Monday, May 18, 2015

Ironman Texas Race Report

What an Awesome Day! Saturday May 16, 2015. 

Here is how the weekend began:  

Wednesday late afternoon, Mark and his brother Pat picked me up from the Houston airport and we stayed one night in Houston. We had a great carbo loading dinner- chicken parm at Collina’s Italian Cafe. Delicious. 

In the morning we headed up to The Woodlands to scope out the area and figure out a race day plan. Mark, Pat and I attended the Athlete Banquet and sat at the same table as Sister Madonna Buder, the 84 year-old nun who holds the current world record as the oldest person to ever finish an Ironman. The meal was fantastic and every year the inspirational video Ironman creates for this event makes me cry; so emotional. 

Day Before Race Day 
I met Triple Threat teammate Amy Fletcher in Ironman Village. 

Amy planned to race but her gall bladder had other plans. However, she came down to Texas from Indiana to cheer on friends who were racing. 

I also met teammate Gina Shand at Gear Bag Drop Off where she was volunteering. 

She brought a friend with her, a friend who enjoys her passion for racing triathlons all over the place. Everyone needs a friend like that. They were so excited to be volunteering at the race. Gina was also psyched to be able to volunteer again, the next day as a finisher catcher. What an amazing person! 

Mark, Pat and I attended the Athlete Briefing and learned that the water was too warm for wetsuits. 

Athletes could wear wetsuits but they would be last to enter the water and wouldn’t be considered for a Kona spot. This forced me to change my race clothing considerably. My TTT top had too much drag to swim in it but it was perfect under a wetsuit. I decided to wear my swim suit on race day and completely change into different clothes in transition. It made me nervous since I’ve never changed like that before nor had I trained or raced in open water without a wetsuit. But sometimes you just have to adapt. So I did. 

We drove to the park for a practice swim. The water temperature was perfect about 81 degrees. We swam for a half hour then had to bring our bikes to transition. 

Walking along the canal we found this garden.
I picked my bike up from TriBike Transport in Ironman Village. I decided to pay the extra $40 for the valet service after the race so I didn’t have to worry about bringing my bike back to the Village from transition; it was worth the additional cost. 

Race Day: 
Swim: 1:40 
We relaxed before the swim start at the playground. Stretching, relaxing, taking pictures.

The age group race began at 6:40 am. Since it was a rolling start it was organized by swim finish times so we could line up and enter the water with similar abilities. Mark and I started at the 1:20 group. I like the “toughness” of the traditional Ironman mass start however, the rolling start was much less stressful. It was awesome swimming with triathletes at my level however I did get beat up a bit. But that is expected. Mark’s friends Amy and Paul told us no one here at The Woodlands swims in this water and I understand why. I couldn’t see a thing in the dark water but I got through it.  

I swam fairly straight. Suunto Ambit3 data.
I felt good during the swim and felt somewhat fast despite no wetsuit. When a swimmer pulled me down, not on purpose, it was okay and I recovered. The main thing, I didn’t drown. It was my slowest 2.4 mile swim but I felt strong getting out of the water at the end.  

Bike – 6:42 
The muddiest transition ever. The periods of rain leading up to race day made the ground in bike transition smelly and muddy. I should have carried my bike the entire time through transition but walked in through some grassier areas. I paid for it because the first 50 miles of the bike I heard a rubbing noise, I think caused by the mud. After drinking my 2 bottles of Perpetuem I alternated drinking water and Gatorade at every aid station keeping only one water bottle at a time on the bike. 

On Mile 50 I was on strange pavement and my back tire felt like a possible flat. I stopped. Felt the tire pressure and it was FLAT!   My first flat at an Ironman race. 

I changed the flat and had troubles with my CO2 so it took much longer. Then I didn’t fill it up right and had to stop a few times to get it right. Once I had full pressure I was so nervous I was going to flat again. I only brought one replacement tube. 

I continued the rest of the race in survival mode. 

I rode as fast and safely as I could. I prayed and prayed. I repeated the mantra “I’m going to make it today, I’m going to make it today.” I wasn’t really sure I was going to make it but I kept saying it out loud. The bike course was beautiful. It was hot and I was glad for the five minute rain shower about Mile 70 to cool off. The rolling hills were tough and I tried to stand during many of them. 

From mile 80 on I also repeated “almost there, almost there” a hundred times. 

I used Endurolytes despite never used them in training. I know, this is a no-no, but since I don’t have a sensitive stomach and I only had 4 of them, I swallowed one every half hour until I ran out. I actually felt a surge of energy about 5 minutes after taking each one. Not sure if it was related but I felt strong on the bike. I wore my Rudy Project Wingspan helmet and just loved it. So comfortable and light. 

When I saw the Mile 100 sign I fist pumped and got some cheers. Happy Happy Happy. It was going to be a miracle if I made it back to transition. I knew that once I got there, I would finish Ironman even if I had a slow marathon.  

