Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ironman Series: Part 4 of 4; The RUN and I AM AN IRONMAN!

T2- 1:49

Dismounted and the volunteer took my bike and as I ran towards my bag I got my helmet off and the volunteers handed me my bag and then I *nearly* went into the guys change tent--uh oh--thankfully a volunteer (a BT'er I think--I would see him often as I passed the Transition area on the run) got me pointed correctly by using my name. I couldn’t believe I was actually able to RUN to T2, usually even on HIMs my legs feel the ride—maybe adrenaline numbs the pain, cause my legs felt fantastic. I was definitely ready to be off that bike though. Anyhow, got into the tent, and another awesome volunteer lady grabbed my bag got my shoes out, and I threw socks and shoes on and asked her to grab my Garmin, she got it to me, fuel belt on, hat on, and off I went! Another awesome volunteer!!

What would you do differently?:
NOTHING...wow, I had planned for a 5-6 minute transition...1:49, and that included a near detour into the men's tent and taking arm warmers off, totally thrilled with this!! Couldn't believe how fast I did it--but didn't even know that till I was done!

Time: 03:56:48 26.200001 miles 09m 02s min/mile
Age Group: 6/74
Overall: 338/2516
Performance: Good
Lap Info: Didn't get my Garmin started until around 1/3rd of the mile in, so none of the data is accurate--but it kept me on the pace and gave me mile marks, even though they weren't on, that helped me keep pace.
FIRST RUN SEGMENT 3.5 mi. 8:49/mile
SECOND RUN SEGMENT 8.6 mi. 8:58/mile
THIRD RUN SEGMENT 8.3 mi. 9:33/mile
RUN FINISH 5.9 mi. 8:23/mile
3 loop kind of figure 8 around Tempe, includes a couple of hills--Curry hill and going up an overpass. Not huge, but noticeable

So, as I got going my Garmin wasn't tracked on yet so I tried to keep my legs normal--haha, that's funny considering I just averaged a 95-100mph cadence for 112 miles and you think my legs are going to at an "easy" pace—they wanted to keep that cadence. Once my Garmin locked on and I saw 7:30 I yelled at myself and settled into an 8:40-9:00 pace. I also saw my Mom and Bro near the train trestle and that was great! They were so enthusiastic and easy to see in their orange BT IMFL (hey, I bought them, might as well use them!) Support Crew shirts. I ran for a bit with a guy named Warren from Kona. We did nearly the entire first lap together, and he was a super guy. I don't know when I lost him, at an aid station I think, but thanks Warren. I used sponges at each aid station, and man, those people were awesome. I can't say enough about the volunteers. They rocked!! Anyhow, that first loop I felt AWESOME! I even told my brother and Mom to tell everyone I felt STRONG! I mean it was great and I was feeling awesome and not pushing it, and it kept nagging in the back of my head "when are the wheels going to fall off--don't go fast" so I did slow it down on the 2nd loop, I was feeling good, but didn't want to go too fast cause I didn't want to meet that proverbial “wall.” I have only met that wall in one race, Buffalo Springs Half-Iron in June ’08—my first Half-Iron, so it’s something I don’t know well, and that’s fine, I don’t want to know it well. The 2nd loop was a little harder in some spots, and THEN (remember, one each discipline!) one thing about my fast T2 was I didn't grab a couple of the GUs that I was supposed to and thus was out of my GUs by mile 14. So, now it's on to Plan B...thankfully, of all of the Gatorade products, I like the orange stuff. That's what they were serving, so I started hitting that at each station, and grabbed bananas twice. Finished the 2nd loop and knew I was on the last leg, I knew that the next time I got down there I'd be heading to the finish line. I never picked up special needs as I didn't want to stop. I hate stopping. There was no walking, just slowing down to grab some water, grab a sponge, grab some Gatorade and move out!! I had to weave around a few folks when they stopped right in front of me. It was on this loop that I saw Dave finally, and he asked if I was on 2nd or 3rd and I said 3rd and he said something encouraging, what I don't know! I had seen him a few times on the bike too--he's much better at looking out for his battle buddies on the race course than I am, thanks Sapper. On the course, there were several times I thanked God for giving me the ability to do this and just prayed to "run and not grow weary" just like one of my favorite verses. I still kept it a sane pace until I think I saw the 22 mile marker and then I picked it up. I had also previously told myself that I could take coke at mile 22, and I did at the 22/23/24 mile aid stations...I think it had an effect cause I wasn't slowing down, I was just picking it up. Man, when I saw the 24 mile sign I think that is when the HUGE smile became permanently plastered on my face. I didn't want to surge too soon, but at that 24 mile mark I thought "it's only an APFT run, that's it!!" I picked it up, and then when I got within that last mile and heard the finish line, and announcing and ran through the big fan area again and heard people say push it out and you might go sub-11 (I knew that wouldn't happen) but I did pick it up, and when I made that turn towards the finish line it was SO AWESOME!! Someone had a margarita's at the finish line sign, people were cheering, and I noticed I was running with another lady, a guy passed us in that chute and I let him go, but I picked it up more, not to sprint, but to give myself some space between her and I--I slapped some hands along the right hand side, have NO idea what song was playing, and had my arms up in victory as I heard "Brittany from Killin' (he literally said Killin' vs. Killeen) Texas you are an Ironman!!" WOW!!! Apparently to those watching it looked I came in with a group, but man alive I felt like I had that WHOLE finish line to myself!! It was glorious! I have seen pictures and I had the huge smile and big wide eyes that my Dad and brother Jeremy get when they are acting silly, I was in pure ecstasy as I had seen it said 11:01 or something--seriously, 11:01 on my first IM and the wheels NEVER fell off on the run??!?! I kept waiting--don't get me wrong, my feet hurt, my legs started getting really sore, but I was going to run that whole marathon and I personally hate anything slower than a 9m/m pace (I blame the Army in my cadet days...they made that the "slow" person pace, and that was me at the time) and somehow my mind latched into it all and kept me going. The finish line was awesome!

