Operation Run Faster continues. With about 7 weeks left to the Myrtle Beach half, its getting close to time to decide if my goal is doable.
Monday – swimming barely not drowning. 1800 meters. It is ridiculous how quickly you lose swimming stamina, especially when you suck at it anyway. I’ve only been sporatic about going since I got my Ironman tattoo, and over the holidays. I considered skipping it agin and just picking back up after vacation, but decided it suck it up and go. It was 30 degrees outside. The water really wasn’t bad as long as you were moving, but after about an hour my fingertips were numb, and it took me the rest of the afternoon to thaw. On the plus side, a fellow swimmer saw my tattoo and said I was a badass, so there’s that 🙂
Tuesday tempo fail.6 miles at 7:50/mile. Figuring I had enough weeks of tempo and speed runs under my belt I figured I’d try 6 miles at goal race pace. Well, something messed up on my watch about .75 miles in and my pace jumped from 7:50 to 7:20. I dunno if the satellites were just off, or if I was really running that quickly (I suspect a combo), and then I felt thrown off for the rest of it. Combined with asthma lungs and 32 degrees, this run required a few rest stops and felt much harder than it should have.
Wednesday speed work. 3x (2x 1200) with 2/4 min rest intervals. Actual goal pace here was around a 6:45, but with the half marathon coming up (that I planned to run as a training run but knew myself well enough to know I wouldn’t) I knocked the pace down a bit and averaged between 6:49-6:55. Because SC loves to fit as many seasons as possible in 48 hours, it was 68 degrees during the better part of this run.
Thursday easy run. 4 miles with stroller. Running snacks! And my kid knows me because Miles asked me 5 min in if I had to pee (I didn’t, but I did later).
Friday rest day
Saturday Charleston Half Marathon. 13.1 miles @ 8:09/mile. Not a PR but a good solid improvement from my 8:46 average at Sweet Tea. Also, there were yummy Mimosas. Recap to come.
Sunday rest day, since we spent the majority of it in the car.
Happy New Year, friends! 2016 was a BIG year for me in terms of my running and triathlon goals, so 2017 is going to be boring in comparison. And hopefully faster 🙂
Monday – tempo run. 5 miles @ 7:41 with .5WU/.5CD Typically Monday is my pool day but the twins’ daycare was closed for the New Year holiday and I didn’t feel like it was fair of me to ask my parents to watch the twins for a swim and work both, so I ran. Since the twins were home with me, this run was done on the treadmill. It wasn’t pretty. I did manage to maintain a steady 7:41 with one break to beg the twins to leave me alone and get some water, but an already difficult run was made more difficult when my apparently oblivious kids started asking me WHAT I WAS DOING. I am running. What does it look like? Miles joined me for my cool down, though.
Tuesday – ride/HIIT 25 minute ride/35 min HIIT. It was on the warmer side with some rain expected later. The weather said there was a 38% chance of rain. 1.5 miles from home it starts to rain. WEATHER LIES. I was already out so I turned around once it started to do more than drizzle and headed back home to dry my bike off, and did two sets of high intensity interval workouts with some yoga stretching.
Wednesday – speed. 1 mile, 2 miles, 2×800 with 400/800m recovery, WU and CD – 7.25 miles total. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect speed wise with these intervals. According to my half goal, I needed to run the mile in 6:49 and 2 in about 14:04, then both 800’s in 3:16. I decided to tone it down a bit and shoot for a 7:00 and then a 14:10-14:15, but surprised myself yet again and ran the mile in 6:50 and the 2 mile in 14:06. My 800’s suffered though, with a 3:26 and 3:23, but by then I hardly cared.I ran a 7:06 and 7:01 consecutively and didn’t die, and though running another mile wasn’t happening, it tells me the training is working and I am getting faster!
Thursday trainer 35 minutes AM/ arms and abs 30 minutes PM. I woke up with a scratchy throat. We had some company the night before so could only squeeze in 35 minutes, but that was fine because I hate the trainer. My last kid canceled so I hit the Y and did a set of arm weights, 5 pull ups (3 then 2) and a set of abs including planks. I also did a short and light set of hips. By then I had some nice head congestion but not enough to warrant skipping. Hot chocolate helped a little.
Friday rest day . long run. 12 miles @ 8:18/mile. Faced with the decision to either run with a head cold or try to bear through freezing rain (or 12 miles on Satans Sidewalk) the next day, I medicated up (relax, I took one Sudafed), put my shoes on after work and headed out. This run was easier than the same distance attempt 2 weeks ago, but was still challenging by the end, so still work to do. Though, the cold probably didn’t help. Also, rain likes me because again, even though the chance of rain was 1%, it rained lightly almost the whole run.
Saturday –nothing. I literally did nothing. All day.I cursed my cold.
Sunday yoga. Painful yoga. Starting to feel better, but still pretty tired, it wasn’t my best yoga session ever.
I may be somewhat biased, but I feel like my kids are pretty smart. They have great pretend play skills, they’ve mostly mastered third person pronouns, they (mostly) use plurals and correct past tense. Most of the time their questions, albeit repetitive (mommy can I have milk? Mommy can I have milk?) make total sense.
At least until recently.
Most of the time I aim to fit my workout in between the time Bryan drops the kids off at daycare on the way to the high school and when I have to be at work. But sometimes they are at home with me, as was the case twice this week.
After a bit of encouragement, the two joined me on the third floor for my 5 mile tempo run. A tempo run (or what is supposed to be “comfortably uncomfortable”) is challenging enough in itself, so I was hoping they could entertain themselves with the IPAD for 40 minutes and leave me alone.
