Sunday, August 16, 2009
In the days leading up to Ironman Lake Placid 2009, I looked back at my last race report, which was from Kona last October. Kona was not the race I wanted to have. I worried about things like who was racing and what the weather was going to be like; things over which I have no control. So for this race, I decided not to worry about the things I can't control, that I would go out and do my best, may be have some fun, and the rest will take care of itself.
By 3:30 in the morning, I was ready to get this race underway. Mike (my spouse) was already up milling about our Kottage at the KOA (coincidentally, the airport code for the Kona International), doing the dishes and had our Bridgehead Papua New Guinea roast ready. I downed my oatmeal, banana, coffee and nutrition drink quite easily. We got out gear on, grabbed our bags and headed into town. We got our usual parking spot in town and walked down to body marking. It was at this point that I starting to get excited about the race. Next it was off to fill up the Zipps, put my drinks on the Orbea (which has been finely built and tuned to perfection all season by the staff of Cyclelogik - thanks very much!). I opened my bag of GU Chomps, or as Mike calls them. “GU-jubes”, and checked my supply of Vanilla Bean gels, and then headed over to the condo where other Ottawa triathletes were staying for the race. Before long it was time to get to the swim start.
The Swim - 53:38
On the way to the swim start, I said my good byes to Mike and received lots of support from the Ottawa crowd. I got in the water as soon as Mike Reilly invited the age groupers to get in. I had a really good warm up. I felt ready and very comfortable. The plan was to start at the front, get out fast and over to the left of the buoy line, and hopefully find some good feet. There was some pushing amongst the age groupers once the pro race was underway. Shortly after the anthem the cannon went off, without warning or countdown I might add. I started fast and after about 20 strokes I could see I was close to the first buoy so I hopped over a couple of people and got to the left of the line. I found some good feet to draft from and fought hard not to let anyone steal them from me. The first 500m went by so quickly. I just sat in on the hip of my “draftee” for the reminder of the loop. As I finished I saw the first loop time of 26:00, so I was right on target. I fixed my cap and goggles while running around the dock, hopped back in the water and got back on that good set of feet. We then relaxed into a really nice pace, as planned. The rest of the swim felt very good. Once out of the water I ran past “the good set feet” (I guess I should have thanked him…), I quickly worked on getting my arms out of my Zoot Zenith wetsuit so the strippers could do their thing. Once my wet suit was off I ran as fast as I could to the first transition, passing a woman who came out just ahead of me in the swim. That run from the swim to T1 is so amazing in Lake Placid with everyone screaming and cheering. It really got my adrenaline going!
A huge benefit of getting out of the water quickly is that there are very few other women in the tent, so I had about 3 or 4 volunteers helping me. They were so primed to get me through that transition that one volunteer just ripped open my bag and put on my shoes and jammed on my helmet. I was in and out in no time! I peeled out of the tent and my Ordu was waiting for me at the end of the row. The volunteers at Lake Placid are just tremendous!
The Bike: 5:51.
I wasn't on the course long when I passed another woman and Kim Loeffler passed me. She was smokin’. I thought about trying to keep her in my sights, but she was going away too fast and I reminded myself to do my own race and, particularly, not to work to hard on the way out of Placid because it is not an easy part of the course. Slowly, but surely, guys started to pass me but for the most part I was riding alone. Then it was time for the first part of the Keen Valley by the Lakes. The new pavement was good to ride on and before I knew I was at the top of Keene.
I am not a big fan of this descent. Most often it is done with vehicles travelling very close to you and at high speeds, but on race day there was almost no traffic of any kind, so I gave it my best shot. As usual, guys were going past me but I was going much faster than usual until I saw the deer in the middle of the road...OH *&#@$!! I started screaming at the deer, but it didn't move, so I had to squeeze the brakes a bit and tried more screaming in a much higher pitched voice. The deer moved while I was still a comfortable distance away, but my heart rate had sky rocketed for a minutes or so…
The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, except when I lost my salt tablets and the wind picking up quite a bit on the second loop. I thought I was riding fairly hard for me but the legs just were not responding as I had hoped they would. I was eating and drinking a fair bit to see if that would help, but it did not seem to get the legs going. The second time up from Wilmington to Lake Placid, my back was starting to get pretty tight so I had to ease off in fear of not being able to run. I was so happy to finally ride over the Cherries and up that last blankety-blank Papa Bear Hill to transition.
T-2: Once I handed off my bike to a volunteer, I started running to my bag. My helmet was off and I was in the tent in no time. Again the tent was pretty empty. I got the same great service and some "recon" from a volunteer who told me as I was heading out that a woman in my age group had just left the tent...I thanked her and I was off.
The Run - 3:23
Once you come out of transition in Lake Placid, the course is literally all downhill. I find I have to be really careful not to get carried away here because it will catch up to you. The crowds here are also fantastic and really motivating. The Ottawa crowd congregates at the first corner on the run course. I was greeted with lots of cheering, extended hands; it was a real blur, but I had a long way to go, so I focused on making sure I was under control and not pushing too hard. Before the first mile I caught the woman in my age group. At mile 1, I looked at my split: 7:11.... oops too fast, but it is mostly downhill. Mile 2 I slowed down to 7:29, but then I was back down for miles 3, 4 and 5. I started to see people on the run course from Ottawa. The support on the course for all of the athletes is tremendous, and it is one of my favourite parts of the racing experience in Lake Placid.
At mile 5 or so I saw the first age group woman. It was Molly Zahr, and she had won this race before. Soon I was at the turn around. A couple of miles later I saw Mike. I was happy to see he was safely off the bike and running well. He told me that I was closing fast...I assumed he meant on the first amateur woman. I strongly resisted picking it up, but I am pretty sure I did anyway.
I noticed around 10km, that the sun was actually making an appearance: what a concept. I made sure that I had water and Gatorade at every aid station to ensure I was well hydrated for the second half of the race and maybe avoid the med tent.
I ate my second GU at the last aid station on River Road. Before I knew it, I was pounding up the ski jump hill. Just over the top of the hill, I could see Molly. I concentrated on holding a steady pace, and passed her just past the Horse Show grounds. Next it was up the big hill in town and again past the Ottawa and Zone 3 Sports crew. The cheering and encouragement was really motivating. The lot of them looked like they were having a great time. Since this is not an easy hill and I wasn't half way done yet, I kept my head down and kept on my pace. At half way I was 1:37+, which was a lot faster than I had planned to run. In fact, I planned to run the first half of the marathon slower than last year. The deed was done though. I acknowledged to myself that there could be consequences to pay later in the race. I just had 13 miles to go...
The second loop to the turn around went by pretty quickly. It was at the turn that I noticed that it was getting much warmer than was forecasted, but so far so good. It was getting harder to get to the aid stations and I had to really slow down and walk at a couple of stations to get enough coke into me. To stay focused, I concentrated on picking off the next person in front of me.
As I approached the ski jump hill, where I fell apart in last year’s race, I started to push. By the time I got to the top of the hill and, perhaps fittingly as I passed the Show grounds, I was running like a horse to the barn. I had about 3 miles left to go. I think this is where I saw Mike for the third time on the run. He congratulated me on my race. I think I said, “Go”. And that is it because it was getting hard to do anything but put one foot in front of the other as quickly as possible.
Soon I was at the bottom of that freaking long steep hill in town. This is it I thought: one more time up this…………hill and you are an Ironman! I started to smile half way up the hill. Yup, smile because I was going to finish. I tried to high-five as many Ottawa/Zone 3 people as I could, but I couldn’t really move quickly to get everyone. I really appreciated the gesture. It’s that kind of support that makes being part of the triathlon community in Ottawa special. I made sure that I high-fived Rick Hellard, my coach and the coach of the many talented Zone 3 Sports athletes, as my gesture to him for another coaching-job well done.
Shortly thereafter, I was at the top of the steepest part of the hill and all thoughts turned to leaving every last bit of what I had on the course. The turn on to Mirror Lake Drive and back to the Oval has got to be the longest part of this race. Soon I was on the Oval and as I rounded the last corner, I could see the clock reading about 10:13 and counting. Most people would just enjoy the moment and listen to Mike Reilly say their name and that they are an Ironman, but I gave’er. The family Ironman record was on the line! I knew Mike had gone 10:14 in Florida, but I didn’t know the exact seconds. I know what you are saying: Isn’t it enough that Mike is a long-suffering member of MWKMAATC? Nope. As it turns out, I now have the record by 22 seconds…My smile was ear to ear at the finish line. I even have finish line pictures this year!
Shortly after I finished, I went straight to T3: the med tent. There is nothing like 3 bags of saline, an anti-nausea shot and a coating of Alcis cream to straighten you right out. As I was trying to leave to find Mike, but I was told he was only two rows over in the med tent! After we left the med tent, we stayed and cheered for a while. I wanted to stay to see the midnight finishers, but I started to power fade around 11 p.m.