What would you do differently?:

Maybe not go so fast initially and pace faster at the end, take all my GU's with me. Practice with Gatorade and see if I can do that and not carry a fuel belt. Otherwise, NOTHING. I wanted to run a 4-4:15 marathon and CANNOT BELIEVE I did a sub-4 marathon. This was only my second ever marathon, and only 22 minutes slower than my stand alone time. I was never tempted to walk as I knew that would've knocked me down. I wish maybe I'd talked to a few other athletes, but I did cheer several on, and anytime I saw a service member, we exchanged pleasantries--a "Oorah" or "Hooah" or "Go Army!" It was great. I can't think of anything I could've done. I kept expecting to hit a low, but never did. The time went by faster than I could imagine and I just am amazed at what strong training and mental toughness can do. I had done some mental training with the Army Center for Enhanced Performance, and one of the things was when my legs hurt to think of ice melting the hurt away, and that worked. Also, a couple of the times where it got tough in effort, I reached up and touched my visor--on one side it said "SPC Steffey, KIA 25 Oct 09" as a tribute to my Soldier and on the other side it said "USMA 2002 KIA" to honor my West Point Classmates who were killed in OIF and OEF. That motivated me. I often thought of my Dad who couldn’t be there watching online, other family watching, BT'ers tracking, Blythe, Joe, Liz, and other friends tracking and those who inspired me to get to where I am, and how I knew Blythe and Joe had been debating on whether I had blown my legs out or not and I think I even heard Blythe cheering in Rhode Island as I got near the end. Blythe—you have inspired me more than you know! I kept thinking of the tips Stephen had given me about racing. It ends up, in the tracking realm, that my brother Ben was posting in Facebook all day as if he were me--they were pretty hilarious posts and I think kept it interesting for everyone all day and made for a good laugh for me post-race!! I wanted him to update it with my iPhone, but his method was great. Thanks Ben! The run didn't feel like a marathon...it felt like one of those 20 mile runs on the hilly routes at Ft. Hood on an early Sunday after a long ride on Saturday. I suppose I could've kicked it a little earlier and gone sub 11, but seriously, I don't care! I am an Ironman and SO SHOCKED at the time, there is no crying or second guessing here! My run moved me up in AG and overall rankings a ton! What a blast!!

Post race

Warm down:
A great catcher came up to me and I wasn't falling over or anything, she got me blanket, and water, and my finisher gear (t-shirt and hat) and I got my medal. I went and hugged Mom and Benny over the side wall, then got my unit Guidon so I could take my finisher picture with it. The catcher was so sweet, staying with me, and I didn't realize it...she helped me out, thanks catcher! I then headed over with Mom to get some clothes on and signed up for a massage. Got the massage and just felt good to lay there. I did try some pizza and a banana but I didn't want it. I wasn't hungry AT ALL. After the massage Ben went to get my bike and bags, and Mom and I went to the bleachers to cheer in Dave and Tanya) in, and they both came in looking great. Tanya picked it up on the run and I’m so happy for her! She looked great. I wanted to stay more, but the body said not so much so. So, we decided to head home. I really wanted to be famished, but I wasn't. I was sore, that's for sure, but not dying. However, once the car got moving, I guess the stomach said, yep, that's enough--didn't lose too much, but my stomach finally rebelled. No worries--it waited till post-finish line, and that's fine by me. Got home and took a hot bath and then tried to sleep, but was too sore to sleep much, oh well...every ache was confirmation that I was, in fact, an Ironman!

