Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A pregnant triathlete!

Soooo... it's that time of year.  Time for goal setting.  2014 - what does it mean for me?  Well, there is something new coming into my life in early 2014 - a baby by the end of February.  

Very exciting times for my household.  Tyson is excited.  The kids (Ethan - 13, Jade - 10) are looking forward to it.  Well, Ethan as much as he can as a teenager... 

My last race was Deuces Wild Half Ironman Relay in June 2013.  I raced the half marathon leg for my relay team. Pregnant, I found out later. With lots of celebratory wine afterwards.  I felt really slow that day, and figured out why about a week later.  This was about two months after Ironman Cabo and a month after LifetimeTri Leadman, which were both great race days for me.  A broken thumb from a mountain biking spill in April kept me from racing/biking in May. Then, whamo... pregnant in June, a mere month into an effort to "give it a shot."

Pregnancy Training
I get asked often what type of training I'm doing while pregnant.  I ran through about three months, but I then started to feel jiggly and weird, so I stopped running and started walking around 2-3 miles through my hilly neighborhood. Panting, mind you.  Seriously!  It was odd at first, but my daily walks were treating me right. 

My doctor told me I could bike, but "just don't fall."  After a broken arm in 2011 and a broken thumb in April, both from bike incidents, I decided it was a risk not worth taking, so I hung the bike for the rest of 2013. 

Swimming?  This is a great opportunity to be working on my swimming.  Am I?  Don't ask.....

Short answer - I've done quite a bit of walking and some hiking, but not much else.  I have tried to stay true to my healthy eating habits, but I must admit the Christmas season hasn't helped with sweets all around me.  Luckily, I'm not that much of a sweets gal...

2014 Goals
So, what's up for 2014?  First, I'd like to focus on having a healthy baby, and having a pregnancy that doesn't involve too many knives and stitches, for lack of a better description.  I've hired a doula to guide the process to make this the best experience for my body.  I would HIGHLY encourage the education and guidance of a doula if it's in the cards for other moms.  

Then, work... I plan on getting back to my work as soon as I feel that I can take it back on - part-time at first, and full-time soon after.  

Then, my health and training.  I love running and biking.  I can see myself walking and jogging as soon as the body will allow it.  I expect this will help me with my mental and physical recovery.  

I have been told I won't be on a bike for at least a solid month, depending on what happens during birth :).  We'll see on that one, but the bike has been calling to me recently, as I watch the gorgeous afternoon sunshine we've had.  Trust me - I'll be on the bike as soon as feasible.  

I have lofty goals (shocker, I know) that include some racing in 2014, especially in late 2014.  But I'm not willing to set specifics until we see how February goes.  

Being a Fan
It's been interesting to be a fan the second half of 2013.  I don't typically behave well as a fan, but I've had a pretty fun time with it this year. Maybe because I have a pretty good excuse not to be racing!  

I got to watch Tyson train for and race IMAZ in 2013, setting a PR by almost an HOUR!  And, volunteering in the ONE Mutisport tent was awesome.  I love watching an Ironman.  I have truly enjoyed watching races from the sidelines - understanding what it takes to be a volunteer, and being able to share cheering sections for athletes - from the other side of the table.  I have learned some things that I'll carry with me when I start racing again.  

The Last 60 Days
I'm down to the last 60 days of pregnancy, and I'm planning to try to stay in tune with my body, not over-gain (or under-gain!), but be healthy throughout the end of the pregnancy.  

It's been pretty fun (yes, I said that) to be pregnant.  It's treated me pretty well these last 6 months.  

Stay tuned, my friends! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Drum Roll Please.......

Cycling inside?  Running with the dogs around the soccer field? Skipping masters swim? Not racing a summer 70.3?  Attending 70.3 Worlds as a fan?  What’s wrong with Teri?

Well, this blog post is two months in the making.  Drum roll please…..

I’m 13 weeks pregnant. 

And Tyson and I are SO EXCITED!  We thought we’d “start trying” after Ironman Cabo in March.  I’ve heard all the stories about how Ironman athletes can’t get pregnant, our body fat is too low, you need two years off, we’ve been training at unhealthy levels for too long., etc. etc. And, I believe most of it! I have several friends who tried for years, and with assistance from doctors, and who couldn’t get pregnant without a LOT of effort. 

