Monday, October 22, 2012

Soma 70.3 Ironman Distance

It's dark when Dan and I get up at 4 am and start preparing for race day. Having packed everything the afternoon before, we only need to get up, apply various lotions and creams, get dressed, eat and load gear into the Jeep.

We move more or less like clockwork, having prepared for many early morning rides all these months we are well versed. A dance happens in the kitchen as I prep eggs and grab my vitamins and he preps his bread and grabs his drink. We aren't overly chatty, but not silent either. The drive over is quiet as I text family and friends with the link to see me perform live on RunKeeper. No music: we can't agree on 'pump me up' music... an ongoing joke between us.

We arrive in Tempe with plenty of time to prep our stuff. I stand around like a lost child trying to remember what I forgot as I watch the other competitors prep their transition stations. Finally, I can think of nothing more that needs to be done so Dan and I head out of transition. We find fellow IWannaTri Team members Jeff L. and Mike S. hanging out near the water front and join them. I'm more quiet than normal as Dan rolls out his race day strategy which Jeff reinforces is a wise strategy. Nutrion is key.

I'm nervous & just trying not to puke. :)

To my surprise, Joe-Bro and McKenzie stroll up and I give them both HUGE hugs: Excited to see them and have someone to spend the long (26 minute) wait for Wave 8 to start with. Soon, it's time for the guys to line up. Knowing I won't see Dan until the end of the race (probably not until after the finish line) I give him a hug and wish him good luck! I take my 7-Keto and then, shortly after a Gu. 

I warn Joe and Kenzie that I'm about to get super chatty as the caffeine kicks in. It does and we chit chat about the day and all that's going on. And the big elephant in the room: 140.6 Ironman 2013.

Dan's wave is in the water and we cheer for him loudly! Soon he's off. 

Wave 8 is finally getting in the water. Our start time is 6:56 am. I watch the pink caps and relay teams pile into the water and try not to think about bonking last year's swim without a wet suit in the cold lake. This year I've got the mileage but am faster AND I'm wearing a delightfully warm wet suit!
photo from Red Rock Company FB Page

Regardless of the wet suit the waiting in the water is chilly. Just before our wave takes off, we watch the pro's round the final buoys and pop out of the water: spry and light on their feet. Inspirational and I'm so JEALOUS that it's not me already done with the swim.

6:56 am and our wave finally starts. I pass under the bridge politely brushing against the other ladies in my swim wave (no punching or crawling over each other with this crowd), trying to find my space of water. The sun is just over the horizon so when I sight ahead I can't really see how far the buoy's are or where the line ends. 

photo from Red Rock Company FB Page

An orange triangular buoy pops on to my left: WOW!!! Time to turn already? I'm KILLING this swim... but wait... nope... the swimmers are continuing on. Another triangular buoy, no turn. A huge yellow cylindrical buoy: this HAS to be the turn, right? Nope: Just keep swimming!!! Finally a 4th buoy and we swing around. I'm proud of my ability to sight to the left as we make the last turn into the straight away for the return trip. 

I'm swimming ALL OVER the lake. I keep having to push my way towards the buoy's but the crowd has thinned out and I'm not trampling or being trampled. A few master's swimmers pass me and I pass a few straggler men. All in all it's been a decent swim... however I AM ready to be out of the water when I hit the stairs.

photo by Barb Ellquist

It is so nice to have the men help me up the stairs and the wet suit strippers. I'm not cold but I am disoriented from the water in my ears and I feel drunk as I stumble toward transition. I hear Barb cheer for me. Knowing she's got her camera, I make sure to smile. She's so amazingly gracious in taking pictures of our group as we perform these crazy feats of insanity! :) Then I see Connie, our swim instructor, and give her a HUGE GRATEFUL WET hug! She hugs me back just as fiercely and I feel energy return, somehow jogging to the transition area.

photo from Red Rock Company FB Page

After the world's LONGEST transition, I'm ready to head out on the bike. I'm still feeling a little wobbly and weak after the swim as I start the bike but to my delight I'm above my 15 mph average desired pace. There are three loops to the bike circuit and many twists and turns... plus some hills. (Yay??) My leg, which was acting up after Tour de Scottsdale, remains blissfully quiet. Loop one finds me at a potty stop (at the bottom of a hill NOT SMART!!) and Loop 2 finds me refilling water bottles and taking salt tabs.

Joe and Kenzie are on the Mill Ave bridge cheering for Dan and I as we pass by going out to the hills on College and Curry and coming back to finish the first loop. It's nice that Kenzie wore such a unique shirt: made her easy to find! Soon, Mom, Dad, the Apprentice and Spunky Girl show up to cheer Dan and I on as well.

Last loop of the bike and I'm out of water in my Camelpack. I'm not looking forward to this last loop as the wind continues to pick up. My nose continues to run and I'm not feeling great (I'm supposed to RUN after this??). I've continue to eat my Quinoa, honey, protein powder, almond butter mixture which is thick and hard to swallow but doesn't mess with my stomach too much, is gluten and preservative free and gives me the energy I need to continue. 

I think I'm dehydrated so force myself to reach for my water bottle every mile and sip. Hot foot kicks in majorly with 6 miles to go. My back is also super tight and getting a full breath is difficult. I can't seem to relax the muscles. I'm SUPER excited to get off this bike and praying hot foot goes away & my back relaxes once I'm off the bike.

photos by Barb Ellquist

Susan and her two little cuties show up at the end of lap 2 with a sign cheering Dan and I on. Barb is there, too, taking lots of pictures and she snaps a few more of me on the bike. 

Back in transition, I drop off my bike. Susan and her kiddos chat with me as I switch out my shoes and change tops (again). Sadly, I forget to put more body glide on my arms so I feel the chaffing start right within a few miles on the run. It's nice to have a chat with her about how things are going as I pull out a deliciously still frozen towel to wrap around my neck for the run.

Susan helps me with RunKeeper while I make a quick pit stop. Then it's time to walk run a half marathon. The first loop is SO HOT and I'm feeling pretty well wiped... I can't see the end and I'm not sure how I'll finish... it's a low moment in the event. However I'm well ahead of the 2:30 pm cut-off to start the 2nd loop of the 1/2 marathon and if I can just keep taking one step at a time I'll get there!

Just after mile 4 I run into Jarrod B. and we walk together. He's fighting a killer cold but diligently putting one foot in front of the other. We compare notes about our event experiences so far and I tell him I'm OUT for the 140.6 Ironman. No way... this is crazy! 

We spend about 1.5 miles walk/running before we part ways. Loop one ends on the hot windless side of the lake and I start loop 2 walking. Susan is there with the kids cheering for me. She lets me know Dan is about 10 minutes ahead. Susan kindly takes my iPod as I attempt to unload gear. She and the kids head for home and I'm so very grateful to them for coming out to cheer me on! 

My parents are just on the other side of transition with the Apprentice and I chat with them briefly while my Dad takes pictures. They have to leave for Dad's appointment so we part ways with kisses and hugs (Brave folks to get so close to me smelling the way I do!) I am so blessed to have so many people out cheering for us!

The 2nd loop seems somewhat cooler than the first and I pick up the pace. I fell hope again, that I've got this feeling has returned. I'm achy but not really injured so I keep putting one foot in front of the other in the slowest jog on the planet! :)

photo by Barb Ellquist

Mile 11 finds me meeting up with the Kiss (after the band) Water station (who GRACIOUSLY filled my water bottles while I took the turn & then handed the ice cold water to me for the last leg of my journey) AND I find DAN!!! I can't believe I caught him. It's wonderful to walk with him and share stories. We're both hurting and saying 140.6 Ironman is CRAZY "NO WAY!!" Another fellow runner has a condo on the run route and offers us beers and soda. We three chat for about 10 minutes before we part ways, knowing we'll meet at the finish line.

I cross the finish line with a time of 7:33:38. Dan was about 5 minutes behind me and the volunteers at the finish line let me put his medal on him. It was such a joy and I am so proud of us both! The photographer at the finish line got some great shots of us, too, I'm sure!

All in All: it was a long a grueling day... The volunteers were FABULOUS!! So encouraging, kind and helpful. RedRock puts on a GREAT event. Having family and friends there to cheer made the day super special and sharing it with Dan was priceless. The other competitors on the course were awesome and so much fun to chat with on the run. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I'm so glad I did it!

The big question: Where are my thoughts on 140.6 Ironman? Currently I think I'm out. I'm not sure how I would train to make my current 70.3 faster... I felt that I gave it almost everything I had. Maybe coach for biking and running could help the way Connie has for the swim but I honestly don't know.... 7.5 hours x 2 = 15 hours which gives me 2 hours to 'play with'.... but I dunno. 17 hours of exercise is a long day and so hard on the body. I'm not sure my desire to put a 140.6 sticker on the back of my ride or a 140.6 Ironman tattoo on my calf (or where ever) is motivation enough. That is a whole level of mental game I'm not sure I'm prepared to conquer.

Fortunately, I have 4 weeks until Tour de Tucson and short term I need to solve hotfoot. Then I can go from there. 

Will there be another 70.6 in my future? 99% positive there will be!