Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ironman Texas 2011 Race Report - Pre-Race

We flew down Thursday before the race and leading up to IMTX, I didn't have too many nerves.  But let me tell you, when we touched down in Houston, wow, did the butterflies light up.  All of a sudden, I knew this was happening.  We landed at 11 AM, talked with some other racers while waiting for our luggage, and were quickly off and running with our rental car, thanks to using TriBike Transport to ship my bike.  I had a 12:30 appt with my old chiropractor for a pre-race tune up.  While waiting for the appt, I stopped by and said hi to my old swim coach, who was overseeing a lunch-time practice.  Once I was all set and adjusted, we drove up to The Woodlands for athlete check in.  We showed up around 2 PM.  It was hot and there were a TON of people.  We stood in the athlete check-in line - it was loooong.  My friend Anne stopped by and made a comment that they were selling out of a lot of IMTX gear.  I was worried about there not being anything left by the time I got checked-in, so I made a slightly-smarmy move and left Will in the check-in line to hold my place while I power-shopped.  I ended up getting a visor, a bike jersey, and a tri top.  Its amazing how a person has no trouble what-so-ever forking over ridiculous amounts of money for things like this.  The jersey logo is cool - Texas is made to look like carbon fiber.  This is probably the first time I've ever wanted to wear something "Texas" - it helps that I don't live there anymore.  By the time I was done shopping, Will was only ~15 people back in the check-in line - PERFECT.  Check-in was smooth and easy.  Then it was time to pick my bike up from TriBike Transport - I was very happy to see my bike.

We had several hours to kill between check-in and the manditory pre-race meeting.  It seems that the race organizers wanted you to hang out in the Woodlands and spend money, as check in closed at 4 PM but the race meeting wasn't until 7:30 PM.  There was an athlete dinner from 5:30-7:30, but it would have cost $30 for Will to attend with me.  We ended up driving up to Conroe, where we were staying with friends, and hanging out in the AC for a bit.

Back down to the Woodlands and to the athlete meeting.  Turns out my friends didn't want to make a special 1 hour drive up for the meeting, so I was also responsible for giving them the cliff-notes.  We ended up sitting at table in the back with some empty seats - turns out, we were next to the people from our Denver flight.  Very cool!  Athlete meeting was nothing spectacular - no, you won't get your special needs bags back; wear your chip to the Friday practice swim; if the swim is delayed by weather less than 30 min, you'll start late but we won't extend the bike cut-off time (!!); if the weather is bad for more than 30 min, we may cancel the swim (!!!!!!).  The meeting ended earlier than planned - we headed  over to Chipotle for a late dinner.  Then back to Conroe and bed.

I woke up before my alarm ready to roll!  I had an easy 15 min bike ride to do - just to make sure that my bike was ok mechanically after its trip in a van.  After that, I did the final once-over of my run and bike bags (we had to drop those off Friday). Then I left Will in air-conditioned comfort in Conroe to do the pre-race swim practice at the swim start.  I met my swim team-mate Carlye at the parking lot across from Transition.  From there, it was a 0.8 mile walk to the swim start.  We really didn't know where we were going, so we followed the arrows, figuring they were meant to guide people to the swim start.  Turns out we were following run course arrows, so we probably walked a bit longer than we should have.  Got to the swim start with ~30 min left in practice, found Anne (also from swim team) and the three of us headed out on an easy 20 min swim.  After spending many months training by myself, I was so incredibly happy to be swimming side by side with my friends.  We had a good swim - the water wasn't too horrible (murky) and the water temperature was just right (78).  I couldn't imagine a better way to spend my final training day - training with my friends with whom I started this whole crazy journey with when we all signed up together last summer. 
After the swim, Anne went to ride her bike, so Carlye and I headed to Transition to turn our bags in and get our bikes set up.  By that time, Anne was done testing her bike out.  Carlye went home and I stuck around to hang out with Anne.  Another swim team (David) friend showed up and we decided to have lunch together.  Ended up walking over to the athlete check-in area (maybe a half mile away?) and had sandwiches.  Then it was over to the check-in area to get a few questions answered (really - you won't give us the chance to get our special needs bags back?).  By that time it was nearly 1:30 and I had been out in the heat for 4 hours - way too long.  We said our goodbyes and I headed back up to Conroe to do final preparations and to put my feet up.  Everything was pretty smooth and easy that afternoon, with a lot of puttering around.  I discovered that I had developed three (!!) unfortunate blisters on my right heel - likely from walking around in sandals for the first time.  Ugh.  We went to a country Texas Roadhouse for dinner, where I had a really boring dinner of chicken with a baked potato.  Then it was back to the house and a bed time of 9:30 PM.

