race recap #3: race morning scramble…

Race morning, we had a 4 a.m. alarm. Yikes! – as far as I’m concerned, 4 a.m. the world simply doesn’t exist most days. Not surprisingly, it was a not-so-great night of sleep (but at least we had gone to bed early to kind of make up for it…?)

Breakfast for me was an Ensure and ¾ of a bagel with butter. I think there is a possibility that I had a banana too but it’s all a haze. It’s possible I had one bite of a banana and then gave up. Typically I’m not much of a morning eater and especially not much of a race morning eater so I usually have to force myself to eat on race morning. But my stomach must have had its game face on too because it was surprisingly cooperative.

We were out of the house by 4:45 a.m. and made a quick drive and parked without any issues just a few minutes’ walk to the transition area /and swim start (definitely an advantage to being a local) .

IMG_6065

It was foggy and peaceful on race morning, very mysterious looking. You almost expected to see Nessie poking her head out of the misty lake.

volunteers in the mist

volunteers in the mist

But perhaps most importantly IT WAS NOT RAINING! All week it had rained and all week the weather promised no rain and mild temperatures for about 30 hours, including race day but it was followed by another few days of rain and thunderstorms and you know how weather forecasts have a way of being either flat out wrong or just off by a day or two? So do I. I wasn’t holding my breath, but I was ecstatic when it turned out to be true!

race day rain sandwich

race day rain sandwich

It was still very quiet on the walk over to the transition. But as soon as we entered the transition, chaos took over.

First things first – we should’ve dropped our special needs bags off before we entered transition (more on that later…). But instead, our first stop was the bikes. I dropped off my first cheeseburger (yes, I said cheeseburger but don’t go crazy, it was just a little jr. cheeseburger), put my Perpetuem bottle in my water bottle holder and velcroed-in the aero bottle full of water. The 2nd water bottle slot was reserved for a bottle of Ironman Perform (energy drink) that I would pick up at the 1st aid station about 10 miles into the bike course.

race day fuel treat...

race day fuel treat…

Then, I found hubby who was done using the bike pump and we brought it back to my bike to top off my tires. (There were a lot of people who recommended NOT filling tires all of the way on the day before just in case it was hot out and the air expanded and popped your tires, so we erred on the side of caution).

After that, we passed our pump over the fence to our family and they went to stash it in the car and find a good place to watch the swim. Hubby and I headed off to grab a few things from our bike gear bags that we had dropped off on Saturday – I had food that I wanted to pre-stash on my bike so I didn’t have to worry about it during the transition (there would be plenty to do then and more pressure to do it faster…which would probably result in me forgetting something!). Hubby also had some things to pick up and stash on the bike, so we split up and decided to meet on the beach near the warm up area.

I didn’t have to worry about visiting the porta-potties – my race morning nerves were surprisingly calm and my stomach was being very cooperative. I dropped the rest of my food off at my bike and decided it was time to start squirming into my wetsuit. First was the sunscreen, then the bottom half of the wetsuit.

I body-glided my neck and hairline where my suit usually chafes with one of those itty-bitty little body glides they just started coming out with…which at first I thought was handy but quickly decided not to ever buy them again. First of all, they’re tiny and not well attached to the canister. So one swipe and the ¼ inch of body glide fell off and into the grass. And at 3 for $10 or whatever they were, you’re basically paying for the container and a dime-sized or two’s worth of body glide – it’s a total rip off. But I digress.

better to use the big ones than the pocket sized ones...

better to use the big ones than these silly pocket sized ones…

I picked it up off the ground and began applying it and threw what was left into my morning clothes bag with my sweats. I pulled out my goggles, my neoprene cap, my race cap, my water bottle and a gel and headed to drop off my morning clothes bag.

I had 3 bags left to drop before I hit the beach. It was chaos trying to drop off the morning clothes bag but relatively uneventful since it was only other athletes in the crowd, all of whom were trying to move pretty quickly towards their destinations whether it was a morning clothes drop off a porta-potty or the beach. By the time I dropped off my morning clothes bag (in transition), it was probably around 5:50, just a few minute before the pros started and they were starting to call for athletes to move to the beach. I asked a volunteer where to drop off my special needs bags and quickly found out that their instructions of just cutting through transition and out onto the street was incorrect and that I’d have to leave transition and walk a couple of blocks to the street corner where the trucks were waiting for the bags.