Oh, and another factor – I’m not 25.  Or even 35.  I’m 37. 

So, we scheduled some fertility appointments for late summer with the idea that we’d try for a few months and start the process of fertility treatments.  I’d race out my 2013 ONE Elite season, go race a couple 70.3 races over summer 2013, then Soma, Nathan, etc., Maybe even IM Louisville in August.  No biggie.  Don’t take it too seriously. 

Then it happened. We got pregnant, a mere cycle after IM Cabo. The impossible was actually possible.  And for an old gal! 

I’m almost through the first trimester (please, please, can week 14 get here any sooner??), and I’m ready to come clean.  We are pregnant.  And we are so excited! 

So… how exactly does one go from an intense 10-14 hour Ironman training schedule, full of early mornings and long weekends; big meals full of calories; hectic work/life/training/family schedule to being a pregnant person?  Let’s just say it hasn’t been easy.  But it’s been quite fascinating! 

The first concern was my eating.  I’ve always been a healthy eater, but healthy in large training quantities.  Luckily, the month I took off after IM Cabo (with the exception of Leadman) was pretty relaxing.  I ate, I drank wine, I slept, I worked, I spent time with Tyson and the kids, etc. I caught up on life for a month. 

Then the slow metabolism kicks in.  What is “normal” eating for me?  The doctors say that pregnant women should eat 300 calories over their “normal” diet.  Hmmmm… what exactly is a “normal” diet?  Honestly, I’ve been training for 3-4 years in a pretty intense way with a few months off at a time, but I don’t have a “normal.”  And, I’m 10 pounds down from my weight before triathlon training.  And, while I generally eat healthy, I’m not afraid to take down a couple cookies, or a candy bar or a couple of glasses of wine on a regular basis.  So, how do I go from a hearty training diet to a pregnancy diet?  This has taken some time and adjustment and patience! 

As a cyclist, I rode my bike during the second month, after I found out.  I know a couple of gals who rode into their 7-8th months of pregnancy, and my doctor actually gave me the okay to ride “as long as you don’t fall over,” she said.  Hmmmm.  I’m trying to remember the last time I fell over on purpose, so I decided that wasn’t exactly a good strategy, especially living and riding 2-3 miles on Carefree Highway to get anywhere.  And, my track record (broken thumb from a mountain biking accident April 28 and a broken arm from falling to avoid a car on my TT bike February 2011) isn’t exactly stellar.  I think staying off my bike for now wouldn’t be the end of the world.  John Dean confirmed and actually told me “Please don’t ride your bike for a while.  Please.”  I’m taking his advice.  I DO have other options. 

I went to my first indoor spin bike class this morning.  I went from 5:30-6am, and left early after some lightheaded dizzy spells, and some embarrassment from the 65 year old lady spinning next to me.  I have some work to do in that spin room, and the idea that I could push those pedals for that long, and standing up, is beyond my comprehension right now.  I am really good at the long, steady, flat power push. But these sprinty thingys are just… WOW!  My HR was in Zone 4, and I needed to tone it down.  I’ll be back though.  Thinking Tues/Thurs morning at the YMCA is going on my 6 month schedule.

I am a runner.  I have continued to run so far, although shorter distances, and it feels good.  While I often feel fast, my HR is high and my pace is suffering a bit.  We were in Kauai a few weeks ago and I felt like I was flying one morning on a 4 mile run (yes, 4 miles.  Don’t laugh, but it feels like a long distance run sometimes these days).  I looked down, expecting to see 6:45/7:15 pace, only to see 8:15.  True.  I seriously thought my Garmin was broken.  I have been spending time running with the puppies around the grassy park, running around my hilly neighborhood, walking the pups aggressively up and down the neighborhood hills, etc.  Trail running is out for now, but I have enjoyed getting out at 5:30am.

Nick says this is a great time to work on my swim.  I know he’s right.  I will get there, I promise.  I haven’t yet, but I will. 

I generally work 8-5, or 7-4, or yesterday it was 7:30a-8:30p due to an evening meeting.  Tomorrow evening after the ONE meeting, I fly to Indiana on the red eye for a 2 hour meeting only to hop back on a plane and be home Thursday night.  Work can be quite demanding sometimes, but also quite flexible at other times, and I love it. 

