IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Monday, August 28, 2006


It is with mixed emotions that I'm writing this. I just completed my last triathlon of the season yesterday. And I did, in my opinion, very poorly. So on the one hand, I'm glad the season is over because it hasn't been a good one for me. But in the same breath, I feel like I need another race to "redeem" myself.

The problem with Accenture is that there are like a million people racing (OK, 8000). And while transition opens at 4:30am and closes at 5:45am, I didn't start until after 9am. So I had the opportunity to watch many of my friends start AND finish the race before I even had to line up.

I had a very strong swim. I felt great and turned in a very nice time. Accenture is always difficult to get around all the many people in front of you in the water. But things went smoothly and I didn't really have to fight anyone. I struggled to get my wetsuit off and almost slipped off the cement and back into the water. I was pretty out of breath, so I couldn't even respond to my friends cheering me on at that point.

Then...the worst part for me is that you have to run what feels like a mile to transition...with NO SHOES on! I thought I was doing OK as I passed several men ahead of me who were slowly jogging to T1. I was set up all the way at the end of transition, near the bike exit, quickly put my shoes, helmet and sunglasses on and made my way onto the bike course.

The wind coming out of the north was brutal and I couldn't believe how chilly I was. The sky was overcast, but at least it had stopped raining. I tried really hard to stay as aero as possible and passed many people wearing shirts that the wind was puffing up to make them look like they had parachutes on their backs! There were so many obstacles to avoid on Lake Shore Drive. Pot holes, newbies riding on the wrong side, bike gloves, expansion joints where the overpasses are, hundreds of water bottles that had accidentally been launched from hitting something in the road, and the most unusual item I saw on the course was someone's aerobars!

I almost ran over some woman who crashed just about 4-5 bike lengths ahead of me. I don't know why she went down, but it was sudden and the "thump" sound it made, along with the scraping of the bike frame as it slid across the road was enough to make me clench my teeth, slam on the brakes and remind myself to stay focused. I yelled to one of the officials on a motorcycle that there was a biker down. It wasn't long after that I heard the ambulance sirens.

The turnaround is painstakingly slow as you have to wait for many people to get through before you. So many of them are new, you don't dare ride too close because they will for sure take you out. The tailwind on the southbound section of the course was nice and I thought I was doing well. Here we go into the second turnaround, and here is some idiot, almost riding perpendicular to the oncoming bike traffic, who realized he was supposed to join us in the second loop, at the last minute, trying to make it into the right chute. Yes, sir, we should all slow down for you because you couldn't pay attention to the signs when they told you what side of the street you should be on! GRRRR!

Going northbound again was tougher than I expected. I passed the time by watching the 40 year old parachute in front of me block many of the fast men that were now coming by like crazy. They were riding pretty aggressively, and in my opinion, pretty dangerously. There are too many inexperienced triathletes at a race like this for them to be whizzing by people at such speeds.

Tne end of the bike couldn't come fast enough for me and I chatted a bit with some woman who kept passing me and vice versa. She was fun to ride with and I asked if we could ride together in the future...she goes out to Barrington a lot, so I'm guessing I won't be riding with her any time soon.

After what I felt to be a very quick T2, I was off on the run. I felt great and my first split confirmed that. The temperature was very comfortable for a run and I was feeling pretty strong. I looked for other racers that I knew, but didn't see anyone I knew until just before mile 4...and just before the turnaround. I made it a point to "reel him in" and my breathing became pretty labored. I thought to myself, I should slow down a little, I still have 2 miles to go, but I was negative splitting this run and for a second, I thought I was on pace to PR this race. The next time I looked at my watch, I was dumbfounded when I realized I read it wrong and there was no way I was going to PR. My bike time was much too slow. But I just wanted to focus on this run and make it the best I could. There wasn't much I could do as women in my wave ran past me effortlessly, without even breathing hard. I was giving it every bit I had and as I came in to the finish line, I realized this was going to be my last race of the season. NO! I don't want the season to end like this! Or....wait, do I? Don't I want this season to just be over so I can come back next year and be stronger than ever?

Bittersweet, I tell you. I'm not really sure what went wrong for me this year. But, I suppose the more experience I have, the more I'll learn about what works for me and what doesn't. For now, I'm ready to put triathlons behind me for a few months...maybe more.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Uploading pictures

OK, well, I'm really trying to upload some pictures, but it's not working. I can't upload from my desktop, I put them in PhotoBucket, still can't download them...asked 2 other bloggers, they didn't tell me anything different to do; went to the help section and followed those directions. I can't figure it out. So until someone can tell me what I'm doing wrong, you all will just have to read these without visuals.