Right. Dream on.
After a blissfully uninterrupted half mile warm up, I cranked up the speed, and almost immediately noticed I had company. Miles walked up to the treadmill. He looked at it. He looked at me. He asked:
“Mommy, what are you doing?”
Uh….*pant pant*, I’m running *pant pant*. What does it look like I’m doing? *gasp gasp*
Satisfied, he walks away.
About 15 minutes later, and much more out of breath than before, Abby walks up to the treadmill.
“Mommy, what are you doing?”
Today I’m trying to squeeze 30 minutes on the bike trainer. The twins have seen me on this thing already at least 25 times. I get on the bike, I start pedaling, and low and behold Miles walks up and asks
“Mommy, what are you doing?”
But wait, it gets better.
Unfortunately, although the twins are daytime potty trained, Miles STILL refuses to poop in the toilet 98% of the time. Finally recently he’s started feeling motivated by prizes. Over Christmas Bryan bought some trucks on clearance and showed them to him, telling him he could have them once he pooped. He’s earned one so far. Trying to follow in Abby’s footsteps, Miles decides he’s going to try, but then decides he can’t. I tell him that if he does go, there is a truck upstairs with his name on it.
I took a break from blogging after the Ironman, even though the only thing I had time the energy to post for the 6.5 months prior to it was weekly recaps. Now that I have more time and energy, I plan to starting writing about other things again, but find I kind of like reading back on training to find out what works and what doesn’t.
2017 is going to be all about shorter distances. I have a goal to PR my half marathon, which isn’t short per se, but requires much less training than I’d been doing. Otherwise I’m looking at 5k’s, and then one Tri season rolls around – Sprints and an Olympic.
This year I want my races short, sweet, and hopefully fast. And I want to focus more on strength.
In an effort to regain some speed and hopefully bypass my current fastest Half Marathon time, I’m following the Run Less Run Faster Half Marathon plan. I ran the Sweet Tea this year literally 10 minutes slower than last year, so I’ve had some work to do. Up until recently (and still, to be honest), Id been focusing on trying to increase speed little by little until I can run the training runs relatively comfortably.
So here we go:
Monday: tempo run. 1 WU/2 @7:38, 1 easy, 2 @7:38, 1CD. 7 miles total. This workout is getting a little easier in that it is requiring fewer stops (ha), and I even managed to average a 7:43 going up two (small) hills during the last fast mile, so I figure this is a win.
Tuesday: trainer ride. 5 min WU followed by 2 min hard and 3 min spin for 45 minutes total. I dunno that I’ll ever ENJOY the trainer. The gear that is my easy gear on the road is my hard gear on the trainer, so my average speed is like 13 mph. Afterwards I did some quick arm weights. Because I need to work on my gun show.
Wednesday: speed work. 1.5 WU/ 12×400/ 1.5 CD 6 miles total. Dude. I KILLED this speed workout. But if I’m gonna kill one its going to be a shorter distance workout. My goal pace for each 400 was 6:25. I had one 6:25 and the rest averaging between 6:07-6:15. I even had one 6:02! By the end, I wanted to vomit. I didn’t, but I wanted to. I’m sure my track buddies appreciated that.
Thursday: ride. 20 miles. South Carolina’s weather has been drunk or high lately, and it keeps jumping from 75 degrees to 30 and back again in a matter of 48 hours. Still, it was nice to ride outside for the first time in a long time, and finish off my year with a solid 2575 bike miles, a number I likely won’t see again for a LONG time.
Friday: rest day. Want to hear our exciting New Years Eve? We went to bed at 10:00. Zzzzzzzzz
Saturday: long run. 8 miles @ 8:10 was the goal. I’m not sure what the average ended up being, but it was slower. Remember how I rode outside two days ago? Well this morning it was 31 degrees. My asthmatic lungs didn’t tolerate it well. I ran my first mile as a sorta warm up at 8:30 and got up to 8:16 by the second, but by the third I was at 8:25 and had to stop for my inhaler and spit about a gazillion times (gross) in an effort to get rid my the mucous build up. I did this while running so I kept losing my breath. By mile 5 I decided I was going to finish on the treadmill. I ran mile 5 in 8:11, and then at least finished strong inside with a 8:09, 8:07, 8:04
Sunday: yoga. 50 minutes. It has been nice to incorporate this again, although I have a long way to go on my flexibility.
Received an ACE award from my professional organization (after you earn 70 hours of continuing education over a consecutive 3 year period)
Won an age group award for the James Island Sprint Triathlon Series
Cleaned my house 15,000 times a day
Heard the word “mommy” 50 million times a day
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Finish a Half Ironman (bonus: this is also a bucket list item!) – Joke’s on me – I finished a full!
Find something to invest some money in (stock, gold whatever) – nope
Start attending church more regularly ( or at all, really ) we did, finally!
Run a 5k in under 22 minutes nope, though this got trumped by resolution number one
Volunteer somewhere a few times this year bah – nope
Get more involved in church
Run a 5k in under 22 minutes
PR a half marathon
Focus more on family
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I’m in my 30’s, so yes
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
The ability to take a deep breath before I get frustrated
7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January – Ran the Disney Marathon with (though I use the word with loosely) a childhood friend, and PR my marathon time
March – Ran the Myrtle Beach Marathon and PR my marathon time again! Tammie qualifies for Boston with plenty of time to spare!
