IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ironman Florida 2009 Race Report

Though it was dark when I arrived to transition in the morning for this year's Ironman Florida, the time change the prior weekend meant the sun would be up shortly. I was pretty calm as I pumped my tires, put my nutrition on my bike and double-checked where my T1 and T2 bags were located. Unlike when I did this race 2 years ago, the change area was actually inside the building. Based on where my bike was located, it made for a lot of unnecessary running back and forth, which I was not very happy about. After a quick stop at the porta potty, it was time to head to the beach.

It was chilly out. Many of the athletes were bundled up in warm-up pants, sweatshirts and some had hats on. I kept my shoes and socks on for as long as I possibly could because that sand was very cold!

The sun shining felt good as I hoped I wouldn't freeze when I got out of the water and onto the bike. I went to line up in what is now my "usual" spot at Ironman races and took a few deep breaths. I had seen a huge jellyfish prior in the week and I tried to block that out of my head and focus on the task at hand! I don't think I was quite prepared as the cannon went off and we all started running into the water.

It felt like we had to run a long time to get to water deep enough to swim in. I don't remember this from 2 years ago, but it could have been the same. I wanted to make sure I didn't get tired from trying to run through knee-deep water. The frustrating part was that the water got deep enough to start swimming, but then there was a sand bar where everyone started to get up and walk again - this was just about 30-50 yards into the water.

Once we got going, the water was very comfortable. Making the first turn, however, I noticed myself being pulled up by what felt like huge waves. We were getting rocked all over the place and I wondered how people that get seasick would handle this. I had someone draft off me the entire first loop - I just couldn't shake him or her - they continually tapped my feet every 6-8 strokes. I thought about stopping and letting that person take the lead for a while! The entire last stretch, the waves hit from the right forcing me to breath to the left the entire way. Coming out of the water at the end of the first loop, we encountered that same sandbar, deep again, then shallow - I felt like I was walking entirely too much, but it was exhausting to try and dolphin dive that whole thing! The second loop was a little easier because it had broken up a bit. However, the chop seemed to be a little bit worse. It made me wonder how windy the bike was going to be.

Out of the water, I ran through the make-shift shower and into transition. The volunteers seemed to be a bit discombobulated as they scrambled to find my bag - I yelled my number just a few times before running over and grabbing my bag myself. A quick change, I wasn't as shaky as I normally am out of the water, and I went to get my bike. Got on over to the bike exit and started riding. I was pretty surprised that there were no "packs" on this first stretch out along the ocean. Everyone complains of drafting on this course, but I was pretty much riding alone on this section, with a guy passing me here or there. It was VERY hard to contain myself - this is a very easy course to overextend early so I fought with myself to hold myself back in these early miles.

It was about an hour into the ride when I realized I WAS NOT COLD! I think the air temp was 54 when we started the race. I thought for sure I was in for some chills until I dried off and it started to warm up. I didn't even think to bring arm warmers with me, but it seems I didn't need them anyway. The ride went very well. Sure, there were a few packs of riders that came by - probably about 40-50 miles in. I also saw a huge pack of drafters when there was this little out-and-back section. Sometimes I think you just get caught up in that, sometimes I think it's done blatantly. Whatever, I'm only focusing on me. There were a lot of guys that would pass me, slow down, I'd pass, they'd go by again, etc. I just focused on my steady effort and wished I could just get away from them...they always fall back...eventually.

I enjoyed this ride. I had such a bad ride in Kona that I was a bit nervous about how this ride would go for me, but I felt great throughout. There was a section we must've had a tailwind because I was flying with minimal effort. It felt like it lasted a long time, but I was mentally preparing for the headwind we were about to face on the way back into town. Over the bridge (the only somewhat-significant hill on the course) and then a left turn. And there it was, the headwind. I didn't stress, just put my head down, tucked in and rode within my watts. Wow, the pace slowed drastically! On this section, too, I jockeyed with one guy back and forth - very frustrating. He just wouldn't go away. By now I was very uncomfortable on the seat and it was painful to stay aero, but the effort was much greater if I tried to sit up.

I rode on in, happy to be off the bike and again, confusion with the volunteers and getting bags. I ran over to get my own bag, which was a bit troublesome because there were people and bags all over the place, and into the change area. I took my time and headed out for the run. Unfortunately, almost immediately, my hamstring started to bother me. This is the same hamstring that took me out of running for about 8 months. It started acting up during Louisville and I've been playing a dangerous game ever since. It was now I realized I had a decision to make. I could push through and really try to hammer this run and possibly knock myself out for the next 6-8 months - or I could ease up, limit my damage and still put together a decent race. I argued with myself the first few miles trying to decide what to do. What would I tell my athletes? I would tell them to back off - the injury isn't worth it. And though it was tough, I did it. I started to walk.

I kept on with a run/walk for the duration of the race. I started getting cold around mile 15 but I didn't bring anything warm to put on. The sun was starting to go down and the conditions for running were ideal. I kept on with my nutrition and tried to figure out how long it was going to take me to finish. It was dark before I got to mile 20. I decided then that I was going to pick it up a little. I was ready for this race to be over. Then I ran after mile 22, skipping the last several aid stations.

All in all, it was a good race. Yes, the run was slow, but I'm OK with that. It was an end to a very good season for me. I had even considered NOT doing this race simply because I was tired and my head was no longer in the game. I don't recommend 3 Ironman events in 10 weeks. I don't think it's good for you body and I know it's not good for the head! It wasn't planned that way, it's just how it happened. It will likely never happen again, but if it does - I'll handle it better next time.


Anonymous said...

MJ - you're such an inspiration! Love reading your reports. Enjoy some time off now.


Louis Hayes said...

Very cool.

Lea & Eric Fischer said...

How about it....Great Job!

Debbie said...

Great job.You deserve time off.

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Wow, 3 Ims in 10 weeks!!
Goodness! I was at IMFL a few years ago, tons of jellies. :-)

Jenn said...

Thanks for your honest breakdown of this race. I'm planning on a 1/2 Ironman next year & any advice, tips, information is helpful! Keep on trucking away!

LaVonne said...

Way to be "mature" (as my PT always says) and take it easy on the run. Sounds like the right decision. Great job on the race...and the season!

Anonymous said...

great race you made my RR too, you were the one of the few AG women who zipped passed me on the bike