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We emphasize a real food diet and our coaching philosophy is simple: Train hard, recover harder. No junk miles but instead, respect for your amazing body. Every time you move your body you do so with a purpose. Our services are designed with your goals in mind so that you can live an active and healthy, balanced lifestyle.
1.2 mile swim
Around 8:40 or so, Karel lined up near the front of his wave just behind the inflatable swim start sign. Karel went into this race with a lot of swim confidence as he has been working really hard with a swim coach/masters team at UNF on his swimming skills. As a cat 1 cyclist turned triathlete and just learning how to swim 15 months ago, Karel has come far in both his endurance and efficiency as a swimmer. But all of triathletes know that to be a great triathlete you need to be able to exit the water relatively fresh - with a body that can bike and then run to the finish line.
The great thing about this specific swim course is that it was designed really nicely for all levels of swimmers. For Karel, the numbered buoys and 3 specific turn buoys allowed him to pace himself but also mentally swim strong throughout the swim. Also, Karel liked starting in the water, after jumping off a dock. Karel has expressed that the mass swim start chaos is not something he looks forward to so the smaller waves alongside smooth water conditions presented the perfect race start for Karel.
35:08, 458th male, 92 age group
Karel exited the water just over 35 minutes which he was really happy about as that was his same time with a wet suit from Branson 70.3 last year. Karel knows that in triathlons, you have to forget the past and be in the moment and every race is different so you can't compare race times. So even if the swim wasn't as good as it was at Miami, he always says "forget about it and move on. Let what happened happen and don't try to make up time on the bike because of a slower swim." When you give your best effort you must always accept it with no regrets or wish-I-would-have's.
The hardest part of the swim was getting out of the water. Karel said they had to climb a few stairs to exit the water and then it was a jog to transition. But other than that - Karel was really excited about his swim time. He also felt much better exiting the water and not exhausted for the bike. Yay progress!
56 mile bike
Amber and I had a little time to kill after our guys were on the bike so I grabbed some food from my bag and cooler and we sat on the ground in Bayside Market Place to enjoy a few snacks. I also charged my phone as it was super active all morning with updates on Facebook and Instagram.
I estimated that Karel would be a few minutes in transition and depending on the wind, I was thinking between 2:20 and 2:25 for his bike. I didn't discuss times with Karel before his race so I used the Ironmanlive tracker for his 28 mile split to guesstimate his return time.
Karel and I spent the night before studying the course map - specifically the first few miles of the bike so that Karel would know exactly how he was leaving transition and what to expect in the first few miles of the race when the body is acclimating from swim position to bike position.
Karel exited the water in 92nd place out of his age group of 524 (35-39) males.
Karel new he would be passing a lot of people since he was in the 22nd wave (out of 26) so the goal of the ride was to race smart for a strong run. Karel has been craving a sub 1:30 run off the bike but he had a lot of work to do on the bike to move forward in his age group placing to be pushed by the other guys in his age group for that strong run.
Karel said that the course was simple - out and back. There was a slight tailwind after the turn around but overall, Karel said it was mostly crosswinds.
Karel was able to maintain a good pace to the turn around and averaged around 24mph for 28 miles (1:09). I wasn't sure how the wind would affect him on the way home but knowing Karel he is not the biker who would overbike the first half of a race. If anything, Karel likes to save his effort and I knew he wouldn't overbike this course so I figured he would be at around the same time -give or take a minute or two- on the way back. The one downside to this course for Karel was that it was pancake flat. Karel and I both prefer rolling courses for it gives us a chance to stretch the legs and change position on the bike. Karel gets really tight in his adductors and hip flexors which is relieved by getting out of the saddle. But on this course - Karel stayed aero, had all his nutrition on the bike and stretched as needed throughout the race.
After passing groups and groups of riders on the way out, Karel was stuck on the way back. With 3133 participants in the race, let's just say that many athletes were enjoying a free ride and according to Karel, it was like a team time trial out there. Karel was unable to pass 4 abreast on the road for then he would be risking a penalty for crossing the middle line. So I guess you could say in this race you are only as fast as the pack in front of you.
Karel has had his time racing bikes for most of his life so it would be easy for him to draft in triathlons for it is normal in cycling races. But the difference between bike racing and triathlons is the individual effort needed in tri's. Although Karel misses being in the hurt box at his crit races, he really enjoys the solo effort and having no one to blame but yourself for how things go on race day. In other words, in cycling races you can have a great day but get dropped from the pack that is having a better day. In triathlons - it's your own effort and either you race smart or suffer.
Karel ended up having a slower ride (relative) on the way back because of the massive groups of riders so he was a bit bothered by the craziness on this course but happy that he was about to wake up his run legs. Even though he wasn't quite sure how his legs were going to enjoy running 13.1 miles at almost noon time and up a bridge four times, the mind knew it was time to run and the body had no choice but to follow.
I was so thankful to my Facebook followers for everyone was helping me keep up with Karel on Ironmanlive.com. I managed to catch Karel on the way into transition area and the set-up for the Miami 70.3 course was really great for spectators to see athletes riding into transition area through the middle of downtown.
The course had many road closures in the downtown area which was great for getting around the swim/run course rather easy. Campy was starting to get a little exhausted but he had just enough energy to smile and cheer for all the athletes on the course. He was super excited to finally see his daddy.
2:22:17 (23.61 mph) - 19th age group, 125th male
13.1 mile run
After passing 396 people on the bike course in 56 miles, Karel transitioned in less than 2 minutes and was off for the run. The run course was an out and back course, 2 loops. The course was not forgiving on the legs and running in the middle of the day was also another challenge for the body.
I stayed near mile 6 so that I could see Karel heading back from his first loop. Thankfully there were a lot of tracking mats on the course to record his chip for frequent updates. A former nutrition athlete of mine, Roger, was a lifesaver for I was able to know about when Karel was coming. Holding Campy and my camera was taking my love for multi-sports to the extreme. BUT, I managed to catch Karel both times.
When I saw Karel he looked great. He had been averaging between 6:23-6:57 min/mile with a few slower segments (relative) on the bridge. Just like on the bike, Karel had all his nutrition with him so he relied on his Nathan fuel belt and then grabbed ice/water at the aid stations for sipping and cooling. Karel usesInfinit Nutrition and a custom formula that I created for him for the bike and run. Karel said that the aid stations were running out of fuel on the run so he was happy he had his own nutrition.
After seeing Karel again, starting loop two, I could tell that he was going to give it his all. That's what I love so much about Karel - absolutely no excuses. It is what it is, all that he has, 100% of the time. I've watched Karel race bikes for 6 years so I have experienced the rush, the highs and the lows that come with bike racing. But I can't help but remember that Karel just started triathlons last year and although a very talented and gifted athlete, he trains really hard using our "train smart" philosophy.
At around 1 mile, Karel had moved into 17th place. Nearing mile 9, he was in 13th place. I could tell from his splits that he was getting tired and later did I hear that Karel was really suffering on the run in his hip flexors. He said he was super tight and just couldn't get his legs to freshen up. With all things considered, it was just after 1pm and running up and over a bridge four times doesn't make running any easier. But, no giving up for Karel - ever. He will push til he can't push any more.
I was also so happy that I spotted Trimarni athlete Caitlin on the run course who later finished her first Half IM in just over 7 hours! She looked amazing the entire run and I was just so happy for her!
I made my way to the finish line because I didn't want to miss Karel's finish. Of course...I missed his finish after waiting over 20 minutes in the most perfect spot to see him coming and then move over to the barricades to video his finish. I have no idea how I missed him but when the announcer said his name I was so sad that I missed his finish!
The finish line was in the park area so it was really easy to find athletes after they finished.
I walked with Campy to the area where athletes were exiting the finish line chute and waited, and waited and waited.
I wasn't sure where he was and I was concerned that I wouldn't find him and it would be really hard to find him with so many athletes and spectators around if he was in the park area. I knew he wouldn't go far as we planned to meet at the finish line area but I waiting and waiting and no Karel. I knew the medical tent was near by and I couldn't see Karel in there so I figured he had just collapsed somewhere to rest his aching legs.
My friend Amber and her hubby Tommy (who did AMAZING in 4:40!) spotted Karel and I was very relieved.
After Karel and I made our way to an empty grass area, Karel told me that he ended up in medical because he was on the verge of blacking out at the finish. Medical iced him down and after a few minutes he was ok to walk alone. Neither Karel or myself have ever received an IV after a race.
After Karel rested a bit and received some happy celebratory kisses from Campy, we walked (as Karel hobbled) to the parking garage so that Karel could get his backpack with his change of clothes. Karel went to our friend's hotel to shower since he had his room key and I hung out at the market place for another 30 minutes so that I could see Caitlin one more time on her way back to finish her race. I also cheered for the other athletes and spotted my friend Dee Dee who also finished her first half IM.
After Karel showered, he grabbed his bike and gear from transition and met me back at the car. Not surprising, Karel started to feel the normal waves of "I feel OK" to "I think I am going to die" so he just sat outside the car on a curb in the parking garage for a good 15 minutes. I put an ice pack on his neck from the cooler and went to the market to find him something that would help him feel better.
A fruit smoothie did the trick and Karel was feeling a bit better after a few sips. He also had a little bit of milk and some grapes post race, along with a Coke and Water (and a few electrolyte tablets).
Nearing 3pm, we were ready to hit the road for our 5 hour trip home. Karel rested, Campy was passed out in his bed and I drove home.
To recap Karel's race - he finished strong and gave everything he had for that day. 7:01 min/mile pace for 13.1 miles = 1:32:08 finishing time (including walks at aid stations).
Karel finished 14th age group with some crazy tough competition out there.
His run was 104th overall and 94th male.
Another race in the books and another chance to thank the body for what it allows us to do. Crossing finishing lines is great and it makes for great stories when we walk funny after the race. But the best part of our life is being able to live every day to the fullest. We love to use our body and racing gives us a means to release all that energy. We love to travel and racing gives us the excuse to see new sights.
We love setting goals and working hard for them. Sometimes we don't reach goals on race day but it doesn't stop us from enjoying the journey to get to another starting line and remembering where we were when we started the goal setting process.
Racing has no guarantees. There is no magic trick to ensure a great race day performance or even a finish at all. But racing is more than just getting a medal and a t shirt. It tests you when you are weak and vulnerable, it makes you discover a lot about yourself and it forces you to return to your "normal" life as a stronger and more grateful human being.
No matter how a race starts or how a race finishes, what counts is your gratitude for what your body was able to let you do on that very day. So long as you keep yourself nourished and well, hopefully there will always be another race.
Before every endurance event I do, I like to read my old race reports. I was recently reading my IMWI and IMKY race reports and I just laughed while reading them because I guess two and three years down the road, my mind still wants Ironman racing to be "easy". I always think about a past race and somehow, my mind tells me it was "easy" back then and now I am really going to hurt. But it's funny that when I read my race reports, it was not easy and it was never easy. I guess the saying is true...
I guess when it comes to thinking logically, the body and mind do not like to suffer. Not a good combination when it comes to endurance racing. Not sure how many times you look for that "easy" button but if you find it while training for an endurance event or while racing, I am not sure you will want to use it because if "it" was easy, everyone would be doing it.
You see, the great thing about endurance sports is that you get to become someone that you don't believe you can become. You must be patient and respectful of the distance but you must also be willing to work every day to make some kind of progress. You get to experience highs and lows and you get to learn how to work your mind and body in magical ways. You get to inspire and motivate others and you get to join a special group of individuals who seek challenges outside their comfort zone.