Sorry. I'm quite frustrated about it right now!

OK - so I just went in to edit this post and I can get the picture in there. But I can't get it in the post it's supposed to go in...the Training Ride. Damn. I'll keep trying.

Training Ride

OK, so I'm a little late in posting this, but things have been hectic this week. Then I had a little problem with internet access recently. But everything seems back in working order, so I wanted to get down my thoughts on a recent ride I went on.

I met up with some Apache women. We met out in Winfield to ride the course of some race that several of them are participating in this weekend. While I waited for them to arrive, I watched some other male cyclist go around at least 7 times. I figured he must be practicing some technical part of the course. He finished up, came over and introduced himself as the race director and yes, in fact, he had just completed 10 laps of the most difficult part of the course.

And what were we about to do? The same thing. They kept talking about this "hill". When you start riding up, it doesn't look too bad. I switched into an easier gear and got to what I thought was the crest. Just before where you make the first turn, the hill gets brutal and it feels as bad as that really tough hill of the IMWI course. It brings your speed (well, at least MY speed) all the way down to non-existent. By the time I was making the turn, my quads were burning and my breathing was out of control.

Now after you finish that hill, you're in for some nice downhill, but if this was a race, you wouldn't exactly be coasting down this. And you can really gain some speed just before you have to make the next turn, so it seemed to me that the race would be difficult. After 5 loops, I decided to sit out and wait for them to finish. I, too, have a race this weekend, but it doesn't include hills, so I didn't want to wear myself out.

Once they all completed the 10 loops (and made it look so easy!), we went on what they called a "casual" ride. Very nice riding out there with some rolling hills (which I would get dropped on EVERY time). I felt like a real cyclist as we rode in a pace line and took turns pulling. I got "coached" by the others as to what and how to do things. Triathletes ride very differently than cyclists, so it was good for me to try and learn what to do and what not to do. I still have a lot of learning to do, but these people were very supportive.

At times, our speed got up to 28mph and I would be struggling with all my might to stay on the wheel of the person in front of me. I would pray that a hill wasn't just around the corner because I knew I'd be dropped. We stopped very quickly for a "photo shoot" and headed back.

The way back was no picnic. Sporadially, these guys would just take off! I guess this is what you call "attack" in bike racing. And you had to decide in a split second, were you going with or were you going to let yourself be dropped? Well, I have the reaction time of a turtle and found myself trying to catch up only to be disappointed. There was no way I could catch these little rabbits. As fast as I could pedal, as hard as I could push, I could only watch them get smaller and smaller in the distance. With sweat pouring down my face and my heart rate completely maxed out, my only relief is when they would get caught by a traffic signal. Then I'd think "Ah, I GOT YOU NOW!"

Yes, I was very happy for the ride to be over. But I was also happy to get out there for the experience. I hope to join them more often.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pleasant Prairie Triathlon Report

Pleasant Prairie Triathlon
August 20, 2006

Just like the last 2 years I’ve done this race, I drive up on Saturday to pick up my packet and rack my bike. The packet pick-up opened at 11:00am. I arrived at about 10:55 and the line inside the Rec Plex was already about 100 people! Thankfully, though, most of them were not first-timers and things moved quickly. We got a primo goody bag which included a nice, rather large, backpack, technical shirt AND a hat. Definitely the best goody bag I’ve gotten all year!

I immediately affix my number to my bike and scurry over to rack my bike. Pleasant Prairie is one of those races that just assigns racks instead of individual spaces, so the earlier you get there, the better spot you get. And with that, I threw my bike on what was “the” best spot on the rack…at the end closest to the bike exit and entrance. Suh-weet. And that was it, I drove all the way up there, picked up my stuff and racked my bike and 15 minutes later, I got right back in the car to drive home. Good thing there isn’t much traffic on the weekends!

Getting up at 2:30am was, surprisingly, not difficult. I really look forward to this race each year, and this year was no different. I ate a peanut butter bagel and quietly threw all my things into the bag after going over my list one more time and I was out the door by 3am. The drive up to PP was, again, quick and painless. I had to drive my little, VERY LOW-TO-THE-GROUND car across this big field with what seemed like a million ruts and holes to get to the front of the lot. I was afraid I was going to bottom-out! After what felt like a 30 minute ride across the lot, I was able to squeeze right in at the front, closest to the shuttle bus. Things were working out very nicely!