March – run my first team relay, and also happened to be the first time I get (and run with) bronchitis
May – twins turn THREE!
September – South Carolina gets hit with Hurricane Matthew, which, thankfully, is much milder than originally predicted. We sat the storm out. We lost power for a few hours, but luckily sustained no other major damage.
October -Finish Ironman North Carolina, though in a bit of a different way. The hurricane forced closure of half the bike course, turning my swim, bike, run into a swim, bike, run, bike.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Ironman. Definitely Ironman.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Frustration, just too much unnecessary frustration
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
NO! WOO HOO!
11. What was the best thing you bought?
New king size bedroom set
12. Where did most of your money go?
House stuff, surprisingly. We had to replace the A/C unit, re paved the patio and replaced our bedroom set.
13. What did you get really excited about?
Hitting new PR’s and milestones in training
Becoming CKTP certified
Our pending vacation in January! A real, non race related one!
14. What song will always remind you of 2015?
Rise – Katy Perry
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? happier!
– thinner or fatter? about the same
– richer or poorer? poorer, but thats ok.
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Really nothing aside from maybe spend more time with family. That is my focus for 2017. There was a LOT of focus on me this year.
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
get frustrated over unimportant stuff
cared so much about a clean house
18. How did you spend Christmas?
At home. We opened a few presents at home and then had another at my sisters house. We also had Christmas dinner there. Christmas was cool this year because he twins are finally old enough to understand Santa and presents.
19. What was your favorite TV program?
This Is US
Sister Wives (yes, still)
20. What were your favorite books of the year?
I didn’t read much this year either, but I enjoyed Jodi Picoult’s new book and am recently re-reading some of the Left Behind series
21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Rise – Katy Perry
The Weeknd – Starboy
Twenty One Pilots – Heathens
Stand By You – Rachel Platten
22. What were your favorite films of the year
I think I honestly watched ONE movie that I hadn’t already seen.
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 34. My birthday fell on a Friday this year, so I did a 4 hour training ride and then hosted a birthday/tri party at our neighborhood pool
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I don’t think anything would have brought satisfaction that I’d consider immeasurable.
25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Scrub pants, t shirts and workout clothes.
26. What kept you sane?
Getting good consistent sleep!
27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Yeah, so it has been a long time since I’ve published a blog, and the vast majority of them this year were sparse, and fitness related. Part of me wonders if maybe the time has come to end the blog, but regardless I want to post my summaries of the year (fitness and not fitness) because it has been nice to read back on them.
1. My main goal for this 2016 was: to finish a Half Ironman, turned into a full Ironman, thanks to some pushy encouraging friends and a beer.
2. My Running Shoes: Mizuno Wave Inspire, changed to Wave Rider and the On Cloud by December
3. Favorite running gear item of 2016: Still the Garmin
4. Playlist screenshot: Too lazy for a screenshot- so here are my top 10 most played songs (usually while running)
The Weekend – Starboy
Twenty One Pilots – Heathens
Macklemore – Dance Off
Cutting Crew – I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight
Unspoken – Higher
Rasmus – In the Shadows
Katy Perry – Rise
Genesis – Land of Confusion
Marilyn Manson – Personal Jesus
Rachel Platten – Stand by You
5. Number of races- Break it down:
5k – 1 standalone (Nexton Cocoa Cup)
10k – 0
Half – 1 (Sweet Tea Half Marathon)
Marathon – 2 (Disney and Myrtle Beach Marathon)
Triathlons – 6 ( 3 James Island Sprints, 1 unofficial olympic and one Ironman)
6. Most difficult race & why: The Ironman, because it’s an Ironman.
7. Favorite fun run: none this year
8. Favorite course: eh, no favorites.
9. Race I want to run again: Nexton and Sweet Tea (no, not the Ironman, at least not anytime soon)
10. Best bling/shirt from a race: Beach to Battleship pajama pants!
11. PR/PB: Marathon – 3:45:08, Sprint Tri – 1:15:55, Ironman – 13:30 ish (the recap explains the “ish”)
12. Longest run: 26.2 miles
13. Out of state runs: Ironman race in Wilmington, NC
14. Total miles
Run: 1, 184 (could finish around 1200)
Bike: 2, 555
Just for fun (though not sure how accurate this is), Garmin says I’ve burned 207,000 calories. I’ve traveled 3,851 miles between everything, and spent over 430 hours training!
15. Favorite motivational/inspirational quote of 2016: To accomplish something extraordinary, one must have an extraordinary dream. A goal so high, a journey so demanding, that its achievement to most seems impossible. IRONMAN is a statement of excellence, passion, commitment. It is a test of physical toughness and mental strength. IRONMAN is about persevering, enduring and being a part of something larger than ourselves. It shows the heights that can be achieved when we push beyond our boundaries and go the distance to earn the title… IRONMAN!
16. Lessons I’ve learned: You can make time for anything if you want it badly enough.
17. Injuries I battled and overcame: NONE this year! WOO HOO!
18. 3-5 Most inspiring people: List their blog, twitter or instagram-wherever you follow them:
As lame as this sounds, I can’t pick just 3 people this year. I was inspired by everyone training for the Ironman with me.
19. Favorite place on social media to connect with runners: Facebook
20. 2 goals for next year: 1. PR the Half Marathon 2. PR the 5k (I’m good with some shorter races for awhile!)
My Facebook memories popped up today (well, a week ago, since this has been sitting unfinished since then) with the 6 month letter I wrote to the twins. THREE YEARS AGO. In it, I asked them not to grow up too fast.
