Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ironman Lake Placid Race Report, what does it all mean?


Now that six days have passed I can finally process what race day 2016 meant to me - what this 14 plus hours of swimming, biking and running meant to me.

First, I finally met Than’s wife, Kathy. Than has been Mark’s Ironman Sherpa since 2009. And he was both Mark and my Sherpa at Ironman Wisconsin in 2013. Kathy was my sherpa meaning that she would help me during race weekend (carrying bags, etc) and on race day would be responsible for getting my bike from transition to TriBike tranport.

Second,  going to New York I was on Nash and Oren turf since they grew up near Albany and both attended college in New York. This would be Mark’s third Ironman Lake Placid.
I knew I was going to be in good hands and would get all the pre-race prep done efficiently and on time. This reduced every bit of stress. 

I wasn’t nervous since they took care of everything.
I was in awe of the place.
I grew up one hour north of Lake Placid in Plattsburg so it was a bit of a coming home for me. 
All the history of the Olympics was inspiring, being in the Olympic Oval and knowing I would finish in it, was pretty emotional.
The day before the race was the Nash Family Reunion and I got to meet Mark’s family. They were so happy to be there and I felt a part of the family instantly.
Mark handed out shirts to everyone (every year he designs a shirt for all the sherpas and spectators) and thanked them for coming out to cheer.

Race Day:
The swim was fantastic. No fighting for space, no kicks in the gut or face, just swimming my race. The water was a perfect temperature – 73 degrees, clear and calm. I didn’t have to sight as much since I could see people next to me and just followed them in the right direction. After the first lap I felt pretty good and didn't pushed the pace.
The wetsuit strippers were amazing. Since I have such back pain after swimming I asked them to help me up after they got my wetsuit off and the one man just grabbed my torso and I was up. Amazing.
In the shoot I saw many of our group cheering and it felt so good!
The bike was challenging. I knew I needed to pace myself for the hills so I tried to recover on the downhills.  The uphills were intense, especially the 10 miles heading back to Lake Placid but I felt okay on the first loop. The second loop my left foot started bothering me, thinking it was from my inserts. But looking back I think that is when the swelling started from the heat and dehydration. 
The course is really beautiful and everyone said to be sure to look around, but I didn’t really look around. I just biked like I always do. I was happy to see Mark a few times and I tried to keep up with him, but he took off and I didn’t see him again until the run.
I saw my Mom, Dad and Carol, my mom’s sister from Pennsylvania, a few times. I was so happy they came to see me.
The run did me in. I knew it was going to be slow. My feet hurt and it was hot. The crowd cheering was amazing. Knowing I would see our team made me run more than I wanted, which is a good thing. I started to walk a lot and knew I was never going to make my goal and I was going to be closer to a 14 hour finish. I was completely bummed out. 
I just kept moving forward. I started to talk to people. 
I started talking to a man who was wearing a shirt that said “Cancer survivor”. At first we talked about our race and other races we had finished. Then, I knew I couldn’t keep walking. I asked him if he would play my running game with me. I would pick a spot ahead and we would run to it. He was game. Then he told me about cancer. This race was his redemption race. He would finish; even if it took him 17 hours despite having 11 and 12-hour Ironman races in the past. We knew we had to run more so I started picking objects farther in the distance.
Finally after the last out and back we ran to the finish. I heard my Dad yell – Go Kristen – as I dropped my wings cover shirt and almost tripped. I saw my Mom and Carol just before the finish. I saw Than and Kathy.
I finished and got my medal.
I went into the food area and Than pointed out where Mark was sitting. Mark and I sat and talked about our race. My slowest Ironman ever – Mark’s too. We were happy to finish, but.


 I got up to go meet our team and I looked over to people cheering and a sea of green shirts were cheering wildly! Mark looked over and I was happy again. Wow. 
My sadness of my time slipped away and the accomplishment set in.
We sat and talked to everyone. Than grabbed my mother’s arm from the finishing area and guided her to sit next to me. She was so proud of me. We talked and took a photo.

This is what matters.

Family and friends sharing an important day.

I will always remember this day. Always.