It was a cool morning, but nothing crazy. The low temperatures overnight made the lake temperature drop just enough to allow this to be a wetsuit-legal race. I walked into transition just after 4:30am and they had it lit up enough to where you could begin to set up your transition area. After the usual set up, check, re-check and triple check of my things, I had plenty of time to just hang out and talk to some friends.

With the transition closing in about 15 minutes, Lauren Jensen, pro triathlete, comes up to my rack and racks her bike on the OUTSIDE of the rack, right in front of my bike. WTF! That is illegal, everyone knows this. There is no pro division in this race, and if there was, she would be assigned a special rack. Today, she was an age grouper, just like the rest of us. However, the rest of us have to follow the rules. Apparently, the rules don’t apply to Ms. Lauren Jensen as she set up her stuff and walked away. I was fuming (I still kinda am!).

OK, I thought to myself, her bike will be gone when I get out of the water anyway. See, Lauren gets to go in the first wave…with the men. Another “special little treatment” which doesn’t really seem fair to me. People in the first wave don’t have the obstacle of passing all the slower people who started in waves before you. Again, there’s no pro division, why doesn’t she have to start in the wave with the REST OF HER AGE GROUP?

I try really hard to let this go as I put my wetsuit on half way. I then make my way down to the furthest bank of porta potties, because I know the lines there will be shorter. However, someone must’ve let my secret out because there were over 50 people in line for these porta potties. I made some small talk with the people in line, prayed that the people in front of me would pee fast and kept glancing at my watch every couple of minutes. With about 9 minutes left before my wave started, I still had 12 people in front of me. I did one of the rudest things triathletes do…I begged to go to the front so I could get down to the beach for my start. When I see people pull this stunt, I always think to myself, “You have to plan this in…get in line with plenty of time before your start so you don’t have to cut in front of people!” But I was in line over 40 minutes! I was graciously let in front (most of these people still had over 20 minutes before they started). I took care of business and jogged down to the beach with just 4 minutes to spare…

I had to finagle my way to the front, which wasn’t easy with such a competitive group of women. But I knew I belonged there, so I wasn’t giving in. The horn sounded and we ran into the water. Almost immediately, I decided it was too warm and I wished I hadn’t worn my wetsuit. I’m about 50 yards into a .9 mile swim and I’m very warm…too warm. It felt like bath water to me (only not as clean). Ugh. I knew there were 74 people in my wave and I was pleasantly surprised to have such an easy start of the swim. No arms locking up, no getting kicked, no fighting for position. I saw about 7 girls jump out ahead of me. I figured I’d get a few of them toward the back end and there were probably going to be a couple that I wouldn’t see again until the finish.

After a comfortable, solid swim, I glanced at my watch as I crossed over the timing mat, and though it wasn’t lightening fast, I was happy with the time. I found my bike very quickly, made a smooth transition (unfortunately, I felt my socks were sopping wet) and jumped out on the bike course. It was a little chilly for the first 10 minutes of the ride. My fingers were freezing, but I knew that would pass as I dried off and started to warm up. PP’s bike course is mostly flat, with a couple hills where you have to ride over the highway. The roads were amazingly smooth. There were a lot of guys riding down the middle of the lane which made it tricky to pass at times. Several times, I’d pass a guy only to have him pass me right back. I call this the “I’m not gonna get passed by a chick” syndrome. Well, buddy, if I passed you the first time, I’m going to pass you again. You can count on that. But the next time I do it, I’m going to fly by you so fast, you won’t have a chance to catch up and I’m going to crush your confidence for the remainder of the ride! Did I mention I’m competitive?

It was pretty windy and every time I made a turn I thought, “OK, we’re going to get the tailwind now.” But with every turn, I was left hanging. Why does it feel like every time I turn, I’m riding directly head-on into the wind??? This is just cruel! More than once, the wind jerked the front wheel on me and I felt like I was going to be blown over. The nice thing about the wind being so strong is that’s all you hear…wind…you can’t hear how hard you’re breathing! When you’re about half-way through, the courses for the International and Sprint distances are combined. Now here is where it’s easy to crash! You’ve got all these newbies, and yes, I was new at one point too, but many of them don’t know the rules, nor do they bother to learn them. These are the people riding 3-4 people across so you can’t pass without going into the next lane. They’re also the ones that when you shout “on your left”, they either turn left and ride right into you or they turn around to find out why someone is yelling at them. They’re usually riding some form of mountain bike or hybrid. They usually have way too much nutrition with them (who needs 4 water bottles and 4 gels during the bike of a SPRINT race?), and they look like they did a full wardrobe change in T1. But we were all new once, and you gotta love the newcomers to our sport. However, where are the officials? I didn’t see one the entire ride. In fact, now that I think of it, I don’t think I’ve EVER seen an official on the PP course.

