Wednesday, October 16, 2013

IM World Championship Race Report

Post race...still smiling

The race…

So much to say about the days, weeks, and months leading up to this one day, but this blog entry will be about the race day.  I’ll have a blog entry for the before and the after…still to come later.
The boys and I in front of the IM sign with all the participants name.

Friday (day before the race):  I had planned to get a short swim, bike, and run in that morning, but ended up deciding I would completely rest instead.  Anything I did today would be more for my head than my body and I was all set with the metal game.  Actually, the mental game was the one thing I was looking forward to the most about the race.  I’m truly fascinated with the mind/body connection.  There is so much more to racing than swimming, biking, and running.  Huge gains can be made through mental training and learning more about the power of nutrition.
All my gear and bags organized and ready to go
After the race wheels were put on Wednesday I took it out for a short spin to make sure Black Beauty was all set.  There had been no running since Monday.  Running has been very minimal since I had the MRI done on my hip/hamstring after the 70.3 race in Vegas.  There isn’t anything major wrong I just have inflammation I need to take care of which is on the To Do list after Kona.

On my way to rack my bike Friday afternoon.  I waited until the last minute when it would be quieter.
I had a nice big breakfast with Lee and the boys about 9am – 2 eggs, 2 Gluten free pancakes with coconut syrup, and 2 slices of sourdough bread with fresh jam.  I snacked on a PR bar, banana and coconut water around lunch time.  Dinner was early around 5.  I picked up food from Island Naturals’ hot deli which was a chicken breast and mashed potatoes.  I was in bed by 7, but really didn’t sleep too much at all.

My favorite place to get food in Kona.  Here and Lava Java.

Nutrition: I changed my nutrition plan somewhat from IMoo.  One thing I needed to do was stay on top of my hydration and taking in calories – especially on the bike or I would more than likely be walking the marathon. For the first time ever I sucked down a GU peanut butter from T1 to my bike.  On my bike I had water in my aero bottle which I planned to refill at the aid stations on the course.  On my down tube I had Extreme Hydro-X. It’s a new product I started using this summer and I REALLY like it.  I highly recommend it to others.  In my bento box I had Cytromax energy drops (orange) which I love too.  Also, in my bento box I had MAP (master amino pattern) and Hammer Electrolyte tabs.  Taped to my top tube were 5 GUs…an assortment of flavors.  Also, I shoved an EFS liquid shot in my top out of T1 and had one velcro in behind my aero bottle.  Each of those had 400 calories.  In total I had about 1900 calories on my bike.  I had a little more than I would probably take in just in case I was out there longer than anticipated.  I did put a few things in my special needs bags, but I never stopped to get anything from either one of my bags on the bike or run.  I would try to take in calories every 15 minutes and around the top of each hour do 3 MAP and a few electrolyte tabs.  There is new research out which says we really don’t need the electrolyte tabs, but whether it’s in my head (a placebo affect) or not I like the reassurance.  Especially racing in Hawaii.  
Race day nutrition

I ended the bike with all of my MAP, electrolytes, EFS liquid shots, and Cytromax drops gone.  I’m not a huge fan of GU so I only managed two of them.  The bike penalty was probably a blessing in disguise because I took full advantage of the 4 minutes off my bike by grabbing a bottle of coke and two waters on my way to the tent.  In there I was able take in additional nutrition and hydration, apply more sunscreen, do some stretching, and even pee on the side of the road.  I didn’t even care the tent was full of other races and there was no privacy…just the lava fields.  For those interested…that was the only time I went to the bathroom the whole race.

Race Morning:  I like to get up about 2:30 am and have a bigger breakfast and then go back to sleep.  I had two sandwiches at 2:30am…sourdough bread with sunflower butter and jam was one and the other was sourdough bread with sunflower butter, sliced banana, and honey.  I was able to go back to sleep for a little longer and then my alarm went off for the second time at 3:55.  I had coffee and a PR and slowly and methodically went through my list. I remember Lee asking me if I was nervous and I remember thinking I wasn’t at all.  I felt very calm and I felt was on auto pilot in a way.  I had created a list with times and everything I had to do.  Sometimes I believe people get nervous because they aren’t prepared or they are uncertain about what is to come.  I was prepared and I was prepared for a variety of different obstacles which may come my way – both good and bad.   