I love working with athletes who are new to endurance racing because the human body must be trained and fueled in a way that it resists fatigue and stays energizes and does the minimum amount of work possible to receive huge performance gains. Sharing this journey with Karel has been so much fun because I have seen his body and mind strengthen in many ways and as I share my 6th Ironman with him for his first Ironman, I can't help but think that we will both be going through similar emotions on race day....a lot of why's and hopefully a lot of why nots.
I wanted to repost a blog I did after my 4th Ironman, which meant so much to me because I really pushed hard and received the best prize ever....a rolldown slot to my 2nd Ironman World Championship. Talk about emotions....battling thoughts to get myself on the podium and then being so satisfied with my performance that I went to bed fulfilled only to find out the next day I was going to Kona in 2011.
So I wanted to share my post with everyone (again) as to why I love endurance racing and that I hope this post inspires you to do something that challenges you. Get started with something now without thinking about where you are now and where you need/want to be in the future. The part of working hard for your goals is reaching your end point and being able to look back as to where you were when you started.
9-17-2010 This part of the report means so much to me. Not only because I finished my fourth IM since 2006 but I get to write MY report on behalf of all of the triathletes out there, who aspire to one-day sign-up and finish an Ironman. And even if you don't aspire to do a triathlon or an Ironman, or you have done an IM, this is for all of the people out there who have set a challenging, and perhaps, unthinkable, goal.
It is hard to describe the feelings that come with finishing an Ironman. For many of us, we devote a good 6-12 months of training to one event. That's right, an entire year dedicated to one event! And to make things even more nerve-racking, you pay a lump sum of money for the event.... 365 days before the race! For myself, this race was 4 years in the making and I sacrificed many other local races (and wants) to offset the expenses for this event.
For many of you, you are forced to put the hurdles and obstacles that you experience day in and day out, behind you, in an effort to train on most days of the week. On some days, your training may last most of the day. On other days, you may be up at 4:30am just to be finished before the sun comes up. But at the end of the day, you know your priorities and you quickly realize that only in your dreams would you train like a professional. That's right, no scheduled massages, no sponsorships, no free race entries, no purse prize. You have a family alongside work responsibilities and somehow, you are happy just make it all work. Why? Because you have goals. For many of you, perhaps your love for living a healthy life was taken to the next level and somehow, your goals became a lifestyle.
For myself, it was my choice to balance a dietetic internship and training. Just like you, I had ups and downs with my training and the rest of my life and just like you, I didn't always think it was possible to achieve long-term goal(s). You developed a support team and perhaps, there were some people on your team that bailed on you. However, by staying in the positive, you surrounded yourself with people who gave you energy, rather than take it away from you. Without a doubt, with IM training you are always searching for extra natural energy!!!
When I crossed the finish line, I was satisfied. I had given everything I had during the race and I couldn't have asked for anything better. For in an Ironman, every person who crosses the finish line is a winner. Everyone gets a medal, everyone gets a finisher t-shirt and every person becomes a member of a select group of people. Even for those who don't reach the finish line during an IM, they are still in a select club...for only a small part of the population even considers signing up for an IM. Reaching the starting line of an IM is one of the biggest accomplishments you can ask for. Finishing an Ironman is just the icing on the "healthy" cake.
Ironman training is tough. However, through following a periodized training plan, you should find yourself improving on a weekly basis. By allowing your body to recover through active recovery, weekly planned rest days and planned recovery weeks you should find yourself enjoying your IM training and enjoying the journey. Ironman training is 10x harder than the Ironman event. In an effort to get to the starting line of an IM, you must train your body to complete a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. Because you have 365 days to train for a 140.6 mile event, most athletes arrive to the starting line trained and ready to go. Sadly, many people arrive to the race overtrained and/or injured, so certainly, balance and a smart mind (and coach) may be necessary when planning for your IM journey.
It's hard to describe the emotions and feelings that flood your body at the IM finish line. Perhaps you want to envision yourself crossing the IM finish line but you may be asking yourself....will my body ever let me do an Ironman??
For those who like to swim bike and runANYONE can do an Ironman.
Here's how I can describe the Ironman journey. Remember, it's a LONG journey with a one-day finish line.
Imagine yourself driving 140.6 miles on a daily basis. For the first few weeks, it probably seems really boring and you ask yourself "can I really continue doing this every day?" After a few weeks, the drive gets easier and you become content with the drive. Maybe you even look forward to the drive because you are alone with yourself, your thoughts and feelings. Maybe you come up with new ideas and thoughts during your drive and feel inspired to change something in your life. Certainly, some days do feel longer than others but overall, you are happy with your decision to do the drive. Eventually, a group of your close friends tell you that they are going to ride with you during your drive to keep you company. The drive becomes much more enjoyable because you can laugh, smile and share stories with your friends during the long ride. Down the road, you notice that thousands of other people are doing the same drive as you. Although they are in different cars (some nicer and more expensive than others) and drive at different speeds, they are all going to the same place as you. Some how, you look forward to the drive even more and you almost don't want the drive experience to end. One day, you notice that there are lots of people on the road wanting to help you. They want to make sure your car is fueled, it is in excellent working condition and that you have everything you need to feel happy during your drive. It's amazing how special you feel during your drive and you feel compelled to tell your friends about the drive, almost as if you are motivating others to do the drive with you. On your last drive, you notice that your closest friends and family are on the road waving at you. You couldn't be more excited to see them and they bring tears to your eyes because they are supporting your decision to drive 140.6 miles. They think you are crazy for doing it but they love you anyways and they want to see you finish the drive. When you get to the finish of your last drive, you notice that there are thousands of people cheering you on. You tell yourself "but it's only 140.6 miles" but you know that not many people would make the decision to do this drive. A drive that you once thought was never possible and you finally made it to the finish line. Happy that you don't have to do the drive anymore, you are kinda sad and are ready to sign up for another 140.6 mile drive.
But because there are so many other people out there with you, wanting to reach the same finish line, you feel the need to help the people behind you, reach the same finish line.
When I reached the finish line, I was ready to see all of the future "IMWI" athletes cross the finish line. A line that once seemed impossible, was in close reality.
2% of athletes qualified for Kona at IMWI. That statistic is pretty consistent at most IM events. I'm guessing that around 8% of athletes are shooting for a Kona slot. An amazing 98% of athletes at an Ironman are there to finish. 98%!!! If you feel as if you can't do an IM, you have absolutely no idea of what you are capable of doing. The body is truly amazing. Although many components play a role in finishing an Ironman, the Ironman event is very mental. With all of the training behind you, you are simply putting your training to the test and enjoying the day with 2500-3000 of your closest friends... a day that you have dreamed about for x-year(s). If anyone has ever told you that you were "slow" for finishing an Ironman above the average IM finishing time of 13-14 hours or questioned why it took you 14,15,16 or 16 hrs and 57 minutes (that was the last finisher at IMWI 2010) to complete an Ironman....I give you permission to stare that person in the face and tell them "I am an Ironman and no one can take that away from me!"
Or "I just swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles.....what did you do today???"
After Karel got off work on Thursday evening, we headed up to Macon, Georgia (4 hour drive) with Campy. With this being my 4th year doing this event (2009, 2010, 2012) but first time doing the aquabike, I was super excited to swim and bike and save my running legs for the next 8 weeks of IM specific training. Karel has always been a spectator for this race (an amazing one!) so it was finally his turn to truly experience this race course - on his tri bike and running legs.
As an athlete, I realize that we all can choose races that give us "fast" results on paper. Although we can't compare race to race, year to year, there's something to be said about comparing race times and deciding what is "fast" and what is "slow". In the past 5 years, I have gravitated toward challenging bike and run courses as I feel it fits me as an athlete. I love being smart on hard courses and having to rely on my mind to be strong on race day. I personally prefer and love the challenge of a hilly and hot course and I don't mind the outcome of a "slow" time on paper if it means I can use my knowledge of the physiology of the body to race a smart race and pace my own race. Again - it's not for everyone but it is important that whenever you select a race, you are familiar with the course and you race with your current level of fitness and you execute a smart race to give you a successful performance. Don't show off your best performance in a training session....save it for race day. Remember, the best race performances are not told by a finishing place or a time but instead, by the athlete him/herself and what she/he overcame to get to the starting line and what she/he battled with on race day (highs and lows) to get to the finishing line.
We arrived to the Swangers around 10:30 and by 11pm, we were all off to bed. Waking up without an alarm on Friday was beautiful and our bodies were rested.
Stefanie (my athlete) was already on the trainer in her room bright and early and it was a big motivator to get the day going (I could hear her watching Kona IM on her iPad).
Pre race/my birthday!
Karel and I both made our own oatmeal creations to start the day, along with a nice cup of coffee and glass of water. The key for today was to focus on hydration and fueling every few hours with easy to digest foods. We both know what works for each of us so the day before a race is never a stressful or overwhelming time in terms of eating. Transition packing - well, that's a different story as it always feels like you are forgetting something.
After a Campy walk and kisses, we said good bye to Campy and then Stefanie as she headed off to work and then we headed 20 miles to the race venue.
Seeing that Karel and I had a wonderful vacation two weeks ago for 10 days, we have really pushed hard with training for the past two weeks. With a fresh mind and body since returning from Czech, this race was all part of our "plan". Although I don't always recommend "training races" for athletes, I think it is important to recognize the state of the body upon arriving to a "training" race. Certainly, if you are going to miss training to race but not "race the race", your body can not be completely destroyed, fatigued and sore going into the race. The entire purpose of training is to train the body but to also practice nutrition, strengthen the mind and get use to scenarios that are similar to race day (including making sure your bike is set-up in a way that works for you, your gadgets work, your clothing is comfortable, etc. all those little things). Whether you are training or racing, the idea of pushing your body (with or without a medal at the end) is to make performance gains or test your fitness and training. Karel and I (as well our athletes) do not do high volume training. It may look high compared to the exerciser but we are very focused on quality - no junk miles. Our weekly training hours are less than 13 on most weeks and every day we wake up energized and ready to give 100%. Rarely do we feel "off" but it does come with the territory of pushing our bodies so we just adjust to still make progress. Training is not our life, but our lifestyle.
The focus of our pre-race ride on Friday was to ride the course - 56 miles.
Since I have ridden this course 3 times, I am very familiar with the ~3000 feet of total climbing on this course. There is a lot of changing wind, steady climbs, descends, turns and lots and lots of gear changing. You have to have good cycling skills and with my progress with cycling over the past 2 years, I couldn't wait to race this course on Saturday. However, despite riding the entire course the day before, Karel made sure that I didn't overdo it. I drafted off his wheel for most of the ride and we rode steady. For the climbs - I didn't do anything crazy and I let Karel drop me and he would wait for me down the road. I guess our 3 hour ride was slow for Karel because of a few missed turns and waiting for me but all in all, I was so happy to be on my bike on my 31st birthday, sharing the day with Karel. And I must say - riding this course gave me a lot of confidence and excitement and I couldn't wait to do it again on Saturday.
We finished our ride around 1:20pm and it was hot. My Garmin 500 said it was 93 degrees and you could feel it without any breeze and on the black asphalt. We removed some of our cycling gear and rode our bikes to the water and took a dip in the bath-like water of the lake. Yep - no wetsuit needed for race day.
After we cleaned up a little, we registered for the race (aquabike for me, half IM for Karel) and picked up some swag (yay for Hammer being a sponsor) and racked our bikes. How cool...the first time we racked our bikes next to each other!! Of course, this was only our 3rd triathlon race together so that made me even more excited to share this with Karel.
We stayed hydrated with Hammer FIZZ to stay up with electrolytes and we also made sure we got in plenty of our sport drink on the bike. I also used cold water to cool my body on the bike to dissipate the heat the best I could.