I jockeyed with this one guy for the entire second half of the bike, and I loved every minute of it. Just as I would think I’m going strong, this guy would show up and pass me, just to let me know I couldn’t get away. And as I would catch him, I’d give him this look as if to say “you’re not going to let me get away with this, are you?” It was a fun game of cat and mouse and I was almost sorry when the ride was over. We dismounted at almost the same time, smiled at each other and said “nice ride.” And although this wasn’t my fastest bike split on this course, I definitely had fun!

I ran over to my spot to rack my bike and guess what! The infamous Lauren Jensen had thrown her bike where mine was, and completely trashed what was left of my transition area. That BEOTCH! And there was another bike right next to hers (which also wasn’t the one that was originally racked there), so I had to move my bike down to the 3rd position. I went to throw my bike over the bar, but there were 3 transition bags (remember those fabulous back packs I mentioned we got as part of our goody bag??) in the way. They were so big and took up so much room, I had to try 3-4 times before I could get my bike to go onto the rack. And now I’m desperately trying to shake off how angry I am and focus on what I’m supposed to be doing next. Luckily, my running shoes weren’t moved too far away from what WAS LEFT OF my transition area, so I moved quickly (well, quickly FOR ME) out on to the run course.

Did I mention it was a beautiful day? We couldn’t have had better weather for this race. It was sunny with a few clouds, maybe mid-70s, and no humidity whatsoever. I really wanted to run strong, especially to off-set my poor run from Steelhead. I felt great, and although the splits weren’t quite as quick as I would’ve liked to see, I ran strong and felt incredibly good throughout the run. I stayed ahead of the guy I rode with the second half of the bike course (yay!). I saw a couple people I knew on the out and back and gave them some Hi-Fives. As I passed runners (hee, hee, I actually PASSED some runners!!) I gave them some words of encouragement. I finished strong and was cheered on by friends that had finished before me.

Unfortunately, this was the slowest time I’ve turned in of the 3 years I’ve done this race. And while that sucks, I really did have fun. And, yes, though I can be competitive, if we’re not having fun, why are we doing this?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Mountain Biking

So yesterday I went mountain biking for the first time in over a year. Now, I know that mountain biking is supposed to increase my bike handling skills, but are these people crazy? They expect you to ride over big boulders, huge tree roots sticking out, big logs and the occasional fabricated jump. Ridiculous, I tell you.

Within the first five minutes, I'm sweating my butt off on what was supposed to be a "casual" ride. I was getting smacked by tree branches, thorn bushes and I swear I ran into some poison ivy. And then, when you go to avoid a huge ass tree root sticking out....LOOK OUT, you're going to run into a tree!!

The turns can be very tight and are almost always blind, and you never know when another biker is coming. I thought I was going to pee my bike shorts after coming around a corner and almost riding head on into another mountain biker dude.

I wore a camel back, but I was too afraid to take my hands off the handle bars to take a drink. I'm sure I was white-knuckled as I rode down these obnoxiously steep hills. And if I wasn't flying down one, I was walking my bike to get up one. I was out of breath just walking my stupid, 30 pound mountain bike up the damn ravine.

And this is supposed to be FUN? THEN, when I stop to catch my breath, a huge swarm of mosquitoes comes over and I think I now have the West Nile Virus!

It was much harder than I remembered. And don't let your mountain biker friends tell you "Oh, we're gonna take it easy," What a crock of SH*T.

But I'll be back next week for more abuse.
I hate getting dirty.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


This post has nothing to do with training or racing. This is about my work frustrations. Why is it that everyone needs everything done ASAP or TODAY or IMMEDIATELY? Every manager I work for thinks their stuff is MORE IMPORTANT than everyone else's. In fact, this week, I started a "list". Every time someone tells me something is URGENT or needs to be done IMMEDIATELY, I make a tick mark. Well, we're only 3 days into the week and I already have 11 tick marks. The problem is, they make me "jump" to get things done, but when the ball lands back in their court, it just sits there. Frustrating. Like the boy who cried wolf...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Steelhead 70.3 Race Report 2006

AUGUST 5, 2006

This race sort of snuck up on me. It was over a month since my last race, which would normally mean I’d be completely nervous, however, the rest of my life has been so hectic, and I hardly had time to worry about Steelhead.