Yes, I’ve been sick.  For about 2 months.  I haven’t thrown up, but I’ve had to pull off the road and recover a few times.  I’ve sat in front of the trash can at my office.  I’ve had to pull over and demand to be the driver of a car a couple of times.  It’s wacky.  It doesn’t hit me in the early morning (“morning” sickness is a misnomer in my case), but it hits me at like 9am, after I’ve been up for 3-4 hours, or at 2pm, or 6pm.  No consistency to this one.

Go figure, I’m up at 5-5:30 every morning, like clockwork.  But at 6-7pm, I cannot hold my eyeballs open.  I can’t seem to shift this clock either (wouldn’t 9pm-6pm sleep work SO WELL?), so I guess I’m stuck with this clock for now. 

I had some mixed emotions when we initially found out that I got pregnant so quickly.  While I was very excited it happened so easily for us, I also have a twinge of guilt and responsibility to ONE Multisport in that I committed to racing all year and only got to race half a year.  But, I’ll be back.  Don’t worry J.  Hopefully I can still be competitive post-baby and I still have the passion for the sport of triathlon.  I can’t imagine it not a part of my life.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting on occasion about all of this, I’ll be out and about volunteering and cheering on all my ONE teammates and the rest of the triathlon community!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The injured athlete...

Cabo Ironman complete on March 17, followed by Leadman on April .... I happily was preparing for a new chapter - incorporating mountain biking into my triathlon season and racing Xterra and half ironman races in the summer.  I went out on a few mountain rides and had a pretty pleasant time.  

Then, on April 28, I managed to break my thumb on a silly fall headed to Pemberton from Tom's Thumb.   Tyson and I were about 5 minutes into a 30+ mile day. So.... Off to the ER.  I knew immediately that it was broken. 

The ER experience was actually pretty pleasant.  We went to Thompson Peak and got right into a room.  My knee was scraped up pretty bad and hurt far worse than my thumb.  I asked the nurse to verify that my thumb was broken and that they would be putting me on a morphine drip prior to agreeing to let them clean my knee/leg.... I knew that was going to hurt. 

Sure enough, thumb snapped in half.  It was bad enough that they operated same day.... I lounged around in the hospital for about 4 hours waiting for the surgeon.  Home by 7:30 Sunday night and back to work Monday morning... 

I handled the whole thing pretty well.  

What I didn't handle very well was the sitting around for the next 6 weeks.   While I had clearance to run, I didn't have the drive.  This was in part due to the fact that I had just finished two of my A races for the year.... Maybe my body is telling me that I needed a break.  So, I took the break.  

I did run 3-4 times over that 6 week period, but that's about it.  I believe in an off season, and while May/June is not typically the off-season in AZ, I have to remember that I was training during everyone else's off season this winter.  This off season was a bit difficult, in that I am racing for ONE as an elite team member, and being off during everyone else's training season made me feel a big like I'm not fulfilling my duty to the team.   I carry this guilt pretty heavy, but I really didn't have a choice. 

I tried to eat right, get lots of sleep, keep the wine intake to a minimum, and focus on work and my family.  This is my main learning from my last bike injury: just be okay taking the time off.  Focus on being healthy.  Focus on things you don't normally have time for.  See your kids more.  Work a little earlier. Sleep a little later. Go out to dinner more.  Enjoy it, but stay healthy so you don't have to struggle when you are ready to come back. 

I agreed to race with Tyson for Deuces Wild half ironman in early June, then again for Xterra the next day.  I would do the run, and he would bike and swim.  We ended up recruiting Branden Turley to swim the half on Saturday.  I ran 5-6 miles a couple of times then 10 miles the week before just to make sure I remembered what it was like to hurt out there.  

I easily forget about the pain when I have had time off, and my first hard training or race back into it, I am quickly reminded of the hard truth that it's supposed to hurt.  I believe that the process of training is almost as much a mental one (read: don't wimp out when you feel like hell) as it is a physical one. The half marathon at Deuces Half was ridiculously painful.  I did already forget how hard racing is, and my time suffered.  The second day of racing in the Xterra was much better.  It was shorter, but higher intensity, and I had a much better relative run than on Saturday.  As my coach Nick reminded me: "Teri, you are always good at the back to back race." It's the mental place I get to on day one that gives day two a much better performance. 