(I saw so many females wearing the Oakley Women Commit sunglasses out on the course! I just love mine - so comfortable and light)
Feeling really good after our morning adventure, it was around 2:30 and we needed something to eat. Karel found Chick-fil-A and as I went over the athlete guide with Karel, he enjoyed a sandwich and I enjoyed a yogurt parfait and fruit and some of his waffle fries.
When we got back to the Swangers, we cleaned up and I let Campy run like crazy in the fenced back yard (chasing birds in the sky) and I played with baby Colton who just loved campy! Then I had some of a fresh baguette with a little PB and Jelly and sliced banana and a glass of milk.
A few hours later, it was time for our pre-race meal which was prepared by Chef Kenny (stefanie's hubby - who is an awesome cook!). So delicious and of course, Stefanie knows me really well so they knew exactly what fuels Karel and myself before our races.
This race was no different than any other training day. Real food that made me feel good and a mind that was excited to swim and bike. No need to do anything different with my training gear (except for a nice bike clean-up from my cute bike mechanic/hubby).
Is it bed time yet?
It was bedtime around 9:30am and Karel and I both had a so-so night of rest, before our 4am wake up call. Of course, Campy slept like a baby.
Both Karel and I like to take our time in the morning. I don't like to be rushed as it can really take a number on the body in terms of nerves affecting digestion. I always try to keep myself in a happy place, around positive thoughts and people. I try to stay in the moment and think about my current level of fitness - not the would have's, should have's or could have's. It's all about the present moment and let me tell ya, both Karel and I were ready to Rock n' Roll!!
After walking Campy, I had a cup of coffee, along with a full glass of water. I had filled my bottles with powder the night before (~250 calories each per bottle of heed, + 1 bottle of 1 scoop heed for sipping with Espresso gel) so all I had to do on race day morning was fill with cold water. Karel freezed his fuel belt flasks the night before (he used 1 FIZZ for the two flasks as he knew based on past experience, he wouldn't be able to tolerate much nutrition in the heat and he knew he would drink coke so I made sure he had electrolytes as that would be the game-changer for the run. you need electrolytes for muscles and tissues along with replenishing what is lost in sweat. There are many ways to get electrolytes from sport nutrition so just find what works best for you). For Karel's bottles, he used his Infinit custom made formula that I created for him which has worked really well for him.
After oatmeal mixed with a little milk, banana slices, sliced almonds and a little ground flax, we were ready to head to the race site by 5am.
Again - nothing different today for me. Same fueling strategy as training and no nerves that would cause any GI upset with my normal foods.
This race is relatively small and I love that! The energy is so positive and everyone is really nice. I love the smaller races because often, they are very safe and fair. There is no drafting when you race against a few hundred people and the support from the community is really positive. There were tons of volunteers and for my 4th time, this race makes me so happy. It was great to be back in the race scene since I haven't done a tri since Branson 70.3 in Sept 2012.
I saw a few friends (Dee and Wes) and my athlete Roger and my friend from Jax, Brian and it was great to see familiar faces.
After we set up transition, it was time to head to the swim start for the 7am start for Karel (7:03am for me).
Thanks Colton for getting your parents up early to watch the triathlon!
The water felt great and Karel and I both swam a little to get started. We wore our speed suits and both had our Garmin 910's set on multisport zone. I took a full gel around 10 minutes before the start and that sat very well. I was ready to go and I gave Karel a go-get-em kiss and hug and we both went our separate ways.
Karel started with the 39 and under males at 7am. It took Karel a while to get his rhythm as swimming in open water is still very new for him. But progress is still being made.
The aquabike, duathlon and 40+ males started at 7:03am and without a nerve being scared in my body, I couldn't wait to get in the water.
When the gun went off - I started off strong. Knowing that this swim is known for being "slow" in terms of time, I didn't get stressed with my time as my Garmin buzzed every 400 meters for me to see how I was doing and how far I had gone.
The course is a large triangle and after the first buoy, I had really found my rhythm.
I couldn't believe it...nearing buoy two, there was Karel!! I was hoping he would see my pink compression socks which I wore in the water (approved by the race official) but he said he didn't see me. In my head, I was cheering for Karel hoping he would hear me.
I carried on swimming and spotting and felt like my swim was going really well. I was staying on course really well and after I made my way back to shore, I noticed I wasn't tired and felt abnormally strong and smooth in the water. I really focused on catching the water and reaching and rolling.
Exiting the water, I was the first female out of the water (the half Ironman females started at 7:06am) and from that point, I lead the race.
From the swim exit, you head up a steep hill which officially stops your swim time. Into transition, I put on my pink helmet (decided to not use my Giro Aero helmet as I am very comfortable in my regular helmet and with the hot course, wind and up and downs of the hills, I felt like my regular helmet would suit me better. Karel went with his aero helmet), cycling shoes and socks and turned on my garmin 500. My Garmin 910 was set on multisport so I just hit lap when i get into transition and exit so it will be ready for the bike. This helps me in case my power meter doesn't work as well as for analyzing my race.
Swim times: ME: 34:38, fastest female swim of the day KAREL: 40:26, 33rd male
I didn't have a lot to do in transition because I swam with the gel in my back pocket of my Trimarni kit so my transition was really smooth, quick and easy so all I had to do was put on my socks and shoes and helmet and go. I wore my Align sport bra by Oakley Women which fits really well over my heart rate strap (no tightness Ladies).
I exited transition and had a few people yell at me that I was the first female. This made me smile and my competitive side started to itch and I couldn't wait to see what my trained cycling legs could do.
The first 2 miles of the bike include some steady rollers - they aren't kind to the body and Karel and I knew you can't gain anything in 5 minutes from transition. We both took it really easy until the first right hand turn and boy, did it pay off. Legs felt fresh and although the course was not easy and it was hot and windy, I was feeling so amazing.
It was around 40-45 minutes into the race that Karel wizzed by me. He told me "great job!" and later told me that he saw me and couldn't believe how strong I was riding. As mentioned before, this race is challenging and fair. You are alone, maybe with 2-3 other people in sight, playing cat and mouse but other than that, it is you against the elements.
After that first section, I hit my power meter to lap every 20 minutes. This would help me pace myself so that I could focus on my 3second power but also my normalized power. I really felt strong and all that hip work was paying off. Although I have been pushed by Karel for the past few weeks on the bike, I know I couldn't do this pace last year and it isn't just pushing hard in training that has made me stronger. It's a lot of off-the bike work and finally - I was able to have the race I have dreamed off. Even if I wasn't doing the run, I still wanted to bike strong for 56 miles and pace myself for a well executed race.
With Karel out of sight, he was still in mind. I remembered the pointers he told me on Friday about sections on the course and I stuck to my plan. Although I love to climb, I pushed just enough with a steady cadence to stay strong on the descends. There was a lot of wind but I did really well staying fueled every 8-10 minutes with sips of my drink, using cold water from aid stations to cool my body and properly changing my gears as needed, along with getting out of the saddle to stretch my hips.
Around mile 30, I checked my power and all was in check. I noticed that my average speed was better than ever but I was more focused on having a strong back half of the race. I wanted to prove to myself that I can ride strong from start to finish and not suffer or fatigue at any point. Even though I was passing several guys and enjoying my TT effort, my biggest focus on this course was to race smart.
I kept reminding myself of all the bike rides with Karel - steady intervals on his wheel. 5 x 20 minute intervals w/ 2 min recovery came to mind as that was a recent bike workout that we need a week ago. I remembered the 5 x 3 minutes that I did on his wheel at a fast pace on Thursday and I knew I could do this.
With 26 miles to go - I stayed smart but also reminded myself that I would not surrender until my body gave up. Amazingly - my body only wanted more and more and I was happy to give it everything it wanted to have a PR race.
Nearing the last 6 miles, I knew this would make or break me. Windy, tough climbs (although it doesn't seem that way on the elevation chart) and 6 miles that feel like forever...but on this day, I didn't want those miles to end. Nutrition went well and I was riding in a race, as if I was training. I was so focused on how strong I felt that I just wanted to keep proving to myself that I could do this. Nearing 2 miles to go, I realized I was going to win the aquabike and that I was going to have one of my best bike rides ever. I think it was smart that I did the aquabike because I needed this performance as a confidence builder...especially with all the obstacles I have had to overcome with my hip/back/spine issues in the past few months. Sure, I can run but there's no need to make withdrawals with performance when you can make investments.
My stats from the ride: 56 miles: 2:42.31 (average pace 20.64 mph, average power 158, average HR 143, average cadence 85) Lap 1: 7:23 min 17.94 mph, 174 watts, cadence 80, 141 HR Lap 2 - 7 - 20 minutes each Lap 2: 21.33mph, 163 watts, 88 cadence, 143 HR Lap 3: 18.86mph, 174 watts, 86 cadence, 145 HR Lap 4: 20.60 mph, 156watts, 84 cadence, 141 HR Lap 5: 21.34 mph, 124 watts, 83 cadence, 138 HR Lap 6: 21.71mph, 146 watts, 87 cadence, 143 HR Lap 7: 21.08 mph, 162 watts, 85 cadence, 145 HR Lap 8 (29 minutes): 20.8mph, 168 watts, 84 cadence, 147 HR 2nd fastest female bike split
Karel's stats: 2:32 bike (22:02mph), 5th fastest male bike split
Arriving into transition, my chip stopped my time and I could hear the announcer say that I was first female. After returning my chip and finding Stefanie and Kenny, I got this amazing rush of energy in my body that I really really really wanted to run! Again - the cheers and excitement really made me happy but according to my plan...save it for the big day in 8 weeks.
Kenny told me that Karel was out on the run course and in 6th place. WHAT!!!! AMAZING!!
He said that he had been out there for around 15 minutes so I did a little math and I figured I would be able to catch up at one of the intersections with this clover-like course with three out and backs.
This is a very challenging run course - no flats, all up and down and as the race goes on, it feels like the downs just disappear.
This elevation chart doesn't give justice to this course. It looks like the last few miles are downhill - not so much. I guess only the athletes can say how hard a course is based on their own experience.
I ran 2 miles down the road and I was cheering for athletes when I saw 3 males run by. 2 more guys ran by and there was Karel. He looked, um, not so good after climbing for around 4 miles but I gave him a cheer and told him to hang in there. Nearing mile 6, I knew this race was a toughy but if he was smart, he could have a great race.
I ran another mile or so to another intersection and all of a sudden, there was Karel in 4th place. BOOM - passed two people just like that. If you know Karel, you know he can suffer due to years of cycling on the rivet. He has a big hurt box and he loves to fill it up during races so I knew, race or training race, he was going to give a good fight. But, still sticking with the plan - race smart and be patient. In endurance racing, you can still bike strong within your appropriate zones but you have to hold back on the bike just enough to have a good run from miles 7-13.
After cheering for Karel, my friend Dan A and Bethany and a few other lead girls that looked awesome, I started to run back to the start. Although I only had 2 miles left to run, I never imagined what I would see......
With 1.5 miles left, I see Karel's bright green Brooks Pure running shoes and his Trimarni kit. OMG - 3rd place!!!
Karel was passing people like crazy - I suppose just checking them off his list. He raced a very smart race and I knew he had to have held back a bit on the bike and the first few miles of the run to run this strong. He was walking 5-10 seconds each aid station to cool his body (from what he told me ) and fueling off coke and his FIZZ in his fuel belt.
Sadly - I wasn't fast enough to get back to the finish but I cheered for Karel and called Kenny to cheer him on at the finishing chute.