Well, they did anyway.
The year of three has been wonderful, frustrating, hilarious, annoying, heartwarming and exhausting. There is a LOT of whining. But they have also said some hilarious stuff. For example, a few weeks ago the daycare reported Miles had been pushing in class. They figured it was “monkey see monkey do”, but I still had a “talk” with him and told him that we do not push our friends.
Fast forward to last week. I say them “guess what we are going to do today?!” and Miles replies “we are not going to push our friends.”
I mean, at least he’s listening.
We’ve definitely reached the mommyIneedthisrightnownoyesterday!!!!! phase and when I give whatever it is to them, they want a different color, shape, flavor or year off of my life. They aren’t supposed to really have a concept that the world does not revolve around them, and they don’t. I also tend to get asked for things as I’m doing it, and in rapid succession. If I had a dollar for every time someone said “mommy” every day, I could probably quit my job.
They say I love you. They give hugs and kisses and snuggles. They put together thoughts and sentences that I had no idea they knew. They are really like kids now.
At 3 and a half they are finally – almost fully – potty trained. We do still have accidents (mostly when they are too busy to stop playing) and still sleep in pull ups. A few months ago we transitioned from toddler beds to twin beds after I found a great deal on a mom swap page on a set of matching beds. As sad as I am sometimes to see them growing so fast, it is really nice that they are more independent. They can go in the fridge and get the milk out and get a stool to get their own cups. They can take off their own clothes and shoes and put them away (when I can get them to). They can almost dress themselves. And, they bring me pretend cake and pizza. As an added bonus they are old enough to start to understand birthdays and holidays.
Abby is still a pretty independent little girl. She insists on many things on her own like buckling her car seat, putting on her socks and taking off her clothes. (All of this I am more than ok with!) She still really favors coloring and drawing, and is just as happy to play by herself than she is with Miles or anyone else. Her favorite foods are macaroni and cheese, apple juice, chicken and cereal. She loves to have her nails painted and sleeps with anywhere from 3-10 books (not kidding).
Miles continues to be my sensitive boy. He prefers to still have help with things and likes company more than he likes being alone. He likes to have his hand held when we are going anywhere, even down the stairs. His favorite toys are still his cars and trucks. His favorite foods are peanut butter waffles, peanut butter and jelly, “green juice” (smoothie), and hot dogs.
Together, they both love to ride their “motorcycles”(tricycles) in circles around the house, cook pretend food, fight (of course), play at the playground and watch Paw Patrol. Oh, and tell me no. Because of course.
So, now I just have to figure out how to not completely overload this post with 6 months worth of pictures…..
We took our first trip to Chuck E’ Cheese
And another trip to the beach
We learn the excitement of snuggling in mommy and daddy’s bed
They can be nice…when they aren’t fighting.
The fair was a little more fun this year
There was also sprinkler discovery
And of course, Halloween
No day is complete, though, without some silly faces
That was about all the sleep I got the night before the race. Although I went to bed around 9:30, I laid in bed for at least an hour, mentally going over everything I had packed. I had expected to be nervous about the race itself but was more concerned about whether I had forgotten anything or something going awry in the wee hours of the morning. The plan was for me to take Tracy’s car and park it at the convention center, text its location and leave my phone and anything else I didn’t need there so the rest of the group doing the half could get back without walking after their race. Suddenly, I worried about finding parking, wether the garage would even be open, I hope and oh crap, I should probably take cash to pay for the garage.
Silly. Well, except for the money part – that turned out to be smart.
I woke up once in the middle of the night and tried really hard not to look at the time, but I couldn’t help myself – just in case I had overslept somehow. I hadn’t. It was 1:30am, and then I was up for at least another hour.
My alarm went off at 3:45. I have never (nor will I ever again) shot out of bed so quickly at 3:45am.
I checked the weather. I know this is going to sound shocking, but it was still windy.
I put on my tri kit, and a long sleeve shirt and jeans on top. I had actually forgotten to pack extra clothes for the morning of so I just wore my jeans. In my morning clothes bag was my breakfast (a clif bar and a fig bar but I was too nervous to eat yet), water, goggles, wetsuit and swim cap, and I carried this bag and my run special needs bag with me. I threw some extra stuff in the car for my planned “bike again” and drove down to the convention center. There was plenty of parking, and yes the garage was open. From there I walked to the nearby Hilton and as luck would have it, happened to be walking up as Tammie was walking out, so we caught the shuttle together around 4:45.
I am still too nervous to eat. I’m looking around at others on the bus who seem, at least on the surface, pretty calm. I catch a glimpse of someone’s timing chip on his ankle and suddenly am washed with a wave of panic.
My timing chip. I. forgot. my. TIMING. CHIP. I am trying really hard stay calm while I tap Tammie on the shoulder and tell her I realized that not only had I forgotten it, I hadn’t given the damn thing a second thought after throwing it in my bag on Thursday. I thought I had dumped everything out but apparently hadn’t, and was so busy thinking about bike prep, food and supplies that it completely escaped my thought. So I’m mentally wondering if I can get by doing this race without any record of it, but then I realize that anyone trying to track me would likely panic as I had no way to contact anyone to let them know. Luckily, I was sitting next to a very nice man, and this wasn’t his first rodeo, who calmed me down by saying that they’d have extras at the transition areas.
HOW THE HELL DO YOU FORGET YOUR TIMING CHIP?!?!