We arrived the afternoon before the race with just enough time to pick up my packet and do a little expo shopping before the first course talk. Kristin and I spent a few hours together that afternoon and it seemed she was much more calm this day than the weeks leading up to the race…this was good. After the course talk, we hopped in the lake to test out the water. It seemed too warm for me, but they already told us wetsuits would be allowed. Then we took a short bike ride, just to make sure everything was working properly before we racked the bikes for the evening.

The hotel was a dump, but does it really matter? As long as it’s clean and QUIET, I’m fine. And being close to the race site wasn’t so bad, either! After a quick, excellent dinner with some friends at Schu’s, we headed back to the hotel where I meticulously laid everything out for the next morning.

What should have been a solid 9 hours of sleep turned into stressful worrying about oversleeping! I was up at least once an hour looking at the clock. Why do I do this before EVERY SINGLE race? Well, 4:30 came around quickly, but I wasn’t sleeping much anyway, so let’s get the show on the road! I noticed it was rather warm out for this time in the morning and I thought we would be in for a really hot day. This comes back to bite me later.

Everything moved along quickly and I was in transition setting up by 5:15. The only problem was, the girl next to me on the rack (who was supposed to rack REALLY close to me) hadn’t shown up yet. I was afraid to walk away because I knew when she would come in to set up her bike, my stuff was going to get trashed. I set up my stuff, walked from swim in to my bike, to bike out and from bike in back to my bike. Easy. I saw many, many people I knew and found it hard to focus. As much as I love racing with my friends, I sometimes get caught up in chatter and forget what I’m really there to do: RACE. I looked for Russ, who I promised to give some salt tablets, but I never found him. It’s time to go get on the shuttle…girl next to me hasn’t shown up. Oh well, I thought, I can just hope for the best!

The shuttle to the swim start was very quiet. I talked to the young guy from Colorado sitting next to me and was happy we were about to get things started. The time went quickly as I had to get in line for the rest room, get my wetsuit on, find my husband and get on the pier for my wave. There was little time to worry about the race.

I’m not a big fan of jumping off the pier. Sure, it’s different, but I’m always afraid the person/people behind me are going to jump on me. And what if my goggles fall off? And what if I jump on someone else? Well, all that didn’t matter much as the gun went off, I jumped in, and it went pretty smoothly. Within 200 yards, I knew there was some stiff competition out there. I knew I was not in the lead. I knew there were at least 3-4 women ahead of me, maybe more. OK, just chill, find someone to draft off of and conserve for the rest of the race. It’s not an Ironman, but this is still a really long race. A fast swim doesn’t really buy you much.

I got hit a few times, but found a good draft and stuck with it for about the whole second half of the swim. The run from the swim to T1 was BRUTAL! Running uphill in sand is just painful on the quads. I was so happy to reach the boardwalk. I passed several men, just walking to T1, probably trying to catch their breath. I got to my bike, the girl who was supposed to rack right next to me was a no show! Sweet! I made what I felt was a pretty quick transition and off I went!

My game plan for the bike was to give it maybe 80%. Stay in the heart rate zone 3. Don’t make it hurt. Conserve for the run. Ride comfortably. I even had a goal time I was shooting for. There were LOTS of pack riding and LOTS of drafting and I didn’t see one official. Women I would jockey back and forth with would finally pass me…because they’d be drafting of a couple of guys. HEY, I thought, ANYONE CAN DRAFT AND PASS ME, YOU CHEATERS!!! How frustrating! It was tempting to jump on the back wheel of these people, but you know, I didn’t want to be a cheater. What’s the point??

The bike was great. Steelhead is really a nice course, with a mostly flat bike on roads that are so smooth, you wonder how come the roads here in Illinois are so crappy. As I neared the end of the bike, I was right on my goal time. I was happy, headed in for a very quick T2, heard my husband yell some encouraging words to me, and I was off on the run.

The beginning of the run felt slow. But the runs always feel that way for me, and I was pleasantly surprised when I got to mile 1 and I realized I wasn’t all that slow!! It’s a mind game, these races, and I need to remind myself of that some times. But as the run went on, the miles got slower…and slower…and I was reduced to a walk around mile 10. What had started out as a great day became miserable and felt like torture. Though I never felt like quitting, I felt like the end was never going to come. I became dizzy and nauseous and my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest. And it wasn’t that hot. In fact, I remember earlier in the run thinking about how PERFECT the temperature was.

In looking back, that perfect temperature was my enemy. I thought it was going to be so hot, I loaded myself up on the salt tablets. The truth is, I probably OD’d on them. I didn’t know there was such a thing, but there is. And how I felt toward the end of that run verifies that little fact. I kept making little “deals” with myself. OK, run to that next guard rail…or you can run to the next aid station. Why do I DO THIS TO MYSELF, I thought.

