Yes, I know…. this post is long overdue…. Shocker! I have soooo much to write that the thought of sitting down to write this update has taken some time. Rather than completely overwhelming you with one post, I thought I would break it up a bit. I left off last with an early am Wednesday post after a sleepless night, so lets pick up from there up until Saturday evening. Race day seems worthy of its own post!
So Wednesday was just a normal day of working from home just trying to cram in a ton of last minute tasks before leaving for vacation. Sometimes it amazes me how much you can get done in a short period of time when you know you absolutely have to. After a kind of stressful day of that, I headed out to Harveys Lake with my friend Matt to get my training in. I had a 30 minute open water swim. It was a perfect day for it. Its amazing how much I have grown to enjoy swimming there. I would take that any day over laps in the pool. I stopped for ice cream on the way home with Matt to thank him for coming out to swim with me. Just chatting and relaxing helped to keep me calm before a full night of packing that I knew was ahead of me.
I posted in my last post how crazy all of my lists looked for packing. Well, putting it all together was even more crazy! It is amazing how much “stuff” you need to complete 140.6 and how much thought goes into it. A lot of stuff is “what if” or “just in case” but better to be prepared then wishing you had something. I made good progress though and felt confident that I was well prepared for race day stuff that I would need. However, when it came to packing other clothes for the weekend, I way overpacked. I just started throwing stuff in the bag knowing that the temperatures vary greatly up in the mountains. I guess better to have more than enough then not enough. I was pretty much done packing by the time Jason got home from golf. We had a huge fight which was exactly what I didn’t need. Clearly we were both pretty stressed out and emotional, which didn’t help matters, at all. But we made it through and finally apologized, like we always do. I was exhausted from not sleeping the night before so I was out solid that night!
Thursday morning I woke up early to get my hour bike ride in. I wanted to get it done before heading to Lake Placid so that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting it in once I got there. I took one of my usual routes from the house which has some challenging hills. I took it easy and enjoyed the early morning crisp air. When I got back we loaded up the car. Talk about the car being FULL! There was barely any open space left in my little Fiesta (we took my car to try and save on some gas). Then we were off!
The car ride was about 5.5 hours but went surprisingly fast (perhaps the excitement). We stopped for lunch in Saratoga Springs which resulted in us getting wrapped up in some of the traffic from the horse races. It was pretty cool and I actually would like to go see them one of these days. We found this cute little pub to eat at called Merry Monks. They had tons of beer and I was so tempted to give in. I had been trying to reduce/eliminate my alcohol intake the week leading up to race day. At this point though, one beer wasn’t going to hurt, and in fact it would probably help take the edge off a bit. So, Cheers! It was the right decision. So, back on the road!
Shortly we found ourselves driving into Lake Placid the reverse way of the bike course. The views were just absolutely gorgeous! We saw so many runners and cyclists out that it all started to become real. We ended up driving past our hotel on the way to downtown Lake Placid. I wanted to go straight to athlete check in as it was about 3:30 and it only went until 5:00. As we turned on to Main Street I got my first glimpse of transition and where all of the action was already set up. The sight instantly brought me to tears. Of course Jason thought I was crazy crying over a few tents, but it was so much more than that. This is the place I had worked so hard to get to. I had countless 4 am (even 3 am) wake ups to make the dream of becoming an Ironman a hopeful reality.
We parked the car and headed to packet pickup where I then signed away my life. I love the pages of information/waivers they give you and tell you to read and sign. Umm, really? As if I really care what this paper says right now. God only knows what I signed my name to. I couldn’t get them completed fast enough so that I could pick up my stuff.
I then went over and got my packet followed by my swim cap. I’ve done this a million times at other races, but I knew this was extra special. The volunteers there were also amazing and they were just as happy to be there as we were. Side note: I can’t say enough amazing things about the volunteers from the race. They truly were top notch. Not a single one of us would be an Ironman on Sunday without them. Truly. Incredible.
We then headed over to the Olympic Oval where the Ironman merchandise tent was set up and all of the other expo vendors. We didn’t have much time and really never made it past the Ironman merchandise tent. Since this was my first Ironman, and I swore my only one I would ever do, I wanted to grab some stuff to remember the event. Fortunately I got an award at work this week (also great news, and timing) so I splurged a little bit! I really wanted a tri kit and cycle jersey which I got. Mind you, each piece was about a hundred a pop. Lets just say there is an INSANE amount of $$$$$$ in Ironman. Period.
It was then 5:00 and everything related to the race shut down for the evening. We went and checked into the hotel. I was fortunate to have been able to use points for a free stay when hotel prices are astronomical, if you can even find one. So, 100k points got me 5 free nights at the Courtyard (which was super cute by the way). We unloaded the mass amount of crap from the car onto a cart and headed up to the room. At this point I still had the second part of my workout to do, a 30 minute run. Jason was kind enough to join me. We used the run as a bit of an excuse to explore the area. I also later learned that part of the run we did was also part of the run course for the race…. umm including a monster hill! But I powered up it and felt good.
We got back and got ready then went to meet my friend Brett for dinner (he got in on Wed night). We had dinner at this cute restaurant called Liquids and Solids. I got an excellent vegetarian dish that was top notch. I know that I could never be 100% vegetarian, although I am inspired by those that are, but the conversation did come up at dinner. I was oddly surprised to hear Jason say that he would try and do a few days each week vegetarian and give it a shot. I was ecstatic to hear this as it makes it a lot easier to both be on the same page. So, hopefully more to come on that in the upcoming weeks! I also had a glass of wine at dinner. So good and so soothing. I was in a good place when we left dinner and headed back to the hotel. I slept solid that night too!
Friday morning we got up and luckily it was my rest day! I also woke up to awesome news that my story had been published in my local newspaper at home – the Tonawanda News! So cool! Ck it out at: Stevenson Ironman
So Friday I tried to limit how much time I spent on my feet during the day. We headed to the expo and walked around to the places we didn’t make it the day before and I wanted to sit through some of the sessions.
I sat through a session regarding the swim which helped to ease my nerves a bit (which were doing surprisingly well). I will say though one of my takeaways from this session was with regards to a comment the swim director made. We really just don’t see things the same way. He kept saying that if your strategy was to break up the swim into pieces, you were setting yourself up to fail and that you needed to look at the entire 2.4 miles. I couldn’t disagree more. Who does any endurance event that way? He was clear that setting your goal on the next buoy was setting yourself up for failure. At this point I just laughed to myself and stayed focused on my strategy. Of course my goal was to finish the swim, and I would get there, one piece at a time.
After this session we ended up staying to listen to the pro panel. They kept us waiting for them but it was worth it. In the process of waiting I got to meet Mike Reilly – the voice of Ironman. WOW! What a nice guy! We chatted and then got a picture together. I even had him sign my Ironman backpack that I got as part of the race. Jason told him that every time I mention his name I tear up (holy embarrassing – but so true!). He told me that most women are more excited to see him at the finish line then their significant others – I could not confirm or deny if this was the case 😉
Finally the pros came on! Andy Potts was there (and his competition) and talking about his wishes to defend the title this year. It was just neat to hear their perspectives and know that their approaches to these races is so different than the rest of us that have full time jobs. Inspiring nonetheless though.
After the pro panel I was starving and we went to grab lunch with Brett. This ended up being a project. I must say that restaurant service in Lake Placid could definitely use some improvement. It was nice though to sit down and relax. While sitting there on my rest day, I continued to observe all of the insane triathletes flying up and down on the road by bike and foot. I started to question my rest day and started to feel intimidated by all of the other athletes. Its amazing how you train so hard just to second guess your plan in the final moments. I reminded myself to have faith in my training and to relax. Nothing I did at this point would matter or change anything.
We ended up hitting one last session about tips for spectating for Jason so that he would better be able to help my support crew on Sunday. It also helped to better understand the flow around transition. I had now been in Lake Placid for about 24 hours and I still hadn’t seen the swim venue. It was time.
We headed down to Mirror Lake and it was a zoo. It was a mix of families on the beach and in the water with their kids and crazy triathletes looking to get in that last minute swim. They had just starting putting up the giant tetrahedrons in the water but the smaller buoys that always line the course were up. The swim did not look that far to me, in fact the same distance at Syracuse 70.3 looked way further. The water was also just so calm and peaceful. I was not even remotely nervous about the swim, in fact I was looking forward to it.
I was then headed back to the hotel to meet my family who was just arriving. I was so excited to have my parents there to witness this weekend that I had worked so hard for. I knew that the drive was long and that race day would be a long day for them, but it meant the world to me that they made it. When I arrived in the room I had also received flowers from my sister and her boyfriend Dan. They were gorgeous! I knew she was proud of me too and wished she could have been there. But I will say she was there in spirit all weekend and I knew come race day she would be watching!
Friday evening was the athlete dinner in the Herb Books Arena (think Dream Team Hockey win). When we walked into the arena, the scoreboard was set to the winning USA score. So cool! Other highlights from the evening included Andy Potts lighting the Olympic torch which was pretty neat! The motivational video was also amazing as well as the people that got up and shared their stories. One of which I kind of informally knew through Facebook mutual friends and Team in Training. That night I got to finally meet Derek in person and was so touched. Derek was doing his first Ironman but had such a special journey to share. Derek is not only a cancer survivor but the recipient of a heart transplant. When he finished on Sunday (because there was no if), he would be the 2nd person to ever cross the finish line with someone else’s heart and the first ever in the US. Pretty freaking amazing. His story brought tears my eyes. He truly is a role model for the fact that you can achieve anything you put your mind to. He saw his story as an opportunity rather than a limitation. Something too many of us don’t do enough. The reception really was a great evening full of inspiration and I was so happy to be a part of something so amazing. Wow.
As if that wasn’t great enough, I then headed over to the Lake Placid Brewery to meet up with my amazing Ironman friends. These are the awesome women that did IMLP last year and were giving me daily tips (I had mentioned this in a prior post). It was soooo great to see them!! I could genuinely see how happy they were for me and the journey that Sunday would entail. I also finally got the chance to meet one of their friends Erica that I pseudo knew of through Team in Training but never got the chance to really meet. We all had a great time just chatting but before I knew it, it was getting late. I should also note here that I fell in love with Andrea’s M-Dot necklace that she was wearing. She said that she had gotten it at the expo last year from her Mom. This will become more relevant later…..
SaturdaySaturday morning we were up early in hopes that we would be asleep earlier in the evening given the ridiculous wake up call that Sunday entailed. My workout for Saturday was a shake out of all three segments – short. I hopped on my bike from the hotel for a quick 20 minute ride on the course. Again, the course was filled with tons of crazy triathletes. Insert overwhelming/nervous/second-guessing feelings AGAIN. I got my ride in then my Dad and Jason met me to take my bike while I transitioned for a quick 10 minute run on the course. I wanted to take it easy but when I hit the one mile point and my Garmin went off stating that I ran it in 8:37, I was shocked. I knew I was running easy and not pushing at all. This is when I knew the taper was paying off and I was ready for race day. I went back up to the hotel to grab my stuff to head down to the lake to meet my friends for a quick 10 minute swim.
The swim was absolutely gorgeous. Yes, I used the word swim and gorgeous in the same sentence. I also got to see for myself what this “cable” was that everyone talks about. It truly does the line entire course and if you can stay on it, you really don’t need to sight….pretty cool! I had been told by a coach that on Saturday I was not to spend more than 2 hours on my feet all day. Well, I had just spent about 40 minutes of that time. I knew it would be tough, but important.
We then went and grabbed an early lunch as we missed breakfast. Again, this was not a simple process and took much longer than it should have. After lunch we took my parents down to the expo so they could walk around and grab anything that they wanted. I also stopped to eye up the necklace that I had loved of Andrea’s. The woman at the counter was hilarious. I loved it but there was no way I was buying it before I finished the race. That had bad ju ju written all over it! So the woman grabbed a pamphlet and circled it about 100 times and even wrote Jason’s name on it. She called him over and gave it to him and was very clear on what I wanted. Stay tuned.
My parents and I headed back to the hotel then so I could grab my bike and finalize my run and bike gear bags for check in. I said good bye to Jason as he stayed down there with my friend Matt. I’m not sure why but I broke out into tears saying good bye to him. He told me it was okay and I managed to pull myself together. My dad even then proceeded to ask me what was wrong. And really, i had no good answer. So back to the hotel. I wanted to go through all of my bags one last time just to be safe. This took me about an hour or so and then I loaded my bike on the car and headed back downtown to check all of my stuff in.
Wow, this became even more real. Jason and Matt me and helped me carry all of my stuff to the Olympic Oval. I got my bike photographed before being allowed in transition, my guess is for liability reasons (there is A TON of $$$$ in that transition area!) I racked my bike and then dropped off my bags. My bag rack was a slightly different style than the majority of them, but I think it helped in the long run since it was easier to find when coming into transition. And that was it, I wouldn’t see my bike or bags again until Sunday morning!
I headed back to the hotel to get back off my feet again (really tried my best to stick to that 2 hour cap). Shortly after Jason’s family arrived and we went down to the lobby to see them. It was so nice of them to want to be there to support me and I greatly appreciated the gesture. Jason wanted to take them before dinner to show them transition and the swim location. I knew as much as I wanted to go that I shouldn’t, so I sent them off and then went back to the room with my parents to relax.
Before I knew it, it was time to head to dinner, the day was just flying. We had a great dinner at Milano North with some carb loading action. I stuck to water for the evening even though a glass of wine did sound great. It was nice to just sit there with my support crew and take it all in. Jason did a toast for me and the Ironman. It was perfect. While I was at dinner my phone rang. When I saw who it was, I was absolutely glowing. Steve Heller was my first tri coach. When I tell you that he is the reason I was able to even toe the start line on Sunday, I mean it. This man has had an enormous positive impact on me with all of his motivation and patience. When I struggled (and I struggled hard) with learning how to swim, even up to days before my first tri, he was so patient and kept me from just quitting when I wanted to. He truly has been with me for every step of my triathlon journey since day one. To hear his voice on the phone and the confidence that he had in me for my race on Sunday just meant the world to me. More tears. Wow. Thank you Steve – you will never know how much everything you have done for me truly means. I can’t wait to finally give back and support YOU next year at that start line!
Before I knew it dinner was over and it was almost 8:00. Time to head back to the hotel, finalize a few last minute things and head to bed. Surprisingly I was exhausted and was able to fall asleep before 10:00. It hurt to set the alarm to 3:45. Wow. And, before I knew it, that alarm was going off….. RACE DAY! Stay Tuned 🙂
Well, it’s official. I jinxed myself. Tuesday I thought about how well rested I felt and what a good night sleep I had gotten. Now, I sit here typing at 1 am (Wed) after having tossed and turned in bed for the past two hours. I finally figured I might as well use the time…. aka blog update… lucky you!
So this week is obviously not an intense training week as I am tapering, but rather what I would call an annoying training week. The workouts for Monday and Tuesday haven’t been horribly long, but consist of all three components. To swim, bike, and run all in one day requires a lot of stuff, a lot of planning, and a lot of coordination. And then, it kind of feels like a waste because its nearly over immediately. I get it though. The purpose is to keep everything moving without overexerting yourself. It is amazing though how hard it is for me to do less when my body is now used to so much more. Nonetheless, Monday and Tuesday’s workouts are complete and i’m looking forward to just a 30 minute open water swim this afternoon (Wed).
The other big challenge that the week has presented is preparation for the trip. It is unreal how much planning and coordination it requires to swim, bike, and run a cumulative 140.6 miles in one day. The crazy checklist maker that lies deep within my soul has come out full bore this week. I have an index card for anything and everything I could possibly need for race day: What to wear race morning, what to bring race morning, swim to bike bag, bike special needs bag, bike to run bag, run special needs bag, post race items, what to pack in my bike bento box, what to pack in my spi belt… I have lists that interconnect to other lists! But, I will say I feel much more prepared after spending the time to put this together. It also helped me make my shopping list (yes, another list) for what I still needed to get as I need multiples of so many things for each of these bags. I headed to Wegmans and Target tonight after my workout to pick up most of the items. I still have a couple to get at the running store before I leave. I could probably wait into the expo, but I don’t want to risk not being able to find something that I need. Ah and to think, I still need to pack stuff for all of the other days I will be in Lake Placid! That task also will be completed Wednesday. Lots to do still, but again, good progress!
So I thought maybe a more detailed walk through of the course would be a good blog post so you can better understand what Sunday will entail and the venue. So straight from the IMLP website:
IRONMAN Lake Placid is the longest-running American event aside from the IRONMAN World Championship Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Located in the beautiful Adirondack mountains, it’s an accessible event for every athlete’s bucket list.
Having hosted two Olympic Games (1932 and 1980), this charming town knows how to deliver a world-class athletic event. It’s also the home of one of the most challenging IRONMAN courses with its famous Adirondack climbs. Athletes begin with a two-loop swim in clear Mirror Lake, with the famous sight line lining the bottom of the lake. Transitioning in the Olympic Speed Skating Oval to the bike, the rolling mountain views provide a scenic backdrop. Two loops of 56 miles bring competitors back to the Oval once again, where they begin their 26.2-mile run through the town and around the lake.
Lake Placid has the amenities of a large city and the convenience of a small town, offering high-end restaurants, shopping and world-class accommodations. It boasts equal parts history, uniqueness, and on-course personality. (Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/lake-placid.aspx#ixzz2Zw7Jcmg3)
So as it stated, the first part of the day is the swim. It is a two lap course (1.2 miles for each lap, 2.4 miles total). The swim is in Mirror Lake and absolutely gorgeous. The water is very calm and should be wetsuit legal with some cooler nights expected this week. New this year is a rolling start rather than prior years which had a mass start. This change is new this year to try and make the swim safer (which I am totally ok with it). So, starting at 6:30 am it will be almost like the start of a running race with self seeded athletes entering the water through a timing mat in a continuous stream. All athletes are expected to be in the water by 7am. There is a 2:20 minute cutoff for the swim. Also unique to this course is an underwater line that connects all of the buoys which simplifies sighting (love this!). After the first loop, athletes will get out of the water through the swim exit, run across the beach, and re-enter the water for lap two. Personally, I like this approach. I know that I can swim a 1.2 mile open water loop. Mentally I just need to remind myself that it’s the same thing, i’m just doing it twice. People claim it’s a fast swim with a whirlpool like effect created by the clockwise swimming of all of the athletes. I’m excited to experience it for myself. What’s my time expectation? I think somewhere between 1:35 and 1:40. This leaves me a good buffer from the cutoff.
So after the swim I head to transition and will get my swim to bike transition bag. I will take off my wetsuit and plan to change my clothes into dry biking clothes. I’m choosing to spend a few extra minutes to be comfortable. After all, it is a long day and i’m really racing to finish, not for a time. I want to enjoy the experience 🙂 I will then throw on my bike helmet and bike shoes and then head out for a ride through the Adirondacks.
The bike course is also two loops (56 miles each, 112 miles total). The course is known for some challenging hills later in the course and not only do you get them once, but you get to then do it again. The biggest thing I have been warned here is not to go out hard on the first loop or you will hate your life come the hills on the second loop. It’s easy to hammer on some of the sections but holding back will make for a better overall time. Coming out of transition their is a notable climb past the Olympic ski jumps. After that you head for Keene which is a few miles of downhill riding. Apparently you can hit speeds of 40+ mph. A little scary but also can be fun too! After Keene there is some flat and rolling sections where you can tuck into the aero position and just go. But before you know it starts the climb back into Lake Placid with it’s infinite climbs known as the cherry’s and the bears. First comes mama bear, then baby bear, then poppa bear (this is actually the background photo to my blog)! But, once you make it through there you are at the end of lap one and get access to your bike special needs bag. This is full of any special nutrition, refills, or any other items you may want access to that you packed. Just after this is also when I hope to see my support crew! It’s then off to repeat the course for another lap! As far as bike cutoffs go: The first bike cut-off is at the start of the second loop of the bike course at 1:30 p.m. (at Bike Out). Any rider who has not reached the start of the second loop of the bike by 1:30 p.m. will not be permitted to continue. The bike course will close at 5:30 p.m. Athletes arriving at the bike dismount line after 5:30 p.m. will not be permitted to continue. So how long do I think the bike will take me? I’m guessing between seven and seven and a half hours. Again, plenty of buffer here for the unexpected.
After completing two laps it’s back to transition to get ready for the run. I will gladly hand my bike off to a volunteer that will rack it for me. I then get my bike to run bag. I will ditch my biking clothes in exchange for running shorts and a tank top and throw on my running sneakers. Again, i’m spending a few more minutes here to be comfortable in running clothes for the 26.2 miles that lies ahead.
The run is again a two lap course (13.1 miles each loop, 26.2 miles total, yes, a full marathon!). The run isn’t exactly flat but has a pretty good hill in it (that you get to experience twice). The good news is that it’s later in the first loop so you get your legs back first after the bike, but the bad news is that means you hit it again late in the second loop when you are absolutely exhausted. My plan is to walk the hills if I need to and save some energy. There are also aid stations about every mile and I will walk through them as needed as well. Similar to the bike, after the first loop of the run I will have access to my run special needs bag to restock any nutrition I may need or any other special supplies. I have been told over and over how great the support is throughout the entire course and can’t wait to experience it for myself. The nice thing about the looped course is how many times I will get to see my support crew and I know seeing them will give me that little extra boost I will need. Run cutoffs: The first lap of the run course must be completed by 9 p.m. (at Town Hall Outbound). The run course will officially close at midnight.
However, my total time needs to be less than 17 hours to be considered an official Ironman finisher (the exact clock time will differ depending on the time you entered the water). I’m estimating the run will take me somewhere between five and six hours. All of these times added together still leaves me about a two hour buffer. I’m hoping to cross that finish line somewhere between 9 and 10:00pm. God willing.
So there you have it, that is what Ironman Lake Placid will consist of. I keep getting the question this week of “Are you nervous?” The answer: Surprisingly not as bad as I thought. Currently the quantity of excited feelings trumps the quantity of nervous feelings. However, i’m sure in the days ahead it will be a bit of an emotional roller coaster! One that I cannot wait to experience! So close!! Hopefully I fall asleep soon…..
Gotta love that each time I blog, I make this promise that I will update more often. Umm yea, clearly failed on that once since I went from 38 days to 16 days, whoops! Wow, so a lot has happened since we chatted last! Let’s run through week by week some of the critical events.
Week of June 17th (Continued from last post)
So, my vacation day that I took to get my long run in. The plan was 5.5 hours. I hit the road mid morning (probably should have gotten up earlier to beat the heat). I headed out from Kirby Park and felt pretty good but was kind of bummed that I was doing the ride alone. You would think after months of training alone, I would have gotten “used” to it, but no.
Around mile 52 was when disaster hit. I was riding along and suddenly it sounded like an explosion. I panicked and quickly unclipped. In an instant my rear tire was completely deflated. Effff! I hopped off the bike and began to take the tire off, time to put my tire changing skills to work. I convinced myself that I got this under control. So I got the tube out of the tire and started looking at the tire to see if there was glass or what had happened. At that point I see a giant nail right through the side wall of the tire. Great. Now what? I knew at this point that if I put a new tube in, it would just pop again from the pressure. Who can I call now since everyone is at work? Fabulous. I stood there for less than two minutes before spotting cyclists approaching me. Wow, really? What timing! The one pulled over and asked if I was ok, I said yes but I think my ride is done for the day. I told him the tire was shot and he told me he had just the thing for me. He reaches in his bag and pulls out a tire patch! Hmm, will that work you think? He said let’s give it a try. I didn’t have one, nor have I ever seen/used one so I let this awesome cyclist do the work for me as I observed and learned. When we glanced back, it appeared that one of his other riders got a flat also in the exact same spot! Well to make a long story short, once they changed the flat and rolled up to us, I realized it was one of my Team in Training friends and actually her brother who had saved me! Once we got the patch on the tire was still bulging pretty good once inflated. I knew I had about 5 miles to go until I could get to the local bike shop. I thanked them greatly and was on my way! That was probably the most nervous 5 miles I had rode in a long time as I prayed that I made it back to the shop. I did! $70 later I was back on my way (this was one expensive training day)! I ended up with about 88 miles before throwing on my sneakers for a quick brick run. I was feeling it! I was proud of myself though for dealing with what had been thrown at me and not giving up, which I thought about a number of times.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, I was up first thing Friday morning to get in nearly a 3 hr run before headed to Cuse. Obviously my legs were very sore from the bike ride the day before, so it was a good test of running on tired legs. It surely wasn’t pretty, but nonetheless I made it. It was off to Cuse for 70.3 weekend!
Friday when we got in to Syracuse we headed to Jamesville Beach for the expo and mandatory athlete meeting. I picked up my packet and was getting really excited! A long time ago I met a TNT lady via Facebook. She is also training for an Ironman and such an inspiration. She was also doing the event and I FINALLY got to meet her when I ran into her in the merchandise tent! So awesome! Later that night we met up with friends for a mandatory stop at Dinosaur BBQ! Great day!
Saturday morning we went and watched my friends son compete in the IronKids race. Oh my goodness, so cute and so much fun! I knew right then that the kids race would be more fun than my own! We squeezed in an afternoon swim in the reservoir where the swim would be. Key take away from that was that there is a TON of weeds in the water and made it challenging for me to swim. I was glad though that I experienced that ahead of time and could plan for it. In addition, I also checked my bike into transition which was mandatory. Later that evening a group of us headed to dinner for some mandatory carb loading once I had all of my race day stuff layed out. I had a great time and dinner as well as many laughs with great friends. Triathlons are so much more than racing, but really the people that make the journey enjoyable. Time for bed.
So Sunday morning was an early wake up as we headed to the race. Upon walking out of the hotel, it was already in the 80’s and mega humid. OMG! This is going to be brutal! I won’t run through my whole race report here but just some key points. Really, the whole day can be summed up in one word, HOT! It was killer.
My swim didn’t go as great as I planned or hoped. I had a minor panic attack when the gun went off from all of the people mixed with the mass amount of weeds at the start. My clostrophobicness really kicked in. Once I calmed myself down and was on my way, my heart rate was still really high but I pushed through the best I could. The swim felt long to me and I later in the day overheard a lot of other triathletes having the same conversation.
Fortunately the bike was pretty uneventful other than hot. I was used to most of the steep climbs so I was able to prepare myself for them. I have never seen so many people with very expensive bike (and aero helmets, aka coneheads) walking up these hills. It was a good ego boost as I powered by. I felt pretty fast on the bike to later on learn that I was faster in 2011. I got kind of depressed thinking about how my times weren’t better, but then needed to remind myself that I didn’t taper. In fact, I rode my longest training ride ever, and ran one of my longest runs just days ago. Well duh, no wonders my body is revolting!
So, it was onto the run. It was well over 90 and the humidity was oppressive. I seriously wanted to just die. It was brutal. You know it’s bad when you look around and not a single person in running up the hills. EVERYONE is walking. Ihad ditched my shirt in transition as the heat trumped not having abs of steel. The purpose of my bra on the run was not for support. It was to hold ice. Aid station after aid station resulted in cups of ice down my bra. As I ran, I sounded like a cocktail shaker (I learned of the chaffing this did later, ouch)! I also remembered how much I loved the ice sponges and suddenly they were stuck all over my entire body. I drank so much fluid on the run course that I could just see it all moving around in my stomach. So gross. I felt like crap, and yet was barely moving, awesome. This race was HOT in 2012 but not quite this bad. I found myself asking over and over again why I put myself through this a second time. In fact, now as I write this weeks later, I could see myself doing it again next year haha. Nonetheless, I made it to the finish line.