I got the clearance a couple weeks ago to get back on the bike.  I rode three days in a row, and was so very excited to be out there.  I felt good... I love the bike.  

Now I am in a place where I have to figure out my racing schedule... I need to put races on the calendar so I can have a focus.  I has even nice to train for no reason, as I don't do that much, but it's time for a race schedule.  

Thanks again to our sponsors fix, e6, Destination Kona, Complete Body, and Endurance Rehab.  You guys keep us going! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Inaugural Leadman 125

Interesting day yesterday.  I went into this race after a month hiatus from Ironman Cabo.  This was definitely not an A race for me, and I didn’t respect it like I should have.  I needed a break after IM and I took it.  I paid for it in my Leadman race, but it was worth it.  I had wine with friends, ate what I wanted, worked a lot, slept in (past 5am!) during the week, went to dinner with Tyson, took the puppies on hikes and light trail runs.  And boy, I needed that. I got 2 bike rides in, one run race, one 8 mile run, and one masters swim. 

So….. I took my time off, I paid for it at Leadman, and I don’t regret it…..!

Race recap:
I have to start by saying that this was my first local triathlon as a ONE team member, and I LOVE THIS GROUP!  We have the best camaraderie, the best leaders, the best support, the BEST sponsors - what an amazing group! I am so lucky to have found you all.  Thank you.  

Okay, so I’ve done some work on my swim.  I did the math, and my 53 minute Leadman swim is equivalent to about a 1:16 IM swim.  Disappointing.  I’ll take that as improvement (1:20 is my best), but I was hoping for something closer to a 1:10 equivalent, and I'd like to eventually see 1:05.  I still have a lot of work to do.  I’ve already been in touch with Frank with my sob story.

My goal today was to crush the bike.  Given the short run distance, I figured my legs would be able to suffer through an 8 mile run easily.  Unfortunately, taking a month off from biking didn’t help me (okay, I did go for a 45 minute ride on Monday of the week prior to Leadman, and a small 30 mile round trip into Bartlett a week prior, although not all the way down).  I should have gotten a 50-70 mile ride in between Cabo and Leadman.  My bike time was fine, but I was in rough shape the last lap of the bike, and I should have been able to hold power/HR longer than I did. 

I was disappointed in my bike.  But, when I look at my bike split compared to the field, I have to say that it looks pretty good.  I need to stop for a moment and give credit where it is due.  Here is a look back at my cycling history:  Tyson and I bought bikes in early 2007.  I was out on my first group ride with Erica McClurg who said "you are strong - you should race bikes" and while she doesn't realize it, but she pushed me to give it a try.  In 2009, I signed up for a spring sprint triathlon after some nudging from Kevin Weitzel (former owner of Tribe Multisport). A year later, I hired Nick/Durapulse for some coaching for my first Ironman - Arizona 2010.  

Nick is the reason I'm such a strong cyclist.  He has pushed me from the beginning on the bike.  He pushed my cycling training to a level that I didn't think was possible.  He knows what he's doing, and I know what it takes to train on the bike.  Bike training isn't just riding around and getting in miles, it's pushing your HR to levels you don't think possible.  It's not about time on the bike either, it's about QUALITY time.  This, I know. I have a busy life (full time job, husband and kids, community boards, travel, personal life) and somehow I can fit in quality training.  Thank you, Nick. 

Okay, back to the race. I had a wimpy run.  I knew I wasn’t going to catch the gals ahead of me and the gals behind me weren’t going to catch me.  I wimped out.  I should have pushed harder, and I knew it when I was out there.  I hovered at a 163-65 HR, where I should have pushed up to 170.  It was SO COOL to see Tyson under the bridge cheering for me as I had a half mile left.  My biggest fan. 

Okay, my rest is over.  I am continuing to work on my swim technique, and getting in quality runs and bikes.  Time to get ready for Deuces in 6 weeks.  I’m considering racing Olympic or Half on Sat and trying Xterra on Sunday, but that means I need to get out on the mountain bike. 

Hmmmm….. let’s see what happens this next month J

Friday, March 29, 2013

Ironman Cabo: I love this sport!

Okay, so it's been years since I blogged.  I have been writing race reports after every major race for years, but they're typically for me and Nick, my coach, only.  I realize that I have things to share that others may be interested in, so here is an abbreviated version of my full race report for the world to read (gulp!!). 