So the bus drops us off at T1. I take my hydration over to my bike and then roll it over for an air check and some lube since it had rained the night before. I have to suck up my pride then and find someone to ask if they have any spare timing chips because I’m an idiot, and luckily they have a whole box. I feel temporarily better that a whole box has got to mean that I’m not the only wierdo who forgot hers. Later someone makes an announcement about spare chips so this makes me feel almost normal.
Tammie and I run into Bill and Dena while dropping off my run special needs bag. Dena drove down to spectate and since we still had some time before the last shuttle left, we packed in her car and cranked the heat for a bit.
I forced myself to eat some of my breakfast and after about 20 minutes we headed back towards the shuttles that would take us to the swim start. We stood in line for a few minutes and then boarded a PARTY BUS!
This thing was complete with ceiling lights so those of us in the Summerville group danced around while everyone looked at us like we were nuts. The bus drove us to about a quarter mile from the swim start so we had to walk. There was some light wind but it was chilly since the temperature had dropped. All of the full athletes were gathered and changing into wetsuits. I made myself finish my breakfast, drink some water, and then changed myself.
The walk to the start was chilly, mostly because the sand was cold.
The water temp was about 74 degrees, but since the air temp was 50, the water felt fantastic.
Distance: 2.4 miles
Goals: A – under 90 minutes. B – don’t die.
The swim is considered a “mass, rolling” start, so when the cannon went off I hung back for awhile to let all the faster people get head of me. I was nervous prior to crossing the timing mat, but once it did it was game on, and I was surprised to find that the swim was actually enjoyable. Yes, I did kick a few people and yes I got kicked a few times also, but I never panicked, stayed calm, and tried to stick close to the buoys. The problem with that was that everyone else was trying to do the same thing so the areas near the buoys were much more crowded. I was nervous about the buoys being to my left since I sight to my right, but with so many other swimmers it was really impossible to get too far off course.
The swim is a straight shot down the channel, a left turn, another straight shot and then a small turn to the finish. I remember I had a hard time following the buoy colors. I knew yellow was the first few of the full distance and they turned to orange once we hit the half start. I thought red was turning but I swam straight past one. Then after we did turn I remember wondering how I managed to get SO FAR to the right of the buoys – well it turns out they were angled instead of a 90 degree turn (which shortened the course some) so at least I wasn’t going crazy. Other than some mad wetsuit chafing – I didn’t practice swim with my tri suit on which was a BAD MOVE, and the wind once we made the turn – the swim was….dare I say it? Fun. Who’d have thought?
Swim Time: 1:12:36
Goal: none really – I’m not here to win so I just took my time.
The exit required us to climb up a ladder and onto a dock where volunteers were helping pull us up. I expected my legs to feel jello-y but they weren’t bad. There was what felt like a long run to the transition area, with a stop at the wetsuit strippers. I had to stop and watch for a sec to figure out what I was supposed to do (lay on the ground and its pulled off inside out) but it was still way faster than it would have been had I tried to do it myself. After that I stood in the warm shower for longer than I probably needed to, before heading to get my bag and into the changing tent.
So, note to self: next time just leave the wet bra on. I was worried about being cold with the wind but the extra effort to put a dry bra on a wet body was – well, comical. I flashed the whole tent for at least 2 minutes while I struggled to pull it down, until a nice volunteer offered to help (thank you!). I completely changed into dry clothes, wolfed down a peppermint patty (this worked wondered for the salt water taste!), dropped my bag off and headed for my bike.
T1 Time: 14:30
Distance: 56 miles
Goal: A – 3:15 (but only if I could stay in Z2) B – don’t die.
The first bit of the bike, though twisty, wasn’t bad. I got on the bike to realize that I had forgotten to eat the sandwich I had packed in my transition bag, so I was already a little behind on the nutrition, but I couldn’t really grab it out of my pocket because of all the turns. There was one section in particular everyone was warned about – at mile 1 and again at the end we had to ride over grates on these bridges. I had thought I might stop and walk but ended up following the crowd and just rode over slow and steady.
The bike course didn’t provide much scenery, but from what I understand, it was the part that was cut out that was supposed to be more country-like and scenic. What we did involved riding on a major highway, over a couple overpasses, down an off ramp and then an out and back on a long 4 lane road.
What ended up being significant about the bike was the wind. THE. WIND. WAS. AWFUL. I knew to expect a tough bike when they predicted wind but just didn’t fully grasp what that meant. We battled 16-18 mph headwinds and cross winds with gusts up to 27 mph. At one point on an overpass, I was seriously scared I was going to get blown over. Battling the wind also made it really difficult to use my salt and my nutrition because I had to try to reach back to grab it during a break in the wind without knowing when another gust was coming. The course was relatively flat save for the overpasses, but with the wind I really struggled to keep my heart rate down. I literally just could not do it. Every time I managed to I had to go up a hill or battle a headwind and it would shoot back up again. At one point on the long stretch of road I actually put my bike gear into the little wheel, hoping that would help. It didn’t. In fact, I looked back after the race to see there were points where I was only going 10mph. TEN. FREAKING. MILES AN HOUR.
The bike course had two aid stations – one at mile 27 and one at mile 43 or something. I rolled through the first, grabbing a gatorade as I rode by (talent!). By the second aid station I really had to pee so I dismounted there and waited in line. There were unfortunately only two porta potties so I was there for almost 10 minutes. However, the ride back was freaking fantastic – all the headwind we battled for 40 miles was now at our backs, and just pedaling easy I was hitting 25mph at some points.
