Friday, August 31, 2012

Ironman Louisville 2012 Race Recap Part 2- How I got there

It may have been a shock to some of my followers for me to have completed an Ironman this year.  I really didn't blog about it aside from a mention here or there about completing a century ride as a prerequisite, and I didn't sign up until 5 weeks out from the race.  I didn't follow an official training plan, so how did this happen? 

I feel like this race was the cumination of both a lot of hard work, and things working out extremely favorably for me, as well as a huge amount of friends who were doing the race this year who I could rely on for training assistance and on course support.

I have always thought it would be cool to do an Ironman.  I thought I would never do one because I couldn't swim and was terrified of the water.  Well, in 2009, I did my first tri, and realized that while I am a terrible swimmer, CAN'T has nothing to do with it.  I was training with lots of athletes who had completed Iron distance races, and they seemed so busy with their training.  I had thought this would be the perfect thing for me to work on that first year that Soren was in full day kindergarten, and chose a race that was early, so that I could train through the school year, and race either right at the end of the year, or be already into my taper when school let out for the summer.  That meant that IMKY wouldn't really be an option.  Since it is at the end of the summer, I would need to do the bulk of my training when I have both kids out of school all day and Ryan is in full riding season.  I attended the 2011 IMKY, and was overwhelmed with how awesome it was.  I wanted to do it.  I selected a race, St George 2015, and that would be my race.   With its timing, I thought maybe I could maintain a level of fitness throughout the summer and even do IMKY a few months later.  I asked a couple IM coaches about this, and it seemed plausible.  It just seemed wrong to live so close to the race course and not do it.  Ryan wasn't completely opposed to it, since it was so far out.  That would be the plan, and I would be patient like I was with getting to Boston (that took 8 years).  I could wait a few years, right?  I started training for Boston, and was plenty happy with that.  Running makes me very happy, and I was getting to live my dream.  I couldn't be happier.  I was swimming 3x/wk and doing trainer rides up until taper time.

It got to be spring and friends here were training for IM already.  Erin was running with me doing training for TX.  Cristina was getting signed up for Louisville.  My neighbor Jennifer was talking about how cool it would be to just train for an IM and sign up at the last minute once she was ready.  I couldn't agree more, but didn't know how that would work since they sell out so fast all the time.  My training was going perfectly, and I felt really strong.  I was thinking I would maybe PR even.  I went out to Boston, and while it was an amazing experience and an opportunity to live my dream, the heat caused me to slow down.  I finished with a personal worst, but tried to not be too hard on myself.  I finished, and lots of people didn't.  It was the fulfillment of a dream, so that was very cool and exciting too.  I signed up for the Derby half hoping to at least run a fast half as a result of all my hard work, but it was too soon.  I was pretty fast, but still no elusive 1:37 or even a PR.  I wasn't rested enough, and was again being hard on myself, but tried not to get too down.

I switched gears to triathlon training.  Ryan and I had planned 2 cycling tours, the Horsey Hundred and the Michigan Mountain Mayhem, with Kent and Valerie.  I was going to do the 75 mile ride of the Horsey Hundred, and the 65 mile ride of the MMM.  That would prepare me well for Muncie, I thought.  Then I learned that St George would not have a full Ironman after this year.  I wasn't terribly worried about it, figuring that I am sure there would be more options in a few years with the popularity of the sport growing and races selling out so quickly. 

On my first 50 mile ride of the season, I had initially planned to do an iamtri ride that rockstar Amy and Alan were coming down from MI to do.  Erin and I had also talked about riding together, but she overslept.  After a comedy of errors with road closures due to construction and a walk event, I missed the ride, but my time spent driving around gave Erin enough time to get ready, and we had a great ride in IN.  That night, I went out to dinner with Amy and Alan.  Amy made mention of how her sister was signed up, and hadn't been training.  Hmm.  What exactly did she mean by "not been training".  We talked about what it would take, a century ride, and several 80-90 miles rides.  The gears started turning.  Amy told me about long swims and just told me to train like I would for a marathon for the run since I already knew how to do that.

I completed a very hot Horsey Hundred with Valerie.  I even ran a mile afterwards.  It went great.  Two weeks later I had the MMM.  I went through lots of internal debate on what distance to do.  I think I even posted about it.  I upgraded my distance from the 100K to the 160K.  It would be a full century plus some, with a burley elevation gain.  If I could do that, maybe I could do the IM.  There were still spots available, which blew my mind!  I felt like it was calling to me.  I completed the MMM and had a blast.  It was hard, but I was so glad I did it.  Ryan asked if I felt like running a marathon after, and I made the mistake of saying, "no". 

