Friday, November 7, 2014

Ironman Florida Part 2...

If you missed the event leading up to Ironman Florida, you can check out Part 1.

The week leading up to the event went from thinking we would have perfect weather to extreme concern over wind on the bike and then the rough surf. I wasn't prepared for cold. Stacy, Lane, Brad and I started brainstorming who had what. Brad called his girlfriend who was flying down on Friday and had her bring arm warmers, leg covers and a head cover. I called Coach and he brought me a wind jacket and toes covers for my shoes. After talking with Reiko, she handed over gloves and a headband. Everything got shoved into my T1 bag. The decision was also made that I would completely change after the swim into dry clothes.

I slept surprisingly well Friday night. I was in bed by 9:30 and only woke up about every 2 hours. At 4:30 I was out of bed. I put on my swimsuit and grabbed my stuff and walked over to transition to finish packing my transition bags and get my special needs bags turned in.

After stuffing the additional items into my transition bags, I was waiting and looking for Stacy and Dana found me near body marking. Not having luck finding Stacy I headed into the Boardwalk and called Reiko. She agreed to run my special needs bags over for me. One less thing for me to think about.

I was standing in the lobby (with everyone else) having a bit of a panic over the conditions of the Gulf when Coach walked up. He did his best attempt at a pep talk, but there wasn't much reasoning with me at that point. A very nice guy also tried giving me very practical advice as to how to handle the swim. The genuine concern from the veterans was amazing. Not one person told me my concerns were ridiculous, suck it up it's Ironman. Oh wait... yes they did just not that morning.

Water safety personal getting tossed from his kayak
As I made my way up to Stephanie's room I saw Ron. I just dropped my head on his shoulder and he gave me a hug. In Stephanie's room we (Stephanie, Virginia and I) all had a bit of a freak out (in our own way) then headed down to the beach, wetsuits and all. We agreed we'd just take it one thing at a time. As we were standing waiting to get on the beach, they announced the swim was canceled. The first time in IMFL history.

Emotions shifted. Relieved I didn't have to battle riptides to extreme disappointment as I'd been working on my swimming all year. I'd been working on this race all year. And then there was this thought in my head: I'm not going to be an Ironman. I have to come back next year because this year isn't going to count.

We grabbed our transition bags and headed back to Stephanie's room. Reiko was there to Sherpa for Stephanie, but thankfully adopted me as well. She provided a calming presence as well as gloves and other items that she had.

We were told to be back down at 8am for a time trial start beginning with pros, then PC athletes, then lowest to highest bib number. We got to our bikes about 7:50 and so began our standing around on asphalt, in the cold, wearing bike shoes. I don't have back issues and I was starting to ache. And food...I had eaten my breakfast and had my Gatorade like I was supposed too, but that was at 5am. I grabbed some chomps and just hoped for the best. I also held on to Stacy's coffee for a bit just for warmth.

My rack was finally sent out about 9am.

I had been able to get word to my parents through the glory of Facebook (I didn't have a phone on me) and they were sitting just outside of the condo. I was able to wave to them as I started the ride.

The ride was cold and windy. The first 25 miles or so were directly into a head wind. I might as well have been riding straight up hill. Lucky to have a lower number, I wasn't too concerned about cut off but it did cross my mind. We finally turned and got a little bit of relief, but I contend we faced a head wind or cross wind for the entire ride. I never felt a real push of a tail wind.

It was fun seeing lots of people I knew on the bike course. I was able to ride with Lizzie for about 20 miles. Stephanie and I leap frogged for a while up to and including stopping at Special Needs at about the same time. Thank you NEIL! Neil was volunteering at Special Needs and had our bags ready for us and then put them in his car so we got all of our items back. This enabled us to drop even the expensive stuff.

I got to see the amazing and inspiring Pease brothers battling the wind as well.
photo by TRIJUICE
After special needs Heath caught up to me and gave me encouragement when I was losing my focus. Rick rolled by at some point. Karina and I passed by each other a few times as well. The attitude on the course seemed to be one of determination and frustration: when would we get a break from the wind?

Around mile 80 or so, a guy rolled up to me and said something like, "Sweetheart, this is the tailwind you've been waiting for." I looked at him and said, "So, shut-up legs. And start pedaling?" I'm not going to lie, I didn't notice a difference, but I appreciated his encouragement. I appreciated everyone's encouragement on the course and tried to pass on to others as well.

At mile 93 my chain dropped. Miracle of all miracles, this is the one thing on my bike I know how to fix! I unclipped, fixed my chain and finished the ride.
Karen saw this picture and said it looked like MP and I were getting along. Unfortunately, that wasn't really the case. I started having saddle issues early, but I think I identified the issue: not enough bag balm and too many trips to the bathroom before getting on  my bike.

Nutrition wise I managed to stay spot on until mid point/special needs. 7 hours on my bike should have been 7 bottles of Infinit. I had gotten through 3.5 and replaced everything at special needs, but that was about the end of it. I did grab water at every aid station, sip some and toss it. I also found out I can ride over water bottles without crashing as twice, I couldn't get a grip in the bottle handed to me and it feel right in front of my wheel. Total consumed: probably about 5 bottles of Infinit and a strawberry Uncrustable.