I wrote this about 4 days after Ironman Cabo - March 17.  I glad I waited a few days, as my emotions were different every 6 hours. Here's my race breakdown.

Why Cabo?
Tyson and I decided to sign up for IM Cabo before we signed up and raced IM Louisville in August of 2012.  During the Louisville run, I swore off ironman distance racing. I felt quite a bit of pressure to qualify for Kona during that race, and after losing my Kona slot by 22 seconds,  I was a bit overwhelmed and confused about why I was racing.

Fast forward 7 months to Cabo.  We arrived on Thursday late afternoon.  This race was quite a logistical challenge.  Race HQ in one location, the swim start/T1 in another location, T2/the finish in another location, tri transport in another location, the pre-race dinner in another location and awards in yet another location.  And, it seemed that most racers didn't have a car.  The main road through town is heavy with traffic and riding around on your bike in Mexico isn't the best idea.  Other than this, I have to say the race production was perfect. Race day support was wonderful. The local people were very supportive of the race and inquisitive of the athletes and the disciplines.  The promoter did a great job with the course, the food/water support, and all other aspects. Everyone I asked had a great experience.

The swim beach start was difficult, and there were many concerns with the hills, the wind and the heat on the bike course.  I heard several age group elite athletes refer to the bike course as harder than Kona.  And their times confirmed it...

I didn't come to this race feeling prepared.  The winter weather and dark winter mornings (and my wimpy behavior related to it) kept me from getting on the bike as often as I should have for an ironman. I came here feeling fairly run and swim prepared, although I had an unknown knee injury that snuck up the month prior that kept me from running for a couple of weeks. But, I felt that my run fitness was there. Ragnar Ultra, a couple half marathons and some trail running did me right.

We went to the pre-race dinner on Friday night at a beach club literally a couple blocks from our hotel.  Very well done with dinner, mexican dance entertainment. The food was great - lots of salad toppings, dried seeds. Yum.  We sat with Joszef and Erika (who ended up being 3rd male and female winner, respectively).  And the event promoter announced that there were only 1333 participants in the race - this is half a regular IM. Wow!  This was going to be exciting.

We pre-swam the starting swim area the day before the race. Water was smooth, and it seemed like a pretty basic ocean swim.

Tattoo race numbers were available for 100 pesos and in hindsight I wish we had done the tats.  They looked cool :)  My nerves were raging Thurs-Fri after I found out there would likely be 4 slots in my AG. I calmed down a bit on Saturday once we started checking in and getting things prepped.

I have a no meat policy 24 hours prior to race morning.  The less "stuff" in my intestines the day prior, the better. This has treated me well and I plan to keep this policy up. We had a kitchen in our place, as is my preference when I travel to a race. This worked out well.

Bike/Bag checkin on Saturday
Due to no parking and only being able to fit one bike in our car at a time, bike checkin was a bit of a hassle. Tyson dropped me and my bike off and went back for his bike, as I waited for him.  The T1 area was gorgeous. Sunrise view, and a short walk to swim start. Numbers were assigned based on your registration date, so Tyson and I were 321 and 322, which was pretty cool. The downside is you couldn't tell what age group people were in by their race number, and by the end of the day, most race ages had worn off people's legs.  We left our bikes and bike transition bags in their spot, and the red run bags were left by our bikes and (hopefully!) picked up later and delivered to T2.

Race Morning
On race morning, we got up at 4:15 am, and met two other couples in the hotel lobby to cab to the race start together. Perfectly uneventful race morning.... I was pretty calm. Got there, checked tire pressure, game on.

The Swim Start
We stood on the beach and watched the crowd gather for the beach start. I took gels 45 and 15 minutes before start time. The water was a bit choppy, and the beached crowd seemed a bit overwhelming, but I had a strange confidence.  Gun goes off and it's a race to the water line.  Little did I realize this was going to be a fight for life.  I get into the water, and arms and feet are flailing all around me. As soon as we hit the deep water, a huge wave comes in and pushes the entire group back to shore! OMG! Get back out there.... I couldn't put my head in due to feet ahead of me, and I couldn't get a stroke in.  I stopped to regain my composure, only to be popped in the head by hands behind me. Then we get wapped by a second wave!  I'm doggie paddling in place trying not to get slammed by others.  After drinking a gallon of water,  I hear the paddleboard person asking if anyone needs help, and I almost raise my hand.  I take in more salt water and decide I can fight through it.  At this point, I'm just trying to keep my head above water. I turn around to backstroke for a few strokes, and my foot hits a guy in the head - he pulls up to look at me and I am so embarrassed by the backstroke that I turn around and tell myself this is not acceptable.