I left the room by 4:35.  We were lucky to be staying at the King Kam hotel which is the headquarters for the IM and the same location for the start/finish, T1, and T2.  It was so convenient for me all week and for Lee and the boys the day of the race.  

I made my way through body marking, getting weighed, and all the way to my bike.  Everything went very smoothly.  I was 7 pounds lighter than a year ago at IM Wisconsin.  One of the areas I really worked on the last 5 weeks leading up to this race was my nutrition.  I didn’t eat any gluten or any type of junk food.  It is absolutely amazing to me the power of food.  I know I’ve said this before in my blog, but nutrition really is the 4th disciple.  Being as lean as possible on this course can really pay off.  
Hanging out with Scott Poteet at the swim entry before the race.

I knew the swim was going to be brutal.  There were over 2,000 people who started the swim.  I was one of the first people to get in the water.  I wanted to be toward the front and the middle.  I told myself…3 minutes…You can handle 3 minutes of pure physical swimming.  My thinking was – go as fast as you can for 3 minutes and then it will settle down. For someone where water isn’t second nature the swim can be terrifying.I would have put me in this group until about 6 months ago when I attended the Total Immersion swim camp in Kona.  I learned more about swimming in the ocean and how to relax in the water in a week than I have learned in 10 years.  I’m so glad Jennifer Imsande invited me to take lessons from David Cameron in Minneapolis over the winter and did the swim camp with me.  Those skills I learned not only helped me for this race, but have changed how I view swimming and how much I enjoy swimming in the open water.

While treading water out there I hear a guy ask…”Can I hold on here too”…there were huge orange buoys were the starting line was which I was holding on with one hand.  I said sure and looked over to see the guy was Hines Ward.  Very cool:)

I started getting cold in the water waiting for the race to start.  Since I was one of the first to get in the water it was probably about 20 minutes of treading water before the race started.  The canon fired and we were off.  I took one stroke and my goggles were full of water.  Someone’s hand had hit my strap and they filled with water.  I kept swimming debating what to do.  My eyes started to burn from the salt water so for a quick second I stopped to dump the water out and got back to work.  Not a good time to stop at all – even if it’s for one second.  There was a point in the swim where I thought…I have a bloody nose and there was another point I thought…yep, I’m gonna have a black eye…and another point I thought…oh my goodness I’m going to vomit from the kick to the gut.  It was crazy, brutal, and something I never want to do again or at least until I’m in the 70+ age category and I’m in the back just taking my time.

I was thrilled to get out of the water and see the clock say 1:09.  The swim was hard for me, not the actual swimming part…I didn’t get tired or feel I was out of breath.  The hard part for me was staying calm and not letting all the commotion of all the bodies and arms and legs get the best of me.  I did very little sighting.  I kept my head down.  The view from under the water seemed calmer than the view from above.  When I would look up to sight it just looked like pure ciaos to me, so I tried to keep my head down and stay relaxed as much as possible.  Finding feet, staying relaxed and just keep swimming were a few of my swim goals.  I had to remind myself a few times when I was drafting to just stay in the draft zone.  It is so much easier swimming in someone else s draft that I would think…I can swim faster than this and I would slide out to pass only to realize they are going as fast as I would go so I would slip back in behind them and save my energy for the bike and the run.  

T1 went great…very smooth.  I had gone through the whole race in my head so many times that when the day finally came I really didn’t have to think I just flowed.  I knew the course almost as good as I knew the Wisconsin course.  There were no surprises.  I knew the landmarks and picked them off one by one on the way out and did the same on the way back….airport, cemetery, donkey crossing, scenic overlook, ….

I had prepared for the mental toll the wind can have on a racer.  Race day was the best conditions I have ever biked in on the Queen K.  On the climb up to Hawi I was able to take in nutrition and hydration which usually is almost impossible with the wind blowing from several different directions.  The crazy thing about the Kona bike course is you can get a headwind in both directions.  So the earlier you can get out on the course and get back the less wind you will have to deal with since the mornings are calmer than the afternoons.  I pushed the bike hard on the way out of town because I knew what we would be facing on the way back and sure enough the last 25 miles into town was tough.  I tried to relax and stay aero and just keep pedaling.  Slowly each of the landmarks would come into view and finally over the horizon I could see the airport.  From the airport to T2 is less than 10 miles.
What I love about this pic is the angle of my head.  This was on the climb uphill with the wind just blowing.  I love riding bike!