After my 6.5 miles of running, my legs were sprinting to the finish to give Karel the biggest hug. Later did we find out, 2nd place was a duathlete...Karel finished 2nd overall male!!!
Wow! What a great race for Karel. I couldn't believe it.....and neither could Karel.
Karel went from 33rd on the swim, 6th off the bike and 2nd overall finisher. Not to mention...the FASTEST run split of the day in a quad-burning 1:33.03.
Total time: 4:48.13
The time may look slow but that's how you execute a smart race on a challenging course.
After pizza, cheeze-its, pretzels and watermelon (my plate is the picture - Karel had a regular coke as that was all he could stomach), we both cooled off in the shade and I couldn't wait to share the news with Karel that I had a BIG PR on the bike and won the aquabike division (male and female) and had the fastest female swim of the day and 2nd fastest bike.
We drove back to the house to shower up and I couldn't wait to share the news with Campy. Of course, he always thinks we are winners and he was just happy that we didn't leave him in Macon. I refueled with a delicious glass of milk and nibbled on some more pizza and a banana.
Around 3pm, we arrived back at the venue for the awards and it was exciting for us both to get our top awards...and very cool awards too!!!
I want to send a big thank you to the companies which I love to support. They don't pay me to say nice things. I am a brand ambassador because I love quality gear that helps me reach my goals and live an active and healthy lifestyle.
While waiting for Karel to finish the windy 56 mile bike portion, my parents, Campy and I walked around and ate breakfast under a pavilion. It was a nice morning picnic (with a great view) as I enjoyed a PB and J sandwich and a banana.
The tracking for Rev3 was excellent. A bit confusing at first because it is different than Ironman Live tracking but it is extremely advanced. The coolest part about the expo was having two huge TV's hooked up to the Internet, which allowed the spectators to track on a big screen (vs our iphones). The tracking included things like splits and paces but took it one step further by not only telling where the markers were for splits but also what time the athletes arrived to the check point and how far behind the leader in their age group. I found this very useful because I was able to guess when Karel would be back at the transition area and to tell how he was doing in the race. Karel had been dealing with hamstring soreness all week due to working on our new 90-gallon fish tank. More like doing an hour of dead lifts trying to clean and prep our new tank (can't wait to share pics). Karel wanted to take a few risks during this race but with the questionable hamstring ache, Karel knew he would need to play it smart if he wanted to finish.
One of the greatest outcomes of being an experienced athlete is learning from mistakes. I fully believe that as athletes, we are all going to make mistakes and wish we could have a do-over. I remember a few years ago when I was not training smart and not wanting to taper for a 10K, I continued lifting on race week in addition to not tapering because I didn't want to lose fitness. After struggling with super tight hamstrings all race week, I realized that this interfered with not only my physical performance on race day but also my mindset leading up to the race. Rather than keeping my energy bottled for race day, I was spending all my energy worrying about my hamstrings and telling myself that I really regretted by decision to not taper for a race. Since then, I learned and no matter what race, I respect my body before and after races. Karel comes from a different background and with cycling, he is use to racing weekend after weekend so he is looking forward to learning as he goes.....Of course, we are a team and he asks for advice but sometimes we can't plan for everything. Thankfully, a massage, epson salt bath, stretching and a few non weight bearing workouts on race week helped him feel a bit more normal by race day.
After Karel finished the bike, he quickly transitioned to the run. Again, still learning, Karel forgot that he can run with his hat and race belt and put it on as he is running. Looking back, he was frustrated that he had a slow transition by putting on everything in front of his bike instead of grabbing and going. Live and learn.
With only tailwind for the first 16 miles, Karel battled with inner thigh (adductor) cramps on one leg for the last third of the bike. He even joked that he got "chicked" because he was trying to stretch at an aid station. Oh, but don't worry - he made sure to tell me that he passed the female pro a little later in the bike portion. Karel always has the best play-by-plays post-race.
What I love the most about Karel as an athlete is that he is competitive and smart as an athlete. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to race this race like he wanted because his leg was screaming at him during the last 3rd of the bike. He was really looking forward to putting his cycling skills to the test by riding in the wind but despite trying to keep his competition in his sights, he wasn't able to respond with the other guys. We aren't excuses type of athletes so Karel is thankful for finishing the ride but is anxious to figure out his long-term race-day only cramping issue (since he was a young kid and racing as a cyclist) so that it isn't a limiter in triathlons.
Many would blame sodium but I rarely address "sodium" with my athletes (or Karel) when someone tells me they cramp. I have worked with many athletes who suffer from cramping and before I make recommendations, I make sure I understand the athletes training plan, racing plan, diet and sport nutrition regime. Then I ask the two most common questions "Do you stretch enough and do you strength train?
Other focal points for dealing with cramping:
-not enough magnesium in the diet, too much calcium in the diet
-not warming up enough or actively/cooling down before training/racing
-nutrient timing for the daily diet
-nutrient timing for sport nutrition (before and after training) or lack of sport nutrition during training
-type of sport nutrition
-training periodization, taper and race day pacing (intensity)
-too much processed food, not enough real food
-epson salt baths and flex power cream/massage/physical therapy
-muscular or nerve related?
Amazingly, Karel finished the bike in 2:21 with the following splits:
Split 1: 16.8 miles - average 27.39 mph
Split 2: 19.2 miles - average 25.27 mph
Split 3: 20 miles - average 20.66 mph
Karel looked strong when I saw him but he told me he was cramping really bad. I got a little nervous because Karel has dealt with cramping in cycling races and when he cramps, he can't dig deep. Karel loves to dig deep and suffer so I knew this run may not be really pretty. In cycling races, if you can't keep up, your day is done and you don't finish. In triathlons, certainly it is an individualized sport so we all have the opportunity to get our own body to the finish line. Having only quit one race in my life (Miami marathon in 2008) due to extreme heel pain (which started during the race which was odd, but it was pouring rain before and during the race so maybe I did something too it - I guess I need to re-read my race report) I just hoped Karel would find a way to finish (albeit slower than he would like) and would walk/run if needed to not make things worse or he would have the strength to stop and DNF so that he wouldn't hurt himself long-term. Either way, I wanted Karel to race smart.
The first time when I saw Karel he was less than 1/2 mile away from transition and just starting the run. My dad took this picture about a mile or so into the race and my dad said that he looked strong. Looking at the pics that my dad took as Karel continued running, I thought the same....but still worried about (that's what wife's are for, right??)
I checked, re-checked and kept checking the results and nothing was coming up for Karel, despite the results coming in for the top guys in Karel's age group. Karel was sitting in 4th place for his age group (35-39) and with some tough competition ahead of him, I started to get worried....he quit. I would never be made at him for quitting but just more concerned as to what was going on in his body. I think more than anything, Karel is so new to the sport that he is going to need many more races under his belt to learn how to mentally get over obstacles during races. Because I work with all levels of athletes (both with coaching and nutrition), Karel is certainly an anomaly in that he knows how to suffer. But what I often remind my athletes is that we are all out to race our own race and we can't expect things to be easy. There are going to be moments that you are forced to make a decision that can either positively or negatively affect the rest of the race. These moments occur over and over again but as athletes, we love to take chances. However, you can take smart risks and I hoped Karel was doing just that.
I texted Karel's boss Jeff K. (also a triathlete) that Karel was cramping. He texted back, "he can't be hurting that bad for running sub 7 min/miles!"
Not too long later, I see Karel and I was relieved. Still looking great, I could tell he was hurting. Since we have all "been there", I could only cheer him on and be his #1 fan. I wanted him to know I believed in him so that hopefully, he could believe in himself. Let's not forget that despite Karel being a phenomenal cyclist, this is his 4th ever triathlon, 2nd half IM (modified) and only 4th time "racing" a run off the bike. 13.1 miles is a looooong way to go.
Finally, Karel's splits came up.
Split 1: .8 miles - 6:27 min/mile pace
Split 2: 2.95 miles - 6:59 min/mile pace
Split 3: 3.28 miles - 6:50 min/mile pace
Campy was a trooper all day - talk about an Ironman doggy day! But we still had cheering to do!
Around 7 miles, we saw Karel and Campy gave his biggest bark to cheer for his daddy.
Looking strong and focused, it would be another 40 or so minutes (give or talk a few aid station walk breaks - which Karel said he walked every aid station) before we saw Karel at the finish.
Waiting anxiously, we saw a few friends to keep us busy......
I spotted my nutrition athlete and friend Katie A. in the medical tent, hearing that she collided with a motorized wheelchair crossing the street. She was flying (literally) at 27 mph when she hit the wheelchair and her bike did not survive....luckily, she did. A sad way to end her season as she was beyond ready for a strong performance but thankfully, she will live to race again.
Truly digging deep, Karel ran down the finish chute and I could tell he was so happy to be finished. The finishing line was amazing and there was a big jumbo tron behind the finish line with each athletes picture. Rev3 did an amazing job with the volunteers, support and professionalism of this race - I highly recommend Rev3triathlons!
I don't know how he did it, but Karel managed to run 1:31!!!
His last two splits:
3 miles - 6:58 min/mile
3 miles - 7:14 min/mile
Total for 56 mile bike + 13.1 mile run = 3:53 RESULTS: 5th age group (out of 45). 16th male (out of 305)
Karel was too sore for a massage and didn't want an IV so he just suffered in a chair for a few minutes and was then able to shuffle his way to me to take a picture.
Karel is really happy with his performances this season with 4 top 5 age group finishes. He has had time to reflect and he knows he has a lot of work to do before Lake Placid next year. We both love to work hard so I'm really excited to see what lies ahead in 2013. Also - the fish tank is finally set up!!! Karel is fully enjoying his off season and is looking forward to stretching more and building strength in his adductors. Also, a big congrats to Trimarni Nutrition athlete Chris D. who race strong with the race day conditions. Chris worked really hard on her sport nutrition and I'm excited to see what she can do with all 3 sports put together.
I recently read my friend (and mental coach) Gloria's race report from Austin 70.3. She (and her hubby) had their own obstacles overcome in the race so I wanted to share a very strong quote that she posted in her blog:
"My, the amazing wonders of the body and mind! The mind always wants to protect the body and will diminish pain perception so that it can continue to function in the manner that it needs.NEEDS, however, is subjective because we triathletes choose to put our bodies under such stress. At the same time, we live and learn, and then move on to try to be better versions of ourselves each day, each race, and hopefully each living moment. Sometimes we don't know how far we are willing to go until we are pushed to our limits...."
Off to Venice Beach Florida for the Rev3tri! Campy and I were excited for our spectator responsibilities but first, a quick stop to see my parents in New Port Richey, Florida.
Campy loves the resort-style living at my parent's house. Lots of love from his grandparents and plenty of room to run off a leash and chase the birds in the sky.
Saturday was a beautiful morning. Albeit, a bit windy, I was looking forward to running on the Starkey trail near my parent's house. I left around 6:30am and with no specific intervals or zones, I enjoyed moving my body through the dark outdoors until the sun came up. It was one of those runs where I could have ran forever. Eight miles later I got on my bike for an easy spin - fast in the tailwind, steady in the headwind. Karel tested out his disc and decided for the front wheel to go with the 60 mm vs to 90 mm due to the anticipated winds for Sunday. Karel felt better holding a straight line in the slighter "calmer" winds on Saturday with his 60mm. Even from an aerodynamic POV he knew with stronger winds the front wheel would be more wobbly so he decided to go for a smaller dish for his wheel in the front. Around 10:30am, we headed to Venice Beach Florida and around 12:30pm we arrived to the race venue.