The crowd spreads out a little more and I try to put my head into the water again, but I can't breathe.  I'm hyperventilating.  What is going on?! I try again to just relax.  Breathe.  Teri, breathe.  Relax. Forget about going under 1:15, lets just try to survive this.  By now, we are 2 buoys in, or 400m.  I literally don't know if I'm going to make it any further. I have lost a good 5-10 minutes. Somehow, I push on.

I struggle through until the turn.  I couldn't put my head into the water for more than one stroke.  After the turn, it was still crowded.  I swam out away from the buoys until I got some space. Imagine doubling the number of participants??!  Okay, Teri, two strokes between breaths... Okay three strokes... Finally! I was 1500m in, and finally able to stretch out a stroke.  At this point, any time under 1:30 will be a miracle.  I kept thinking about how the swimmers who started in the front made out on this one.  If you don't have to deal with all the mess, you're fine! Why didn't I get up there in the front of the line? I am sure I swam too far out from the buoys, but I was all alone and I was happy.  Okay, now do what you know.  Long lengths, catch water, twist your torso, full strokes. Repeat. Frank will be proud... I look up every 10-15 strokes.  The swells are large enough that I can't always see where I am.   I always take in water on the swim, so in an ocean swim (which I have only done once - at Kona), I take in a bit of salt too - so I didn't need to worry about salt tabs or eating salt on the bike.  I am covered!! This was my positive spin on the situation :)

At the turn home, I'm feeling okay.  Stretching out.  Go, go.  After a long while, I look up and see the transition area.  A guy tries to run me over, and he bumps my watch and I think he hit the lap button, sending my watch into T1 mode.  I look down and see my time - 1:14 with at least 5 minutes to go. Oh well.  Here I am. I push through to the end.  Out of the water, stumble, stand up, look at watch. 1:22.  Thank God!

1:23.02 official swim time
585th OA
120th female

Up the steps and into transition.  They gave us bags of water that you bite into to open.  I wasn't sure if the water was drinkable, so i used it to rinse off the salt water.  Grab my transition bag, into the tent, sit down.  A gal helps me strip my wetsuit.  Shoes, helmet, bars into pockets, sunglasses, and I'm off.  It was a long transition due to the run up the steps and through the sand.

4:03 - official T1 time

I had preset my bike into the small ring, as we would be heading uphill from the start, and on a rocky surface.  Okay, Teri, game face.  I have no idea at this point if everyone had a bad swim, or if its just me.  But the swim is over,  it's bike go time.

This is the part of the race where I determined in advance that I would relax.  My coach Nick and I decided I should hover in the 147-152 HR range.  I hadn't been able to get my HR up on my long rides, and I'd had power meter issues, so I wasn't using power for the race. Right out of the gate, my HR was up in the high 160s.  I know that this is fine for the first few miles as I settle in.  I get out onto the main stretch of road between San Jose and San Lucas - this stretch is about 15 miles of good road - rolling hills, but a great stretch. I settle in, but my HR is still in the mid 160s.  I'm passing people all over the place, but I feel like I'm holding back.  This course is 2 big loops, so I am scoping out the road for the next loop.  I take in some water to get the salt taste out.  Impossible! I eat my first gel, and try to be methodical about taking in 100 calories every 20-30 minutes.  I train well with food and I know what my body needs.  I drank pretty regularly, and had to use the bathroom 3-4 times during the bike. I would moderate my water based on my need to go to the bathroom. I went through only 3 Nuun tabs on the ride.  Less than usual but I could tell I didn't need it.

We turn around in San Lucas, and at about this time, I had my first teary moment.  I love this race.  I love the sport. I love riding my bike. I love that I have the ability to do this. I love that Tyson and I do it together.  I love it. All of it. I have debated giving it up, as the lifestyle is demanding.  But I love it.  And I'm good at it! Why would I remove moments like this from my life?