The alarm went off at 4:15 AM.  I had a pretty decent night's sleep and was excited to get going!  I had Will do a pre-race sunscreen application for me.  After Galveston, I decided to get some super-strength sunscreen - SCAPE 50 SPF lotion and SCAPE 50 SPF face stick.  We did a base layer of the lotion, put my tri top on, then we put a layer of the face stick (which was sort of a greasy, wide chap-stick kind of thing) around all my strap lines. I was NOT going to be burned!  Once I was dressed, we grabbed my bike Infinit and my special needs bags, and we were off.  The plan was to be at Transition around 5:15, as they closed it at 6:30.  Parking was a ZOO.  It was so bad that I ended up getting out of the car to run to transition while Will went and found a parking place.  Turns out that they were closing transition down EARLY at 6:15, and with the crazy parking, it was now something like 5:30 AM.  I got to my bike, gave Carlye my bike pump.  Neither of us brought flashlights, so we ended up airing up our tires by cell phone light.  Ahh technology.  Then I had to run over to the run and bike bag area to put green ribbons on my bags for visability.  By that time they were emptying transition and I was flustered.  Carlye was waiting for me and by that time, Will had parked and was waiting for us.  Then it was over to the swim start for body marking, special-needs drop, a pit-stop and the start of the race. 

Things were really crazy and it took a while to find the body markers.  One of my friends was volunteering as a marker so I wanted to make sure I found her.  After several minutes, I did, and I got my good mojo.  Then I dropped off my special needs bags, took a few pics with Will, applied a final layer of sunscreen, then kissed Will goodbye so he could get a good place to record the swim start.  Then I stood in a long line for the bathroom - ended up standing next to someone from Golden, which was really cool.  After a pit-stop, I put on my Torque but needed help zipping it up.  I asked these two wetsuit clad ladies to help as I anxiously kept tugging at the zipper.  I was over-zealous with my zippering and ended up getting the zipper caught, about 6 inches below the top of the suit.  PANIC!  I don't know what it is with me and Torque zipper issues, but I was having visions of swimming with my back zipper flapping open, with the drag negating any savings my fancy speedsuit would have afforded.  Thank goodness for these ladies - they managed to fix the snag and get me zipped up.  Then it was a quick run over to the swim start and squeezing in between people taking their own sweet time getting in the water.  I had 5 minutes before the race start and I was not going to be on dry land when the gun went off.  I managed to get in and positioned not too far back and over to the right side of the course, with the plan of swimming towards the far off buoys, and hopefully staying clear of the masses of people who were hugging the buoys.

They started playing Black Sabbath's Ironman and that's when I really got excited.  I was in the water with 2,200 other athletes, and at the end of the day, I would be an Ironman!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I did it - I'm an Ironman :)

Lots of thoughts are jumbled through my head and I know that I need to start writing them down before it becomes a blur. 

But for now...

Friday, May 20, 2011

ready to race

Bike is dropped off in transition.  Run and bike bags are packed and at transition.  Special needs bags are packed and ready to go tomorrow.

I WILL be an Ironman tomorrow!

You can track me at: http://www.trackmyathlete.com/VEmap.aspx?name=051628


Monday, May 16, 2011

IMTX Nutrition Plan

Race week is here!  Race week is here!  (I'm not sure if this is panic or excitement here).

Here's a summary of my nutrition plan for IMTX.  I'm a bit worried that this isn't 100% proven since its been so cold here, but there's nothing I can do about that.

  • 3 hours before - Honey Stinger chocolate covered cherry protein bar, Coke Zero (my usual pre-race food).
  • right before the swim - debating on sucking down a gel, just not sure.  I've never done this before and I prefer to swim on an empty stomach, so I may just skip the gel.
  • nothing - hard to eat/drink when you're in the water.  And I am NOT drinking that nasty lake water.
  • Infinit bike mix - lemon lime.  I've got my aero bottle (~28 oz), Profile bottle (40 oz) which will be mixed for a 3 hr intake, then I'll concentrate another 4 hours into a bike bottle for my cage.  Goal is to drink ~24 oz per hour.
  • Water - I'll finish my aero bottle in the first hour, and use then I'll that for water.  Plan is to get water at every aid station (every 10-12 miles).
  • Hammer Gel - half a gel every 30 min starting 30 min into the bike.  Keep this up as long as my stomach will handle it.
  • I've got some Honey Stinger waffles and some PowerBar gels to try to eat if I get hungry.  On my long rides, I would get a bit hungry but the gels would take care of things.   Not sure how I'll feel during the IM, so I thought having some options would be helpful.
  • Salt Stick tablets - 1 pill every 20 min (3 per hour).  Want to get in 1,000 mg per HOUR of sodium.
  • Concentrated Infinit mix in a hand-held bottle.  Still not sure how much I want to concentrate it or if I want to re-fill at special needs.  I think a 5 hour concentrate in a 12 oz bottle is RIDICULOUS so I may end up concentrating 2-3 hours (which is the mix I had for LoneStar) and see how I feel at special needs.  I have a feeling with the heat, I won't feel like taking in all that many calories, and typically, I take in fewer calories running than I do cycling.
  • WATER WATER WATER.  ICE ICE ICE.  at each aid station.  I don't care how many bathroom breaks I make - I MUST stay hydrated.
  • I think I'll try out Coke too.  Haven't tried it in training, but I hear its a magical elixer.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dear Mother Nature (again)

Its May 11th and I have my final taper track workout tonight.



Tuesday, May 10, 2011

taper time!

As of last weekend, I am officially tapering!  While this is progress, it doesn't really make any of this seem real.  I'm racing a full Ironman in less than 2 weeks?????   Still not able to wrap my head around that - probably won't until the morning of the race.

So, what does a taper week look like, compared to a heavy week?

My last heavy week (2 weeks ago) - 19 hours total: 2 recovery days, a crazy track workout (2 x 2 mile repeats FAST), 2 short (1 hour) rides, 2 swim workouts, a Saturday long brick (5 hour ride, 1 hour run) and a Sunday long ride (6 hours). 

Taper Week - 6 hours total: 2 recovery days, 2 short bike rides (45 min and 20 min), a medium track workout (4 x 1/2 mile fast),  2 low distance swims (2400 and 1200 yards), Saturday 1.5 hour bike, and a Sunday 1 hour run.  EASY. 

Also on the list for this week:
Try out my new DeSoto cool wings
Order more Hammer Gels (huckleberry is my favorite)
Swim with my Torque speedskin on Wednesday to make sure there aren't any areas that rub
Change out rear wheel tube (current one is from Sept 2010)
Get bike ready for TriBike transport dropoff on Saturday

I would say the main noticable thing with the taper (other than having some free time) is that I've been having crazy, vivid dreams.  Nothing about the race yet, just crazy nonsensical stuff.  Maybe this is because for the first time in months I'm not 100% exhausted when my head hits the pillows?  Its kinda fun but not very restful.

Friday, May 06, 2011

We are home owners (again!)

Yesterday we signed the contract on our new house!
 (Pics from the listing)

The hardwoods need refinishing, so we're going to get that done before we move in.  Our lease is up at the end of June, but our landlord is cool with us breaking our lease IF she can find new tenants before our lease is up.  We are crammed in this tiny rental, so our goal for the next 2 weeks is to move all the boxes and extra furniture to the new house (hello - Ironman taper?) so the rental is more presentable for renters.  Honestly, I'd rather wait until after IMTX to do this crap, but if it saves us a month's rent, I will make it happen.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

What I'm wearing for IMTX

I'm 90% sure this will stick - hard to tell, since I've been training in 30-50 degree weather for the past several months, with really only one hot day (Lonestar) to test things out.

