Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Adventures with Thelma: Ironman 70.3 Eagleman 2014

I don't even know what to recap.  The race?  The weekend?  The experience?  The journey?  Because for those that know me, this was way more than just a race; way more than just an endurance event.  Last weekend, I experienced the most amazing thing of my entire life and was able to do so with some of my closest friends and family; the same people that watched me claw my way to where I am now.

I guess I will just start writing and we'll see where it all goes. It'll be like our own little literary adventure.  Kinda like The Hobbit, but not really.

The Drive:
Long.  Holy crap was it long.  Mr. van Voo and I hopped in the Silver Bullet for a 7.5 hour trip that turned into 10 freaking hours. #I95blows  There may or may not have been goofy pictures and dance videos made, but we will neither confirm nor deny.  There was a whole lotta crazy, whole lotta laughs and even some serious convos.  A trip like this will either make or break a friendship.  I have to say that I think we made it and did some serious bonding over Diet Cokes, Snickers bites and Combos. #lunchofchampions #dontjudge

Pre-Race Day Activities:
Friday night was basically a let's-just-find-something-to-eat-and-pass-out night after that car ride.
Thelma was so sad I had
to leave her and had to spend
the night outside...
Saturday was to be a busy day and found Mr. V, Mr. and Mrs. Honey Badger (Ashley & Lori  aka Coach Lolo!) and me up early as each of us had a small workout to get done to shake out the cobwebs from the car ride the day before. Then, it was off to Athlete Check-in and the "mandatory" meeting (that only I went to, and yes, I was the dork in the corner taking notes) to pick up our numbers, chips and all the Ironman gear we could, in good conscience (no finisher gear...don't want to jinx it!), buy.  Then it was off to the race site to check our steeds into transition and do some recon.

Parts of my two families!
One day may they all meet...
This brings us to early afternoon when the rest of our tri-crew, Jo and Marc, made their way to town as well as my brother and his family that made the trip down from Upstate NY to cheer us on (how freaking awesome is that????!!!!!).  We all needed a couple hours of down time to relax and start getting ready for race day.  It was quite a sight, really....Three triathletes in one room with all gear and every piece of nutrition laid out on two beds and the floor.  What's a little unbelievable?  I forgot to take a picture.....

I met Mr. V, Marc and Jo in the lobby to head into town to have our early pre-race dinner with the fam.  We had a lot of laughs, lots of "commentary" and good pasta!  With full bellies, we gave our last hugs and said our goodbyes and good luck wishes as my fam wouldn't see us again before the start.

Race Day:
Both my roomies and I were all sleeping FABULOUSLY until some ninny erroneously (or thought it would be hysterical) scheduled a 3:45am wake up call.  DARN YOU MAN.  YOU SHORTED ME 15 MINUTES OF BLISS!  But I'm not bitter.  Really.
We headed down for a quick bite before all the other athletes in the hotel descended upon the continental spread of English muffins, oatmeal and all the peanut butter in the state of Maryland.  Time to get dressed and head to the start.
HOPE!  Wake up!
You can't get that 15 minutes back!
Days leading up to the event, everyone including the race directors, believed that there was no doubt this would be a wetsuit legal swim (temp 76.1 and lower).  Just goes to show you anything can happen on race day.  Upon our arrival, Mr V and I heard the water temperature announcement.  76.5.  Well dammit.  I handled the news quite well, surprisingly.  You see, I tend to worry.  A lot.  I don't know who I was that day, but I never felt calmer.  I took everything in, processed it and moved on without incident.  Goal = met.

Since we had about an hour before our swim wave started, Lori and I had LOTS of time to take silly pictures; there is a fantastic one of Coach Lolo, but I don't think the world is quite ready for that one yet....

No jelly fish!!!
I'm not a fast swimmer.  I'm not a strong swimmer.  If you're a regular reader, you know I'm prone to panic attacks. I kept it together, kept my head down and just found my rhythm.  I probably had the most fun on that swim than I have ever had in the open water.  I've been working really hard on my open water swimming, hopping in the lake at each opportunity and taking classes when I could, and I believe it paid off.  (Thank you Upgrade Lifestyle and Richard Allen Fitness!)
time 47:23 (goal 45:00) 

T1: calm, quick and efficient.  Sunscreen was a MUST!
time 3:12  (goal 5:00)

Instant Bad Ass
Thanks James!!

SO MUCH FUN.  That course was flat, fast and beautiful.  And seeing a line of 40+ cyclists making a corner...an amazing sight and I'm amazed that I was part of it.  I built into a good sustainable effort, even pulling out a 20 mph mile here and there!  Having my nutrition plan drilled into my brain, and my watch alert set for every 15 minutes, took the nutrition guessing game out of the ride and really allowed me to focus on my effort level and pay close attention to how my body was feeling.  One thing I wasn't really aware of and wasn't able to practice before was taking water at aid stations while in motion on two wheels.  I'm proud to report that I picked up water at 2 stations in motion like a CHAMP!
time  3:19:26 - 16.85mph (goal  3:23:38 - 16.5mph)

Coming into T2 I (heard first!) saw my family and what else could I do but run down the chute giving high 5s to all!  As soon as I hit transition, I took off my shoes and ran to my area.  After a quick pat down with my towel and quick reapplication of sunscreen, I put on running shoes, grabbed my watch face, gel flask and race number and I was off and running...literally!  *note to self.  Do not leave gel flasks in direct sunlight.  Hot gel tastes nasty.  Also, heat melts Body Glide and it is very messy stuff when it turns to liquid....
time  3:07  (goal 5:00)

No biggie...just thought
I'd wake up and do
70.3 today
a HOT out and back route with NO shade and NO breeze.   So, we just baked.  It was an ugly course too, so you really had to block it all out and just go.  I have been hitting overall 8:45s in my interval training sessions quite comfortably and quite consistently, so I thought 9 minute miles were not out of the realm of possibility.  9s would still bring me under a 2hr half marathon, not a PR but still under 2 where I like to keep it.  It was pretty evident after the first two miles that it wasn't going to happen that day.  So, I had to make a new plan and fast.  Given the heat and the sun, I promised myself that I could walk, but ONLY through the aid stations to take water, electrolytes and sponges to cool down. It worked like a charm.  When I ran, I ran well.  I cooled off as best I could at the aid stations and then quickly got back to work.  Not my best run by far, but it was the best run I could have had on that day.  I also loved seeing all my people on the course.  I saw the Honey Badger coming in to finish as I was just starting my run, then Coach Lolo, Mr. van Voo and Marc and Jo.  I got so excited I shrieked their names, cheering them on as they flew by!  I can't say we all looked happy, because, well, we were running in direct sun for 2 hours with no shade and we really all just wanted to be done and eat fried pickles (wait...that might have just been me) but I can say we all looked strong!  I somehow ended up with a very consistent run, 1:03:06 at the halfway point, 1:03:30 to the finish.

After the turn-around point, I think the magnitude of what I was doing finally hit me when a voice of a friend, the one in the orange hat that I said was mean, entered into my head:  "There is no way you're not going to finish this." He was right. Then, the eerie calm that enveloped me the week before the race and even during that day disappeared and was replaced by a rush of thoughts and a wave of emotion.  

time  2:06:36  (goal 1:58:48)

Coming through that finish chute.  Wow.  Then I saw my big brother and Mr. van Voo... Well folks, this is where I get girly.  I almost lost it right then.  I choked backed some tears, composed myself to cross the
finish line and savored every second.  I kept it together pretty well until my sis-in-law, niece and nephew got me at the finish area.  Well, you can see what happened....

I've heard time and time again that in these types of events, your nutrition can make or break you and ultimately it all comes down to the run.
I am now a true believer, and if anyone tries tell you different, YES, the swim DOES matter!  :)
time  6:19:44  (1st goal 6:17:26  man-it-would-be-awesome-if goal  6:10:00)

I can't say it enough
And as I write, I'm starting to get that same rush of thoughts and wave of emotion.  Five years ago, I was at least 180 pounds and I couldn't walk a mile let alone run one.  Two years ago I ran my first half and full marathon.  Last year I did my first triathlon and ran my second marathon, while at the same time I was moving back out on my own, living alone and finding my own way.  Last weekend I finished a Half Ironman.  Who would have thunk it??

The physical transformation has been amazing, yes.  But what this journey has done for me emotionally, mentally and spiritually is so much more.  I reclaimed my happiness, my strength and confidence; things that I somehow allowed myself to lose along the way.  I was lucky to find an unbelievably fantastic circle of close friends.  I found something that I absolutely love to do.
not to mention the freaking awesome tan I have right now....

I know this is long, and I'm sorry 'bout that...but there was a lot to say about this one; and there is still so much I want to say if you can believe it.  So I will just say this:  I wouldn't have had the most amazing day that I did without my family and these people right here.

Best Buds!
Me and one of the most amazing
women I know rocking out our
first HIM

Triple Threat!

Feel free.  Be strong.
Be your own kind of awesome.

1 comment:

Stephen Jackson said...

Sorry I missed this when you posted it. So impressive! I have not wrapped my mind around doing a 70.3 yet, but I think it's a mountain I need to climb. Is there a training plan you would recommend? If I am going to do it, I want to do it right. Thanks for sharing this great accomplishment.