The crowds were starting to get thick outside the athlete area as spectators tried to find the best vantage points. I was like a fish swimming upstream – it was slooooooooooooooooooooow moving. I tried not to panic, but the crowds were packed in tight and barely inching along, if they were moving at all. Plus, by this time I was barefoot and desperately trying to move quickly and gently and also trying to avoid getting my feet and toes stepped on and walking gingerly to go easy on my shoeless feet. It took what seemed like forever to get to the trucks, but I quickly handed off my last bags to the volunteers, prayed I would see those bags where they were supposed to be later in the day, and headed back the way I came from for more upstream crowd swimming to get to the beach and the swim start.

I had my wetsuit halfway on, but at this point I was starting to tug the sleeves on. Just in case.

In hindsight, it would have been best to drop off the special needs bags before I ever went into the transition area, way before the streets and sidewalks were packed with spectators. But it all worked out ok. Thank goodness we decided to get up so early – an hour and 20 minutes in transition and I don’t know how I could have been too much faster other than the bag drops.  But I made it to the beach toes intact and  tried to collect myself as the pros hit their first turns about 1000 yards out.

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race day recap #2: check-in and gear bags

On the Friday before the race we had a really fun surprise. Just as we were getting ready to leave the house, the doorbell rang. My mom darted for the door and up the stairs ran my brother’s boxer Charlie, followed by my brother and my dad! They had driven through the night all the way from Colorado to support us. It was an amazing surprise – I couldn’t have been happier to see them!

Check-in was on Thursday and Friday from 10-4 p.m. I had to work Thursday, so we went right after my brother and Dad arrived Friday morning, early-ish.The check-in is in the midst of a giant outdoor expo. Tons of vendors hucking everything and anything from race day wheels to compression socks to energy drinks to finisher shadow boxes to display your medal, photos and engraved time.  And of course, the Ironman store selling everything M-dot and all of the event-related gear. We headed straight to the check-in, not wanting to get distracted by all of the shiny things (yet) or have to check in with our arms full of purchases.

The line was fairly long, but it was a relatively smooth process. If I heard any complaint it was that it was a crowded tent. But I would guess that all of the rain had forced them to move the entire thing inside versus what I think their original plan of doing some things outside of the tent might have been.

First, you verified emergency contact information and signed the event waivers and medical release data. Then you showed your USAT card and ID to get your race packet – swim cap (neon pink for the girls and neon green for the guys), race bibs and stickers for the bike, last minute athlete instructions, and your Ironman race weekend bracelet. And last, we received a nice Ironman Coeur d’Alene triathlon backpack, which had all of our transition bags that we would need to pack and bring back when we checked our bikes on Saturday and the special needs and morning clothes bags we would need to bring on race morning.

After you had all of that in-hand, you were funneled out into the Ironman store to spend to your heart’s content on clothes, hats, stickers, mugs, etc. After all, you need these things to do the bragging for you about a very big deal race and what might be a one-time event. Right? Totally.

We shopped and then jumped in the lake for a quick 20 minute swim. Because of the rain nearly continuous rain over the 4 days leading up to the race, the water temp had dropped from around 65 to 61. Despite that, it was tolerable and we were thankful that we are locals and had been in the lake since May when it was in the mid 50s. And while you might think you can’t tell the difference between 65 degree water and 61 degree water, you’d be wrong…

Fortunately, the temperature mostly recovered in time for race day, but it was uber-depressing to watch the temperature plummet from the 17th to the 21st.

race week water temp

After the swim, we headed home and it was time to think about getting the bikes ready for race day. Bike check in and run/bike transition bags were due on Saturday from 10-3 p.m.

Friday night we hit the sack early, guessing that race day nerves would keep us from getting too much sleep and hoping to compensate for that by getting a decent night’s sleep 2 nights out.

Saturday, we rode our bikes from our house down past the check-in to make sure everything was shifting like it was supposed to. Things seemed to be in working order so we ditched the bikes in transition – the racks looked like they were going to be cozy so we kept our fingers crossed that everyone else would have more expensive bikes than us and as a result would be gentle and cautious when taking them off the rack the next day to avoid tangling cables or chains…

Bike racks in Ironman T1

Bike racks in Ironman T1

bikes bikes and more bikes...

bikes bikes and more bikes…

Our family met us at check-in with our run and bike gear bags and we left those bad boys overnight.

just look at all of those bike bags...