The route then includes 20 miles back to San Juan, and 12 miles up the airport toll road which has been closed off to all traffic. Gorgeous brand new road.  Again, my HR is still in the low 160s, but I'm comfortable so I let it go. When I say 12 miles up, I mean it. UP hill.  I keep asking myself how I'm going to feel in 60 miles when I'm right here again.  I always do a check-in: "okay, you're at mile 35, you've got about 75 more.  How does that feel?" If I feel good about 75 more miles, I keep up the pace.  If I start to feel overwhelmed By the thought of the remaining distance,  I pull back a little and rest. I kept it in check, despite riding at a higher HR than my plan.

The fans were amazing on this course.  They lined the street between San Jose and San Lucas.  The few days prior to the race, there were lots of questions from locals about Ironman. How impressive we are to race, how much training did we do, how much does a bike cost, etc.  We made lots of friends in these conversations.  The community is very excited about supporting the race.

The airport road included some pretty serious climbing, and it turns out we had the wind at our back on the ride to the airport, up the hills, then wind in your face riding back into town, and what a chore.  I note that these hills are going to be tough on the second lap.  I was a bit nervous, as the airport road back would be the last 12 miles of the course.

I kept going back and forth with a gal in my age group in brown bike shorts. I initially caught her around mile 30, and she would blow by me and be gone for 10 miles, then I'd catch her again and she would disappear behind me for 30 minutes.  This went on until around mile 90, and then I never saw her again.  I kept passing gals in my AG in the later stages of the bike.  And they all looked like strong runners.  More and more of them.  I couldn't believe how many strong gals are out here in my AG. They put run fear in me for sure.... I was sizing them all up for run power.

The last stretch into the wind down from the airport was brutal.  Wind from the side was blowing riders all over the place.  I tucked in and was so happy to be riding my Rolf race wheels.  I felt pity for all those racers with discs. I passed people leaning sideways into the wind like they were standing still.  Post-race, there was much talk about how difficult the bike course was.  No one could pre-ride the stretch to the airport (no bikes allowed), and it took everyone by surprise. The wind, the heat (which never bothered me), the hills.  It was crazy.  Looks like over 6800 in total climbing.  I made a point out of pushing downhill and taking it easy uphill, yet still passing people the entire time. I definitely could have gone harder, but the ironman race is won on the run, and I know this.  I wanted to go under 3:40 on the run, so holding back made sense.  I had conversations with several guys on the course about how slow our times were going to be, and it was definitely a theme. I really held back the last 5 miles.... I was pulling at my pedals rather than pushing, trying to save my run legs.

Bike time: 5:49.28
222nd OA
38th female

Off the bike, grab my run bag, into change tent, change shoes, and off.  T2 was a fast one. There was only one other gal in transition with me.

1:57 - official T2 time

At the start of the run, I looked at my overall time. 7:20. My goal at this stage was under 7 hours, and to be able to pull out a race PR (10:47 is my current PR from Canada in 2011).  I was in the exact same spot in Kona in 2011... 7:20 off the bike. At 7:20, I need a 3:40 marathon to break 11 hours. And, I wanted to get in a Boston qualifying marathon in my ironman so I would have the option of racing Boston in 2014 without running a individual marathon. This goal was also 3:40.  Awesome, I thought. 3:40 will meet 2 personal goals of mine, so lets go get it.

I felt great immediately off the bike. My first 2 miles were around 7:30 pace. I knew an 8:00 pace would get me a 3:30, and an 8:15 would get me around 3:35. I try not to look at my Garmin off the bike because I prefer to go off feel when I'm feeling good.  I am unsure if running hard in the first couple of miles harms me, but I felt great and I went with it.  Then that thing that always happens set in: I felt like hell from about mile 3-9. I had 3 cups of soda and a half banana around mile 8 and it pepped me up. This intake hurt my stomach a bit, but the boost was worth it. My average pace was down below 8:25 by now and my Boston/11 hour IM goal was crushed.

