Monday, July 18, 2011

IM CDA Race Report - Part 1 - Pre-Race

At the start of race week this year, I made a promise to myself that no matter how I did in this IM, I would write and publish my race report.  I did not after Placid.  Not sure exactly why but I think it was a combination of anger (at my terrible bike leg) and embarrassment (at my crappy bike leg).  That, and by the time I was finished with IM Placid, I was fried, terribly fried and not wanting to thing another thing triathlon for quite some time.

This year, as I was preparing to race, I wished I had that report.  I remembered many of the feelings and parts of the day and was able to dig up my old race plan, just for comparison, but I really wanted to read the raw truth.  And, I didn't have it.  

So here is my attempt at my first IM Race Report.  I apologize for the length, lack of pictures (will post some eventually but have yet to download) and hope I don't bore you to tears, but this report is really for me.  So that next time (and there will be a next time) I will be able to look back on this report and see how I've grown, and changed and more importantly, reflect on the emotions of the week that make Ironman week so special and unique.

Starting at my pre-race week thoughts . . . 

This year, I was a mix of calm (I amazed even myself), worry (that I was a bit unprepared), and excitement (I was ready to put it out there).  Placid I think helped with the calm.  This time, unlike the last, I knew that I had it in me to finish.  It may not be pretty, but given my last experience - my horrible bike leg, the side cramps, walking my bike and how terrible I felt getting off that bike - and then the amazing gift of one of the most fun and enjoyable long runs in my life, I knew that no matter what the day threw at me, it was a long day out there, things change over the course of the day, and I would persevere.  In fact, the best Ironman advice I ever had from Pro K, to hang in there, assess how you feel, fix any problems immediately and hang on - things will change - was certainly the lesson learned from Placid.  Unbeknownst to me, it would also come in very handy on IM CDA race day.  

The worry part - well, I guess that's only natural.  This year I switched coaches to fabulous Jen H (YAY!) and while I felt very confident with her abilities (she coaches some amazing athletes) my volume and training was very different.  And, on some levels I worried - is it enough?  In fact, I was the one who asked for a true 20 mile run (versus a run for time) and snuck in one last LONG swim of the IM distance the week before the race.   

At the same time, I felt ready.   Very ready.  My body felt strong, uninjured and not compromised.  I felt alive, was able to sleep and didn't feel like a walking zombie.  There were no thoughts of getting sick the week of my taper or being too run down.  And, I was able to hit my last hard training block with confidence and vigor.  I wanted to do that last tough climb up Wintergreen mountain on tired legs and I was ready to do my last long long run - even though it was HOT and very humid at 5 am in the morning that day.   This I attribute to the wisdom of my coach.  The great part of this year's training was that I was excited for the race - and ready to go do it.

Race week, I fine tuned my race plan and goals with Jen.  It was lengthy and detailed - what I would eat, what I would wear and some positive self talk in there to encourage me to be strong, cues of things to think about while on the bike or run.   I read it every day pre-race that week and committed those thoughts and plans to memory. 

We arrived in CDA on a beautiful sunny Wednesday.  CDA had unseasonably warm temperatures that day and the lake was glass.  Our copper roofed house was situated right on the run course and lake.  While a bit eclectic inside, and completely lacking of all window treatments, making for some early mornings, it was beautiful and perfect for the week.  Bart and I lucked out with the first floor master and the view out our bedroom window was stunning.    

We all took a dip in the lake that afternoon (without wetsuits), did a little grocery shopping and enjoyed steaks on the grill and a few glasses of wine.  I felt remarkably calm and a little like I was on vacation.  

My stomach, however, knew I was there to race and so from Thursday until race day, my body was pretty much like a sieve.  I could eat anything and everything, because well, it just didn't stay with me very long.  So I ate.  

Each day leading up to the race, we swam in the lake to acclimate to its cold temperatures.  And each day the water got colder and colder.  In addition to being in the mid 50s, the water was choppy and had white caps most mornings.   After my 20-25 minute swims, my feet and hands were frozen, and I had to concentrate on not feeling seasick.  With each practice swim, my thoughts of a fast easy swim went out the door and my thoughts instead turned to survival and what am I going to wear?

We drove the bike course twice in the days before the race.  I was SO pleased that it was flat or at least fairly flat for the beginning and end sections of the bike.   And from the car, the middle section was definitely rolling but lacked the long steady climbs of Placid.  I was encouraged and felt my 7 hour bike split goal was definitely within reach.  