Gadgets…I don’t race with power.  I have a power meter and will use it in training.  Not every single training ride, but for many rides I do.  For me, I enjoy training on perceived rate of exertion.  In my opinion, too many athletes are holding themselves back with all the gadgets they use for tracking and don’t listen to their body.  These gadgets are great tools, but they are just that – tools.  The mental training is more powerful than any power file will ever tell you.  When it comes to IM racing and it gets dark out there and lonely – which it will – you are the only one who can pull yourself out of the darkness and forge ahead.  You have to have strategies to be able to dig deep and believe in yourself no matter what.  

For races…I race against myself and try to push the envelope each time.  The challenge I was looking for was with me and seeing how far I could push myself and would I have what it takes to keep moving forward.  Viewing the race as a completion with myself rather than a competition with the other racers was very calming and relaxing to me.  I’ve learned through training I can push the bike hard and still run good off the bike. On the run I have a watch and I keep track to some extent my pace per mile, but once again I’m running on feel.  

The drafting penalty…not much to say about this…I disagree with the call, but it is what it is.  There were so many packs of guys that flew by me.  The call came right after I had missed a water bottle at the aid station and was out of water for about 30-40 minutes so maybe it was meant to be.  I was able to get water and have a break off my bike before getting back on and pushing the last 25 miles into the wind.

As soon as I got off my bike and made my trip around the pier to T2 I thought…there is no way I’m going to be able to run a marathon.  As soon as that thought entered my head I quickly replaced it with….race your race and be patience…You’ll find your legs.  

In T2 I put compression sleeves on, my socks, and shoes.  While I was doing this I had BioFreeze in my bag and one of the volunteers was smearing this all over my quads and hamstrings.  They also wrap an ice cold towel around your neck.  I have to say the volunteers are absolutely amazing!  So organized and nice.  

I saw Lee and the boys right out of T2 and the look on a few of their faces was…mom…you are really far back. I think they were used to seeing me race at IM Wisconsin  were I got off the bike and there was only a handful of women in front of me and they were all pros.  This race is different…everyone is fit and everyone is fast.  Qualifying and racing here is an honor in itself.  Anything and everything on top of that is like the cherry on a sundae – not needed but it does make it look pretty. 

Riley took this picture and I just love it!  Its about mile 7-8 of the marathon and only the second time I seen the boys on the course.  I still had a big smile at this point.
I’ve ran several marathons and I know it’s a long way to run and so many things can happen and change in 26.2 miles.  I kept saying to myself…race your race, be patient, just keep on keeping on.  I felt I kept getting stronger the longer the race went on.  I was able to overcome a few bad patches and focused on getting from one aid station to the next.  We were very lucky for the most part of the marathon the sun had disappeared and been replaced with overcast skies.

My original goal was to run a lot faster than a 3:20, so part of me is disappointed with my time.  But, on this day, with these conditions, and where my body (hamstring) was at this was the best marathon time I could put together.  I never walked, I never gave up on myself, and I never let negativity win on the course.  My nutrition was spot on so I really have no reason to be disappointed. 
Ali drive...what a thrill!

The finish line was so much fun!  I was high fiving random people and loving every second.  Turning onto Ali Drive and seeing the big bunion tree brought tears to my eyes.  I have dreamt of this one day this one race for so many years and now here I was running down the street with so many people clapping and cheering.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  We all have dreams and no matter how big or how small or how silly or crazy they may seem to others they are our dreams and we all can make them a reality through hard work, disciple, and sacrifices.  Just because we grow up and become moms and dads doesn’t mean our dreams are no longer important.  If anything I want to be an example to my boys to keep on living life and inspiring others to do the same no matter what your age.  

Keep dreaming, keep setting goals, and keep working hard.  Life is WAY too short to just keep going through the motions.  This race has been a long journey and I have learned more about myself than I ever would have thought.  I have no plans for future triathlons until I’m a great Grandma going for the age group win in the 70+ category.  
Being on stage with these other amazing women was a real treat.  They were all so nice!

I’ll do another blog about my training, tapering, plans for after the race very soon, and all the wonderful people who made the day go as wonderful as it did.
TEAM ANDRES post race in Kona.

1 comment:

  1. Yay!! I got a few tears in my eyes reading this, congratulations!!