suit in 90 degree heat?
I looked forward to each aid station; ice, water and people. I started the flat Pepsi and chicken broth at aid station 9. I was getting flavor fatigue two gels in and knew I had to stay on top of my electrolyte and caloric intake. At mile 11 I grew excited, I knew I would see my moma at aid station 12. I ran up to her and she didn’t even see me. She was too occupied with handing out Pepsi. I yell out “Mom, hello!? It’s me your daughter.” She gives me a hug…lol, couldn’t bring herself to say the whole HTFU so she spits out “Harden Up” and does a little dance. Hehe, this lifted my spirits and off I ran.
Upon the turn around I got to see Tiff, Robin, Jenny and Ilana…all friends who came out to cheer. It was awesome to have their support. I came up on Don right before the special needs bags, another familiar face. The only thing I took out of special needs was a famous Canadian peach. After sitting in the sun and heat all day that peach melted in my mouth. I think it was the sweetest, juiciest peach I have ever tasted. Sooooooo, good.
The run back was more challenging yet more fun than the run in. My asthma was getting worse and I forced to hit my inhaler every 45 minutes. It was so weird. I’d take a hit, it would take 5 minutes to open up my lungs and then I could run. My legs felt quick and my body was happy to run. 30 minutes or so later my lunges would feel like they were coated in something heavy and I couldn’t get full breaths of air in. I was worried about taking too much of my inhaler so I would walk until it got so bad I needed it again. I have to say the asthma was really the only sucky thing on the way back. The heat was bad but I think by that point I had adapted to it. I got to see almost everyone of the “fruitcakes” as I ran back in. They all had smiles on their face and looked to be in good spirits. I passed Michelle on her way out on mile 20ish and she told me to HTFU – hehe, I <3 you girl! I also ran over a “Gooooo Kat” (and many of the other fruitcakes) on the sidewalk. It was so nice to have our friends come out and chalk words of encouragement.
Scott H. caught me around mile 4 and told me to run with him. It was really good to see him again. Funny, he seamed up pop up at all the times I needed positive reinforcement. I had just taken my inhaler and told him I would catch up once I got my lungs back. I think that was by mile 3 or 2.5 We ran together until the 2nd to last aid station a mile 1.2. I told him I needed to stop for ice and I’d catch up. This was a good strategy as I used him as my rabbit to the finish. The last 1.2 mile out and back felt like it dragged on forever. I had good energy so I ran, and I ran hard….and it hurt my lungs. I couldn’t breath and I wanted to start walking again….but I couldn’t. The streets were lined with people yelling “Go Katie” “You’re almost there !“ “Bring it home!” And I brought it. The last 400 meters I sprinted like a f^&$ing gazelle. I crossed the finish line at 12:01:01.
Run time 4:34:19
5 Power Gels, numerous sips of chicken broth and pepsi and one badass peach. Approx 800 kcal and 1500+ mg of sodium.
Swim 1:10:16/ 1:51 – 100 m avg – 26 AG div / 843 OA
Bike 6:03:53 – 18.5 mph avg – 13 AG div / 977 OA
Run 4:34:20 – 10:29 avg – 26 AG div/ 741 OA
Total – 12:01:01
21 AG div out of 73 top, 765 out of 2595 top- not bad for first IM.
After thoughts –
I ran a smart race and performed as well as I could have under the conditions I was given. I should feel proud, but in all honesty I just feel like it was another long training day. I never got a finishing high, I never felt “special”. I just felt like I did the same thing everyone else that day, raced 140.6 miles. I’m sure this was because I finished feeling good. I expected and wanted to suffer at the end. I wanted to push my physical limits on the run but my lungs held me back from doing so. I did accomplish most of my time goals and managed the most import one – remembering to smile and stay positive (except for that 20 min bout before Yellow Lake, but 20 minutes out of “darkness” out of 721 minutes is not bad!)
I’m content with my finish but still left with emptiness. I <3 the distance and want more…..who knows what that means : )