This was my splurge (full disclosure: birthday present from Will).
TYR Torque Elite Speedskin
IMTX won't be wetsuit legal, which doesn't bother me in the slightest.  What does bother me is all the drag from my tri kit - swimming in that thing drives me bonkers.  I thought about swimming in my speedo, but then the idea of wrestling out of a wet speedo and wrestling into my cycling outfit (while wet) wasn't very appealing.  With the Speedskin, I can wear my cycling kit underneath AND I won't have to worry about all the drag. 

I ordered the Torque from The Tri Shop and I cannot recommend them enough.  They had the cheapest price and a really cool "try it on" policy, where you can order 2 different sizes and they'll include a pre-paid shipping label for you to return one of them.  I had an issue with the medium Torque (the zipper stop came unstitched the first time I used it and jammed the zipper about 2 inches above the bottom - made it REALLY hard to get out of the suit!)  I emailed the shop owner, and while they were out of stock in the Medium size, he contacted TYR and had them send me one directly.  I ended up hanging onto the large much longer than their "try it on" policy allows, but he was extremely understanding about the whole thing.  They also tossed in a pair of Timex compression socks for free - very cool.

Goggles - TYR Velocity.  I had a brand of goggles that I loved (Lane 4 Supernova) and sadly, they were discontinued ~1.5 years ago.  Since then, I've been struggling to find goggles that are comfortable.  I have a high bridge, and its hard for me to find goggles that don't hurt the top or sides of my nose.  These are very fairly priced ($15) and are really comfortable.  The orange/smoke color combo is really ugly, but that just adds to the appeal.

I've been playing around with bike sorts all year, trying to figure out which ones were "just right".  I'm still not sure I've found the holy grail, but hopefully what I've settled on will be ok.  I am opting to wear tri shorts with a distance pad (ie more substantial than a typical fleece pad).  I've found that the chamois in cycling shorts is just TOO much for me and bunches up in the wrong places and makes long rides really uncomfortable.  I got a pair of Oomph Lava distance shorts in January - got a size medium hoping I'd lose weight.  The waist band is the narrow elastic variety, and early in the season, after ~5 hours it would cut into my waist and be a bit uncomfortable.  The pad, however, was actually pretty good - it has (for lack of a better description) "wings" that go down your inseam a few inches, so you avoid an extra seam or bunching.  My other idea was the Pearl Izumi Elite In-R-Cool tri shorts.  They have a more substantial pad than their other tri shorts and more compression.  There are 2 problems with these shorts, though....., First, there's a big ol' serged seam adjacent to the chamois - which means you have the chamois edge AND this add'l seam as contact/shafe points.  Not cool.  The other negative (for me) is that while the back of the shorts is nice and high, the front is VERY low.  This may be ok if you are a stick, but not so ok if you are like the rest of us - the waist band just migrates down during the run, making things hang out which really shouldn't show.  I realize this waistband was probably designed for pure cycling, but for tri's its BAD.  These are ok for a few hours on the bike, but due to the chamois seaming, 112 miles is a no-go.  I wore the Oomphs last weekend as a "last ditch" trial, and I guess the whopping 3 pounds I've lost in the past few weeks (ironically the ONLY weight I've lost) seemed to do the trick.  It wasn't until maybe 5 hours where the waist band bothered me, but it really wasn't very awful at all.

On top, I'll wear my new Pearl Izumi Elite Tri Support Singlet.  I like that its got built in support (I don't need much) and its CUTE.
During Lonestar, despite 2 visits to the sunscreen table, my back was pretty badly burned around the strap lines of my top.  I'm thinking of getting DeSoto cool wings to help alleviate the sunburn and to also help with the heat:
I'll be wearing my top from the bike (hopefully there aren't any weird chafing issues - I was ok for Lonestar, so here's hoping!).  For shorts, I've decided that I'm going to wear a different pair of tri shorts.  The Oomphs don't seem like they'd be comfortable for running, and I like the compression of long shorts for the run, as opposed to wearing traditional running shorts or a skirt.  I have compression running shorts, but the seams are not placed well and start to bother me at the end of a half marathon.  The seams in tri shorts are more more friendly and I still get compression.  I'll be wearing my Pearl Izumi Select shorts.  They don't have the weird low rise as my other PI shorts, but they still have the nice wide (and flattering!) waistband.
For hydration, I've typically worn a hydration belt (I have an Amphipod brand one), but they're really only good for ~3 hours.  For Lonestar I switched to a small hand-held bottle (Nathan brand) and concentrated a ~2 hour mix of Infinit. I found this particular bottle REALLY comfortable - the wrist band is such that you just loop your hand through it and you don't actually have to grip the bottle.  I have an Amphipod 20 oz hand-held bottle, and while I like it, after a few hours, your hand gets REALLY tired of holding onto it, because you actually have to hold onto the bottle, even with the wrist-support.  The Nathan one is small, but super easy to hang on to.

