Thursday, October 09, 2014

Trowback Thursday Ironman Edition

With the big Ironman dance in Kona around the corner, there’s no shortage of Ironman buzz and excitement amongst the triathlon community.  So I’m going to add to mix with my own personal walk down Ironman memory lane. I’m also deep in IM Arizona prep, so needless to say, I have Ironman brain.  

Spending what feels like countless hours on the roads lately, it’s fun to reflect on my IM experiences and recall the circumstances and results surrounding each one. What a journey it has been, and although I’ve only done four 140.6 events to date, it’s fun to dig into the memory bank as move into my final prep for #5. 

#1: Ironman Arizona 2006 
SWIM: 59:12 (1:31/100m), BIKE 5:59 (18.72mph), RUN 4:14 (9:42min/mile): 11:21:25

This was so long ago, and I’m struggling to recall the details, but I do know that this was a spring Ironman (back when IMAZ was in April vs Nov). I was VERY nervous about simply completing the distance since the bulk of my endurance racing consisted of sprint/oly distance events. I did however complete my first half the year before (Pigman), but otherwise, this was uncharted waters.  KY and I did a lot of our training indoors and we both really struggled with the brutal wind and heat (two key reasons they moved the race to Nov) and the messed up the hydration demands of such conditions. We learned the hard way, but both made it to the finish line in one piece.  And yes (now slightly embarrassed to admit), we did get matching M-dot tattoos to commemorate the journey. The M-dot brand was very different back than!

#2: Ironman Florida 2007
SWIM: 56:40 (1:28/100m), BIKE 5:17 (21.18mph), RUN 3:53 (8:54min/mile): 10:12:58
3rd AG (W25-29) 

Once again, Kerry and I did this Ironman together along with serval other MN friends. Regardless, I ended up focusing on short course racing that year since my A race was the Best of the US Championship in Florida the weekend prior to Ironman. Nutrition and pacing on the bike was not in line with my preparation, and ultimately that really hurt my marathon.  I think I was the 1st or 2nd amateur off the bike, but for the first 13miles my GUT was pissed. NO glory is a great bike split if you can run! I struggled to consume anything and finally nursed myself back near the halfway point just in time for my foot to stop functioning properly.  I hobbled my way through the second half, but for better or worse, I managed a 3rd place AG finish. When I crossed the line I had sworn off doing another Ironman (anyone else have that reaction at the finish line?). Even with a Kona slot in hand, I was done. I recall the guy at TriBikeTransport say when I handed off my bike - “You’ve got to go to KONA. It’s like going to an Ivy League school - Nobody cares what your GPA was.”  With that mantra, I accepted the WC slot, but all while failing to learn from the recent race experience - I still didn’t choose to specifically train for the next one!! 

SWIM: 1:01:13 (1:35/100m), BIKE 5:47 (19.37mph), RUN 3:49 (8:46min/mile): 10:46:48  

My primary race focus in 2008 was strong finish at AG Nationals (OLY distance) in Portland. At the beginning of the year I made the decision to focus on short course in hopes of winning a National Championship and then to simply enjoy Kona. Nationals were three weeks before Kona, so my only Ironman specific distance training included one 85mile ride and a 15mile run 2 weeks before the race!  Knowing that I wasn’t perfectly prepared, I simply kept a open mind and focused on the variables I could control, like nutrition and heat management. Thankfully I ended up feeling ok and actually really enjoyed that day. I have some blog history on that race.

SWIM: 55:31 (1:26/100m), BIKE 5:44 (19.48mph), RUN 3:47 (8:39min/mile): 10:36:25

After a 2 year Ironman hiatus, it was pretty excited to finally race the most popular Ironman for our MN tri community. I’d been spectating/coaching at Ironman Wisconsin every year since 2005, so it was a treat to finally have a chance to experience it from a different perspective. I was also racing as a pro that year which presented its own set of unique memories. I came out of the water near the front which meant I was on the leaderboard and had the motorcycles driving by telling me I was in x position. That was a fun new experience, yet somewhat lonely as compared to the feeling you have with the masses of the AG race.  I remember a few key mishaps that day - Primarily, I overdressed in an attempt at aerodynamics, and I recall I was so uncomfortable on the bike. I don’t think I spent any time in my aerobars the entire 2nd half of the race! I had raced my first Leadville 100 MTB 4 weeks prior to IMWI and clearly all the hours logged on my MTB didn’t carry over to comfort and speed on my TT bike! Since the bike sets up the run in Ironman, the run was no party for me. Although it was nice to see so many friendly and supportive spectators, it was a painful 26miles since I was fighting for 8th place (final $ spot) while my body was clearly saying NO. I was hurting and ended up getting passed with few miles to go to finish 9th pro/ 11th OA. 

And after a 4 year break, I'm  super excited to be back and I’ve finally committed to proper Ironman training thanks to this fine Coach!

I’m five weeks out and feel pretty good so far.  I have a big IM simulation training day this coming Sat, then I’ll race LTF SOMA Half in Tempe next weekend. I’m so excited to dig deep for the final five weeks and i’m looking forward to seeing how the body responds on race day.