I was about ten minutes slower than the year before, but I guess with good reason. I was just happy to finish. I later found out that wouldn’t be the case for everyone (my friend included) as a ridiculous storm rolled in. The rain/thunder/lightening were scary for being out in the middle of a park. Although a tough decision to make, they called the race for everyone’s safety (a good call I believe). Rather than getting to celebrate with friends after the race, I ran (yes more freaking running) to transition to grab my stuff and head to the car in the pouring rain. What a mess. Well nonetheless a good training day for Ironman Lake Placid!
Week of June 24th
Another crazy week of training and back at in the pool on Monday after Cuse 70.3 There was no recovery day for this girl. Although I will say that I’ve grown to enjoy the pool for recovering my legs after running and biking. (Yes, I did just use the words enjoy and pool in the same sentence). My training plan for the week stated “These are the longest sessions you’ll do in prep for the race. Recovery week coming up…” Well, I was happy to see the word recover. But before getting there was a very LONG week. Some key workouts included a long swim followed by a 3 hour run. The next day contained a 6 hour bike ride. I knew I needed to get this bike ride in as the 112 miles of challenging course for Ironman Lake Placid still had me worried. The longest I have ever rode my bike was while training for this event. I’ve run marathons before, and although it won’t be the same, at least I’ve experienced it. Now, 112 miles on the bike is a totally different story.
I capitalized on the local bike shop’s Saturday Morning Ride (SMR) to kick off my 6 hour bike session. We did some serious climbing on the way out. I was happy to have one of my great friends join me. We got back to the bike shop around 2 hours and then he was nice enough to head out with me for another hour. At this point when I came back with him, I was about half way in. Only 3 more hours to go, sigh. I felt “good” though and tried to really keep up with the refueling. I had a granola bar, honey stinger waffles, and honey stinger chews (have I mentioned how much I love the Honey Stinger products)! I headed out and just hoped to have an uneventful second half. That was the case despite the heat and humidity continuing to climb. I made it! I hit 98 miles just about at the 6 hour mark. So why not 100 you may ask? Well the training plan said 6 hours and that’s what I got in six hours. Also, I’ve never done a century ride and felt like that 100 mile milestone should be saved for a special day and place, not circling Wilkes Barre. So, Ironman Lake Placid will be that special time and place!
I then threw my bike in the car and headed out for a 25 minute brick run. My legs felt heavy but I was still moving them. I felt slow but my watch surprisingly told me other wise. I was thrilled! I finished so proud of myself, so glad it was over, and so hungry! I have become so addicted to pizza after long workouts that it’s quite ridiculous really! Successful week and onto recovery!
Week of July 1st
Weeks goals: Recovery Week! It also says reduce food intake from last week, ha. I have been a non-stop eating machine. I will say though that I have dropped a few pounds along this journey and I can honestly say I feel better because of it. This week wasn’t really too eventful, especially with the 4th of July holiday. We had friends up at the house to celebrate the holiday and had a great relaxing day.
We were off from work Friday so we hit up the new trailhead right in Mountain Top for the Black Diamond Trail. It heads out towards White Haven and then you can pick up the Lehigh Gorge Trail. I traded in my road bike for my hybrid bike for the day. What a nice change of pace! It was hot and the slight gradient change made the return a challenge. Love sharing these days with my love XOXO.
A group of friends got together Saturday and headed out to Harvey’s Lake to join me for my long open water swim. I ended up swimming 70 continuous minutes (my longest ever in open water) and felt great. I really could tell that my time in the pool was paying off. I was also much more calm then I was at the 70.3. Makes sense, no people, no weeks, happy me. Once we finished we spent the rest of the afternoon floating in the water with some brews and lots of smiles. What a great day! I def need to do that more often!
Week of July 8th
This officially started the taper/race phase of my training plan. It stated: welcome to tapering! We’ll slowly reduce hours over the next three weeks, while keeping the sword sharp for race day. Well, I quickly learned that my plan and I define the word taper a bit different as I had some challenging workouts this week. I also, spent alot of time on the bike this week and had to do more consecutive days in order to save my rest day for Saturday and use my other rest day for the Boilermaker this Sunday. Yesterday was challenging. I had a 60 min bike at RPE 4-5 then a 2 hour run immediately after. I had debated going to Wilkes Barre to do the workout, but talked myself out of this. I love to bike and run flat terrain. But the reality is, that isn’t what Ironman Lake Placid is. If i want to be prepared for rave day I need to be ready for hills, hills, and more hills. So, I faced my fears and did this workout on the mountain right from my doorstep. It was challenging alright but I felt so accomplished once I finished. I was definitely sore and even found myself questioning the “taper phase.” Ha! But it was done.