The race venue was outstanding. Very well organized until the end of the race and the volunteers were incredible (and so many of them!). I met up with a few friends as well as Trimarni nutrition athletes so that was fun to see some familiar faces. I said hi to Tracey (Campy's #1 fan), Chloe,Katie, Chris D. and looked for Kim S. but didn't end up seeing her until Sunday. After the athlete meeting (which I believe should always be mandatory for athletes) and picking up Karel's packet/bag (which included a new pair of Blue Seventy goggles) we found out that because of the gusty winds at Venice Beach (much more forceful at 25-35pmh compared to a bit north at my parents) there would be no bike check in on Saturday and the swim would likely be cancelled. Although Karel is not the strongest swimmer, he has worked really hard on his swim and he really looked forward to the ocean swim for more practice before IM Lake Placid next year. I think the most stressful part was mentally not knowing if there would be a swim so we prepared as if there wouldn't be a swim.
After picking up some eats at Publix grocery store around 2:30pm (similar to Branson for Karel - chicken, yogurt, rice, fruit and for me, he got me salad, hardboiled egg, a veggie sub and for both of us, Starbucks instant coffee packets for the morning. We forgot to get milk but we survived). Our hotel was super cute!! We stayed for one night at the Island Breeze Inn and it was just like we were in Key West or on an island. Campy loves traveling with us and for a $10 pet fee, this place met all our travel needs thanks to a 'fridge, microwave, sink, kitchen supplies and plenty of room to make this our home for 1 night.
After a yummy lunch (which included some of my foods from home in my bag of goodies), I spent just a little time answering emails before it was time for the Ironman broadcast on NBC. What a great way to finish the day!
After a lighter "dinner" around 6:30pm, it was time for Karel to pack his transition bags, prep his bottles (Hammer Sustained Energy mixed w/ gu roctane powder - 1 scoop each + EFS gel flask with 400 calories) and put in fridge (1 in freezer for last hour of bike, 1 bottle to pour into aero bottle), review course maps and do a little last minute stretching and foam rolling. Our little one was exhausted but never complained. We finished the evening watching the cutest show on the Animal Planet about kitties and it made our hearts melt. A perfect calm way to end the day at 9:30pm before a 4:30am wake up call.
Good Morning!! Campy loves his roaching position - perfect for belly rubs and stretching. Karel started his morning with coffee, followed by Oatmeal, a Bolthouse protein drink (just like in Branson 70.3), a little banana and then sipped on Ultragen (1 scoop) pre race w/ a stinger waffle. Karel and I have different pre race foods but with this being Karel's 4th triathlon, he is still learning what works best for him before a triathlon compared to his long history of cycling races. Karel knows his body better than me and he always communicates with me as to what works/doesn't work so that as I prepare for our race day, I can stock-up on our pre race foods.
On the plus side, the weather was perfect. Slightly cool despite gusty and forceful winds - only to get stronger as the day went on. We found out via Twitter feed from Rev3tri (which was great for instant communication about the race) that the swim was cancelled for the everyone. The pro's would do a 1.5K run before the 56 mile bike + 13.1 mile run and the age groupers would line up by number (essentially age group) and run "Lemond style" from the swim enter with no gear, just like exiting the water. Athletes could wear socks and sunglasses but no shoes or helmets. The race was also pushed back from 8am start to around 8:25am which is why Karel had the stinger waffle due to a possible push-back in start time. After setting up his transition in the very cool bike racks, we rested in the car until around 7:45am when I met up with my parents who drove very early that morning to watch the race.
It was time for Karel to line up for the start so I gave him a kiss and good luck wishes and told him to just enjoy the day. There was nothing easy about this race due to the winds so I knew for his 4th triathlon, there would be a lot of risks and guessing on his effort on his bike and mental strength for the run. Karel transitioned quickly to get his bike and put on his shoes and helmet and he was off for a very challenging flat 56 mile bike ride.......
It takes time to build strength, speed and endurance. Months at the minimum but likely, years for the body to grow.
The beauty of sports is knowing that you have time. This active lifestyle that we all enjoy (or are learning to enjoy) does not require a finish line to feel accomplished. It is only with goal setting, the fruits of your labor are often most celebrated when you finally cross that "finish line", knowing that you did everything possible to prepare the body and mind for the adventure ahead. For athletes, ultimately, your longevity in a sport is increased by following a realistic, balanced and quality-structured training plan and reduced if you expect to progress too quickly and overlook the significant variables that contribute to successful performances. Goal setting can be useful but it can also be abused. Nothing great is ever accomplished quickly.
For the past three months, Branson 70.3 was always on my mind. During every hard workout, every sport nutrition fueling plan, every good night sleep, every Campy walk and every massage, I thought about my Branson 70.3 race day. A distance that I remember well back in May at the Rock n' Rollman. but long enough to forget the aches that come with racing the 70.3 mile distance. Above all, my training was enhanced knowing that for the first time ever, I would be able to share this exciting opportunity with Karel.
I'm a firm believer in goal setting for it keeps me on track. Thankfully, my path was very straight in my training for this event and was filled with lots of fun, progress, learning and memories. Sure, a few bumps along the way but no u-turns or wrong turns.
The thoughts that filled my head during the past 3 months were years in the making. Funny thing is that the goals that I had set 3 months ago, were reached beyond my imagination on race day. In reflecting deeply about my race day performance on Sunday, I now realize that sometimes dreams can come true. Thoughts that had only occurred in deep sleep (thus far from reality) and were unimaginable "goals" back in 2006.....6 Half Ironman's ago and 2 weeks before I met Karel.
The mind is an amazing thing. It can play games with you if you feel you are "doing good" but someone puts thoughts inside your head to question whether or not you are "doing the right thing." I ignored the outside chatter as to anything "best, only or can't/shouldn't" in terms of diet, sport nutrition and/or training. It's hard to tune it all out but I realized that success is reached in many forms. What's the best form? The one that works for you and allows for consistency, good health and progress.
I've had my share of downs with racing, specifically in terms of racing with a undiagnosed hip injury (likely piriformis syndrome that I still have to monitor, hence the extra emphasis on hip strength, massage, tennis ball rolling on my butt and quality training) at Kona 2007. Without a single "injury" setback this year (although a few modifications for preventative measures), I quickly recognized that my successful race season was always plagued with one constant limiter.....MY MIND.
Nevertheless, my amazing friend Gloria along with my "think outside the box" husband, have given me the strength to reach higher limits in my racing (and training) this year.
Recognizing that my only limiter for every race this year was my mind, I embraced the scary thought that I could actually race strong at Branson 70.3. Thankfully, the body and mind did not disappoint.
One of the several reasons why we picked this race, was for the 3-loop run course. I absolutely love loop courses and seem to run the best when I have opportunities to revisit the same parts of the course, receive energy from the crowds and see competition.
After leaving transition, we ran through a little of the Belk parking lot and up a ramp (over the grass) to the Landing. Talk about a fun, spectator-friendly race!
The cobblestones were not comfortable for running so with the course closed to athletes in the street, I opted to run on the outside of the cobblestones to avoid possibly landing on the wrong spot on a cobblestone.
As I was running, I stuck within my uncomfortable comfort level and reminded myself that I had trained hard for a 1:40 run. With a PR recently in May (on a much hillier run course) of 1:42, I realized that being more conservative on the bike would make for a stronger run. And I've realized that no matter how strong of a cyclist or runner you are, you can not bank time (or go for a mph time goal) on the bike and expect a strong run. There has to be some kind of compromise, perhaps to bike a few minutes slower in order to avoid a 10+ min slower run/jog/shuffle/walk.
I forgot to put on my HR monitor but with the cooler 60-70 degree temps for the run, I was confident that my fatigue would not be related to the heat. In training, I have used perceived exertion, heart rate and pace for my sets (track, long/group runs, brick runs) so despite only running between 20-25 average miles a week, I felt confident going into this run for a strong race.
I noticed that the first 2 miles came quickly. Likely because I had no idea where the route was going (aside from reviewing course maps) so this was a welcomed surprise to run a semi-technical course with several turns, one or two short punchy hills (super short), a loop around a park and an out and back in another park. It was a great, non boring run and I loved every mile of it.....at least for the first loop.
I was running strong and saw Karel as I was nearing mile 3. I gave him a big smile and he smiled back. Instant boost for the legs!
found myself running with mostly guys in the 70.3 race and confusion as to my place with the other shorter races going on. I passed 2-3 women in the first 3 miles of the course, that I remembered on the bike. After making my way back to the town, I once again enjoyed the unknown as to where I was running to. On the way back from the first loop, we ran on the outside of the million dollar show fountain, close to the water. I loved this little bridge that gave a little spring with each step.
After passing the fountain, it was time to run into a small park for the final turn around before starting loop #2. At this point, I think I passed another female but still had not seen the girls who were leading my age group.
I remember seeing a girl in black and yellow on the bike and with her bike racked near me, I figured she was in my age group since we both exited the water close together.
There was another female, #20 that I kept spotting on the run course but I wasn't sure if she was an age grouper (with a low number) or pro because I was getting closer and closer to her within each loop.
When I started the second loop, the mind games began. Some people sing songs in their head, others think positive thoughts.....what do I do?
I do math.
It is the oddest thing but in every training session and every race, I find myself adding, subtracting, multiplying and doing equations. I am not a math guru but for some reason this helps me pass the time by and makes me forget about any fatigue in my body. I was trying to figure out how long each section was on the bike, what mile I would see Karel again, how long until x-spot on the course, what pace I would average if I slowed down to x-pace.....seriously, I do every type of math problem possible, even trying to figure out paces that I am not running. But it works and I free my brain to this tactic that seems to help me out.
Throughout the run I sipped on my 300 calorie huckleberry gel flask at every mile w/ water at aid station and sipped as needed between the miles. I felt alert and well fueled with absolutely no stomach discomfort, cramping or abnormal fatigue. I found myself getting warm on the run so I also used water to cool my body temperature. I walked as needed when I found myself not being able to keep good form, so I think at 3 or 4 aid stations, I moved through with a quick needed walk. Since I walk in almost every run training session, this was nothing new for me and very welcomed. Karel on the other hand told me he was really struggling with this new feeling of running 13 miles off the bike so he was scared to stop for the worry of not being able to run again.
With the mind games continuing, I told myself that after my 2nd lap, I had 1 to go. Such a novel thought to keep myself focused.
I noticed that the girl in black and yellow was slightly slowing down when I saw her on opposite parts of the course. Still running strong, she started the run (after looking at results), almost a mile (or 6ish minutes) ahead of me and I just couldn't seem to catch her.
The crowds were amazing and I heard lots of "go pink" which made me smile and give a big thumbs up. I also noticed my friend Jenny Fletcher, Oakley Women Pro triathlete, who ended up winning her first Pro race! After seeing Karel for the 2nd time and realizing that I was still running strong (according to perceived exertion for my pace was slowing), I decided that I was not going to give up until my body gave up.
Having an incredible race thus far, I was not going to let my body win over my mind. I really had to dig deep on the 3rd lap. Thinking about that 12 mile marker on the way other side of the course, I figured "hey, Campy can run 4 miles, so can I!"
I remembered the same feeling at the 2012 Iron Girl Clearwater Half Marathon when my body wanted Soooooo badly to stop but I was not going to surrender and risk not winning my first ever running race. I remember reading Bree Wee's blog at IMKY this year, nearly being caught by Jackie Arendt in one of the most exciting female races I have watched on Ironmanlive.com
I also remembered the many athletes (including my own) who may not ever have the chance to win a race or an age group award but still push to their limits because they want "it." It was with this determination and refusal to come all this way to not see what I am capable of achieving, that I decided I would go for it.