Socks - I am a HUGE fan of Wright socks.  They have 2 thin layers which prevent blisters.  Before discovering these socks, I was a blister-magnet.  Since switching to them (knock on wood), I've been blister free.  Love. Them.  As a bonus, you can usually find them on sale at REI Outlet.
Shoes - Brooks Adrenaline GTS II.  I have 2 pairs and will most likely be keeping one pair in my special needs bag to change at the half way point.  At Lonestar, my feet began to hurt from being wet for so long, so I thought that some nice dry shoes would be a mood lifter.
Hat - still undecided.  Do I wear my Jamba Juice visor, my TriGirl hat, or nothing at all?  Still not sure about this critical decision yet ;)

Monday, May 02, 2011

April 2011 totals

Another good solid month of training.  The only bummer is that the weather has been CRAPPY all month.... snow and wind have made cycling outside challenging. :(
  • Bike: 35h 04m 02s - 505.06 Mi  (40 miles and 3 hours less than March - guess that means I'm getting faster?  Bike amount is also slightly down because I flew to Houston for a HIM)
  • Run: 16h 05m 41s - 82.66 Mi  (UP by 20 miles)
  • Swim: 14h 20m 24s - 38312 Yd  (UP by 6,000 yards)
  • Core Training: 30m

At first, I was bummed that my numbers weren't even higher, but after looking at the numbers AND the calendar, I've changed my mind. Overall, I'd say this is REALLY solid, considering I had 2 travel days and a 5-day recovery period thrown in there.

Evaluation of April's goals:
  • Ride the IMTX course on April 8th to refresh my memory on the course, and hopefully give myself a confidence boost. HUGE confidence boost, and the hills were EASY.  Really, in the 3.5 hours I was out (and on the hilliest section) there were maybe 3 hills that got my attention.  I was crusing and it felt awesome.  That is, until the heat got to me and I got really stupid.  Very good lesson on how to handle the heat - increased my sodium from 400 mg/hr to 1,000 mg/hr during Lonestar, and that really did the trick.  Glad I figured this out before IMTX.
  • Use Lonestar as a training race, not a race-race. Really try to run the whole run, even though it will be warm. Still, I'm curious to see how I do on the race overall compared to last year, since my fitness is so much better. As reported here I CRUSHED my previous time by 28 minutes and came in at 6:58.  Most surprising was that I PR'd the run, even with walking 1/3 of it and taking a bathroom break.  My previous HIM PR was in Boise where I ran the whole thing.  This definitely says a lot about my running speed and how its improved.
  • Get all my IMTX kinks worked out, specifically nutrition, clothes. I switched to non-protein Infinit last week and I got a new Pearl Izumi Race kit for the IM. Going to use Lonestar to test out both of these. I think I've got 90% of the kinks worked out.  Its not completely final, since its so cold here.  Pretty hard to test out 95 degree weather gear when its 40 degrees out.  However, the new Infinit mix is working well, and I like the PI top I got.  I'll probably add a set of DeSoto Cool Wings to my gear list, to try and prevent severe sunburn.
  • Stay healthy.  Good part: I haven't been sick!  Not so good part: my nagging left calf and right thigh issues are back, but intermittently.  I've been getting weekly massages, which include REALLY painful myofacial release of my shins and calves, which I think are helping.  Listening to my body is REALLY important now, as I don't want any last minute problems cropping up.

Goals for May
wooo boy, goals for the BIG month.
  • STAY HEALTHY - this is priority #1.  This means listening to my body, even if it means not completing my workout. 
  • Finalize IMTX clothing and logistics
  • Respect the taper.
  • We close on our house on May 5th, so I also have to get that worked out.  We may be moving at the end of the month, not sure yet.
  • and the most important goal for May..... HAVE FUN AT IMTX