What does it all mean?
I didn’t achieve the time goal I set out for myself on July 24.
But I didn’t do the training I set for myself either.

This is the all-important Life/Career/Sport take-away:

I cannot expect to the have the results I want when I don't put in the time required to reach a goal. 

However, I was able to toe the start line and finish a race in one of the most beautiful places in the US – Lake Placid, New York.

I got to meet an amazing group of people from Mark’s family who reminded me how important it is that family supports family.

My Mom and Dad got to see me finish an Ironman for the second time.

I got to spend time with Mark who shares so many of the same goals that I have. I simply enjoy being with him for a few days a year for a Racecation. He is able to calm me just with his presence. I’m so thankful he is in my life. 

Mostly I am grateful. I am grateful for my health so I can do these races. And, I am grateful for my family and friends who support me in my endurance goals.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ironman Lake Placid in pictures - version 1

Almost to Lake Placid, finally.



Drop off bags, Shepas from right: Than, Kathy. Mark (racing)



The 3 Amigos - making a plan - what they do best.



Side trip to the top of Whiteface - awe inspiring and cold!






Race Day - The Swim
Kristen on the bike
Kristen on the Run (thank you Mary for the wings)
And the Finish with Sherpa Kathy. Wow. That hurt a lot.
Post Race photos of the most awesome rental house.



A quick trip home to see my family and the ocean.
And back to my Home, Away from Home and Daisy is happy to see me and snuggle time.

Monday, July 18, 2016

It's Ironman Race Week

It's going to be a crazy week.
Prepping to be gone from work for a week, getting last minute workouts in and packing.

But I have to remember to stretch, breathe and relax as much as possible.

Work, life, training and racing - this quote is applicable to it all.

Race week. I've been looking forward to it for a year.
A year in the making.
Just breathe.

Friday, July 1, 2016

2016 Racing Plan Update


July 24 – Ironman Lake Placid

August 14 – Leadville 10K

September 3 - Hideaway Park - 50K

September 10 - Winter Park Half Marathon

September 24 - ECS Park City, Utah Marathon

November 13 – Ironman Arizona

Ironman Lake Placid 23 days away

Ironman Lake Placid is my 2016 A Race, which means this is the most important race of the year for me.
I think I'm ready.
I've been thinking about it for a year.
I've been planning it for a year.
So many things got in the way. But that is the way it is with Ironman.
You do what you can.
You do your plan.
You try the best you can to get the hours in.

Ironman is more than the race. More than the race day.
It is going back to the area where I grew up.
It's seeing the place names that I remember from my youth.
I want to take pictures next to everything that reminds me of my youth.
But it's also about racing with my friend Mark who I've known since 2009 when we met on the rock wall at Coeur d'Alene minute before our first ever Ironman.
It's about the legend of Lake Placid.
It's about my mom and dad being there on race - just like in 2009.
It's about entering, again, the race that I didn't show up for in 2011.

It's about conquering demons.

But this is not new. I am not unique. Everyone has their crap. Everyone has obstacles.

I cannot wait to get to New York State in 20 days. A vacation. I am in a New York State of Mind.

The next 20 days are going to be planned. Every. Minute. Planned.


Race Day Reminder:  Don't forget to smile and have fun. 
Maybe this is why I do Ironman. It's the one day that is really just about me. I love that day. 

It is also about the challenge. 

 
 I

Monday, May 9, 2016

High Tide in Tucson - Let Me Be a Good Animal Today

I wrote this article September 2011 while living in Grand County, Colorado. I was feeling sorry for myself after a tough break up and several life changes. I was wondering what the heck was going to happen next, and what was I going to do with my life, yet knowing how words and books can change/save/enrich lives - especially mine.
Who would ever have guessed that 10 months after writing this I would actually move to Tucson and understand the desert Kingsolver was writing about. Then to think that three years later I would move back to a place that I left because I was tired of the snow and cold.

Words are powerful. Whether they come from a blog, a newspaper or magazine. Words inspire. Words change lives and make this world a better place.

High Tide in Tucson - Let Me Be a Good Animal Today - September 2011, Sky-Hi News:

I am surrounded by books. I have a stack of books in my living room and next to my bed.