I saw many friends on the out and back run and they looked great. I knew it was just a matter of time before most of them caught me…and several of them did. But I finished. With my 3rd slowest ever half ironman time. Am I happy about it? No. Am I angry? No. It is what it is. I can’t change it. It was a beautiful day, a beautiful course and I was able to finish injury-free. All I can do is focus on doing better next time…yeah, next time!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Swimming at the lake

Swim at the lake was pretty uneventful. LOTS of people out there today! Sometimes it can be pretty dangerous because some swimmers come at you head on and they seem to NEVER sight. These are probably the people you see in races going completely off course.

We found some street parking at a meter. Why do we have to pay parking meters on Saturday? And who carries around $2.00 in change to feed the stupid meter? Just one of the little things that irks me about downtown.

I will be downtown again tomorrow as a SPECTATOR at the Chicago Distance Classic. It will be kinda cool to go to a race without having the pressure of DOING the race! I just hope I don't have that feeling of "Man, I should've signed up, I feel like running!"

Steelhead race report soon to come...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Open Water Swim

This weekend, I will be going down to the lake to conduct an Open Water Swim clinic. For those of us in Chicago, Lake Michigan provides the perfect training ground to train for open water swims. This year, they even have 1/4 and 1/2 mile markers in the water so you can tell how far you've gone. People swim along the shoreline, and at any time, the water is shallow enough for you to stand up, so it gives you a little extra confidence.

Although getting down to the lake can be tricky (traffic, parking, etc.), once you get there, it's a wonderful experience. There's almost always other "crazies" with wetsuits jumping in for a quick swim. And there are always people walking, running, rollerblading or bike riding along the lakefront, so the scenery is always changing. It's pretty cool to swim alongside the beautiful Chicago lakefront. And it's ideal training for the upcoming Accenture Chicago Triathlon.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

IM CDA Race Report 2006

This race was in June of this year. Comments on this report is what prompted me to start the blog. Enjoy.

The morning of IMCDA came very quickly for me. I was surprisingly calm all the way up until I put my wetsuit on. As I was getting ready to walk to the water, I gave my husband a kiss, he wished me good luck and I told him I felt like I had to puke. The nervousness finally set in. It was time to go.
Unlike Ironman Wisconsin, where you are treading water before the start, IMCDA is a beach start. So here we have 2300 people in wetsuits, standing on the beach ready to enter the water any second. The thought of getting all those people horizontal in a very short period of time made me shudder. With about 5 minutes before the start, I ran in the water ever so quickly, just enough to get my hair and goggles wet…it’s a habit I developed way back when I started swimming. I jumped back on the beach and wished Bernie good luck.
Then the cannon went off. It seemed a slow start as people walked in much further than you’d expect before they started swimming. I was all the way in waist-deep water before I took one last push from the bottom of the lake and hoped for the best! Within seconds, I lost sight of Bernie. There were arms and legs flailing everywhere!! I got hit in the back. Then the head. Then my arm got tangled up with someone on my left. Then my arm got tangled up with someone on my right. This continued for at least 300 yards and I wanted to cry. I was getting the crap kicked out of me at what was supposed to be my strongest event. I was yelling underwater for people to quit it, but they couldn’t. Just as I couldn’t move to my left or right, I figured neither could they. I swam tarzan-like for almost the entire first length of the rectangle-shaped course. With the Swedish goggles I wear (ones with no foam), I knew that if I got kicked in the face, I was going to get cut.
Though the day before during my swim warm up, I complained of how cold the water was, the 62 degrees were the least of my problems on race day. I didn’t even notice the temperature. I finally realized I was about 15 feet from the buoys on the course and decided to change my strategy back to the one I used at IMWI – go WIDE. I just needed to get away from all these people hitting me because I was getting so angry I was wasting energy on it.
Instead of turning at the buoy, I kept going straight…to get out of the crowd. Worked like a charm. Now there was absolutely no one to my right and I was far enough away to keep from making contact with people on my left. I drafted off some dude I thought was Bernie…until I saw how sloppy his stroke was. Sloppy, but it worked enough for me to draft, so I followed him. This swim course requires you to get out after one loop and cross a timing mat, then you jump back in. Talk about losing momentum! I went back to the outside and had a fabulous, strong remainder of the swim. In fact, in the last 200 yards, I decided to actually "push" a little. The rest of my swim was mostly at what I would call "warm up" pace.
I got to the water’s edge, got to my feet and ran to the wetsuit strippers. Very clear these volunteers were new as they practically dragged me along the grass trying to get the wetsuit off! I pushed it down further past my waist and yelled "go, pull it now!" It came off easily that time and I ran to find my T1 bag amongst all 2300 other ones. I found it quickly and ran into the changing tent. Once again, the inexperience of the volunteers was obvious as they kept moving my things around until I finally said, "please, stop touching my things!" while I was still trying to catch my breath. They were no help at all, which made me realize how spoiled I was at IMWI.
I ran to my bike grabbed it and started running when a volunteer yelled that I was going in the wrong direction! I thought to myself, "Thanks dumbass, why didn’t you tell me BEFORE I started running the wrong way!" I mean, it was NOT crowded when I got out of the water. That’s the one positive of being a strong swimmer…I should have been catered to at that point.
I ran to the mount line and it was like beginner-city. Two men in front of me fell off their bikes trying to get on in a hurry. One lost both water bottles and apparently decided his time was too important to stop and pick them up. Hey, people, it’s a freakin’ IRONMAN, not a sprint, get your crap together, take your time and get on your bike without getting hurt! "What’s with these people???" I thought. How could that guy leave all his nutrition at the beginning of the bike course!???! Whatever, I got on my bike and rode off.
My whole Ironman plan was centered around just one thing: a consistent heart rate on the bike, around mid-zone 3 for me. I had worn my HR monitor through the swim and had strapped my watch on the bike. I hit the start button as I rode through the small town of Coeur d’Alene and waited for the number to show up. One little problem…the number wouldn’t register. The watch read 00. I fiddled with the watch and with my chest strap, wondering if maybe it would start reading when the chest strap dried out. I kept telling myself to just calm down, it will work. Just stay focused.
Then I noticed I couldn’t see out of my left eye. I kept blinking and sure enough, my contact popped out! At mile 12 or so, I stopped to put it back in. I was a bit embarrassed as spectators asked me if I was OK. Man, I’d BETTER be OK considering as I’m only 12 miles into a 112 mile ride! Sheesh! The contact didn’t feel so good, but it was in and I could see, so I took off. Played more with my watch, not working. Mile 15, contact came out again. WTF! Pull over, tell the spectators I’m fine, and ride off. Now it’s stinging, probably from the salt on my fingers getting into my eye. Whatever, I got a ride to do. Between, mile 18 and 19, contact pops out again. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! So I rip it out and continue the rest of the ride with just one contact in. Who cares, I’ve done this before!
After 2 hours of playing with the stupid watch and HR monitor, I gave up. "I’m just going to have to guess at what my HR is" I told myself. Not the best plan, but I couldn’t think of anything better. I felt sorry for myself as I thought about all the time and training I put in to this race and now it was all screwed up! My only goal was to stick to my heart rate in the bike, and now I couldn’t do it. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME!???
The course was absolutely beautiful and did take my mind off how frustrated I was. There were hills and trees and farmland and it was breathtaking. People kept passing me left and right on the bike, but that’s typical for me and I worked hard at not "chasing" them. There were 2 tough hills, rather close together, and I got through them the first time OK. I had all my calories with me on the bike, so I only took water at the aid stations, and I grabbed a bottle of water at every aid station. I felt fine after my first loop and was happy with my time so far.