I dismounted at the transition. The awesome volunteer took my bike. I ran through the mud and into the changing tent. I made it. I am going to make it today.

Run 4:59 
On the run the temperature felt like it was in the high 80s with only a few clouds in the sky. Where were those dark clouds we saw the last two days?  
The humidity and sun exposure made the first mile a walk/run. It was tough to stay running the entire time. The run was 3 grueling loops around the waterway. The spectators and locals who sat outside their home and cheered were amazing. The aid stations that lined the canal made me smile. Since my flat on the bike I vowed to smile at everyone and be the happiest triathlete on the course. I felt fast while running with a strong pace but the walking at aid stations slowed my overall time. 

My run plan was to a) alternate Gel, Gatorade, Water at each aid station b) put ice down my top and down my tri shorts to cool my quads c) when walking count to 200 then run if feeling good – 500 if I feel terrible d) smile e) not drink and eat too much to prevent over hydration which happened at Ironman Wisconsin. It all pretty much worked. 

My favorite spectator sign was the one with a woman holding up a sign that said “Single and Supportive”. Trying to pick up athletic men on race day. Smart. LOL 

The Ironman Finish is the best thing about the race. The spectators cheered and I tried not to cry as I fist pumped over the finish line. I was caught by Gina, my Triple Threat Triathlon teammate. Down the line was Mark and his support crew cheering! 

I’m proud of my effort. I feel thankful to be able to compete in this sport. So much can go wrong on the days leading up to the race and on the course. I am worse-case-scenario-girl in my head but positive mantras, praying and being thankful got me to the end. 

Overall 13:37 
I promised myself when I finished the bike course that I would be happy with my time no matter what. My time wasn’t a PR even though I arrived at the start with the best training to date. Now, it’s time for me to work on speed. This is not my last Ironman. 

I am so happy that I got to race with my friend Mark. It was fun to ride with him for a bit at the beginning. I was thrilled to see him at the end with his friends who came to cheer us on. 

Race Weekend Highlights: 
  • Being “caught” at the finish line by volunteer and Triple Threat team member Gina. 
  • My sister tracking me from Maine and getting me on video crossing the finish like she has done for most my finishes. 
  • Spending the days leading up to race day with Mark and his brother Pat who came out from New York State to be a sherpa. 
  • Adapting to no wetsuit and getting through the swim without my ROKA wetsuit that I trained in.
  • Biking with my space aged-looking Rudy Project aero helmet. I am thankful that I got to feel fast on the bike and I'm thankful for the company’s sponsorship of Triple Threat Triathlon
  • I’ve never really believed in a product so much that I would wear a bike jersey advertising their product while using their race day nutrition. Hammer Nutrition is perfect for me. I love their Perpetuem, gels and bars. They made me strong on the bike and ready for the run. 
  • Best Way to Spend the Day After the Race: Brunch at Cyclone Anaya's on the Waterway with Mark, Paul, and Amy. Then watching the amazing pros win awards and age grouper get their Kona spots. And, to see my Pro Triathlete crush in person: Ben Hoffman.

Ironman Texas Race Day Video from Ironman - Best Day Ever

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tapering For Ironman

Yes this is me today, 5 days out for Ironman Texas. I am moody, germaphobic, and irrational. I have been obsessive about The Woodlands, Texas weather forecast all day. [thanks for the weather text updates, Mark Nash]

I feel restless, anxious, and elated - all at the same time.

Fun Times.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ironman Race Week - Planning & Making Lists

It is less than one week to race day. I’m anxious, ready, excited, emotional, panicky. Despite all this, I’m making lists and checking of race week tasks as completed.

Here is the checklist
  1. Bike – bike was dropped off at TriSports. Thank you TriBike Transport for adding TriSports as a drop off location. It was a pain to drive to Tempe to drop off for my last race. One less thing to worry about while traveling; my bike will be at The Woodlands in a few days.
  2. Haircut – it’s my Ironman ritual to chop off my hair right before race day. Mentally it helps me to think I’m lighter with less hair. The day before Ironman Arizona I got a really bad haircut from a salon in Tempe but I PR’d on my race - so here’s hoping!
  3. Packing List – I made a list of things to pack and will pre-pack today to make sure everything fits. I’m not checking any luggage, everything is a carry on.
  4. Nutrition – It’s all Hammer Nutrition this year. I’ve been training the last four months with it and picked up last minute Gels and Bars from TriSports since my latest order won’t be here in time (poor planning on my part). I plan to race with Perpetuem, gels and bars.
  5. Tapering – this race season has been different for me in the sense that I actually will taper. Past races I never got my volume up enough to do a true taper. This past week I completed 10 hours of training. This week will be about 6 hours leading up to the race. I feel fit, energized, and ready for race day – Imagine That!
  6. Weather Check – I’m been checking obsessing about the weather in Houston and The Woodlands. Today was the first day the weather on race day showed a sun. I’m sure it will change daily but I’m prepared physically and mentally for rain and humidity on race day. Here’s hoping for a cloudy, 65 degree race day.
  7. Hydrate – continuing to hydrate.
  8. Trying Not To Do Anything Stupid – I haven’t done anything stupid this week. This will hopefully continue. Two weeks ago I stepped on a thorny branch that stuck in my foot OUCH but since then incident free. Praying for calm, injury free days. This is also a mantra I say towards the end of the bike in Ironman. Kristen, don't do anything stupid you are almost done the race. 
  9. Mental Prep – I keep going back to triathlon books and reading the race day prep sections that are dog-eared and highlighted. I keep googling keywords like “race day checklist” and “race day prep” and reading pages and pages of advice.
  10. Race Plan Review – Memorizing my race plan by re-reading it hourly and bringing with me everywhere I go.
All of these are either checked off or being done on a daily basis.
Yeeaaa Ironman - can't wait to get in the water and start my race. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Updated: 3rd in My Age Group

