Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ironman Series: Part 2 of 4--The Swim

Time: 01:12:21 3862.4299 meters 01m 52s / 100meters
Age Group: 23/74
Overall: 732/2516
Performance: Good
Suit: Zoot Fuzion with Quintana Roo Speed Sleeves
Course: Semi-Rectangular, one loop
Start type: Deep Water
Water temp: 63F / 17C Comments:
So we were herded to the docks to hop in, and at about 6:45AM I ditched my socks on my feet and hopped on into the water. I easily swam out to the start line and positioned myself about 3/4 of the way over from the wall side and about 3-4 rows back. I floated, treaded some water, soaked it in, cheered off the pro’s, and hooped and hollered when Mike Riley was getting everyone motivated and then the National Anthem was played, and as I looked at that flag, and as Mike Riley mentioned doing it honor of those who serve our country I thought of my Soldiers, my friends, and I actually got a little choked up here. Ahh, can't cry now!! Thankfully, no crying, and the next thing I know there goes the gun and we're off!! It was meelee for the first 200-300m but not as bad as I thought it would be as far as crazy contact. I mean, it was there, but not insane, and then I was swimming normal. Sure, some folks got to close and hit my legs one too many times, but I'm not a docile person, and I wasn't going to play in this water, I was going to swim and no one was going to stop me. I got it if you hit my legs once or twice, but keep doing it and I'm going to react. So, I made it through fine. I did have a hard time seeing the buoys so I just kept swimming what I thought was a straight line towards the far bridge. I think I went fairly straight as I actually ended up inside the buoy line because it went with the curve of the lake. I just stayed right inside that buoy line, and was feeling awesome. I couldn't believe how good I felt. I kept thinking "strong, smooth, quick, and long, strong, smooth, quick, and long" exactly like the imagery script I had put together with Dan at the Army Center for Enhanced Performance. I also told myself, just like I did in the script (it was put to music, sound effects, and walked through the whole IM day), that I had blinders on, that I wasn't going to pay attention to the rest of the swimmers and swim my swim. I caught a few feet and just kept swimming, kept focused on good strokes, and finally good sighting, and of course when I got to the turn around it was all crazy crowded, but this was fun. WOW, I was doing an Ironman swim, I was now HALFWAY DONE with my Ironman swim and I was feeling SUPER! Seriously, at this point, usually much before, the thoughts of "am I done yet, am I done yet" are going through my mind, but this time I'm actually having a blast!! I love the people everywhere, I loved seeing the people on the bridges as we swam over the first time, it was just awesome!! I also had moments of thinking "swim like Blythe, swim like Liz" (they are fish!). So, now I was swimming back and feeling great, stayed right on the buoy line, no problems!! Then...there is always a then in each discipline during an IM, right, then my right calf cramps up right as I get to the first bridge on the way back. Seriously? Ugh...this is not good, usually such things last and bug me the whole day, but I'm going to be an Ironman, so I stop kicking with that leg and simply kick with the left leg, and pull. At the same time I'm praying, "Dear God, please work out the cramp, please work out the cramp." Sure enough, by the time I got under the second bridge it wasn't hurting any more and I just kept swimming, made the turn towards shore and I am THRILLED! I am about done with the Ironman swim and now I will get to bike!! I make it to the ladders, and I go for the far left one as it was free, I swim to the orange stripe and the awesome volunteer helps me out! That's it, I finished the swim! My BEST case guess scenario was a 1:10, my most likely scenario was a 1:15-1:20. When I looked at my watch and saw 1:12 I was SUPER HAPPY!! I never actually have fun in the swim, but this swim was a blast—couldn’t have picked a better day to have a great swim!
What would you do differently?:
More open water swimming in my wetsuit. I know this is the discipline where I need to get better, and it's going to require someone looking at my stroke and helping me get better, but to sustain this pace for the entire IM swim and feel SUPER SUPER at the end (usually I feel a little winded) makes me happy. Do I want to improve here in the future, yes. Do I need to swim more, yes. But as far as this day, and this race, there is nothing I'd do differently. I wore my sleeveless wetsuit as the long sleeve one I had is too hard on my shoulders. In anticipation of the cold, I had bought the Quintanna Roo Speed Sleeves—basically long wetsuit sleeves, but they don’t impede my range of motion in my shoulders…SUPER investment.

Friday, November 27, 2009

IRONMAN--The series!

WOOHOO! I AM AN IRONMAN! Ironman Arizona on 22 November was an INCREDIBLE experience, and I had an absolute blast and will do more. My race report is, well, fairly lengthy, so I'm going to put it up in a series of 4 over the next few days, starting with pre-race, swim, bike, and run. I do truly appreciate the support for many of you in blog land as I've made this journey this year. I've learned things from your blogs, and am always amazed at the encouragement the triathlon community shares with each other! So, the series begins...this race report is taken from a similiar format that I posted on

Tempe, Arizona, United States, Ironman North America
70F / 21C Sunny
Triathlon - Full Ironman
Total Time = 11h 01m 49s
Overall Rank = 447/2516
Age Group = F25-29
Age Group Rank = 9/74

Pre-race routine:
*DISCLAIMER* This is going to be a VERY VERY LONG race report.* So, back in 2007, while in Iraq, my dear friend Blythe tells me that she was going to race an Ironman. She had registered for one that year, but the whole deployment thing pushed that back. She then persisted on telling me that I should become a triathlete. I told her she was CRAZY. I had started endurance running there and planned on a marathon, but I told her that doing an Ironman is just crazy. Well, it didn't take much longer for me to decide that maybe this triathlon thing would be kind of cool. Come April '08 I had done a sprint and a 1/4 tri and was planning on two HIMs that year. Blythe's husband, then fiance', Joe, and another good friend, Liz, raced IMAZ April 08. I was at Blythe's house and we were talking about it, and I mentioned that I wanted to do an Ironman by the time I was 30 or the same year, so why not 2010. Joe, still on his high from finishing his first at IMAZ, told me "you will do one next year." I again told him, he's crazy, not next year. Next thing you know, I am in Florida with my friend Kathy cheering on my friend Sue and Aimee and more, and signing up for IMFL myself. Yep, I just kept chugging the kool aid that Blythe and Joe and Liz were feeding me. I was all signed up for IMFL and trying to determine the coach issue. I had a few options, but honestly, it wasn't in the financial cards for me. Then, Stephen (a BT friend) offered to give it a shot coaching me, and I took him up on it. In DEC, I started some training, and was registered for the Boston Marathon in April '09. A little tumble on my bike resulted in a stress fracture to the head of my right fibula, and no Boston. But, I kept training without running--IMFL was the goal for the year. I did a HIM Aquabike (cause of the stress fracture), and then once I was recovered, I did several Olympics and the Redman HIM all in preparation. I also got to cheer on friends at Ironman Couer d’ Alene, Idaho where Blythe became an Ironman, and Joe and Liz repeated their Ironman accomplishments, along with several awesome Austin T3 Tri Club triathletes. I had a blast cheering and that was just the inspiration I needed to continue training through the crazy Texas summer. I got in a lot of long training rides with my awesome friend Tanya who was training for Ironman Arizona. She and I put in HUNDREDS of miles together. I was getting in a lot of cycling miles and having a blast at long cycling. It was all about IMFL. I was doing my last race of the year pre-IM at the Longhorn 70.3 on 25 Oct 09. Because it was only 2 weeks before IMFL, I was doing it as a relay with my friends Mike and Steve. After I finished up a decent swim I got a horrible phone call. One of my Soldiers, SPC Brandon Steffey, a Military Working Dog handler that I had deployed to Afghanistan in June '09, and his dog Maci, were both Killed In Action by an IED in Afghanistan. I immediately left the race course and headed back to Ft. Hood to work through all of the things I needed to as a Commander. Life was very busy and crazy and sad during those days, and it started becoming clearly evident that going to IMFL was not something I should do. Attending my Soldier's funeral in Michigan, as well as then being asked to speak at his funeral, was my top priority. I could *maybe* have whirlwinded it down to IMFL, but I was in no state of mind or emotional fitness to do that. I expressed as much to two awesome people—Sue and Aimee--and I sent various emails to WTC sponsors, and without going into details, let's just WTC is very military friendly as are some of the sponsors, and I was able to switch over to IMAZ '09. I had alread intended to come out to IMAZ to cheer, so I already had a place to stay, and now I'd get to go to my grandparent's and aunt's houses for Thanksgiving. Well, literally as I was getting off the plane from returning from my Soldier's funeral, on 5 Nov 09, the Ft. Hood shooting was taking place. I couldn't even get onto post initially. I am the commander of a Military Police Law Enforcement troops played a VERY large role as first responders to the scene. I cannot imagine the anxiety and craziness I would've felt if I had been in FL and not at Ft. Hood. My Soldiers did PHENOMENAL, and we got through a very crazy week of extra law enforcement duty, Presidential visit, and then the Ft. Hood Memorial Service for SPC Steffey. I didn't even have a chance to whine about not being at IMFL, and that was fine, cause I was okay with it. I had priorities, and I was able to fulfill them, and due to some awesome people, I was totally comfortable with IMAZ becoming my race. I had to shift out of taper and back into training for a little bit, but it was no big deal. FINALLY, on 16 November my Mom and I headed out from Killeen to New Mexico and Arizona for my Ironman. FINALLY.