just look at all of those bike bags…

T2 bags

T2 bags

Before we left, we reviewed the map of where everything would be on race day and walked from the swim exit to the rows and rows and rows of bike gear bags, found ours (even though there would be volunteers to help), then walked to the change tents, then to our bikes, noting how far down we had to go. Fortunately, my row had a big tree right in the middle of it and hubby’s had an orange hazard cone right next to it to keep folks from tripping on a manhole cover, so we weren’t too hard to find. And then we walked from the bike rack to the run gear to the change tent to the exit. Walking it definitely helped me visualize how race day would go and made my transition smoother, less panicky and overwhelming and easier to remember on race day.

map of the transition area

map of the transition area

Then it was off to Wendy’s for race day burgers and to the grocery store for bagels, bananas and blueberries (last minute race morning breakfast restocking) and home for an early (bland and low key) dinner and attempted to sleep one last time before the epic journey…

race day recap part 1: preparation

You may or may not know that Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013 – the BIG DAY – was this past weekend – Sunday, June 23, 2013.

As you might expect, the two weeks leading up to Ironman were taper weeks… though the first week of taper wasn’t as light as I thought (still had a 10 mile run and a 4 hour bike ride). The second week of taper was spent getting ready for company and frankly, my final taper week basically involved cleaning the house, a few short workouts and sleeping as much as possible. We’ve been quite busy with getting race ready, and we also had race fans come into town both surprise ones and planned ones, so I haven’t had time to write about race week as much as I thought I might. So I’ll break my race recap into a few different parts, starting with all of the preparation leading up to race day.

Ironman involves so much more than showing up on race day. True – most races do. But Ironman takes it to a whole new level. With an event 140.6 miles long and no external support allowed, the weeks leading up to Sunday were spent making lists and comparing our lists to other people’s lists to make sure that we remembered everything we could need for the day from chamois cream to race morning breakfast to race day nutrition and hydration to spare cartridges and making sure the right pair of running shorts made it into the run gear bag. Ironman races can take really little things and turn them into REALLY BIG PROBLEMS. A tiny little seam that chafes just a smidge in a sprint tri or a half marathon can leave you hobbling your last miles and the days following.

Despite the weeks of researching and checking and re-checking and adding to my list what seemed like constantly, I kept adding to it – post it notes to remember to make sure sunscreen is on the list, or handwritten notes on my printed copy I had on the fridge reminding myself to make sure I grab extra contacts just in case things went awry in the lake. And as you know, I was a little concerned about the weather leading into the race, so trying to plan for contingencies such as cold water, cold weather, wind and rain made planning even more important.

The week leading up to race day, we put out paper grocery sacks labeled to match the bags we would receive when we checked in and started packing early so avoid any last minute scrambles and identify what we needed to go out and buy before the other 2200 athletes arrived in town and bought out all of the local stores.

packing in advance...

Here’s the list I created for myself:

All bags:

  • sunscreen (I bought little travel bottles of it and put it in every bag we had. It did come in handy in my bike special needs bag on race day but they had sunscreen at both of the transitions and even some volunteers dedicated to putting it on for you if you wanted it! )
  • chapstick
  • washcloth
  • water bottle
  • athletic tape
  • eyedrops

Wearing on race morning:

  • Sweats
  • sports bra
  • tri top and bottoms

Green – Morning clothes

  • race cap
  • neoprene cap
  • goggles + spare goggles
  • timing chip
  • body glide
  • ear plugs (I didn’t use these…)
  • old water bottle/disposable water to take onto the beach and drink with gel
  • nutrition (30-60 minutes out) – I didn’t end up using this…
  • gel (10 minutes out)
  • wetsuit
  • mp3 player (pre-race, leave with family) – I didn’t end up doing this either…too chaotic.
  • Garmin/watch

Blue – Bike Gear

  • towel
  • spare contacts
  • helmet with race # sticker
  • race belt with race number
  • sunglasses (inside of a protective case)
  • arm sleeves (rolled down)
  • jacket/shirt/jersey
  • leg warmers
  • bike socks (rolled down, stuffed inside shoes)
  • bike shoes
  • toe caps for bike shoes (already on the shoes)
  • baggie of endurolyte capsules for first 65 miles
  • 2 spare bike tube (I normally carry 1 and a cell phone to phone a friend. But for race day I duct taped a 2nd onto my frame just in case I had a really unlucky bike leg)
  • gloves
  • chamois cream / travel lube to carry with

Orange- Bike special needs

  • perpetuem powder for 3 hour bottle
  • water bottle (they didn’t have any water at the special needs station – this was to mix with the perpetuem)
  • chamois cream /lube – travel tube to carry with
  • extra tube
  • 2 CO2 cartridges

Red – Run Gear

  • washcloth
  • water bottle to wash the bike grime off my face
  • eye drops (I DID actually pack them and use them here)
  • running socks
  • running shoes
  • vaseline
  • body glide
  • endurolytes capsules for the first 13.1 miles
  • hat/visor
  • new shirt? (I didn’t change my shirt)
  • running capris
  • underwear
  • positive note
  • extra race bib

Black- Run special needs

  • long sleeves / long sleeved shirt
  • vaseline
  • salt and vinegar chips
  • bandaids / tape

Bike – 1st 65 miles

  • Perpetuem – 3 ½ hour bottle, premixed and put on bike race morning
  • 3 stinger waffles
  • Wendy’s jr. cheeseburger (no onions)
  • 3 Gus
  • Almonds

Bike – 2nd 49 miles

  • Baggie with 3 hours of Perpetuem powder
  • 2 Gus
  • Wendy’s cheeseburger
  • 2 stinger waffles

I had a few others things on various lists – coke, candy bars, oreos, etc.  It’s hard to predict what might sound good on race day. But it’s also easy to go overboard and have WAYYYYYY too much stuff and you don’t want to carry any more than you have to… I could have gone without carrying Gus but I didn’t want to be forced to eat any flavors I didn’t want to so I carried what I liked. I also could have skipped the almonds, but I carried more calories than I needed in case I couldn’t stomach something during the race I could replace it without skipping a beat.

It’s quite the list, but maybe someone here will find it helpful. If not, maybe I’ll use it again later. Maybe…

the 10 day forecast…

Thursday morning, I got bamboozled by Mother Nature and a friend of mine who wanted to go for a nice, early morning open water swim in the lake. I think I have probably mentioned this before but in case I haven’t… I am NOT, I repeat, NOT a morning person. So reluctantly agreeing to meet for a 6:30 a.m. swim was not an easy (or logical) thing for me to do.

But I did, so we showed up. It was early. And windy. Windy, windy, windy, windy.

And the lake looked like this:

 The Coeur d'Alene Sea!

 Beatiful, right?

WRONG.

Those are WAVES crashing on the shore. WAVES!  On a lake! And we had to swim in it! Not cool, Mother Nature, not cool.

We managed to grind out just under 1 mile. But it was SO slow going. And I got tossed around and I drank a lot more of the lake than I wanted.

So, that got me to thinking. I really, really, really, REALLY don’t want the lake to be that choppy. REALLY. It CAN’T be!

So yesterday, I checked and the 10 day weather forecast now includes the day of IRONMAN. (holy crap). The good news is that it looks pretty good right now so keep your fingers crossed for us:


10 day IMCDA weather outlook

I know I will be holding my breath for little wind and no rain!

race day preparations…

Ten days to go. Yes, that is ten. Just ten. 1-0. A measly little week and a half. Almost single digits now, folks. Yikes.

Yesterday, on a “short” two hour bike ride I saw the first signs of Ironman route prep on my bike ride:

first signs of Ironman

Oh my. It’s almost game time!

weekend failings…

This past weekend was the last big weekend of workouts before our two-week taper period leading up to Ironman.

Now, at this point in the game, long workouts are L-O-N-G. Like eat breakfast before you go and don’t get back until dinnertime long. And also at this point in the game, long workouts are hard workouts. Whether they’re hard because they’re long or hard because you’re tired or hard because you know how long and hard they’re going to be is anyone’s guess.

Dig deep and get them done, right?

WRONG.

Saturday was my last chance to get a 19 or 20 mile run in before race day. A couple of weeks back, I got a 17er in and on Monday I was hoping to fit in 20 miles after work but I was running alone and ended up no getting an early enough start at calling it at 16 when it was dark (you know, for safety’s sake).

Saturday was a trainwreck from the start. All I wanted to do was sleep in for once. So we did. Kinda. And then we had a late breakfast and went to the farmer’s market and the tree nursery and it got warmer and warmer as the day went on and I frankly spent the better part of the day dreading the 20 mile death march I knew I was going to have to log.

Finally I was able to drag myself out of the house but it was truly doomed – my mental game was absolute crap. After two miles, I almost called it. After 3, I was sitting on a curb literally trying to pep talk myself into pulling it together. It was pathetic. Mile by mile, I pieced together the most mentally miserable run perhaps of my life. And my times were slow to boot because mentally I couldn’t get out of my own way.I know how much your brain plays into this and yet, I could not get my head in the game to save my life.