I just reviewed the race results and there is a change.
I got 3rd in my Age Group:

So excited. This is great news! And a picture on the bike with my Rudy Project Helmet. Loved it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Esprit de She Race Report – International Distance

On Sunday I raced my first International distance triathlon of the year in Tempe. Esprit de She

About the race:
I met a group of friends from Tucson in Tempe and we headed over to Tempe Town Lake for packet pickup. 

The tri jersey is super cute and we listened for race details at the meeting. This race is geared to women who are racing their first triathlon so there are several distances: super sprint, spring, and Olympic. At the bike rack there were all kinds of bikes: mountain bikes, hybrids, road bikes.
After the meeting we dined Gordon Biersch we headed back to the hotel to relaxing and sleep.

Race Day:
I woke up at 4am and ate a peanut butter bagel and sipped water.
Maireads’s husband Eric drove us to the start and was the perfect Sherpa and photographer. 

Eric has an infectious laugh relieving us all of race stress. Mairead was so distracted by being nervous she put her wetsuit on backwards – we’ve all been there!
We hit the water about 6:50 a bit of a late start due to volunteers getting in place. It was going to be hot so sitting around in wetsuits wasn’t great however it turned out to be a blessing since it allowed Torie’s husband, daughter and son to arrive and see her off.

The water temperature was 70ish degrees. My ROKA Maverick sleeveless wetsuit was perfect for the warmish water. This was my first race in the Maverick; my first race in a sleeveless wetsuit and I’m hooked. It was incredibly comfortable and I felt fast. My legs overheated which was a weird feeling at first. 
Afterwards I learned I should have let water in to cool down which I will remember for Ironman Texas in less than two weeks. The water felt so good. I felt so good. I just swam and sighted. Swam and sighted. A perfect swim.

It also helped that I followed my training plan for swimming and added a 4,000 yard swim. It made me stronger on a shorter distance so I want to be sure to do another log swim this week to prepare for Ironman. This race also perfected what to eat and how close to the swim start. 40-45 minutes for me is ideal.
Out of the water, the man who helped me on the stairs was great. I don’t know how he did that all day. Great Volunteers at this race – all morning long! The wetsuit strippers helped me to the ground and in one fell swoop off it came. I jogged to transition feeling amazing albeit a sore back which is normal for me, unfortunately.
.93 Miles Time: 36:59


I just biked fast the entire course. I wore my Wingspan RudyProject helmet and it felt so nice on my head; I felt fast. I tried to stay in aero position the entire time and pushed it for the 24 miles.  I wasn’t passed at all which was so fun! (because that has never happened in a race)
 2nd in my age group on the bike

24.16 Miles Time: 1:15

At times when I looked at my Ambit3 I was running at 8:45 / mile which didn’t seem hard. But, because it was so hot I wanted to stay hydrated and stopped at all aid stations except two which slowed me down. The hills on the back side of the loop helped me pick up my pace at the end. I can go faster, I just need to train faster for the 10K but happy with the run results. Very Happy.
6.2 miles Time: 59:08

Overall time: 2:56 – 4th in my Age Group!

This race was the perfect warm up race for Ironman. It was a great day with friends and practicing nutrition on race day.

I love the Olympic / International distance and want to do more of them of them and get faster.

A Big, Huge Thank You to my Triple Threat National Team and our sponsors. I am thankful for the support and encouragement from my team members and the opportunity to experience ROKA wetsuits, Rudy Helmet aerohelmets, and the Suunto Ambit3.

A big thank you to:
Torie for driving and taking care of the hotel arrangements.
Mairead for the humor and easing my stress by talking about her pre-race anxiety.
Nice to meet you Fast-Laura who placed 1st in her age group.
You all motivate and inspire me to swim, bike and run faster and with a smile.

Thank you Eric Brogmus for the photos and cheering. Thank you Dan, Tanner, and Shelby Grammar for the photos and cheering.

It was a good day in Tempe.