We did all the usual things pre-race - spent too much money at the IM store, packed our transition bags, ate, went for a little spin on the run course, went for a little shake out jog, ate some more, relaxed with our feet up, racked our bikes, got a little tune up ART (for my neck/shoulder that I tweaked on my last self induced LONG swim the week before IM), slept, visited Jamba Juice, bought toe and hand warmers and gloves.  In fact, the most stressful part of the week was figuring out what to wear race day.  The week was much colder than I had expected and due to the freezing water temperatures, I was really concerned that I would be cold on the bike.  Ended up not using any of my newly purchased warm gear, but better safe than sorry.

For the most part, I did well pre-race.  My anxiety levels were fairly low and I only had one break down - the night before, when we all went to bed.  I must confess I cried a few nervous tears to Bart.  He did a great job of calming me back down and telling me it was okay if I was last to finish in my group of training buddies but that he certainly had all the confidence in my goals and me.  With my cry out of my system, and a myocalm to help me sleep soundly, we went to bed early and, for the most part I slept.  A definite first for me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shamrock report

First, I apologize for the boring presentation of my most recent blog postings. It seems that the only time I've had to post has been while mid air. And, you guessed it, I'm on the road again. This time it is for something fun! Tri Camp in Tucson, AZ with a bunch of other Jen Harrison athletes. And so it figures that my good travel karma has come to a close and our flight from Atlanta to Tucson (where I was so nicely upgraded) was cancelled. I'm instead typing this from my window seat (the worst possible for me) on my way to Dallas to catch another plane to Tucson. I only hope our bags and Kate's bike box make our new agenda. Thanks to fellow camper Melissa, my bike is getting picked up from TriSports. TriSports has been tremendous! and made it very easy to ship my bike to them. I promise the next time I post to add some pictures. Not sure how to do that from my iPad.

Shamrock was a mixed bag for me. As you know from my last post I was aiming for a sub2 hour time. But as you also know, I had been on the road in CA the week before and was a bit fatigued from work heading into the weekend. But I was optimistic and so on Saturday, after loading up our car full of dogs (we had Lulu, Mav and Oliver dog Sophie) we headed to the beach. Kate graciously offered accommodations at the Oliver house and we loved being able to crash in familiar surroundings with our fur kids. We joined Kate and the kids for a yummy Greek dinner and went to bed early. Unfortunately, my body clock was all off and I had another prerace surprise to deal with -cramps.

I ended up sleeping like crap with cramps and sweats through out the night. In addition, each time I woke, I heard the wind outside getting worse. When the alarm went off a 5, I was still feeling crampy and not race ready and broke down in a bunch of tears to Bart before deciding to suck it up and just see what happened. Kate O, poor thing, learned she had brought her old shoes with no insoles in them and no orthotics. Let's just say that as we headed to the start, we had no expectations on that cold and windy morning.

Our race plans were similar and so we decided to start together and see how it goes. I could tell Kate's legs were feeling fresh and mine, well let's say I was completely flat. I usually am able to cruise for a few miles of a race before I have to work at all. This was clearly not the case. I worked from mile 1 and from the start, my HRs were higher than normal. At mile 3, I decided to maintain my "warm up" pace around 9:20 and let Kate go. I figured that if I was able to hold this pace, I could find another gear mid way. Or at least I hoped. Mid way, I still had no extra gear. Try as I could to get into the 8s, that day was not my day. So I continued to push with what I had. The result was a very mentally tough 13.1 miles of which none felt good or easy or flew by. I did manage a PR of a few minutes but missed my sub 2 hour goal by 55 seconds. It will have to come in a different race. Kate had an amazing PR of 2:57 and some change and my other Richmond training buddies had PRs and some really strong races. It's great to see how much we've all improved over the past several years and how hard everyone continues to push themselves.

After a forbidden beer, we went to Pocohontas Pancakes where my surprise reward were some yummy gluten free pancakes! We returned to Chez Oliver, ran the dogs on the beach for a while and snuggled in for some tired afternoon naps.

Despite my disappointing performance run wise, I was still very proud of not quitting and hanging mentally tough. I worked for those miles like you have to work for miles at the end of a half ironman or Ironman when you aren't fresh and your body doesn't want to cooperate. That effort turned a disappointing race, less so and one I could be proud of.

Now, it's time to go get my butt kicked at Tri Camp! Mt. Lemmon here we come!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Maximizing Time

So the last month hasn't been too different from the previous. A lot of work, a lot of travel and a lot of juggling. Since my last post I've been out to California two more times (I'm actually returning now) and have had multiple day trips in between. Not to whine about CA though. Both times have been week long stays in sunny Pasadena at the Langham-Huntington hotel. I highly recommend it if you are ever in the area. My favorite part of those stays has been the amazing weather. What's not to like about being able to sit outside in the evenings or anytime of day, or better yet swim in an outdoor pool!

I'm looking forward to things calming down a bit but Im not sure when they will. As it turns out with my litigation schedule, this year may not have been ideal to ramp up to Ironman training but I just need to try and manage things as best as I can and not sweat the small stuff. As coach Jen pointed out manage my stress bucket and try not to exceed it.

On the positive side, I had a great run test - improved by almost 20 secs per mile and also upped my wattage in my bike test. Have been trying to ride outside and hills since my near disaster first time ride outside and I feel like I am gradually starting to get back to form. This weekend will be my first test. Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. Going for a time that has a 1 hr in it. Would be my first but there's nothing like going for it. Will report later.

On other notes, getting excited to head to Tucson at the end of the month for Camp. I can't wait to have a few days to escape and focus on nothing but getting it done in the pool, on the trails and on the road. I will have to admit I am a bit nervous about Lemmon (mainly descending it) but as Bart said, don't worry, it'll be just like climbing and descending two of Crabtree Falls. YIKES!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Crazy Busy

January was a whirlwind to say the least.  Work has been extremely busy.  In fact, my billable hours last month likely rank up there as one of the top five.  Certainly that is the case for the last few years.   The work, however, is interesting and challenging, so while busy, it certainly could be much worse.

I've also been on the road a bunch - LA, Detroit, Toledo and Columbus.  This week was my first full week in town since the new year.   LA, of course, was my favorite.  I was out there right before the Golden Globes and stayed in the Beverly Hilton - the actual site of the Golden Globes.   Sunny, warm AND an outside pool to boot!  Here is a picture of me on the red carpet.  Had to talk the Security guard into even letting me get close.

Work and travel have made two of my goals - consistency and nutrition - very difficult.   Getting in all of my workouts and proper recovery is one of my biggest challenges.   No matter how hard I try to recover when traveling, I inevitably put in longer hours, and my workouts on the road often feel like crap - heavy legs, and just out of whack.  And, work travel usually means work entertaining, which equals cocktails and meals out.  Neither of which are on plan for me.   Since I know this is where I struggle, I've been better than I have been in years past AND as coach says, I'm trying to be very present during the workouts I'm able to get in at home and even on the road.  And as for food and wine, I'm trying to do the best I can particularly during the time at home.

On the food front, did anyone else watch the Oprah special featuring the Vegan Challenge?  Great show, although I was a little disappointed with the emphasis the Vegan advocate put on processed non meat substitutes.  Still very impressed with Michael Pollen.  And, I think I found the proper word to describe the way I eat - that is Veganish.  Predominantly vegan most days but on some things, including some meat and fish on occasion that I know the source of, I don't stay vegan 100 percent.

Am still continuing to love my TRX training and trails runs.  And, I've added another workout "like" this month - Friday night date night with Bart at the pool post work.   We do a long swim and then head out to dinner.

And finally, GO STEELERS!!!!  Can't wait to cheer loudly and waive my terrible towel tomorrow!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy 2011!

I would be lying if I said I've kept up with my goals I set in November for myself.
1.  Off season weight loss - not so much - instead I think I've enjoyed every holiday treat and glass of wine and added to my new total loss to achieve pre CDA.
2.  Blogging weekly - well since this is my first blog since end of November. . .
3.  Consistency in training - Not great here either - December was chaotic to put it mildly and last week was the first week that I actually got in ALL of my training sessions since the first week of training with Jen.

But the good thing about a new year is it gives us each time to start anew.  With a clean slate, an open mind and GOALS.  I can put those lazy days of December, the extra desserts and glasses of wine, and the missed items on my to-do list behind me and just move forward.

So here's to a fresh start, to a great 2011 and reaching our goals!  Happy New Year!