Off my bike in about 7:16 it was time for the run portion. Not what I had planned on, but PLENTY of time to enjoy the run.

As I came out of transition I saw my parents sitting there. I stopped, gave them both a hug. Mom told me I needed to give some other guy a hug. I did, but I also asked why I was hugging this guy? He said because my folks were awesome. If they were really awesome, they would have gotten me his phone number too. Just sayin'.

Around the corner from the run start was the Tri Club area. I immediately got spotted by North Georgia Tri Club. Lots of cheers from my club as well as Coach who hopped out on to the course with me. Running his GoPro, he started interviewing me. He asked how the bike was. I told him it was f... (internal thought, he's recording) really windy. He then looked at me and asked me why I was running so fast. Now fast is relative and I said I'm not running fast. I feel great. He asked what I was running, and I looked at my watch. I was running a 10:xx and that was NOT the plan. I slowed down. Good pep talk and that was the last I saw coach on the run.

I turned the corner and there was Stacy...wig and all! She asked how I was feeling and I told her my ankles hurt. She grabbed something for me and caught up to on her beach cruiser. Focused on my plan I ran aid station to aid station. I walked each and every aid station even before I probably needed to. Again, I enjoyed seeing lots of people I knew on the course. The aid stations were awesome and the spectators were terrific.

I had been warned that I would hit a dark place. I would want to quit. I would cry (me cry? never! ha!) But I would just have to keep pushing through. I NEVER HIT THAT POINT. I didn't. Yes, there were moments on the run I was ready to be done, but I legitimately smiled the who way.
coming out of the state park on the first loop
Stacy told me I was easy to find from my pink tiara visor, my camelback, and my run gait. She would pop up here and there. I asked her to meet me at special needs so I could give her my bag. She did. Special needs was pretty quick. My socks were dry, my shoes weren't bothering me. I added on a long sleeve shirt under my Fusion vest and ate half of an Uncrustable.

Right after I got Stacy my bag, Angela spotted me. She ran a little bit with me which was a nice boost! On the second lap I connected with some runners but then either dropped them or had them drop me. I was sticking to my plan and as much as I was enjoying chatting with someone, if they picked up pace, I let them go. Nadia and I kept crossing paths which was also very encouraging.

At mile 24 Stacy found me again. I tossed her my Camelback, not because it was bothering me, but because I didn't want it in my finisher pictures!

I just kept moving forward. I executed my run the exact way I was supposed. I didn't take any extra walk breaks. I smiled the whole time. I just kept moving.

I finally looked at my Garmin data and I was absolutely correct. I stopped to use the bathroom 5 times! The last time was precautionary. You know what they say: Never trust a fart at Ironman. And at Mile 25.... I was stopping.

Nutrition on the run: I was carrying my Camelback because it had my Infinit run mix. Again, I should have gone through about 20oz an hour. Over the course of the entire run, I went through about 40 ounces. When the chicken broth came out at the aid stations, I started sipping on that and water. I still tried to sip on the Infinit, but I just didn't feel like I needed it. Did I mention I never bonked?

As I approached the finishing shoot, I started to slow down and take it all in. I wanted space behind me for my pictures. I wanted to enjoy my first. For that brief moment, I forgot we didn't swim. I felt like a million bucks. I didn't just finish IMLF 2014, I had fun and felt great!

And then.... I saw my parents! Proud as could be. I think they might have been prouder in that moment then at my college graduation. If you were sitting near them, I know my mom was kvelling (google it) the whole time.
Mom and Dad proudly wear these t-shirts!
I stopped. I hugged them both. Thanked them for being part of it and finished my party!

Thank you Paul for getting this clip.

I trotted through the finish line. Excited to be done. Excited to be there. Just pretty damn excited. And happy.

After I crossed the finish line (click here, really) I stopped and looked around. This guy comes out from behind a few other people and it's Coach. He had finagled his way in to catch me. I threw my hands back up and just gave him a huge hug.

Thank you Chris for the photoshop.
My run was steady. Executed according to plan. And that is awesome!

I finished Ironman Florida 2014. I am an Ironman finisher. There is a lot of debate as to whether those of us who finished IMFL 2014 as our first and only full are Ironmen or not. We didn't get to swim. We didn't do the full 140.6. Then there are those, especially those who were there, that say abso-freakin-lutely! You trained, you showed up, you worked with what they gave you. But I have this feeling of missing something. I proudly wear my finisher's gear. I'm putting an emblem on my car. But my plans have been thrown out.

Originally I had planned on taking 2015 off from training for a full. I was going to focus on getting 'stronger, faster, better' with Olympics and 70.3s. However, I have this concern that if I wait to tackle 140.6 in 2016, life may happen. I may never get too. Then when I explain, yes I've done an Ironman, I feel like there will always be an asterisk  next to it.

I thought I had my next Ironman picked out for 2015. But then I started to register. Rolling start of swimmers. Last swimmer starting as late as 8:15. Cut off still at midnight. Sigh...need to think some more.

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#mycoachisadork but it was a good 2 years!

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