Today I once again faced my fears and did my 3 hour long ride on the mountain. Hill after hill, climb after climb. But I fought through and even found myself exploring some new areas and learning how random streets connected. It was cloudy today which also helped a lot. I was able to finish the nearly 50 mile ride feeling pretty good but my legs were definitely sore from yesterday and today’s effort. I then had a short 20 min recovery run which couldn’t end soon enough. But, I knew once it was done that tomorrow is a recovery day! Wooo! I am also excited about the official start of my mini-vacation! A trip to Utica for the Boilermaker run and Buffalo for the week are ahead…. More on that in the days to come!
Other Items to Note
So as the title of this post states, I am now 16 days away from Ironman Lake Placid. This journey has been so surreal and full of so such a variety of feelings. I can’t wait! I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I can’t wait to have my life back and start some other things that I have slated. At the same time, I’ve become so used to this lifestyle over the past months that it will be odd to go back to one workout a day, and having greater flexibility in my workouts.
I ordered supporter crew shirts for event day and can’t wait for them to come. I have quite a few people joining me. Jason will be there, mom, dad, my friend Matt, friend Brett, and Jason’s parents. In addition two friends will also be there volunteering who did the race last year. They have been awesome in giving me daily tips from their lessons learned and answering all of my questions in the last 30 days leading up to the event. There is so much to know and understand to be prepared for race day, but each day I am that much closer! I also got my bib number for the race. I am #661… Sounds like an Ironman finisher, right? Chat soon 🙂 XOXO
So apparently the official start to my 20 week training plan snuck up on me. Voila it starts tomorrow! Good thing I was sitting at my desk and had the thought to check. Well I guess that takes the mystery out of my workout plans for the week (oh and the next 19 too)!
The good news is that the first 4 weeks are the “prep” phase. I think I’ve done a pretty good job in February of holding myself accountable to getting workouts in. In fact, the calendar was packed! I figured now that February is over, I will share a glimpse into my workout calendar of everything I completed (proud moment).
So now I’m on to March. The first week of March was a bit weak given a really hectic work schedule, but I still managed to get a few good workouts in. Now looking back, I may have done things a tad different if I knew it was my last independent week for AWHILE, but it is what it is. Here’s what the week looked like:
One thing is for sure with going to the plan, I will definitely be doing much more swimming and biking. It will be good to force myself. I’ve gotten a few good sessions in since the start of 2013, but nowhere close to where I need to be. In fact today, I even made my return to my road bike outside for the first time since September. It was still too cold and windy but I got 30 minutes in. Felt good to know I could still get on the bike and go (and thankfully no incidents with clipping in!)
This past Monday I had the opportunity to try out a cycle place in Bethesda Maryland called Zengo Cycle. My sister recommended it from a member at her club. I had went to the website to learn that the first class was free, but $22 per class after. Wow! I knew if this place could get away with charging that, it had to be good. I figured I might as well use the free class and check it out. WOW! What a workout! Class was about 60 minutes of steady non-stop riding with a cool down and stretch at the end. I was dripping sweat by the time I got out. The instructor did an amazing job of keeping the class engaged and motivated. The time flew by like nothing. We did a ton of pushups on the bike as we cycled, but the most unique thing we did was using weights on the bike. Yes, you read that right…weights while cycling. While the weights are maybe 2 lbs a piece, they get your arms BURNING! It was tough but burned so good. I walked out of the class feeling very accomplished. So much so that I would go back in a heart beat and invest the money in another class. Big kudos to the studio! Their website is: http://www.zengocycle.com
So yesterday marked seven years since the night I first truly met Jason and our journey together started. We spent a great day together, nothing specific, but just another Saturday together full of smiles. We ended up on a random little journey (I will spare you the details) but it led to a great discussion about the Ironman. I shared how I’m beyond nervous yet super excited. He had some really encouraging things to say, and quite frankly they were exactly what I needed to hear. He reminded me of how Tara from the Biggest Loser finished an Ironman, and all of the people that you watch struggle to finish each year on TV at Kona, and how they all get to that finish line, one way or another. He reminded me that I coach others of the same principles that I need to follow: Concentrate on your training. Have faith in your training. Focus on one step at a time. Fuel early and often. But then one thing he said really got my heart and made me tear up. He said we will all be out there you Jackie. Me, your parents, your friends, cheering for you every step of the way….because we know you can do it. (Tearing up just writing this!) That got me motivated and in a positive mindset. I can do this. I will do this. My official journey starts tomorrow!