So all in all, Lake Placid 2009 was a very successful Ironman, which I could not have done without the love and constant support of my spouse and 10 time Ironman finisher, Mike Giles; my coach, Rick Hellard; all of my training partners extraordinaire and teammates at Zone 3 Sports, my swim coaches at the Ravens of Carleton, John Hawes and Claudia Cronin-Schlote, my expert massage therapist, Alison Graham; and my fabulous sponsors: Zone 3 Sports, Zoot, Orbea, Zipp, GU, Fuel Belt, Suunto and Alcis cream: I couldn’t do this without you, thanks so much!
See you in Kona!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
I also wanted to give a training update and Vineman re-cap.
First off, training has continued to build since my late season start. With the help of ALCiS cream and continual maintenance I have been able to keep plantar fasciitas at minimal on the pain front. My Orbea is treating me amazingly well. As it took a couple weeks to become accustomed to the aero position and a great bike fit here, I feel more comfortable than any bike I have ever ridden. I continue to use trial and error with my nutrition as I think it is a fine dance and am really enjoying the GU products especially the Chomps and Chocolate and Espresso Love gels. My fuel belt has saved me on continuous long runs in the sweltering heat and dry conditions we have been having lately in CO. As always I continue to enjoy my Zoot attire particularly the tri shorts which seem to be the only ones I own that don't give me chaffage.
On the race front my last race was Vineman 70.3. An absolutely amazing and beautiful race course, I went out 1 1/2 days early to get settled in and do a day of training/registration etc... I'm really glad I got to go out early and enjoy the scenery where I'd be racing. It's hard to enjoy the view in the TT position. Anyhow, I knew it would be a solid test and great challenge, as the competition was deep and the day would be toasty.
Race morning turned out to be fairly chilly, and my Zoot compression shocks which doubled as 1/2 tights with my carpris and Zoot longsleave with fleece inside helped keep my muscles nice and warm. After a warm up and T1 organization I pulled on my Zoot Speedsuit and was headed toward the start. A quick warm-up and we were off into the water for our start. It was men and women all at the gun and funny to see how the men really enjoyed inching forward as much as possible. After the gun went off and the sprint began, I found myself in a bit of a cluster, as we continued forward and spread out I was next to then behind some guy. He cut over and I ended up loosing his feet and swimming in a familiar place called no mans land. This is something that I'm going to work very hard with my coach on over the next few months. Holding that high intensity pace for as long as it takes to either get ahead or hold on to feet and stay there. Inevitably everyone settles into a pace, but it is always key to get on feet a bit faster than your comfortable with and push yourself with their help, I need to get better at this.
I came out of the water and in to T1 about 1:30 back from the leaders of Joanna Zeiger and Pip Taylor. I knew my bike would have to be solid as I headed out on the course. The beginning seemed to go well. I did drop my salt container, so that was a bummer, but I knew I couldn't worry about it as I was certainly not turning back. My electrolyte drink and gels had enough to bget me through until the run. As I have been training and getting accustomed to my new Orbea, and with the Zipp race wheels was super fast. I think I had not prepared as well as I should have to be down in the aero bars for a very extended time period. My lower back really acted up a bit. All factors that could be ellivated with little fit adjustments (which I have since made). Anyhow, time wise the bike was not as wonderful as I had hoped for, but it was good all in all and my nutrition and mechanics went well so that is a major plus. I also had great reminders of when to check in with my body and refuel thanks to my suunto. sometimes it is easy for me to forget to eat when I get in the zone. Off the bike and on to the run.
A very toasty course and not too much shade. I got my long awaited salt at the first aid station. The first 1/2 of the run felt very steady, painful but steady. The back 1/2 was more of a challenge. The heat really began to pound down and I felt a bit of the shuffle. It is always so important for me to think positive and get proper and continuous nutrition and hydration. I'm glad I had gotten proper nutrition on the bike and early in the run b/c by the end I felt a bit nauseous. Luckily it was near the end and the crowd was amazing and all of the energy drew me to the finish line for another amazing experience and block to build from. It was amazing to have so much support on many bits of the course, not only by volunteers and spectators but all of our fellow teammates! Thanks so much to all of the other Zooters and sponsors.