So there I was, slogging out the miles. Ever so slowly. Ever so painfully.

Now. (Warning: potential TMI ahead…) I was running in my tri shorts in order to determine whether to run in them on race day or change pre-marathon. I had 16 miles in them earlier in the week and had started to chafe ever so slightly, so I had lubed up extra carefully and brought a reserve for mid-run lubin’. Around mile 9, I made a stop at an outhouse and reapplied, early I thought. Better safe than sorry… only it stung and I knew that was the last straw. Seriously, the straw that broke this camel’s back. I called in the reserves, duked it out for another mile and hubby came to the rescue.

Sunday, we thought we might get one last training ride in – a good 70 or 80 miles or so. But my mental game was STILL not in it. We took a turn onto the bike course and I couldn’t hack it. Twenty-five miles was enough for me that day. Too bad I messed up my hubby’s training day along with my own. (Thankfully he’s the most patient and forgiving person on the planet so he just picked up the miles today while I was at work…).

Apparently after 22 weeks of 9 workouts a week and being tired and hungry and rushed and cranky ALL of the time and just digging deep and getting them done, I was pretty much spent. I have sometimes halfway worried that I have only a limited amount of willpower, only so many times that I can dig deep before my reservoir is empty. And this weekend, I apparently just didn’t want to take the chance that these workouts would be the last ones I could grit my teeth, grin and bear it…lest I attempt Ironman with an empty willpower reservoir.

I had a hard time after each of the failed workouts, trying not to see them as bad omens or epic fails. And it took me some time. I’m not a quitter. Truly. But this weekend sure made me feel like one. Each workout that has not quite gone as planned (and there have been a few over the past 6 months) has an opportunity to be a learning experience. This weekend I learned that I will be changing my bottoms after the bike. But mostly I have learned that it’s good to take a break when you feel like you need one. Body or mind. And not feel guilty about it.

This weekend’s workouts were not exactly what I had planned. But even so, I can’t let doubt get the best of me – I’ve gotten the miles in, I’ve put in the work. Now to enjoy the taper weeks and try not to throw up every time I think about race day and  the fact that it is just 13 days away…

good news/bad news…

Yesterday, I completed 112 miles on the bike. Yes. 112. And yes, it took me ALL day (as you may recall, I’m not the fastest biker). The good news is, I know I can do it. The bad news is, I know I have to do it again.

We did a short swim first, starting at 7. Which would have given me the chance to simulate my race day morning, only I hate mornings so instead I hit snooze a ton of times and finally got up at 6:20, ran around the house like a chicken with its head cut off and headed to the lake at 6:40.

The swim was shorter than planned (haha, good news!).  But it was shorter not because I was super fast, but because it was a heck of a lot colder than planned. At least we are getting slowly acclimated to it in the off chance it doesn’t warm up a whole lot in the next three weeks. Bad news – 55 degrees for an hour 15, hour 20 is a whole lot of cold as far as I’m concerned.

I learned a few things yesterday – first of all, don’t leave a third of your nutrition in the freezer when you leave the house (see above – snooze button). So, the good news is, I probably won’t do that again at least in the near future. The bad news is that I came up a tad short on the  nutrition end of things. The good news is I can finish the bike course on less nutrition than planned. The bad news is my marathon would pay for it.

Second lesson of the day? Even though it was pretty overcast for the most part and even though I’m pretty dark skinned and generally tan/rarely burn, I put on sunscreen after getting out of the lake and hopping on the bike. I learned I should definitely re-apply after the first loop. The bad news is, my back/shoulder blades area and my cheeks are rocking a nice little mild burn (which good news: will transform itself into a tan tomorrow and bad news: reinforce the whole triathlon=crazy silly tan lines).

We biked the Ironman course, which has 2,306 feet of climbing according to Ironman.

IMCDA bike elevation

My Garmin tells me I climbed 6,585 feet. So I’m not sure what that means other than: Bad news – lots of climbing, good news.

IMCDA bike elevation garmin 06.01.2013

 

Either way, I have NEVER been SO HAPPY to get off of a bike. Ever. Good news is, after my next 112 miles, I don’t have to ever ride that far again. Bad news? I have to run a marathon. But race day, if I feel how I felt yesterday, I would do anything – ANYTHING – including running a marathon, so long as you didn’t tell me I had to turn around and bike another 112 miles.