I am reading books about hiking in Glacier National Park and traveling to Chile. I am reading poetry from Pablo Neruda, The Art of Racing in the Rain and Tolstoy and the Purple Chair. I want to do everything, learn everything, and see everything; and reading is a prerequisite.

During this journey I am always pleasantly surprised when a book appears in my life when I need it; to teach me, again, what I need to remember.

Recently an old favorite reappeared: High Tide in Tucson, a collection of essays by Barbara Kingsolver. I have the book, or had it at one time. I hope whatever friend has it is enjoying the multicolored highlights, underlined words and dog eared pages of important passages.

You'll like this collection of stories if you're anything like me: bookish, adventurous, you don't live near your family (and sometimes wish you did), and are constantly romanticizing what you're life could have been like if different choices were made.

This collection of essays was published in 1995 after Kingsolver wrote several popular novels including The Bean Trees, Animal Dreams, and Pigs in Heaven; all of which I read prior to discovering High Tide in Tucson. In 2007, she wrote Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about a year her family fed themselves solely on products grown close to their home in rural Virginia.

The first essay, High Tide in Tucson, is about a hermit crab that finds its way into Kingsolver's luggage from a trip to the Bahamas. "It had fallen asleep to the sound of the Caribbean tide and awakened on a coffee table in Tucson, Arizona, where the nearest standing water source of any real account was the municipal sewage-treatment plant." She instantly gives the crab a name, Buster, and makes a home for it.

Kingsolver is a keen observer of life and animal behavior; she takes the smallest event such as a stowaway hermit crab from a beach vacation, and turns it into a universal truth. She does this through each essay and in the case of High Tide in Tucson, she talks about her own displacement, living in a desert thousands of miles from her family, and wonders - much like Buster - what the heck is going to happen next.

Kingsolver brings readers to her chosen home. She takes readers into the desert where she studies the rocks and watches hawks fly above her as a bighorn emerges from brush. She writes honestly about her life as she tries to understand the manic-depressive hermit crab in her home. She writes about a man who puts a knife in her stomach. She details the robbers who take over her home where she lives with her young daughter. She tries to make sense of the chaos.

In her despair I see my own more clearly; the personal becomes the universal. You survive, you don't think about how to respond, you just do: "What does it mean to be an animal in human clothing?" The answers: You follow internal rhythms, you walk upright, you protect your loved ones.

"Let me be a good animal today. Let me dance in the waves of my private tide, the habits of survival and love."

Kingsolver is joyous in her essays and that is what I want to remember: "What a stroke of luck. What a singular brute feat of outrageous fortune: to be born to a citizenship in the Animal Kingdom. We love, we lose, go back to the start and do it right over again. High Tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is."

What a stroke of luck that I am surrounded by books.

Ironman St. George Race Report, racing in adverse conditions

This 70.3 triathlon was the hardest race to date.

Tough swim, choppy!
Unlike the day before seen here:

Cold, windy, almost hypothermic on the bike. It rained 90% of the time. Hills were killer.
With so many hills, chip n seal and constant rain, I was in survival mode. The temperature never got above 55 degrees until late afternoon when the race was over.

I felt pretty good on the run (once my feet thawed), I walked minimally, which is good for me.  I think the altitude change and always running hills helped, a lot.
Until this weekend I don’t think I’ve ever raced in constant rain.

I was 4 minutes faster than 2014 but my teammate, Collin said that the run course in 2014 was only 12.1 miles according to his GPS. This year it was 13.1.

This race was a mental test throughout; training and racing in adverse conditions seems to be the theme of 2016.
2016 Results:
Swim: 46:27
Bike: 3:35
Run: 2:19
Time: 6:55
Division Rank: 40

2014 Results:
Swim: 49:00
Bike: 3:29
Run: 2:31
Time: 6:59
Division Rank: 65


Starting Sunday, I’m in full-time Ironman Lake Placid training mode.

A big thank you to my Ironman racing partner, Mark Nash:
Team Lodge and Nash after IM St. George
And to my awesome Triple Threat Triathlon teammate Collin:
Pre-Race photo

Here is the official video. The weather and hills didn't seem to bother the pros: