Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ironman Canada 2011

I won. No, I did not win IMC. No, I did not win my AG. I won the battle of health. In the last year and a half I have over come achilles tendonitis, frost bite and a stress fracture (second in 2 years!) I am learning how to live and train for endurance with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Do you know what kind of mind f*** it is to have constant "phantom pains" and muscle fatigue? Joint flare ups that eliminate a key long distance workout are no walk in the park either. I paid for a coach that couldn't keep me healthy. I had doctors tell me that I was in the wrong sport. Whenever I would get healthy something in my body would break. I started to believe the negative words I heard from professionals. I thought my bad luck was never going to end. Basically I had no hope to continue training. If it wasn't for my Mom, Jesse and Robert.... I may have quit. These 3 people NEVER doubt me. They were my night light in my darkest hours. Sue and Alanna kept my light going during training and Don ensured my bike was safe to ride.

Pre Race
I couldn't have asked for the days leading up to the race to go any smoother. I stuffed my belly with OgoPogo's famous ice cream. Butterscotch ripple became my favorite! I rested my mind by watching Joe Dirt, The Jerk and The Best of Will Farrell's SNL. LMAO! I was surrounded by people I love – which kept me strong. For the first race ever – I was never nervous to race. For me the battle was won walking up to the swim start healthy. Race day was my celebration party with 2800+ new friends.

Swim - Was kick ass! I was supposed to meet my mom at the hotel an hour prior to the start but we missed one another. Robert and I got into the water to warm up. I hear some lady shouting from the sideline, she was waving her arms all about. It was my mama! I ran through the water to her. She rolled up her shorts and walked in to meet me. I was so happy I got to see her prior to the start. At this point I lost control of my emotions and started to cry – out of joy!

The tears had to quickly come to an end. I had an Ironman to race! I rejoined Robert at the start. I'll never forget standing behind the start line, in the water, holding his hand. It was the best feeling ever. A quick kiss and off we went.
How was the actual swim? It was easy-peasy! Seriously. I never felt nervous. Never had open water shock. Never had rapid breathing, even with getting pulled under numerous times. I was in my happy place. Every 3rd stroke I looked at the mountains and smiled before I inhaled. Life was good. This swim was good.

After rounding the last turn of the buoys (1/2-2/3 way in) I found myself alone. I had swum out wide and was close to the kayaks and sailboats. Uh-oh. No feet to draft and I was a bit off course! Agh! I focused on turning in to straighten/shorten out the rest of the course. I swam until I could touch the sand, jumped out and headed for the swim exit! 1:08:07 – 2 min PR baby!

Thanks TYR for the Cat5 Hurricane! The suit was super stretchy and comfy. No restriction what-so-ever and great buoyancy!

T1 - Was short and sweet. I ran out of the water feeling fresh and giddy. How can one not feel giddy when you know you're about to get striped? I run over to two volunteers and say “Strip me ladies!” And they did. I was out of my wetsuit and on my bike in no time! 2:52 – PR again!

There's not too much to say about the bike. I had planned on riding the course at “x” amount of watts – which equaled 2.5watt per kg. It was forecasted to be a hot day so I rode more conservatively then I had originally planned. I ended up with a 2.4 avg.
The bike started with a bit of acid reflux. I'm sure this was provoked by lake water. Maybe OgoPogo polluted the water. I took some Zantax and rode the first 40ish miles uber easy. Ritcher came and I stayed in my granny gear to spin easily up watching my watts. Then I hit the rollers. They felt MUCH less difficult this year. The out and back came and went. I stayed aero and kept a pretty good pace. The ride went by so fast I didn't really start paying attention to mileage until around 70. This was my dark spot in '09. But not for '11. This was a power zone for me. I made a lot of passes from mile 70-85. As usual my power and endurance grew the longer I stayed out. History did repeat its self as I encountered the dark zone as I started the ascent up Yellow Lake. This was NOT a good place for me. I tried to stay positive and smiled as the fatigue started to chip away. Perception is reality. If everyone thinks that I look strong I will perform as if I am strong. This carried me up the hill. I was looking forward to the descent but not so much the headwind. I had to work to go down which wasn't much fun. I could have done without the crosswind and the 3 times I had wheel wobble. I suppose it was just enough of a scare to wake me up for T2.
Finished in 6:03:18 – a :30 PR over '09, higher wattage and easier effort on a hotter, windier day. I had almost flawless nutrition and hydration. I never felt hot or thirsty on the bike. Thank you Maltodextrin and Saltstick! I had a little acid at the start but managed it well, medicating throughout the ride.

I owe a lot of “Thank You”'s for my bike leg. First goes to my bike fitter - Michael Sylvester. He found a crack in my bike frame, which resulted in a new and better bike. Michael also provided an outstanding fit, which helped with my comfort level, efficiency and run transition. I've been fit by others in the Portland area and Michael is the BEST, hands down. I have to raise my hands and praise Felt. They quickly replaced my B16 with a beautiful DA. I also have to thank my great riding partners Sue, Don and Alanna. You all made the longer rides much more enjoyable, even when my break was rubbing for 80+ miles. :). Alanna, you made bricks enjoyable....I think that might be an oxymoron. 

T2 – T2 was pretty quick as well. In '09 my T2 was almost 10 minutes. I was not going to allow a repeat. I recited what needed to be done as I ran into the woman's tent. I did this again out loud so my volunteer could follow and help. LOVE volunteers. I quickly got my back shellacked in sunscreen and I was off in - 4:43. Another PR!

This leg should have been called The Death March. I started running around 2:20pm. At this time the race director had requested that the locals turn on any sprinklers and watering hoses available. It was HOT. HOT like a habanero! I think the high hit 95 and I was running right in the midst of it.
I watched my pacing on my Garmin. After a measly 5 mins I ran into a wall of heat. I heard my mama cheering for me on my way in, off from the bike. I knew I'd have to put on a front and run “happily” by her, so she wouldn't see my suffering. I wish she had stayed with me for the run, if she had I may have never stopped to walk.
The “death march” started for me a little past mile 3. My 8:45 avg dropped to a 10 min pace by mile 6. It just went downhill from there. Mile 3 to mile 9 was my darkest time. I had a goal of breaking 11 hours. That was a long lost dream. The heat was pounding down. It was eating my energy alive. I feared I wouldn't be able to PR from '09. I ran up to a local athlete and I confessed my fear. We accessed the situation. From a muscular standpoint my legs were great. No fatigue, no cramping, no pain. Hydration and nutrition were also great. I was still consuming calories – even though I was repulsed by the taste and thought of gels. I was only suffering from the bubble of heat that I was encased in. When running I was avg'ing 8:20-8:40 pace. I just had to run more then I walked. He provided “hope” and off I try to salvage some kind of PR.
I opted out of bike and run special needs. I didn't want a reason to stop. Yet at the ½ way turn around on the run I stopped and walked. I wish I had packed a letter to myself. I'll make sure to do that on my next race. A little HTFU self note would have helped.
I ran by Sue on the way back. She had gotten two flats on the bike thus putting her behind me. She was feeling the wrath of the heat as well. We exchanged a quick hug; this was the highlight of my run. I wanted to stay and run with her, but we were too far apart.
My arms and lips were sun burnt. Each aid station I came upon I'd drench myself in water. I kept ice in my sports bra and sponges on my back and under my hat. I ran with ice in my hand to rub on my burning lips. At mile 15 I had to stop and go pee. It was the first time I had to go since the start of the race. I have never been so excited to have to pee, and be able to pee a lot! This girl was hydrated!
By 6pm I could feel the temperature start to fall. It was easier to hold my pace. The walk breaks became less frequent…..until mile 22 ½. Side stitch. Oh owe! The pain was immobilizing. I just stood on the side of the road and whimpered in pain. It felt like someone was cutting into my torso with a dull knife. A guy I had been run/walking past for the last 8 miles caught up to me. He advised me to stretch out my torso and press my hands firmly down on the cramp and try to run while doing so. It worked! Within minutes the cramp was gone and I was running pain free again. Thank you Greg from London, Ontario! I was able to run most of the way in and even sprint for the last ½ mile to the finish line. I crossed the line with the biggest smile ever. I am once again an IRONMAN.
Run time was 4:32:43 – 1min30 PR over last year :)

Thank you Robert for fixing my run and believing in me.

Final time came to 11:51:41. 10 min PR over IMC ’09 and this race was much hotter. I placed 21st out of 143 females 30-34 and 90th female overall putting me in the top 10.5%. Not bad for a non-coached gimp, eh? : )
I may have not hit the sub 11 I wanted but there is always another day and another race. I did the best I could under the conditions that were given. If I could go back in time I wouldn't change a thing.....ok, maybe I would have eliminated the side crap. :p

Post race recovery consisted of a rack of ribs, nachos and 3 martinis.