What limited your ability to perform faster:
Umm, maybe just that I’ve only been doing this stuff for 2 years? I still think I need to hit a better race weight, I did well the last month and came into the race better than I had been previously this year, but the next time I race IM I would like to be at around 120-125 and I think that in itself will make me faster. For the first time putting all three of this distance together and not knowing how it might go, I don't know that I had any physical limitations. I pushed myself hard and didn't feel like I had anything more left at the end. Those last few miles I told myself to leave it all out there, and I did. I exceeded all of my personal expectations and defied my past. I am thrilled.

Event comments:
This race was awesome and I have nothing to complain about AT ALL. Well organized, super volunteers, smooth roads (what a blessing compared to TX chip seal), timely events, and just completely well organized. I am very pleased with the entire WTC organization. No complaints at all. I appreciate every volunteer out there. I have to put out some major thank you's: first and foremost, to God for giving me the drive, determination, and body to get through this. I'm truly amazed at what the body can go through. Second, to Stephen for coaching me throughout the year. I'm excited to see what he does in the future not just as an athlete but a coach. Third, to my parents for their support of my craziness and for coming out--well, Dad couldn't after the switch cause of work. My siblings haven't written me off as crazy and act proud, so I appreciate that, and of course Ben's hilarious face book posts on my status update throughout race day. Next goes out to my friends. To Blythe, Joe, Liz, you roped me into this, and I’m so grateful. We must stop having these kool aid drinking parties. I hope we get to race an IM together someday…thanks for taking me into the T3 crew for some of those early season rides. To my BT friends--you have no idea how much I appreciate you and how much you motivate me. If it wasn't for BT, I doubt I'd have ever gotten switched over and might've missed this entire IM experience. I am grateful to have met so many of you and to call so many of you friends. I'd list you all, but there are simply too many. it...To Tanya, who rode HUNDREDS of miles with me, who complained with me, who kicked me in the butt when I needed I couldn't have become an Ironman without you...thanks for being my friend, and congrats on being an Ironman! To my friends and classmates who have encouraged me on Facebook and seen me become a different person in the realms of athletic capabilities, thanks of supporting me and thanks for your service—whether you’re still in or not, you have given so much. I’m honored to have you as friends, and I know we all miss those classmates who are no longer with us. I hope I honored them in this race. Looking forward to the future, and I'm definitely not one and done!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ironman Series: Part 3 of 4; THE BIKE!