As well a big thanks to the Zoot Ultra team including Suunto, Fuelbelt, FU, Orbea, Zipp, ALCiS for so much support through this 2009 season!
Another great race and test. Continually I can see myself coming back around and improving. I'm learning patience more and more every day and enjoying this sport and everyone involved!
Hugs and be well everyone.
Good luck this weekend and happy training!
Hope to see you if you're in Boulder for the 5430 1/2 Sunday!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I just returned from Indiana on Tuesday, as I spent a few days after Steelhead in Brown County to relax and recover from the race. Their place is true heaven; it is tucked in the hills of Southern Indiana, on about 100 acres, surrounded by forest, with a small private lake right off the deck. I was able to wrap in a few days visit here with a race this weekend, which makes for a mildly stressful (race) but in turn very relaxing trip away from Austin. Not to mention, I have had about 5 days out of the heat. Additionally, I get to swim in their lake every day. The water is the clearest they have seen it in 6 years, and I can stand on their deck and see anywhere from 3-5 turtles at one time floating on the surface! Luckily, none are snapping.
I opted to do Steelhead 70.3 about 3 weeks ago. My mom said "Find a race in Michigan to do!" Little did she know, I would do just that! I had no idea that this race was putting up a pro prize purse this year, and seeing that it was 4 weeks out from IM Canada, I figured it would be a great little tune-up. I tried some things I'll do in Canada, including 1) Zipp 808 clinchers (courtesy of Zoot team) which worked great, and 2) supplies in a cut open water bottle on my bike frame for a flat. Much to my surprise, all stayed in tact and the setup seemed to work well. I did not have the time to figure out my nutrition setup yet (ie: using a bento box, likely) so on that, I will have to wing it in Canada.
I arrived in Thursday to Indianapolis, spent a night here at 'the cabin' and then Friday my mom and I drove up to Benton Harbor. Beautiful drive! Indiana is so green and the weather so cool right now, actually made me miss Indiana. The logistics seemed a bit whacky when we arrived, as I did packet pickup, then back to the college for a meeting at 4, then to dinner then at about 7:00 we checked out where we would go in the morning (the transition area). It was a very pretty setting (I am still shocked that Lake Michigan is actually a 'lake', looked very much like an ocean to me) and despite being pretty tired by 8:00 pm from the hectic-nes of the day, I slept well for the 3:45 AM wake up call.
We headed out the door at about 5:00 to the race, all checked out of our hotel and ready to go. Arrived early, set up my transition area in the dark; noticed that when I spun my rear wheel, it stopped. Hmm... not good. I found a mechanic who fixed it, but I also noticed when racing every time I stood, I heard a 'swoosh, swoosh' so I need to get that figured out before Canada. We were off promptly at 7:02, 2 minutes behind the men.
Swim: The swim was what I call 'bouncy'. It was wetsuit legal, at a temp of 68-degrees in the water, so I opted for my Zoot sleeveless suit. I get warm very quickly; it takes low 60's or colder for me to use a full suit. We did not go too far out in the ocean (sorry, um... 'lake') but there were big rolling waves. I would sight and either see a big swell, or perhaps catch a glimpse of the buoy. So, you needed to sight frequently or you could end up getting pushed into the shore. I felt alright; though this swim felt long (one straight line). I was just off the back of the lead pack, ended with a 25-something which was OK. I mostly swam on my own. I tend to always do this. I like my space; though, the drafting would have been nice. :)
Bike: T1 was a transition, rather long run to the bike but I got there and headed out as quickly as I could. I believe I was told I was in 5th place. Unfortunately, I would not come back in in 5th place. :) I felt rather strong for the first 25 miles, but I could tell that it was not coming easy. I was passed by a few women out there, all of whom looked stronger than I felt, but I tried to stay positive. The course was nice, yet the roads were rather bumpy (chip-seal-ey) and the last 10-15 miles, we faced a pretty strong headwind. However, I felt bad for all those racers after us, because a storm was blowing in so they likely felt more of this than we did! Needless to say, the last 10 miles of the bike, all I could think about was "I cannot WAIT to be running." I came off the bike in probably 8th or 9th place, so I had my work cut out for me if I wanted to finish within the top 5.