I continued to train and prepare for Muncie.  Slots were still available for the IM.  I asked Ryan about it, and we didn't have the money.  We had started a kitchen remodel based on our tax refund that we still hadn't received in full.  My neighbor had gotten the green light to sign up, and the weekend after MMM she invited me to do an 80 mile ride with her and Terri.  I bailed on it.  I did 44 miles.  After the MMM, I was toast, and my tri bike came away rather damaged, and had been left in MI.  We got hailed on, and at that point, I stopped, and went back to the car.  I am thankful that I did, because I was able to rescue Ryan from a barn where he and his group were shivering in the cold from a very close thunderstorm.  Water streamed over the roads.  Jennifer finished her ride due to riding away from the storm while Ryan was going into it.  More training.  Ryan and I had a discussion that we could revisit the IM after Muncie.  I stopped bothering him about it.  If it was still open and we were OK on funds, I could do it, but I didn't tell anyone.  I consulted with many of my friends who were training for it or had completed it, and they thought I was on track.

When I arrived at Muncie and learned that the race had been shortened, I was devasted.  I needed this day not only to finally break 6 hours, but to show Ryan that I was on the right track to getting to the IM.  I cried to the woman at the "solutions" tent about how I hated the OLY distance, and that this wasn't going to help me show my readiness, OR be the training race that I needed it to be to be able to sign up for IM.  I had a decent race, with an awesome bike pace, and a decent swim.  My run was just OK.  My pace was still what it would have been had the race been the full distance, I felt.  Oh well.  It was still fun.  I thought about racing again the following weekend at a local 70.3.  Ryan was not amused since he wanted to have the day to ride since Muncie caused him to skip.  I was exhausted when we got home, and couldn't eat much.  My temperature felt all out of whack, and I was freezing in the house.  I thought maybe I had gotten so used to the hot temps that I couldn't stand the air conditioning.  I went to church the next day and still didn't feel better, in fact, I felt worse, and had a fever.  We had the final stage of our kitchen remodel set for Monday, planned to be on a day off, and I was thankful for that.  I felt miserable.  Tuesday, I took the kids to swimming lessons, but by that afternoon, I was not functional and went to the dr.  I saw Ryan's doctor, who was also a triathlete.  I was diagnosed with strep, and sent home with an antibiotic.  Wednesday, I woke up, and was not functional.  I couldn't stand without my chest being in pain, and was crawling around with two screaming hungry kids and I had to call Ryan to come home before he had even arrived at work.  He took the kids to swimming lessons while I slept.  I woke up and felt even worse!  I took my temp, and it was 102.7!  WOW! Adults don't run temps that high.  I called my dr's office, and they wanted to see me.  I drove myself so that we were all not there and I was re-diagnosed with pneumonia.  NO!  I had told my doctor that I was training for the IM, and he felt like this shouldn't discourage me, although it did.  It would have been super easy to just be done for the summer.  There were times that I thought I was.  I was so upset.  There is nothing worse than having a dream taken away.  I had felt like I was so close, and then this happened.  I had to take over a week off of everything.  It just made me want it more.  I was determined to not let this derail me, as it easily could have.  My first workout back was a long swim, 1.5 miles.  I did some running, and a shorter ride over the weekend.  It was hard, but I felt like the rest had been beneficial.  I would just plug along and see what I could get accomplished, and then see if there were spots.  Things were ramping up nicely.

I was talking with Cristina on the phone and she mentioned that there were less than 50 spots left.  Really?  Ryan and I had a talk.  We looked at the funds.  There were none.  I went to bed that night and prayed that our missing money would show up before the IM sold out.  I had just felt like one of those spots should be for me!  I called my mom and she agreed to give me an advance on my Christmas present, but it wasn't enough.  I went about my day the next day, still pushing on.   I went to my mailbox after all the errands, and low and behold, was the missing money!  I burst into tears in my driveway and jumped up and down!  I offered prayers of thanks!  I left a message for Jennifer and called Ryan.  I drove straight to the bank, where they informed me that I couldn't deposit it without Ryan's signature too. Ack!  But at least I had the check, and all I had to do was return in the morning.  WTC doesn't take checks either, so it wasn't like the money had to be in the account for me to sign up.  I figured I would talk to Ryan about it one last time.  However, while I was waiting for him to get home so I could, I saw a f/b post that there were less than 10 slots available!  I started to storm badly, and the lights were flickering.  OH NO!  What if we lost power while I was trying to sign up???  An IM race application is more like an essay.  I was frantically try to fill out the fields with insurance info, emergency contacts, interesting stories, ect before the slots sold out or we lost power.  Thankfully, we never lost power (although the neighboring city did), and I got signed up.  I was pumped.  And then I freaked out.