Time: 05:45:14 112 miles 19.47 mile/hr
Age Group: 12/74
Overall: 805/2516
Performance: Good
First loop avg- 19.74 (37 miles) Second loop avg- 18.86 (37 miles) Third loop avg- 19.81 (38 miles) Comments:
Wow, so this the Ironman bike! As I headed out it was great to be on nice smooth road and I was going 20-21mph and it felt easy, I was little concerned cause I didn't want to go out to fast. Then...remember, there is always a "then" for each discipline...I drink out of my aero-bottle and the water tastes HORRIBLE. I had purchased and put in a new sponge in my Podium Quest, I made sure not to get the detergent one, and I have re-checked it, it was not a detergent one according to the package--but it was according to that bottle. That water was NOT drinkable. Crap. So, at the first aide station I grab a bottle and drink from it and then keep it precariously (since it's not made to fit in a bike cage) in my empty back left bike cage. Unfortunately I now have an aero bottle with water in it that I can't drink, and I can't take the time to dump out. Oh well. Then I hit the Beeline and WIND. What the heck? Stupid lying weather people...there wasn't supposed to be wind in this direction, it was supposed to be the other way. But, they were about 10-15mph winds from the north. So, I decide right there on loop one that I will NOT kill my legs fighting up the incline that is the Beeline--long and gradual with a couple little steeper parts--so I shift into my small chainring and just keep a solid and high cadence. Now, I hardly EVER go into the small chain ring unless it's just a hill I know I have to go into it. But I kept it there and agreed with myself right then and there that if my bike split wasn't my ideal goal of 5:45, well, that's fine, the important thing is to still have legs when I get off the bike. I finally reach with the first turn around, and my quads are feeling the work I had to do to get through the wind. Then I turned around and it was a HEAVEN! The tailwind was fantastic and I was going downhill and I think I averaged 24-28mph nearly all the way to the turn around at Mills Ave and did my first lap at about 1:52--that was my ideal goal, sweet! I hear my Mom and Ben cheering for me and my training partner's (Tanya) friends and family cheering me on as well as some fun "Go Army!" Off I go onto loop 2. I notice, however, that there is more wind on this stretch heading out towards the Beeline. And it is here where K1 and K2 (names held to protect the guilty) the two women drafters come into play. K1 was first--and she came up and camped out right in front of me, grrr...I hate this, if you're going to pass me and go faster, do it, but don't pass me and then slow down. So, I would drop back doing the right thing, then finally get tired of it and pass her again. Then she'd do the camp out thing. Thankfully she stopped at a porta potty and I was hopeful that was the end of that. I was hitting my nutrition right on. I had waited until 10 minutes into the bike to take anything, but that's when I had started my Infinit. My nutrition was a 10/30/50 minutes each hour, with the top of the hour one being a GU, and twice I ate a little bit of a PayDay bar. Anyhow, I'm on the second loop and then whoosh--here comes a drafting pack to include K1 and K2, they come up right on me and past me some, but sort of do the camp out thing, well, I'm NOT GOING TO GET IN THE DRAFT PACK! So, I drop back some, and they take off, then some of them are dropped and I pass them, to include K1 and and K2. This happened on and off the entire 2nd and 3rd loops. I probably had packs come up on me like that 4-5 times. I despise cheaters. yes, there was wind, but SUCK IT UP! I trained in the wind, I'm racing my own race in the wind. Anyhow, I did the right thing. That 2nd loop I went faster up the Beeline than previously, but had to go to small chain ring earlier, and I couldn't bomb as fast down the Beeline to the Mills turn-around because the wind had shifted and was more of a crosswind. I was tempted to check my average speed as my display just shows time, distance, current speed, HR, and cadence. Oh, HRM, so I had mine on, but the dumb thing picked up too many HRMs and I was frozen at 107 the entire bike...so didn't get any data there, oh well. I don't really use HR on the bike as much as I pay attention to RPE, cadence and speed. I was keeping AWESOME cadence on the inclines and would shift if I dropped below 90RPMs. Anyhow, I make it back down to Mills and turn around on my last loop!! Yay! I'm excited to be on this loop cause next time I come down I am DONE. This time heading up the Beeline I was able to get about half-way before any small chain ring was needed. I never needed Special Needs, and I didn't need off my bike. It was at 81 or 82 miles in that Sally finally passed me! I also had a couple of other BT’ers roll up on me at one point too--it was nice to have some friendly folks out there saying hello!! I told Sally I was wondering when she was going to pass me cause she is fast!! I had hoped to keep her in my eyesight, and I did, until one of those packs got between us. For that last loop I did a lot of stretching and actually felt like I took this lap the easiest, yet I did it the fastest! Craziness!! I was thrilled to come rolling into the turn around and get to go into the bike chute instead of turning around. I didn't hear my name announced, but I did hear "representing the US Army as an Officer..." and that was cool. I slowed down in the bike chute, got out of my shoes, and I noticed lots of people lining the bike chute, but they were quiet. Now, having cheered at IMCdA and noticing the same phenomenon at the bike chute, and as a good cheerer, I was yelling and get people going I shouted "come on folks, let's get some noise, this is Ironman!!" The crowd went loud and it was AWESOME!! YEAH!! I may not have slowed down as quickly as volunteers wanted, but it was great, I got dismounted and my legs felt super--which I totally didn't expect. I never did have to stop and pee or pee on the bike, which concerned me a little bit, but I knew I took in enough water. I just think I sweat it all out. The 2nd loop was the most difficult and I kept waiting for the turn-around, but besides that, what a super day of riding!
What would you do differently?:
During the whole bike I had thoughts of my friends and family watching and tracking online, both my BT friends and others on Facebook, and I knew my friends Blythe and Joe were having the conversation of "I hope she didn't blow her legs out, I hope she didn't blow her legs out." Not because they don’t have faith in me, but because it’s a legitimate thought! Blythe and Joe and Liz have been super inspirations and support for me, so it actually motivated me to think about what they were thinking while tracking. I admit, I thought the same thing about blowing out my legs throughout the ride, but also felt like I had done a good job of paying attention to RPE and cadence. I had also made the conscience decision to use my small chain ring for a HUGE part of the ride in comparision to my usual methods of riding. I stayed on nutrition, though I burped up some bile a couple of times, and that was gross---may have been an effect of the water I took in on the swim (not too much, but some) and the nasty soapy water I drank initially. But, I knew I was good on getting in what I needed to on the bike--though I was tired of it by the time I was done. Going into that small chain ring was probably the SMARTEST decision I would make all day long. I have done 10 or 11 one hundred mile plus rides, but have always had some stopping moments in there. I never ever stopped on the bike. I never had to pee, which concerned me some, but then again, it didn't, I was sucking down water plenty, I just think I sweat it out. I never have to pee on the bike in a race, and I guess the same thing happened during Ironman. I was willing to try on the bike, but never had to do so. My "best case" ride scenario was a 5:45--I did 5:45:14...I'll take it!! Would I like to get faster here, could I be better on hills (not that IMAZ is really hilly, but it’s not totally flat), yes, but I'm TOTALLY thrilled with being able to do this during IM ESPECIALLY considering I DID NOT blow my legs out--but that's for the run segment of this Race Report!