Mile 10. I could see her.
Mile 10.5. She was getting closer. Either I was getting faster or she was slowing down but it was happening.
Mile 11. I was running behind the girl in black and yellow. The girl that I assumed was winning the amateur/age group race. As my body was hurting beyond belief from the effort I was running, my body went numb with excitement.
Mile 11.2. Footsteps behind her, I was scared. "What if she had another gear?" I asked myself. For I had used mine all up. I was on cruise control with an exhausted tank. My mind was still strong and I felt fueled but as you can imagine, there comes a point when the body will scream and beg to stop.
Mile 11.3. I did it. To the left of her, I ran by her and didn't look back. OMG. "Did I just pass the first place female for age groupers?"
I kept on running and saw Karel for the last time. Neither of us had much of a smile on our face but I think we both felt each other's pain.
I have to share a funny story, real quick. I ran over the last timing mat after I passed the girl and I was SO excited for all our fans (thank you!) to see that I had passed her. Ughh, the tracking didn't work on the run (later did I find out) and that was the main thing that kept me running strong....so thank you Trimarni fans for keeping me going even though you had no idea what was going on.
On the way back from the loop in the park, I saw the girl who I passed but didn't allow that to slow me down. As I passed mile 12, I had no idea if I was really in first place for everything seem to hit me hard.
I walked through mile 12 aid station but didn't look back. It was a quick stop and I resumed running to great Karel at the finish line.
The longest mile of my life never ended........
Thankfully, the cheers became loud, the volunteers were fantastic and I was finally out of my gel flask. It was officially time to finish this race.
I ran to the far left to signify my finish of this race and I entered the finishing chute, all alone.
I ran across the line, only to hear the announcer say "I think this is the 2nd amateur female finisher, Marni Sumbal from Jacksonville, FL"
I fell to my knees and was asked by a volunteer if I needed medical. I politely said "no" and used his help to shuffle me to get my medal and hat. Karel was waiting for me and gave me the biggest hug. I told him that I thought I was first but we both said that 2nd was still a phenomenal finish.
Later did we find out (about 3 hours later at awards) that #20 (Joanna Anddler) was listed as an age grouper but was racing as a professional.
So, the most exciting news was finding out that not only did I place as the first female finisher across the line but I also had the fastest age group run (which was a 6 min PR for me), I set a course record for my age group (30-34) AND Karel was listed as 6th place (45 seconds away from 5th) only to also find out at awards that the 5th place guy was listed in the wrong age group! Talk about a bunch of fantastic surprises!! Karel said he gave everything he could in the race and felt extremely accomplished when it was over. He said it was the hardest thing ever and he has never been more excited about his 5th place award. Karel ended up running 1:33!
We both ended up receiving slots to Vegas for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships but we had decided pre-Branson 70.3 that we would not take them. With Karel's first IM next year in Lake Placid and my 6th Ironman and an unknown of how the day will turn out next year, I am willing to take a chance on a possibility to qualify for Kona Also, the turn around from IM Lake Placid in July and the 70.3 WC in Sept, is not something that I want to put my body through. Realizing that if I were to qualify for Kona next year (always a goal), I will need to ensure a proper recovery to do two Ironman's within a 4 month window.
But it made me super happy to let the 3rd place girl in my age group know that I would not take the slot. I remember when I received a roll down at IMWI in 2010 and it was the coolest feeling in the world. It was a nice feeling to return the favor and to share the excitement with all the 70.3 WC qualifiers.
Words can not describe how much is means to me and Karel that we can inspire others to set goals and work hard for them. Fitness status (or weight) has nothing to do with goal setting. If you want something in life, go for it and never let excuses get in your way. A strong heart, mind and body is all you need to succeed in life. Enjoy life to the fullest.
The normal 2 days before an endurance event dinner...
Pizza for me, pasta for Karel. We wanted local eats but the place we found was smoking inside (pub) so we decided on Chicago Pizza in the Landing.
Happy Birthday pre-birthday to KAREL on 9/22!!!
Pre race - 9/22
Saturday could have been a rushed day but I wrote out an itinerary for our to-do's and was careful to not overlook the importance of "rest" on the day before our race.
We warmed up near the race venue (pictured above is race start) with a 10 min lake swim, followed by a 45 min bike (on the first 5ish miles of the course) and then a 10 min run to open the legs. While sipping on our Hammer Recoverite, we checked in for the event at the host hotel, Chateau on the Lake and scoped out the swim/T1 scene.
We stopped a sub place for a meal and then headed back to the hotel. We had packed up our stuff for the race on Fri evening so there was ample time to rest in the room. Although, it always seems like time just ticks on by.
Around 1:30 we headed back to the Chateau (5.6 miles away, 15 min drive) for the athlete briefing which I find is a mandatory to-do no matter the race. Afterward, we checked in our bikes at T1 and decided instead of setting up transition on Saturday (like some) we would do so on Sunday morning.
We made a stop at the local grocery store for stuff for dinner. We opted to eat in our room with familiar food and an environment that wouldn't require us to wait for our pre-race dinner or risk anything w/ food prep. Also, we saved some money by not eating out, which is always a nice bonus.
My yummy creation that I enjoyed after we checked in all our stuff. All I need is a grocery store and a microwave and my favorite, trusty pre-race meal (for the past 5+ years) is easy to find and easy to make. Karel got chicken and rice (we bought the 90 second microwave seasoned rice in a bag) and I gave him a little of my salad.
We made a stop at T2 near the landing (1 mile from our hotel) to set up transition w/ our run gear. Funny to see a lot of bike racks w/ no bikes but I enjoyed having two separate transitions. Something different and new for me but I thought it was neat to break up the race and to avoid the clutter with the same transition for swim to bike and bike to run.
We both had a bag for our run gear (shoes and visor) and for me, a gel flask filled w/ 3 huckleberry gels for the 13.1 mile run. They gave us two bib numbers so with the number being mandatory on the bike, I decided to make an extra race belt w/ number for the run (I do the same in the IM) just in case I lose my number on the bike.
After a delicious and satisfying dinner around 5:30pm, we rested in our room until a little before 9pm and then it was time for a good night of rest. I prepared my bottles w/ powder only this evening so that on race day morning all I had to do was fill w/ water.
Race day morning
I sent my phone alarm (more like 3 of them for back-up) for 4:15am. The time was actually very comfortable for waking considering that we have stayed on Eastern time, not Central in Branson. We each did our own thing for breakfast based on what works for each of us.
I had a bowl of frosted shredded wheat (around 200 calories) w/ skim milk and 1/2 large banana (sliced). I topped my cereal w/ some raisins and sunflower seeds and spread a little PB on my banana. I could tell I was a little nervous (although I didn't feel like I was) because my tummy was a little off but in thinking back to almost every race, it is the same pre race "off" tummy that has never hurt my race day performance. We also picked up brewed coffee at Starbucks on Sat to reheat on Sunday. Smart call by Mr. European (Karel) for a nice change to hotel coffee. I also had a 28 ounce bottle of water for the morning to sip on as well as around 16 ounces or so w/ breakfast to help w/ digestion.
We used some Balm Bag instead of body glide before we left, for we find this much better to prevent chaffing. I forgot to put some around my arms where my jersey rubbed during the run but no chaffing during the swim w/ my wetsuit which was nice.
We headed 1 mile down the road via car to the Belk Parking lot to pick up the shuttle. Surprised at the long wait and lack of enough shuttles, we waiting in the 43-46 degree weather for around 20 minutes. Finally, we got on a shuttle a little before 6am which was good considering that transition closed at 6:45am.
When we arrived to transition, it was cold. I didn't let it get to me but glad I had a jacket, long sleeves, ear cover and gloves to keep me warm. Some people had their wetsuits on on the bus to stay warm. The cold weather was a change from the low mid 50's on Fri,Sat and today, Monday.
My transition area included:
3 bottles of Heed (240 calories) on bike + 1 gel flask w/ 3 huckleberry gels (300 calories)
Pink CEP compression socks
Arm warmers (didn't use)
Gloves (didn't use)
Jersey (I opted to put on a dry jersey post swim vs wearing a wet one on the bike)
I planned for a longer transition because it was important to me to be comfortable on the bike and not super cold with tight muscles for the first climbs out of transition.
After I set up my transition, I made a quick stop to the port-a-potty and thankfully, the line moved quickly. I guess I was well hydrated that morning. On the days leading up the race, we both took 1 Hammer Fizz daily for electrolytes to ensure proper cardiac and muscular functioning on race day. Also, 2 daily tissue rejuvinator is part of my normal routine so I don't have to consume Alleve, ibuprofen, etc. I do not take any anti-inflammatories on or near race day and it is more like 8-10 a year as needed for "serious" issues.
Karel had no trouble setting up his transition so we met at the lake for a warm-up swim. This was super important for Karel so he wouldn't hyperventilate on the swim or freak himself out. The water was toasty and just perfect at 74 degrees. I had my Xterra Female long sleeve Vector Pro wetsuit which I absolutely love (super comfy) and we warmed up with a little swimming before they closed the lake for the pro start at 7am. We shared a gel (Hammer huckleberry) around 10-15 min before the race start.
It was a little cold on the rocks on the beach but despite my knees shaking a bit, I was glad I did a warm-up swim to get the body going.
SWIM - 1.2 miles
A little after 7:10, it was time to give Karel a kiss for confidence in his first ever half ironman. He said he was nervous but wasn't sure why. I told him I still get nervous but I think nerves can sometimes be confused w/ the unknown of the day ahead and a mix of excitement thrown in. I told him he will do great and that all he has to do is think about his form on the swim and to stay on the outside to avoid getting mixed up with everyone in his wave. Once he got on the bike, I told him he will really feel at ease.
My wave started at 7:15 and was an in-the-water start. We swam just a little to the buoy and I positioned myself on the far left of the 18-34 wave (last female wave) even though we were to keep the buoy's to our right. After thinking about the mess that can come from trying to swim in a pack of people (especially wave start) I figured it would be more efficient for me to swim a little longer distance but to be able to actual swim vs. constantly spotting and navigating through the other 4 waves ahead of me.
After I started my Garmin 910XT, we were off!
I felt really smooth during the entire swim. Unable to properly pace myself on the swim, I decided to just stay smooth, draft whenever possible and to be efficient w/ my stroke.The last month or so of pushing my comfort zone w/ the fast guys, was really paying off. I found myself feeling great throughout the entire swim and there was a good amount of buoys which helped for staying on track. When I was navigating around the last buoy on the way back (it was a clockwise swim, out to buoy, then semi diagonal to another buoy then straight shot to the swim exit) I looked at my watch in the water (the lake was considerably clear near the surface) and was excited to see my time.
I stayed behind another girl in a pink cap who was about 2 body lengths ahead of me. I tried to keep her in my sight and I didn't pass her until we ran up to transition. Later I realized she was a super strong cyclist but also a great swimmer to push me to not slow down.
I exited the water in 30.03. Super happy with this time as I felt I didn't go out too hard but just enough to stay in the mix. My garmin said 1.27 for the distance which is ok for me considering that my strategy to stay on the outside really helped.
I ran up to T1 on a steep ramp and took my time in T1, putting on all my gear that I have used effectively in training. The jersey took a little to put on but I feel it was worth wearing a warm (not wet) jersey on the bike.
I started my bike computer (Garmin 500) as I was running out of transition and hit my lap button on my Garmin 910XT since I had it on auto multi sport for triathlons.