Run: I entered our LONG transition area, threw on my new Zoot racing shoes (the Ali'i's, which felt similar to the Ultra TT), grabbed some gels and was out of there. I passed 2 women within the first couple of miles, so that felt good. I was checking my watch every so often, running anywhere between 6:10 and 6:25 miles. Not bad, but not scorching fast. But it was OK, I could not see many women in sight so I knew all I could do was stick the pace where I felt good and grind away. I felt a sharp pain in my lower right leg, it hurt every time my foot landed, starting at about mile 3. Pretty odd, but I just tried to ignore it; definitely something I had not felt before. Almost felt like an anterior tendon near my ankle. The run course was nice, it was a mix of roads, neighborhoods and even a cool little running path through the woods. Michael Lovato was out there telling us where we were, so at halfway through, he told me I was closing in on 5th place. That was nice to hear. The next time I saw him, I had about 4 miles left, and he told me that I was 2:00-2:20 down from Amanda, his wife; but finished it with "Keep it up!" Talk about class. I did not think I could catch her, as I know she is a great runner but with about 1 mile to go I saw what I thought was her up ahead. I tried to mentally do the "Only 1 mile, all you've got!" and just give it whatever I had left. I was able to push hard that last mile and run my way into 4th place, which considering the hideous bike I had, I was pleased with. Big props to the other women out there racing; I sure had to work my ass off for that finish today!
All in all, a solid race, beautiful day and nice setting. I was very excited to hear that I had posted the fastest pro womens run split by 4 minutes! However, looking at the bike splits, I still have a ways to go. It is tough to work so hard at one discipline (for me, the bike) and still see little progress. But, you know this is the sport; we all have our strengths and weaknesses. I am willing to accept this, and when racing, try to gain as much time as I can on the swim and the run and then on the bike, try to minimize my losses. While I often bike like there is no run in a 1/2 IM (or shorter), I am just not as strong as the other women. That is OK, my focus in Canada is to ride within myself. This is a huge challenge that lies ahead of me. I am sure the nerves will start to surface these next few weeks, and I'll put in one more BIG ride. But, I need to simply get out there, race smart and enjoy the process. 'Cause if I am not enjoying it, it is a LONG time to be in misery! The toughest part will be staying positive and strong, (especially mentally) on the bike. I think this is where we all struggle most in triathlon, not beating ourselves up from our weakest discipline; especially during the race.
I want to give a big thanks to those who have helped me out so much this summer and season thus far: Jamie and Andrea at Hill Country Running, Cecilia at 3 Cosas massage, AJ Zelinski and his crew at Advanced Rehabilitation, Zoot Ultra team (including Suunto, Gu, Zipp, Alcis, and Orbea) and of course Jack and Adams bike shop in Austin. You all help me so much and it is very much appreciated. And of course, my husband Derick, who is aways nothing but supportive; even when I get stressed and slightly crazy. :)
Thanks for reading. I am now back in Hot Austin for the final push to Canada! Happy and SAFE training to ya'll.... from Texas.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Race 4 - New York City Triathlon - 6th Place
Race 5 - Steelhead 70.3 - 2nd Place
Saturday morning was another 3:00am CST morning. Head over to race sight, not a cloud in the sky & Lake Michigan was flat. As I walk jogged the 1.2 miles to the race start in loose sand I went over the plan in my head (as I would during warmup of any workout). Plan the work, work the plan. I would run up to the start chute as the National Anthym was finishing (the oh shit I am late feeling). I ended up having 3 minutes to spare. I nudged a good starting location...Then "GO". Go? No cannon, gun, air horn, whistle..but GO? I think that thought went through my head at the same time my body was hurling ankle, knee, waste deep in water. I was in the lead for the first 200m or so. RACE the swim. Then I started swimming for Wisconsin, I sighted a boat (swimming straight into the rising sun) instead of the bouy. There went Potts, Kenny, and Doe. I decided to chase Remaly for most of the swim. I think we both swam 1.3 miles looking for the next bouy in the sun. As I exited the water I heard Keith or Chris yell, "Your sixth." T1 was a long run...but I just relaxed a cruised through it.
I hopped on the bike, I cruised hard through T1, my HR was way high. It took me a mile or three to get strapped down and settled in...Then I started rolling. Fifth, Fourth, Third...At mile 22 I caught Doe and Potts. It took me 6 miles to shell them, doing some interval work...Then it was down to business. Roll those pedals over. The new shoes from The Bike Shop were stiff and somehow I set them perfect (my second ride on them). The straightline speed of the Orbea was to the point of rediculous into the wind putting nearly 4 minutes into Potts & Doe in the final 12 miles. Coming off the bike I did not know the size of my lead...I learned after the race it was 5.5 minutes.