There are many turnarounds and areas where you can see the field before and behind you on this course.  This helped me realize I would hold my place, but I think it also made me lazy.  I passed several gals, and was only passed by one girl in my age group, and another at the finish line who looked younger than me.  One of the struggles I have on the run is that I feel like I'm pushing as hard as possible but it's more of a mental struggle to keep going than a physical struggle.  Often, I'll drop my arms and pick up the cadence and feel great for a couple miles.  Then I fall into a slog again, and the cycle happens all over.  I struggle pushing it hard for the distance required. In the IM races I've completed, I find that my run is more successful when there are fewer loops or less of an opportunity to survey the field. I'm better on an out and back than I am in a multi loop or a serpentine type of race.  I also prefer some terrain... When I have to conquer hills, or mix up the terrain, I perform better.  Interesting.

The middle lap (of 3) is better.  I am settling in, and the miles are going by more quickly. I saw Tyson for the first time on my second lap, and he was in such great spirits that it helped. I remember when I hit mile 13- thank God. The next 5-8 flew by, and next thing you know, I'm on the last lap.  I slap the hands of the kids at the finish line/lap turnaround area. Tearing up. The beach road stretch on the last lap felt good.  When I ran by the Specialized bike store, pumping out a Katy Perry mix, I teared up.  "Here I am, having a pretty good race on a really hard day - passing people on the run, and I am almost done! I LOVE THIS RACE!" I thought.  I teared up and it impacted my ability to breathe for a couple of minutes.  Get it together! I love those moments.  This is why I race. It feels right.

I stopped to use the bathroom around mile 22, and I realized I should have stopped sooner rather than holding it. A bit later, I went across the bridge over to a back and forth section of the run course and wondered if I was going to make it without walking. This is the part of the run race where I want to walk more than any other time.  I am under 3 miles from the finish, and I am losing it. I walk a few steps.... And a guy runs up beside me and says "we are less thank 2 miles out. You can't walk now."  I know he's right. I walk a few more steps anyway. I pick it up and run again, and in about 3 minutes, I run up to him, walking. "We are now 1.5 miles from the finish.  You can't walk now!" I say.  He keeps walking.  I don't see him again until an hour or so after the race when he comes up to me and thanks me for the motivation.  He has no idea that he was my motivation in the last couple of miles.  This is one of the things I love about ironman, and why I always talk to people during the race.  I get motivation from the strangest places, and I always hope I can spread it around as well.  I got passed at the finish line by a gal in a younger age group, but I held my own pretty well.

Run time: 3:47:36
Final time: 11:06.06
29th female
143rd OA

Post race
I didn't even consider that I could have placed in my AG when I crossed the line. My swim was slow, and my OA time was slow.  As I sat waiting for a massage, I chatted with a few others only to find out that everyone was sizing up the course as the toughest one they'd done, even related to Kona. The gal next to me was an hour off her expected time of 10 hours. I got to my phone maybe an hour later to find out from Nick that I ended up 3rd in my AG.  We were told pre-race that there would be 4 slots in my AG.  Wow, really? This made me pretty confident, and perhaps overly confident, in getting a Kona slot.

At the Kona slot meeting at 4pm next afternoon, I found out that another gal was moved into my AG ahead of me, and that there were only 2 slots to be given, so I was not going to get it.  Then, in the roll down meeting, my AG ended up with another slot, going to the gal they moved over ahead of me.  Not meant to be......

1-I could have pushed the bike more in the last 20 miles, and I should have. I don't believe it would have had any impact on my run.  Frankly, I think I could have taken 10-15 minutes off my bike time before it hurt me. I am best on hilly courses.
2-I need mental work on my run.  I was capable of more, but my mental stamina on the run wears down before my physical stamina.  I know this because I was not sore on Monday after the race. I should have been.
3-I need more open water swimming, to improve my sighting. I need open water racing to improve my early race calmness.
4-I am an efficient at the transition.
5-I rode at a higher heart rate than I thought I could manage, and my general bike fitness pulled me through. I think that training in the winter kept my HR lower, and that racing in the warmer climate brought my HR up. I have a good understanding for what feels "right" for my body in a race, and I should go with it.
6-I need to study the first few miles of my body during an ironman run a bit more - I tend to be quite a bit faster off the bike for the first 2-4 miles.  Does this hurt my run? Is it okay? I need more research in this area.

What now? Debating.  Do I race another IM in 2013 to try again for the coveted Kona slot while my fitness is high? Do I take a break and focus on shorter local races? Do I sign up for a 70.3 race or 2 and try to qualify for 70.3 Worlds? Undecided at this time.  I know this.... I love ironman.  I had so much fun in this race. It's ridiculous.