The bike dismount was a cluster fuck. Seriously. Even as my first Ironman it was just bad. We had to dismount on the middle of hill and run with the bike over this poorly covered gravel. I almost twisted an ankle, but was trying to “hurry” because I could tell the guy behind me was wanting to go faster.
Bike Time 3:36:37 (thanks wind)
I did another full change here, because running with bike shorts would have felt like running with a diaper. I asked for a bandaid for some under arm chafing and that took a few minutes, and again had to stop and use the restroom. Then, the run out of transition was ridiculously long, or at least it felt like it.
T2 time: 10:12
Distance: 26.2 miles
Goals A: 4 and a half hours. B: don’t die
My plan for the run was the run the first 3 miles and do a 3/1 run/walk for the rest. In retrospect, I had a few issues here. First, I forgot to take an ibproufen before the run started to get ahead of the soreness. I know this isn’t a recommended method but I only use it for marathon races and not in training. Second, for a person from South Carolina who has to drive 45 minutes to get to a hill thats worth a damn, this course was NOT flat. And since it was a double out and back this meant we went up and down the hills 4 times. Third, it was warm. It was 60 something, which to many is not warm, and for SC standards is not warm either, but unfortunately I warm up VERY quickly exercising so anything above 60 is too warm. It also didn’t help that we were now running the marathon mid day instead of evening. But, I thought that since half the bike was cut, I’d have energy left in my legs.
I was wrong.
By mile 1 I was already hot and really wanted to lose my shirt, but had heard rumors Ironman doesn’t allow you to go shirtless so I kept it on. By mile 3 I had passed two women without shirts so I took it off, which helped but I was still warm.
The race course ran through downtown Wilmington and past a street of restaurants where many of the spectators gathered. From there it headed towards and looped through a nicely shaded park before heading back the direction from where you started. So the first half was not shaded but the second half was. The nice things about this double out and back were plenty of well stocked aid stations (1 each mile) and the fact that you’d see other athletes and family members 4 times.
My first three miles were already slower than I hoped they would be so I knew from the beginning my chances of finishing in 4.5 hours were unlikely. By the time I started run/walking ( I was also walking through aid stations for water so I wouldn’t get dehydrated) my averages were in the high 10’s. Soreness and tightness started to set in at about mile 10 and I was really looking forward my run special needs bag with my ibproufen and chips in it. The first loop literally takes you right by the finish line before having to turn around and go back out, which sucks, but there were enough people cheering that it wasn’t too demoralizing.
I reached the run special needs area and yelled out my bib number, but something happened at some point in the transportation of the bags and mine simply wasn’t there. I glanced around for a minute or so trying to see if it had been misplaced before finally moving on without it, but I was already tight and sore so I knew this second loop was really going to be a challenge.
I managed to run/walk (with some extra walking and a couple bathroom breaks) up to about mile 17. I walked most of mile 17. I remember commenting to myself and others that I couldn’t believe how difficult this marathon still felt even with half the bike course cut. Somewhere around mile 18, Tammie caught up with me. Tammie and I have done many training rides, runs and swim together, and are similarly paced in the run so I was REALLY glad to see her. She walked with me a bit longer while I told her about my special needs bag debacle and it turned out she had two ibproufen on her, so I happily took them. At that point she was also run/walking so we continued on together. Somewhere around mile 20 the ibproufen started at least taking the edge off so the run part of the cycle didn’t feel so awful. At this point in the race I was averaging in the 13’s since we were run/walking and walking through all the aid stations, grabbing as many potato chips as I could manage. I also took a sip of coke and red bull here and there which was risky since I didn’t train with it, but gave me a surprising little jolt of energy for a few minutes.
Tammie ended up being my life saver for those last 8 or so miles – the company helped keep my mind off of my sore muscles and I was able to keep moving faster than I would have if I had been solo. Ironman does not allow any music at their races either which has always been a huge help to me.
After what felt like forever we finally reached the last few miles of the race.I started to worry about wether I’d have the energy to attempt the “bike again” and she reminded me not to worry about that just yet. We shared stories about fearing death on the overpass, riding over the grates, getting kicked in the swim, how much the wind sucked but also how we couldn’t believe it was almost over but OH MY GOD this final downhill HURTS. We debated a bit about how we should finish and ultimately decided that since we had spent so much time training together, we should cross the finish line together.
So we did.
Run Time: 5:08:30
I had this vision of some major fist pumping crossing the finish line, but we ended up slowing down a bit to let a half finisher cross before us (though we still ended up in each others pictures) and honestly? I was pooped. I was still ecstatic, but also pooped. And also very glad to be done….well, almost done.
Total Time: 10:22:25
The Bike Again
Tami and Tracy, who had said from the start that they’d be happy to help me if I wanted to attempt this trainer ride, were there at the finish line to congratulate me….and ask if I felt like getting back on the bike.
I said I needed a few minutes to think about it.
I stuck around and hugged Bryan, the twins and my parents, and thought about whether I really wanted to attempt getting back on the bike with the way my legs felt. I decided it was worth trying, because I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t at least attempt it. So Tami and Tracy went to get and set up my bike trainer while I fetched my bags and bike. This ended up taking a little longer than it should have because I got my bike and walked it back to the finish only to realize that my run bag was in the same area as the bike so I had to walk back again. I pushed the bike to the trainer area, which was a TV station parking lot that overlooked the finishers chute.
I changed back into my bike clothes, grabbed my drinks and snacks and got back on the bike. It was 6:45 pm.
By the time I finished the race my watch was almost dead. So I did a mental calculation that had I been on the road (assuming no wind) that I would likely complete the 56 miles in around 3 hours, so that is how long I aimed to ride on the trainer.