I got to Arizona on the afternoon of 19 Nov after visiting family in New Mexico, and we picked my brother up at the airport. We then went straight to registration as I wanted to try to get in on Thursday vs. the lines on Friday. Sure enough, I was one of the last people through, and no line at about 4PM that Thursday. Getting the wristband, my packet, taking pictures with the M-Dot, and more made it seem so much more real. "Holy cow, I'm going to do an Ironman" kept running through my head. We then made it to the house that I, Judy, and Dave (triathlete friends of mine from the Triathlon Forum/Website—from now on called “BT”) were sharing that weekend and settled into the house. My Mom, my brother, Dave, and I hit Pei-Wei for dinner that night and called it day. 20 November- That morning Judy and I headed to the race expo to get in a practice swim. Word was the water was cold, like 63/64 degrees cold. Besides racing, I hadn't done much OWS and definitely not in cold water, so I was a little nervous. Once I got onto the steps heading down into the water I was afraid I was going to freeze when my feet got wet--but it wasn't too bad, so I just hopped in and went! Yay, the water was NOT going to be an issue for me!! Excellent. Had a great little 30 minute swim, did some Expo stuff, and then Judy, Dave, and I drove the bike course to get an idea of what we were going to be up against. When we got to the house the three of us took our bikes for a little spin to make sure it all worked well. I then packed my transition and special needs bags while watching Shrek.

That night, my Mom, Ben (brother), Judy, and I headed to the Athlete's dinner. The food was "eh" but that was expected, but it was nice to get the feel of Ironman and to hear different people talk, even though the Tempe Mayor is a true odd-ball, and best of all, I got to finally meet Sally—another BT friend of mine. We had both been following each others training and encouraging each other year long, so it was fun to meet in person—this may sound crazy to some of you, but BT is a great place and I have so many dear friends that I’ve met at races and continue friendship there from across the country. Anyhow, it was then off to bed. 21 November- I didn't want to do too much, but I did do a 15 minute spin on Juan (my bike), and a 10 minute easy run. Then it was off to the race site for bike and transition bag check in, plus I gave Mom and Ben the lay of the land so they could figure out where to cheer. They also made some fun cheering signs for me at the Janus Inspiration Tent. When I came home I thought of going to the BT get-together with Dave and Carise, but at the same time I just wanted to sit around with my legs up. That is pretty much what I did the rest of the day. I tried to get to sleep early, and while I was in bed early, it took quite a while to get to sleep between being excited, nervous, and my brother lacking some general "be quiet, there are soon-to-be Ironmen in the house sleeping" understanding. I finally got there though, and thankfully I set two alarms, cause I never heard my watch, but my phone alarm went off at 3:35AM. I got up, ate my two PBJ waffle sandwiches, a boiled egg, a cup of coffee, and grabbed my bottle of GU2O and a banana for a bit later. I got all dressed, grabbed my special needs bags, ate my banana and sipped on the GU2O (would end up drinking about 1/2 of the bottle). At 4:50AM we were out the door headed to Ironman! We finally got in the parking garage, and during this time it was no longer "Holy Cow I'm going to do an Ironman", it was "Holy cow, I'm DOING an Ironman TODAY." But at the same time, I wasn't anxious, and overly nervous. I hit one of the park restrooms (which was still clean and flushed) taking care of my final necessary business (very important to triathletes!) and went and got body marked, checked in my special needs bags while praying I wouldn't need to see them, and then headed to the transition area where I aired up my tires, put my water in my aerobottle, and my nutrition bottles on the bike. Saw Sally and said hi--we both did the Janus Charity Challenge (raising money for charity—I raised over $3500 for the Wounded Warrior Project, thank you to EVERYONE who contributed!!), and thus had low bib #'s near each other. It was then wetsuit time, and I did that over near the edge of transition near my Mom and Brother, and instead of checking the dry clothes bag, just gave it and my pump to them. I was doing pretty well till I got ready to tell Mom good-bye and after a quick prayer, she started getting teary and I told her she can't do that or it'll make me teary!! Haha! So, off I went, I felt like I had to pee--but there was no way I was waiting in that line. Besides, Tempe Town Lake is cold, I will need to warm myself up, let's wait till the swim start. I meandered into the area where the athletes were gathering, and waited for Mike Riley to call us forward thru the swim exit and chip starter. They started wanting us to get in at 6:40AM...well, I don't want to be in the water that soon, but it is about a 200yd swim to the start line, so after eating a GU I finally, after waiting around a bit, I went on ahead and jumped in and made my way to the start line. Again, it wasn't as cold as I had braced for it to be. This is IT, let's do an Ironman.

Event warmup:
Swimming from the docks to the start line and then peeing in my wetsuit, yep, that warmed me up. It's an Ironman, I don't think much more warm up is required.