Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ironman World Championships


This is a long one…. Amazing what a 5+ hour flight allows for

Kona is a special place….it is a competing of the best in the World and I am truly humbled and grateful to line up toe to toe with so many amazing athletes.  This was our 3rd year in Kona and by far the best trip.  Having the entire family was both memorable and great fun!  Staying with great friends who were also racing really adds to the excitement and builds the energy for the big day.  Our house was a few miles from the start but not down Alii which is where all the activity is, it was up ( and I mean up – as in Torrey Pines x2 up)  a hill in a very quiet neighborhood.   At first I was disappointed we were so isolated but in the end we really enjoyed it.   A house full of athletes meant we were in bed by 8 and often up by 5am…never really adjusting to the time zone- which was intentional for race day. 
We cooked in most nights, big family cooking, had a bbq with other friends one night, went to a terrific dinner hosted by Zoot and then pre-race we ate our own pre-race meals…..

The real fun of staying with other athletes is when the alarm goes off at 3am and you are not the only one getting up! The coffee was prepped and that was the first thing to get going.  Next stocking piling calories- most of us had to get down around 1200 calories by 4am, mind you we had eaten a large dinner at 6pm the night before.  So eating was not really what we wanted to do.  For me- Pamela’s Gluten Free Pancakes – one giant pancake (i.e. 700 calories) slathered with almond butter, banana and honey.   Chased that with lots of coffee, PowerAde and we were ready to roll at 4:30.
Housmates ready to race!
We have a secret parking spot so there is not race day stress of where park…and we were in transition by 4:50.  It is very dark and the energy is low….bright flood lights as you enter body marking and it is very organized- no random sharpie on your arm.  You had a station with your range of numbers and they use stamps. Team of 2 with the block letters.  Dropped off our special needs bags (this is extra food, drinks etc. you drop in bins and they will be given to you ½ through the bike and run) and onto the pier where the bikes are.  I reconnected with Ron and we put our bottles on the bikes, checked computers, pumped up tires, last final prep.  The energy is lifting now for sure…still dark and we see Jen and Chuck.

At this point we are ready and decide to chill out and sit down…. It starts getting surreal at this point.   As you start to realize what is ahead- a long day and the butterflies are active.   Here is where I started to worry a bit- this was my first year not doing another Ironman early in the season- someone that started to give me doubts…I squashed those soon.
Michelle Simmons...blog land friend

It seemed like minutes passed and we were suited up and heading to the water… so here is the big dilemma- where to start- center (this is where I usually start in an IM but too chicken in Kona), near the pier or left of the car (yes floating car)…. I ended up starting pier side.   We are treading water, hula dancers on the rocks and the drums are playing- an absolute surreal place to be.  1800 athletes in the water and 1000’s of people spectating.  This is it! 

Chatoic swim start
Cannon goes off. And holy hell breaks loose.  Kicking, fighting and absolute chaos toward buoy.  In most races this eases up with 500 yards but in Kona it is a dog fight for nearly a mile…. I was pulled under once, gulped a lot of water, swam over many times and had a tough time getting a rhythm.  I finally settled in and it is a long swim. But sure enough pretty soon you start to hear the announcer and see the pier and start mentally transitioning for the bike!

Up the ramp and onto the pier- very dizzy standing up after swimming hard for an hour.  In and out of transition and onto the bike. Riding out of the bike the streets are lined and people are screaming….Lots of shouts of my name and support for Nytro.  10 miles of an out and back and then through town and before too long you are on the Queen K and it gets quiet and the race really begins.  Ride was fine out to Kawaihi – around mile 40 is usually a low point for me, I have been riding 2 hours, not working really hard but am feeling like I have been out there and I realize  I still have 70 miles to go…a long way!
Kona is a special place but the ride is not so special
Lava, lava, lava

Winds are not bad at all, eating and drinking- left at Kawaihi and up to Havi- 18 mile climb and our first headwind of the day.  Slow climb and long haul…finally Havi, special needs and downhill – seems the descent from Havi goes by in 20 minutes…. So fast and then back towards Kawaihi.  I am sticking to my power guidelines but getting passed by everyone….. I stick with my race, but still a bit demoralizing.   I am feeling good at this point and pick it up a bit.  The last 30 miles is straight on the Queen K in a headwind and as far as you can see are cyclists……it is a long haul and where it gets uncomfortable- back and neck are aching from being aero so long, legs are fatiguing and rear end is ready to get off the bike! 

Airport is a good sign. 7 miles to go. Energy Lab…. 6 miles to go and now I can see the pro men running out on the marathon- I try not to think about the fact they are on mile 10+ of the run and I am still on my bike.  Riding into  T2 is great….packed with people and lots of energy.  I feel pretty good….off my bike and my legs are definitely more rubbery that I would like- bit worried.  Long run to T2 and I am not in a hurry….

Sitting in T2, deep breaths, mentally preparing for the marathon. And out I go…see the kids – nice to see their happy faces- Mile 1 is tough…. I am a bit worried here.  The first 10 miles of the run are awesome- down Alii with crowds and you get to see everyone.  By mile 3 I am feeling better and am not so worried.   Focused on my HR and pace and settling in for the run.  At mile 10 you run up a steep hill and out onto the Queen K- it is hot and lonely and this is where my race fell apart last year.  I am feeling okay, but I have made 2 porta potties stops (not so pretty but I am thinking I must be empty) I take 3 Imodium and hope for the best.  5 stops in total but after mile 17 no more….so while it was dehydrating and depleting it did stop thankfully.   Approaching the Energy Lab is where I really slowed down, my feet were blistering, and my tending throbbing and I am not having fun. Down 1.5 miles where there are no crowds…. Into special needs and I sit down, pull off both shoes and socks and lather my feet in aquaporin.  My biggest blister is forming under my orthotic so I rationally throw it out as on offering to the Hawaiian Gods.  I am back on my feet and trudging along…..  This is my low, low point…… I see a lot of friends and they are all so positive. I exit the lab near tears and John is there with so much encouragement and Kevin is there soon after.

I walk a bit and KP tells me to suck it up and dig….. ugh!  I rally for a few miles and pick up the pace but soon slow again but I kept running one mile at a time counting my steps to 100 and starting over.  Forcing glucose tabs and coke to keep it going. 

Finally I crest the final hill and head down Pilani…1 mile to go.   And you can hear the crowd, feel the energy and this is when the emotion hits….. Running down Allii with 1000’s of people screaming at the top of their lungs is really surreal.    Next I here Mike Reilly says “we are approaching 11 hours; let’s get these athletes in…”  Okay final sprint to break 11! 

Thank goodness…… I am done and even when the race is not a PR or my best……it is so tremendously rewarding to be done! 



Nutrition plan
·        Pre-Race: 1200 calorie pancake, almond butter and banana +3 cups coffee, 22 oz. PowerAde Zero
·        Bike- 1400 calories – all power bars
o   Guzzling water and drenching at ever aid station- great for cooling down body, not so great for sunscreen- I am fried!
·        Run- PowerAde ever mile until diarrhea started and switched to coke and glucose tabs, even ate a few pretzels….

Final thoughts…PR in Kona (but was also less windy this year), not an IM PR
·        Swim- decent- but want to be swimming 58
·        Bike- happy with bike split
·        Run….HELP ME!!!!!  Seriously 30 minutes slow…… need to STOP dying out there in the Queen K and NOT spend 6+ minutes in Porta Potties – WTC seriously, you need MORE Port Potties- 1 o 2 with that many athletes in need…come-on we paid $600 – more potties please!

Thanks to my adoring family!!!  JD and Riley were all over the course on mopeds, made signs for all of us, wrote our names in chalk near the Energy Lab, John rode many miles and said all the right thingsJ, KP for making me suck it up and get out the shovel to dig deep and of course NYTRO for all your support this year, Brand Betty for making us look so cool and Zoot for letting us in your Tribe!   And thanks to everyone who called my name and said “you look strong” even when I was hardly moving and possibly crying.  I do love this sport and all the great people!