Surprisingly the first hour, albeit boring, didn’t feel bad. Tami and Tracy left to get dinner. My parents stuck around for a bit and then eventually left themselves to help Bryan with the twins at the hotel, though they said they’d be back. I chatted with the guy next to me (Dave) awhile, played on my phone, took a selfie, and watched the finish line.
At about an hour in my parents came back to keep me company, and many of the Summerville Tri group trickled through to say hi (and you’re crazy). A random lady (and Heather) offered me pizza, which I happily took because at that point I was sick of PBJ. Heather’s floating head also stopped by to offer support.
The Ironman race itself closed at 9pm and all was quiet for a few minutes until someone at the Base salt tent kicked on some music for those of us still pedaling. I’m not sure how many people ended up coming up and completing the distance on the trainer – I think there were about 20 there when I started and I heard about 50 total. Many, if not all, were like me and determined to get the full mileage of our first Ironman.
My mom also took this gem of a photo:
Around 9:15 my legs were shot. But I had spent 2.5 hours on the damn thing and I wasn’t about to stop now. I texted Tami and told them to come pick me up at 9:45.
Around 9:30 I started looking at my watch about every 30 seconds.
Around 9:35 I joked that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get off the darn bike without falling.
Around 9:40 I was pedaling with nothing but sheer determination.
By 9:43 I had already looked at my watch another dozen times.
At 9:45 over 14 and a half hours after that first step into the water, I was finally done. I was finally an Ironman, both by the race’s standards, and my own.
After a short celebration and congratulations, I loaded myself and my stuff into the car with the help of Tami and Tracy. We arrived at the house and I was kind of in a fog and it was like the whole day just hadn’t processed yet. I hugged everyone (because Tami’s friends are awesome), ate, and sat in the Jacuzzi tub before bed.
It turns out I was locally famous – well kinda:
It honestly took me a couple of days to really process the whole whirlwind of a weekend.
Training Totals (in Miles)
Training (and race) Thoughts: As far as race day plans go I am happy with how it turned out. Of course it didn’t go perfectly but what does? What I did feel like I nailed was what I chose with respect to nutrition (PBJ and fig bars on bike, applesauce and later chips on run and alternating one bottle gatorade and one bottle water on bike and mostly water on run). I didn’t once have any stomach issues or any need for the Immodium or Pepto I packed. What I could likely change is the schedule or frequency of it – i.e. eat more often. Or maybe take salt more often. I nailed staying hydrated as I used the bathroom before and after the swim, once on the bike and 3 times on the run. What I’m unsure about is if the soreness during the run was the result of a nutrition or salt issue or just a I’ve been exercising all day issue. I hit my A goal on the swim and my B goal on the bike and run, and overall my goal was just to finish, so done.
Plan wise – overall I liked the Be Iron Fit plan and would use it again with some minor tweaks. I feel like it emphasized the bike a bit too much and I would take a couple of the 4-5 hour rides (there were like 8 or 9 of them) and make them longer bricks to get some more practice running on tired legs. Otherwise, the plan worked.
A few weeks separated from the event all that went into it now, it really hits home how training for something like this seriously consumes your entire life for over half a year. With that said, it CAN be done with some good planning, support and time management skills, even with small children. The triathlon community is probably one of the most supportive groups of people. I once wondered whether I’d really fit in and now my group feels like my family. Every single one of those people, wether tacking the half or full, trained hard, laughed, cried, swore and supported one another all the way through. By far, this was the most challenging thing (physically) that I have ever done. I had heard people say that training for and completing an Ironman changes you. I am most definitely not the same. An event like this was WAY out of my comfort zone, but I really feel like now that I have conquered that I can figure out almost anything. Also, man my family is awesome, and what the heck do I do with all this free time?!!?
I AM AN IRONMAN!
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear” – Ambrose Redmoon
Dang. 6 and a half months of training, tracking, falling asleep at 8:30 and eating all the food on the planet, and race weekend is here.
Admittedly, even 48 hours after the news that the bike was shortened pretty drastically (from 112 miles to 50 miles due to residual flooding issues), I was still bummed. A few people in the IMNC Beach to Battleship Facebook group had talked about the possibility of additional post race road or trainer miles , and I was glad there was still an option, even though it wasn’t the same. I woke up and posted an update on Facebook about my plan to swim, bike, run and bike again, saying that it would make a good story to others and for the twins later on about handling change and thinking outside the box. I did this partly to get myself motivated by this idea, and packed my trainer among my things. I managed to shove all my stuff into two bags and felt pretty accomplished about that.
Tami picked me up around 8am and we began the drive towards Wilmington, where I talked a bit more about my disappointment in the race changes (even though I understood why they happened). Luckily, Tami was very understanding about the whole thing and assured me that if the full distance was what I wanted, she would do whatever she could to help make sure that happened, because Tami is awesome. A few days prior, she had taken a super obnoxious picture of me with my swim cap and googles on, sticking my tongue out and blown it up to make a giant head on a stick, posting pictures about its preparations.
At one point I started to ask why she couldn’t use a normal picture, until I realized it was normal.
We arrived around noon after a lunch stop and “checked in” to our “hotel”. We actually stayed at an old giant victorian house called the McEachern House . Click the link to see some pictures – it was amazing. We headed to the grocery store and then met her other New York friends staying with us (Kelly, Linda and Tina – Tracy and Rie from Summerville joined us later) before we headed to the Athlete Village to check in and attend the athlete meeting about bus times, transition and race day information.