Then it got hot. And it got windy. Damn, this is just like what happened at IMWI! I’m sorry, 90 degrees is just too hot for a strong Ironman performance! But you know, everyone had to compete in the same conditions, so I kept riding, just a bit more slowly! A good friend, Joe, passed me around mile 62. I caught him quickly and asked him why he couldn’t say hi, and we rode together for just a minute or two before I told him to go on. He was having a phenomenal bike and as much as I would’ve loved the company and to stay with him, I knew that wasn’t in my plan and I didn’t want to hold him back.
"Special Needs" are on the bike and run courses, about half way through. They are bags you can put whatever you need to get you through the race. People put in there spare tires, shoes, food, drink, you name it. I rolled in to get my bike special needs bag and yelled out my number. The volunteer yelled back "It’s not here." I’m like, what do you mean, it’s not there, and I yelled my number again. She ran around, looking like a chicken with her head cut off and apologized, but my bag was nowhere to be found. Dejected, I pulled away from special needs and decided today just wasn’t my day.
The second time through those 2 hills was extremely tough and I thought about quitting. I was already off my game by not being able to follow my plan, I lost a contact, it’s too hot out here, they lost my special needs bag and I hate hills. I thought to myself "I’m stopping at the next aid station and I’m calling a SAG wagon. Screw this, Ironmans aren’t for me!" But one I got over the hills and got to enjoy the scenery and the downhill, I felt better. I passed a few people back towards the end of the second loop even though I was very uncomfortable and wanted to get off the bike. Well, I guess that’s what 112 miles does to you.
I slowed down to the dismount line where they take your bike. But, I forgot to stop! I couldn’t unclip and I ran into 3 volunteers and apologized profusely! I was really wobbly when I got off the bike and ran to find my T2 bag. THIS time, a volunteer stood there for me, bag in hand. "Now THIS is how it’s SUPPOSED to be" I thought to myself!
At this transition, I had 2 volunteers helping me. The first thing I did was rip through that bag to find the extra contact lens I put in there. They asked if I needed a mirror…yeah, right! The new contact went in, no problem, and felt comfortable. I made a full wardrobe change, put body glide everywhere and I was on my way.
My husband saw me immediately as I came out of the changing tent and yelled to me to ask how I was feeling. I was afraid to look at him because I thought I might start crying and I just shook my head. I was still frustrated and ticked off about all the things that had gone wrong so far and still thought about just stopping right there. I thought if I could just get into a groove on the run, I’ll be OK.
I looked down at my watch to note the time, since I had to down a gel every 30 minutes and, DAMMIT, NOW MY HEART RATE MONITOR WAS WORKING! WTF! I wanted to whip that thing into the crowd at that point! Where were you when I needed you on the bike??! That’s it, Polar and I need to have a little conversation!
The run was more like a walk/run (emphasis on the walk). For those of you that haven’t done an Ironman, it’s a very long, tough day, and you start to wonder what the hell you’re doing out there. Can’t it just be over now? For those of you that have done an Ironman, you know what I’m talking about. And you know you can’t just quit unless there is some pressing reason to! I mean, how could I look all of you in the face and tell you I quit because I just didn’t feel like going anymore??
The times I ran, I felt strong and my run times were right on my expectations. I passed the time by looking for my racing buddies on the out and back. I saw them all, several times and spotted Angie (former Black Sheep, BAAA) looking just fabulous! Every time I saw her, she was smiling and running strong. The Ironman Gods shined upon her this day.
Unfortunately, my stomach doesn’t like Ironman races and decides to shut down on me. I know I tend to drink too much, so I just asked for ice instead of water. Right after Mile17 and my required gel, I yacked it right back up with a ton of liquid. I HATE PUKING! That’s it, no more gel for MJ. But I have too far to go to survive it on water alone. Here’s where the cola came in. Normally, I hate regular cola, but that day, it tasted like gold and I couldn’t get enough. I kept getting an ice and a cola, dumped the ice in the cola, waited a few seconds and chugged the cola like someone was going to steal it from me. After a huge belch, I started to feel pretty good! LOL! It became routine for the next several miles.
The run on the IMCDA course has many miles along the same lake we swam in. There were lots of little piers with some people swimming, some boats docked, and others just bare. I kept thinking, if I could just jump in the water for a minute or two to cool down, I’ll bet the rest of this race would be a piece of cake! It was so tempting.
And now, the sun is setting and I’m shocked to see myself actually passing people. Apparently, the heat wasn’t affecting me as bad, or because I hadn’t "blown my wad" on the bike, I was able to keep moving strong. At mile 21, I looked at my watch, did a couple of calculations and realized I could break 14 hours. Your mind tends to play games on you when you’re going for that long and I didn’t realize I had plenty of time to break that barrier. So I ran. And I caught another runner….and another one…and the momentum built…and I started to feel so good. I wondered where this feeling was earlier on in the run. The spectators cheered for me as I was one of the very few people running at that point, and that just gave me more energy. Everyone calls out your name because they print it on the bib, and it really does a lot for me. I pushed as hard as I could for that last mile and, no matter how fast or slow I was going, in my head I was flying! I felt smooth and comfortable as I hammered my way into the finish.
When you hit that final half mile and there are spectators lined up 5 and 6 people deep on both sides of you, they cheer for you like you’re winning the Olympics. It doesn’t matter if you do a 9 hour race or a 16 hour race, the spectators truly make you feel like you’re a hero. Many kids AND adults held out their hands for me to slap them five as I ran into the chute and I hit as many hands as I possibly could…and I remembered to smile. I cannot believe how rough the day started for me, but I kept going, and now it’s over.

IMCDA 2006
Will there be another?
I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog for years. Originally, I never thought blogging would take off the way it has and I thought, "who the heck would want to read what I have to say?" But after talking to friends and sharing race reports from my triathlons, I was convinced blogging would be something I should give a try. So here it goes.