Once I started the bike, I felt good. I was really excited for the bike to see what I was able to accomplish for this was something very new to me in triathlons. I have climbed before (IMKY and IMWI and KONA) and enjoy a challenging event but this was something completely different. More than 200-400 feet of climbing at a time, this was a serious, no-joke bike course. It required me to be smart, to take a few risks and to be consistent w/ power and nutrition.
I had an idea of a respectable time (3:10-3:20) on the bike based on past performances from girls in this age group from the past two years and to average around 17 mph was very respectable on this course. I figured I would still be able to compete with the other girls within this range and it wasn't worth it to me to kill myself for a sub 3 hour bike, only to suffer on the run. I took some risks being a little conservative on the bike but to monitor my power. More than anything, I love to climb and sometimes I push too hard so I didn't want to get caught up in any time goals for this race. I wanted to race strong and smart from start to finish so that meant holding back a bit and at the same time, pushing it when needed (like, on the run).
Girls were passing me on the first climb but I didn't let it get to me. I just told myself "what will you gain in the first 6 miles of this challenging bike course?" and after the first 6 miles, I started to question my strategy......
Bike Report coming soon......
A little report on Karel's first 1.2 experience in a triathlon...in a lake.
He felt really smooth and found that swimming slightly to the outside helped his nerves for this event. He was able to focus on his form and he even surprised himself when he was passing people. He said when he exited the water he was shocked to see 34/35 minutes on his watch. He said he was so excited, he couldn't wait to find me on the bike course to tell me :)
He said the transition area was a little packed for him but he didn't have any trouble getting his stuff for the bike. He also passed on the arm warmers and wore a SL3 tri suit for the race (which he practiced several times in training). Karel has Louis Garneau Vorttice aero helmet (I have a pink/black Giro aero helmet).
First off, thank you for your support, enthusiasm and excitement for our first race experience together. Secondly, I apologize for any typos or spelling errors..my body and brain are very tired (thanks for understanding).
I am so excited to write my race report but for now, I am going to enjoy doing nothing. My season is official complete and it's time to reflect and think about next year.
A day after his 36th birthday, I'm so happy that Karel enjoyed his first half ironman....and this course was no joke. Harder than we could have imagined while reviewing info about the course but once we arrived to Branson, we knew race day would be a challenge.
The day started at 4:15am when we woke up (central time) and after riding the shuttle bus to Moonshine Lake, we were greeted with 74 degrees in the lake. This was very welcoming considering the shivers with 43 degree air temps.
The swim was beautiful. The water was clear enough to see your hand entry and the course was wide enough that there was room to navigate around the wave starts. I started at 7:15am and Karel started at 7:23am.
After the 1.2 mile swim, it was a quick run up a steep ramp (from the beach) to T1. This was the only time we would be at this transition since T2 was near the Landing (finish line/run course). It was a little chilly but I was comfortable post swim. In my race report I will go into details as to my gear/nutrition for this race.
The bike started w/ 6 miles of very rolling hills out to the 2 loop hwy bike course. I took Karel's advice and didn't not power the hills to start the bike and it paid off. Once we entered the closed course on the hwy, the long 1-2 mile climbs quickly woke up my legs. The descends were very welcoming but were not long enough. That's ok, what goes up has to go down. Between each out section was a turn off with steeper climbs than the highway and our turn around was in the parking lot of a high school.
The wind was not in our favor heading to the high school but we could feel a little give in the wind on the way back. Still, the same climbing and descending but as the course went on, it seemed like everything got steeper and steeper, longer and longer.
A few pics from the Internet of the bike course...
According to Karel's bike computer, our 56 mile ride included 5085 feet of climbing.
After 2 complete loops (out and back), we made the turn around and headed back on the out loop (again) until the turn off. The last section of the bike included some steep and steady downhills, a bike path, technical turns (just a few, nothing too scary) and of course, more climbs and rollers. With less than 2 miles to go, one last super steep short climb just to give the legs one more memory of this bike course.
After entering T2, it was time for the run. Karel had passed me on the way back on the 2nd loop of the bike (guessing around 40 miles?) so I knew he was already out on the course.
I saw three bikes on the rack from my age group but I new that there was around 6-8 girls ahead of me when I started the run. Because of the Olympic and sprint races, it was hard to tell the competition but I do enjoy having other athletes from different races on the course. It was a challenge for everyone and a beautiful day for a safe, well-run race.
The run was fantastic! Crowds and loops. That's my kind of course. The course was 3 loops, with the finish on the way back of the 3rd loop. It was so great seeing Karel on the course and every time I saw him, it would give me a sudden boost. Of course, the boost didn't always last long but I did feel great on the run...that is, until I started to race it.
After passing a few girls on the run who were super strong cyclists, I had confirmed an age group award....but I wanted more.
I had decided in my training for this event that I would race this race. Not racing a time but rather competition. On race day, I expected highs and lows and didn't try to ignore the lows. I dealt with them with mantra's, positive thoughts and trust in myself.
I want to save some excitement for my race report so I won't fill in the details as to how the run unfolded. I thank everyone who tried to track us all day (and for the overwhelming support on facebook!) and its a bummer that the run splits didn't show up because every time Karel and I ran over a mat, we thought about everyone who was tracking us, so proud that we could put our training to the test for you all to enjoy.
We are sore and exhausted but it was an unbelievable event to have in our memory bank. If you like hills and a lot of beauty in scenery, I highly recommend this race. The organization and support of the IM team as well as the volunteers and spectators was amazing I'll leave you with the final results as a little spoiler...
Total time: 4:57
5th age group, 18th amateur male
If you are long-time Trimarni blog reader, you likely know that I have dealt with a series of "injuries". Nothing that was able to be diagnosed by multiple MRIs, x-rays or countless PT sessions but something serious enough to prevent me from running for weeks to months at a time....over a course of 3-4 years. With poor judgement as to the serious of a confusing butt/hip problem back in 2007 (just 30 ish days before my second IM - world championships in Kona), I decided to "race" in Kona after over 30 days of not running and no surprise, it really made things worse.....for the long-term My agonizing finish over the finish line landed me on NBC for the Kona coverage....however, not how I'd like to remember that magical (painful) race and something 100% within my control at one time, that has continued to haunt me whenever I head out for a run.
Luckily, I have only be compromised in my hips and glutes, never any pain in my ITB, calves, knee or anything below the hip. Also, no fractures or broken bones in my life..just a lot of muscular skeletal aches and pains.
Back from my swimming days in HS and College, I constantly dealt with back problems due to massive inflammation that never left my back. I suppose that is my body being my body...and I am willing to accept that.
Looking back, I recognize that I have been able to accomplish a lot in my sport career since 2007 but because of my decision to race "injured", I have dealt with numerous residual flare-ups and pains in my piriformis, lower and upper back, groin and hip area. However, I refuse to let any obstacle stop my love for triathlons, running and competition...and luckily, I have been 99% pain free for over a year.
After a PR at IMKY (10:54) in 2009, I learned that I could ride on hills...and I liked them! After Karel riding the IMWI course while at Trek World, he told me this would be a perfect course for me in 2010. Scared as to the difficulty of the course, I went into IMWI in great shape and a goal to qualify for Kona. 10:57 and a roll down slot thanks to Jackie A. turning pro and I qualified for KONA again....it has been a long triathlon journey but I have not only learned to respect my body with training but also to address my strengths as an athlete. Because I don't plan on ending this fun journey anytime soon, I love knowing that I have a lot more work to do to get better..for when you work hard, results will come.
I understand that I am not crazy fast compared to some athletes but in picking my races, I have been able to succeed to the best of my ability..in other words..putting my training to the test. This is something that I strive for other athletes to do for themselves for I find that many athletes continue to race for times and speed and often compromise their own performances by focusing on elements out of their control.... only to try to have a good race on paper (AKA paper/internet race results).
For my strengths of pacing, preparation, nutrition and mentality have allowed me to succeed at the Ironman distance - which is my strength - but keeps me coming back for more fun in the sport of triathlon....at any distance.
As a coach and athlete, I focus on a balanced approach to training, working toward quality over quantity and it works exceptionally well. No workout is without a purpose and consistency is the goal.
But, despite racing in countless races over the past 5 years, I still have it in my mind that I am still "injured".
Thanks to blog world and facebook, I have met an amazing group of individuals who have helped me in my personal and athletic life. I suppose I can call these people "mentors" but I'm also lucky that I can call these people my friends.
For someone who I have never met and lives on the other coast, I can't describe the passion that Gloria (Dr. G) has for helping others who are need of help.
I have been in contact with Gloria over the past year and she has helped me out in so many ways...as a sport psychologist, she is exactly what I needed in my life.
For I did the work on making my glutes stronger, learning that I need regular massages and epson salt baths to reduce constant inflammation, religiously wearing compression when I training focusing on training hard and smart but recovering harder....however, what was missing, was Gloria.
Before my races, I contact Gloria. In my head, I have a lot of work to do. As much as I try to stay positive and focus on myself, I still have limiters with my past. Perhaps, this is part of the difficulty in being an athlete for it is easy to tell yourself to do more but rather, forgetting (or learning from) the past and focusing on the now and what you CAN do.
Here's the email I received from Gloria last week....
"So look.....I know, and you know, that you'll turn it on come Saturday. I want to challenge you to start owning the fact that you can run! All your recent road race performances have demonstrated that. It's evidence that you are doing what is right for your body. Uncomfortable is a good thing, it means breakthrough is right on the other side. Trust yourself and your experience, but don't let the past hijack your present. The point of power is always in the present moment, and the power to chose your thoughts which create your experience. You got this girl! Get your mantra or let it come to you on race day. Bank positive mental images and associated feelings with those images so you can retrieve them on race day. You got what it takes to adjust to whatever comes on race day. To me that's what being a triathlete is about...efficient adjustment to race day circumstances- phsyically and mentally.
Affirm to yourself that on race day you will have the wisdom, discernment and physical ability to make it through each situation with ease, strength, speed, and focus. That your best performance for that day will manifest. That in each moment you are doing the absolute best you can with what you have....and so it is."
And with that - I went into the race confident, positive and happy. There was no good luck needed for this race...I had prepared the best I could. More so, Karel and I have been studying the 70.3 distance - particularly from other notable coaches, professional athletes and other "top" athletes, in learning how to "race" the 70.3 distance. Because the half ironman distance allows for higher-intensity efforts (compared to the IM distance), it's easy to lose form on the swim and swim inefficiently, overdo-it on the bike and suffer on the run. We see this all the time in athletes and it was a goal of mine to race smart and to pace my race.
After our 4 hour drive to Macon, Campy, Karel and me headed to the race venue to check-in my bike and to pick up my race stuff. It was a great feeling to rack my bike near the front of the transition area with a few amazing women (and men) around me. I was #18 and racing in the open category. I wasn't scared or nervous, just excited to put all my training to the test. After doing this race 2 times (2009 and 2010) and coming back for more heat and hills, I was really looking forward to the "cool" mid-80 degree temps, great competition and friendly atmosphere.
We headed over to the Swanger's house (kenny and stefanie - two of our coaching athletes) for the weekend. We had a delicious dinner around 5:45pm at their house - red potatoes, sweet potatoes (both grilled), salad, squash, zucchini and mushroom stir-fry and a hardboiled egg for me. I made sure to eat every few hours, mini meals throughout the day. I had been eating normally all week, slightly increasing my carb intake of whole grains over the past 2-3 days. With smaller meals and portions, I alleviated the normal "bloat" feeling that comes from increasing carbs (which is due to added water with storing of carbs) and although I rarely weigh myself, I have a rule to athletes - don't weigh yourself on race week! You have nothing to prove to the scale.