Each half participant received a drawstring bag and each full participant received a bag like the one pictured on the right. I was told this was a ” dry bag” and I could use it for Kayaking – because I do so much kayaking. 🙂
It was here that we learned that the bike course had been extended to 56 miles – allowing the half distance racers the full race and the full distance racers an extra 6 miles. Hey, I’ll take it. It was also here that I learned that the CEO of Base Salts, Matt Miller, had set up an after race trainer ride complete with music and hydration in the parking lot of a TV station that overlooked the finish line, so there was a way to finish the last 56 miles for those who wanted to. I had still been hoping for some road miles, but this was definitely better than nothing.
After the meeting the rest of the group met up and headed down to the dock for ….well, I forgot what it was called, but there was free food, and I was hungry.
The evening ended with a walk back to the house (only a half mile from the packet pick up) and spent it with the ladies on the giant porch, including a yummy dinner (yes I had just eaten 2 hours before) – a nice relaxing night I needed a great deal after the last 6.5 months.
Friday morning, luckily, was pretty low key. I walked back to the convention center late morning to check out the Ironman store and bought a jacket, hoping I wasn’t cursing myself doing so before the race was over, but because the distance was shortened the full race stuff was 25% off and I got a good deal. Not wanting to spend too much time on my feet I walked back (ha) and started to get my race day bags together.
Typically, full racers get 5 bags:
Morning clothes bag: where you put any clothes you want to keep that you are wearing race morning to stay warm. These are returned at the swim start.
T1 bag: where you put all of your bike supplies. Mine included clothes, shoes, helmet, chapstick, body glide, non perishable nutrition, socks, heart rate monitor, a peppermint patty (for the salt water taste), a couple TUMS (just in case), sunglasses, inhaler and arm sleeves.
T2 bag: run supplies. Mine included shoes, extra socks, another change of clothes (I’m not winning so I wanted to be comfortable), body glide, chapstick, race number and belt, nutrition, a couple ibproufen, tums, pepto chewables (just in case) and another inhaler.
Bike Special Needs: we did not get this bag since the bike was cut short, but in case I decided on the trainer ride I stopped for extra hydration and snacks and made my own special needs bag.
Run Special Needs: This was a small bag for me. You don’t get these items back, so I included a couple ibuprofen, pepto, tums, extra socks (in case of blisters) and a small bag of potato chips.
We also get a bib and race number stickers to put on your bike and helmet.
Putting it all together is quite the feat.
I was extra thankful to have Tami around, who has done FIVE of these, to throw in tidbits like put all your stuff in ziplock bags in case it rains, cut the corners of the bags so the water can drain, trim the bike numbers so they don’t chafe your legs, write your number on the bags in sharpie and tape over it in case the stickers get lost, oh and maybe clean your bike off.
Power T helped too.
And I dressed fashionably to pin on my running bib number.
This is also about the point where I began obsessively checking the weather. Anyone living in the south knows this summer seems to be never ending, and the weather at this point had still been unseasonably warm. Luckily, a cold front was due to come in that night. What I didn’t realize was that cold fronts often bring wind with them. At the time (ha, million times) I checked the winds were predicted to be anywhere from 13-16 mph and while I knew wind on the bike would suck I began to seriously worry about choppy water on the swim.
I shouldn’t have checked.
Around 1:00, I walked back down to the convention center to drop off my running gear bag, and take a group picture. While we waited I checked the weather. No, it didn’t change.
IMNC is apparently uncommon in its practice to have two separate transition areas. I’m told most Ironman branded races (or maybe most all) have run and bike transitions in the same area. In this case, the run transition was near the convention center and the bike transition was about 20 minutes away near the beach. After walking back to the house and eating lunch, the group packed our bikes and drove to the bike transition area. Tami and I both agreed on the ride over that the logistics of this race (and I have nothing to compare it to) were stressful, but it is what it is. The irony here is that every recommendation I’ve read says to try to stay off your feet as much as possible the day before, but between everything I ended up walking over 5 miles anyway. I checked the weather again. Still windy.
Finally the bike is racked and ready and all bags were dropped off except for what I needed to take with me in the morning. At this point its about 4pm and I’m mentally exhausted, so when we stop at a grocery store I stay in the car and talk to Bryan about his and my parents travel plans (and check the weather – still windy) and we head back to the house to eat, have a drink and rest. The drink was much needed after all the stress of the logistics and worrying about the swim, and between that and some helpful advice on how to handle waves should there be any, I felt better. I still checked the weather though (windy).
Guess what else the weather predicted? A 20% chance of rain. Twenty percent. And guess what it did around 6:00 for about 90 minutes? Rained. On. All. Our. Stuff.
Because of course.
My dad was nice enough to pick up Tami’s bullhorn that she had left at home (and had come in oh so handy during the Palmetto 200) and they stopped over to drop it off around 8:00, so of course I had to use it.
Around 8:30 we all headed upstairs to finalize things and hang out a bit before attempting to sleep. This meant taking ridiculous pictures.
We all went to bed around 9:30. I called Bryan and then attempted to sleep – after I checked the weather (guess what? still windy) and set and re set my alarm a half dozen times. Because I might have set it wrong the first 5 times. I never sleep well the night before races and this was no exception, in fact, this was probably the worst night of sleep prior to a race I’ve ever gotten. It’s also the longest distance, by far, that I’ve ever attempted and the longest I’ve spent training for a race, so I guess it was to be expected.