I got calls and emails from friends making sure that I knew what I was in for.  You can't fake and IM, and I knew that.  I had 5 weeks, and was going to need to take a week off long road riding to do a mountain bike race.  I tried to do as much trainer riding during the week, but I feel off my mountain bike and injured my intercostal muscles.  Seriously????  I had just paid the money and now I am freaked out.  I went back to Ryan's doctor, and he gave me and anti-inflammatory and assured me that I would be fine.  I also got caught up on all my shots, since I was there.  To do my long runs in the week, I maxed out my daycare time on the treadmill, and then finished the balance with the kids in the stroller.  I put my trainer on the back patio so that I could ride in the heat and watch the kids play on our playgroup.  I felt nuts, but I was getting the job done.  Jennifer invited me to do a 110 mile ride of the course that Saturday with some ladies.  I was so thankful for that!  It was a big jump in mileage, but we were at do or die time.  I completed the ride and while I felt tired, hungry, and sore, I was super excited about the accomplishment.  I was slightly annoying too, with how thrilled I was!  I had a blast, and learned a lot about nutrition.  I realized that I was not eating enough.  Also, we finished the 110 miles in 6:41 minutes, which was faster than I did the MMM, which was shorter.  Also, we were only out just under 8 hours.  That meant that if I wanted to race and take that many stops and for those durations, I could and still be OK.  I had been thinking 2 hour swim, 8 hour bike, and 5 hour run for 15 hours total.  Doing this ride made me think I could do it a bit better, if I could stop less! 

Jennifer also brought me to an open water swim in the Ohio.  I was super thankful that I live here and I could go to my tri club's OWS where you have the opportunity to jump off the actual dock for the start of the race.  I was sketched out about that.  It took it me a few minutes to jump in, but the water, although dirty and brown, wasn't terrible to swim in.  It was quite warm and comfortable.  Since it was a club swim, we had kayak support so I felt safe.  I did 1.3 miles that evening.  It was brown and gross, but I felt super ready!

I did a taper following my marathon taper.  I biked based off of what Becky thought I should do.  I am so thankful for knowledgeable friends with experience to get me through!

And that was how I happened to prepare myself for my IM.  I would have to say that it is probably anrather unorthodox approach, with no official training plan or coach, and goes to show how much it is mental and not physical to being able to do it.  I did have an extensive network of support, between Ryan and my friends with experience.  I was just so excited and blessed to have this opportunity, that I was not going to throw it away.  The pain of regret hurts so much worse than that of failure.  I HAD to try it and give it my all.  I also feel so blessed because the day really went perfect.  I had a better swim time than I could imagine, my bike time was also was exactly where I thought it would be, and my run was incredible!  I never thought the day would go so well, and I am so thankful for it.  It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I am so glad I did not have to sign up so far in advance, that I could wait until I was ready to pull the trigger.  This was MY day.  I needed that so much!  Things will probably never fall into place like they did this time around.  Thanks to everyone who helped along the way! 


Anonymous said...

What a roller coaster! I am so glad to read I'm not the only one out there running (literally) on a tight budget. Pretty much the exact same thing happened to us w/ a kitchen remodel based off a tax return (project got too big for the return to cover) and since then I've been 'allowed' about 1 big race a year. It's awesome that you got what you needed to sign up and compete!

Anonymous said...

You're in such incredible shape it does not surprise me that you were able to do this in 5 weeks! Here I sit 32 weeks into training and I honestly am jealous that you only had to think and worry for a short time - the anticipation of this thing is the worst part!!

Colleen said...

Love it...

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, "WOW". I just found your blog through another runner, so I have a lot of catching up to do, but after this one post, I'm seriously in awe of you! I am just now starting to consider doing a sprint tri and am intimidated by finding time to train for just the short distance. You're a rockstar!

Stacey Pomerleau said...

Great post! I'm glad that everything fell into place for you.