After dinner, I sipped on a FIZZ from Hammer and we relaxed a little while I multi-tasked by doing some stretching on the foam roller and with my trigger point ball for my piriformis. Feeling great, I had no worries going to bed around 9pm and I slept great...until 3:30am.
Not sure why I was wide awake at 3:30am but I managed to fall back asleep until my alarm went off at 4:10am. Luckily, I woke up again feeling fresh (worried I would wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle and be completely out of it - that is why I do not like athletes to wake up and eat and then go back to bed..get your full sleep!).
I let Campy outside while the coffee was getting ready and I prepared a whole grain pita (30g of carbs, which is the minimum I recommend for athletes before a race), with 3/4 large banana and spoonful peanut butter. I topped it with a few pumpkin seeds and cinnamon. Yum - went down great. Had a full glass of water with breakfast, along with coffee and by 4:50am I was almost ready.
I had prepared my bottles on Friday by putting 2 scoops Hammer Strawberry Heed + 1/2 scoop Sustaine energy in 3 bottles and that made it easy on race day morning to just put water in the bottles. I made an extra bottle of 1 scoop heed to sip at the venue. I also prepared 1 gel flask with 3 huckleberry gels for the run mixed with water.
I took 2 endurolytes and 2 Hammer Endurance Amino's and we were off by 5:05am.
I arrived to the race venue calm and relaxed. I kept whispering to Karel "I feel great". He would smile and say "I know..you will do great".
I set up my transition area (which always seems to feel like it takes forever!) and re-checked a zillion times to make sure I liked my layout.
I had my swim cap and goggles (and spare goggles for Karel to hold) and my speed suit.
In my transition area on my pink Oakley towel:
Garmin watch for bike (it isn't water proof so I put it on in T1 - I will be getting a new one soon..hint to Karel!)
Socks (I believe in being comfortable during races and I feel most comfortable with socks)
Cycling shoes (I don't put them on the bike, it takes me 5 seconds to put them on)
Giro aero helmet
Commit Oakley women sunglasses
Race belt (with safety pins for my number because I always seem to pull it off the cord that holds my number)
Once my transition area was set-up, I put on my old (but still good condition) Brooks Launch running shoes (same as in transition) to wear for a run warm-up.
After dropping off my transition bag to the car, I did around 10-15 min of jogging/walking/active stretching and still feeling good, I went back to the car to remove my Hammer jacket and to put on my TYR speed suit.
Under my speed suit I wore my Louis Garneau Elite Lazer Tek shorts and Hammer sport bra (which I wear all the time for my long bricks - super comfy!). I asked the race official if I was allowed to wear my CEP calf sleevs in the water (since they are often not allowed in IM races such as IM Texas) and he said absolutely ok to wear.
The water was 84 degrees but didn't feel hot. It was absolutely perfect considering that the air temps was in the low 70's. What a beautiful morning in a beautiful lake!!
I warmed up in the water for around 10 minutes and once I heard the race was delayed for 10 minutes, I was happy to stay in the water.
Around 7:05am, the Open/Elite group of men and women were called to the start and it was a very clam and relaxed vibe. I knew several of the open women (Kelly Fillnow and Nina Kraft) and after the race, met a few of the others (Dee Atkins and Bethany Rutledge). Another bonus of racing...meeting so many amazing athletes and wonderfullly nice and passionate individuals.
And we were off!!
1.2 mile SWIM
The swim felt great. The sun was blarring so it was hard to spot but I tried to do the best I could. I felt like I was having a great swim - ahead of a group behind me but not in the lead group. I stayed focused on my stroke since I have been working on my catch, head position and reach n' roll. Yes - after 19 years of competitive swimming I still "practice" swimming and have to think in the water.
Nearing the end of the race, I felt like I was finally getting my groove. Perhaps not doing a half ironman in 2 years but completing 2 Ironman's since 2011, I have long-distance mentality when I "race" the short distance races. I felt great and as I exited the water, I didn't look back as I made my way up a steep, short climb to the transition area.
I spotted Karel and the first thing he said as I was running up the hill was "your second female behind Nina Kraft!" WOW - I thought to myself...then he said "everyone was slow today in the water."
Seeing the 35 minutes on the clock as I entered transition, I was glad to know that others were slow as well. Oh well - it is what it is...I felt great, not tired at all and ready to bike my plan.
56 Mile Bike
And this is why I love this course.....
Well, more like love this challenging course.
It's hard for me as a Floridian to describe this course because for someone who loves hills but rarely gets to train on them, it's all very relative in my description of this course. But I will be honest and no matter who describes this course, they will say it is challenging. One big loop but a super safe and bike friendly course....although you will get the occasional 1 or 2 (or 3) dogs chasing you along the rolling hills.
The temperature was comfortable but it was getting a little warm (but not crazy). Again, as a Floridian, I didn't find the temps unbearable but rather really great for this day. The wind was picking up a bit and I could feel it on some of the flats and climbs.
My goal was to take it easy for the first 3 miles for if you see the map, the course really starts around mile 15. Therefore, I wanted to build my effort for the beginning punchy hills and to not overdo it. This has been a focus of mine in order to have a strong run off the bike and to ease some of my worries for not having the energy to run strong off the bike..now that I am not injured! :)
I was passed by Kelly around mile 1.5 and she was gone. However, I rode my race (despite my power meter not working - this has only happened twice before in training) so I just focused on what I could control and I monitored my cadence, HR and speed with my new Garmin 500 (happy birthday present from Karel!).
I felt strong on the entire bike and never tired. I sipped on my bottles every 5 miles or 15 minutes and despite being passed by several guys, I remained third female until mile 53. Dee passed me quick and knowing she is a phenomenal runner, I didn't try to go crazy and chase her down but just kept focusing on my race.
I ended up grabbing cold water at the last of 3 aid stations in order to take a sip and to pour on my body to cool my body and to reduce core temp the best I could, before the run.
I saw Karel on his mountain bike around mile 55 and he snapped a pic and cheered me on. I'm the dot in the right of the pic...way up there climbing another hill.
I felt great and had a full tank of energy...questioning if I took it too easy, I just stayed focused as I still had a half marathon to run and that would let me know how well (or not well) I paced the bike. For I pushed the best I could without my power meter working but didn't overcook myself. In analyzing my file and past races (both half and full IM), I know I have a lot more work I can do on the bike. Specifically, I need to get more comfortable pushing a bit harder in the half because I felt as if I was just getting warmed up around mile 50.
13.1 mile run
I quickly found my stride after a super quick transition. I started my garmin in transition so I hit lap as soon as I exited the transition area.
Karel has been helping me with my run by researching the strides of some of the top runners. We have really worked on me having a shorter stride..more like a shuffle and easing into my groove. It totally paid off along with a bank of memories of SUPER tough mile repeaters off the bike.
However, I did have a quick low moment at mile 2 when I thought to myself "oh, I just want to have fun and not race." But that quickly passed when Karel told me that I was fourth female and no other girl was in sight. By mile 2.5, my fun decision stayed with me but I was also ready to race.
With Dee, Kelly and Nina (3,2 and 1st) in a totally other zip code than me on the run, I was reminded by Karel (pre-race) to just "race my race". Yes coach!
This is a really great course for the mind because it has a 4 mile out section, then a u-turn and you run back to mile 6 and make a right hand turn to mile 8, then a u-turn to a right hand turn to mile 9, then eventually another u-turn and back to another right hand turn to run you to mile 10. Then you have a long road (that seems to take forever) until mile 11 and then a right hand turn to a straight shot to the finish. So, a great course for the mind..but a tough one on the quads, calves and hamstrings.
And this is why I paced myself on the run. There is no shortage of hills on this run and with a slight climb to the finish line area, you are either going up or down on this course.....my body will admit that I felt like I was going mostly up!
I sipped my gel flask every mile at the aid station and sipped cold water at every aid station. I had the volunteers pour water on my head (multi-task) as I sipped the water. The volunteers were AMAZING and the cheers were non stop from athletes. I guess I was smiling the whole race because I had a lot of people tell me great job and "great smile". Well, I was happy with how I was feeling and couldn't help but smile...I love what I am able to do with my body!
Since it was hard to monitor my pace on this course, I controlled my heart rate the best I could and when I found it getting high (either from hills or heat), I just jogged (or twice I walked for about 5-10 seconds) for a few seconds to "recover".
Amazingly, not once did I have a low moment. I felt so energized and the race just went by SO fast! I was feeling SO great and I LOVED this feeling....so THIS is what pacing is all about!!!
Having the run of my life, my legs got a bit heavy around mile 10. I saw Bethany in the other direction (age grouper who I met after the race and an incredibly talented athlete) nearing me and she was within 1.5 miles from me. Knowing that she started 9 minutes behind me, I had a feeling she would bump me out of 4th place overall female because she was running FAST but in order to place top 5 for prize money, I didn't take any chances with anyone else behind me and gave everything I could for the last 2 miles.
Something came over me around mile 11 and with my legs getting really heavy I just told myself "well, duh Marni...it's a half ironman and you are racing!"
Oh yeah...racing - Totally forgot what that felt like at this distance...and to be able to "race" a run felt A-mazing!!
My last mile - like always - was for Campy as I always do my last mile of my runs with Campy. It is always a special mile for me because it is fun to see his happy face, running so freely with his 11lb body.
I managed to pick up the pace and just smiled from ear to ear as I was nearing the last 1/2 mile. I was hearing my name from volunteers (which I later learned were blog readers of mine - thank you!) and I gave everything I could to "sprint" to the finish.
(wow - did I really do that?)
(Kelly Fillnow - 2nd place female and a 1:25 run PR!)
(The best coach....and my hubby!)
(I'm totally bummed I missed the awards that were suppose to start at 3pm. They started much earlier. By the time I got Campy who was at their house and quickly got showered, they were done with the overall awards. I always stay for awards when I receive one and I find it important that athletes stick around for awards. The race director handed me my check for $195 and Karel gave me the biggest hug - he was super proud of me...money or no money, I had one of the best races of my life at this distance).
(Thanks to Stefanie - and baby- and Kenny for cheering me on and taking pics...also for the hospitality and great food!! Makes traveling to races super stress-free!)
After the awards, Campy played in the water and showed us how he can attack the tiny waves. Then, off for pizza at a local Macon pizza joint.
Mile 13: 7:00 (thank you legs for letting me put my training to the test!)
Average pace: 7:55 min/mile (Finally!!!)
Although I didn't PR and on paper had a "slow" race compared to many, I am so happy with my execution and how I enjoyed every mile...all 70.3. Exhausted when I crossed the line, I felt so alive for all parts of the race.
You see, there is nothing to prove to anyone with a race on paper. It's what happens within a race that will drive you, motivate you and inspire you to become better, stronger and smarter...and certainly, your description of your race may or may not inspire others who may look up to you for what you are able to do..even if you "only" did x-time for x-miles.
For on race day - you are doing the work. Certainly, others helped you get to the race start feeling fresh (sport nutritionist, coach, family, training buddies) but it is up to you to execute a well-made race day plan and to have the right attitude to be satisfied with what the day offers you...for you can either throw in the towel before the race begins or race smart and feel amazing as you crosh the finish line.
This race is one of my favorites for many reasons but what I love about this race is the opportunity to race with so many talented athletes as well as a large group of people who absolutely love triathlon racing. With a distance and race for everyone (duathlon, aquathlon, sprint tri, half iron, relay), this is a great challenging course that is fair and safe. If you are seeking a tough course but a lot of fun (and great food afterward), I highly recommend the Coliseum Rock n' Rollman in Macon, GA.
Thank you to the companies who help me live a consistently great, active and healthful lifestyle...love this stuff!!!