Friday, September 1, 2017

Pineapples and Podiums - IMCDA 2017 Race Report

Five days later, and I am still pinching myself to make sure that Ironman Coeur D’Alene was real.  I almost don’t know where to start with this blog post!
Aloha baby!
HIGHLIGHT REEL: 11:16:03! 4th AG, 12th female overall, Kona Slot – BOOM!!! The swim was choppy, the bike was hot/hilly/windy, and the run was super hot! My age group was SUPER competitive, with 3 minutes separating 3-5 and 17 SECONDS between me and 3rd!  Seriously just the best day ever!  I got to share the race course with 5 other #muddylove athletes, and 5 other Coeur sisters.  It was truly an amazing boost every time we shared a smile, cheer, or (at the end of the run) a simple thumbs up.  The day was unreal, I fell even more in love with this sport, and I can’t wait to line up on another starting line in less than 6 weeks!
For the nitty gritty of the day, hunker down – it might take just as long for you to read as it did for me to race!!!
Pre Race: I flew into Spokane on Thursday and went directly to check in.  Spotted all my muddy peeps, obviously took some ridiculous photos with Eileen, bought lots of things from the merch tent, then checked into our fantastic rental house and did a gigantic Safeway run.  Then it was time for recovery boots and bed!

Behind the scenes to our photo shoot on the beach ;)
Friday – swim/run, shopping, and boots.  Oh and prepped our bags! We were so relaxed in the house that we wondered “what else should we do?  Oh…right…we have to check our bags in tomorrow!! Duh!”  Clearly we weren’t stressing about the race.
Hoping to look like this on #raceday!
Saturday – this is when the real fun started.  Bike/run, bike check in, then the rest of the Sherpa squad arrived!  Traditional pre-race dinner of Thai food: Basil Chicken, heaps of rice, and Mango Sticky Rice for dessert!

#mulletduo is ready to race!
Race Day! – as per tradition, I got to transition super early with my mom so that she could get all settled in for her body marking volunteer duties.  I jammed to my Eugene Marathon playlist, put in my race day braids, and kept the calories going.   
Traditional Pre-Race Bodymarking selfie with mom!
I was calm but excited as I put the last of my nutrition in my bags, pumped up my tires and shimmied into my wetsuit before heading down to the beach.  As always, it’s a pretty special experience to be surrounded by hundreds of people about to embark on an incredibly hard but amazing day.
Lake Coeur D'Alene
Swim: 1:12.16 - I PR'd by a minute (I know I improved much more than that, but the conditions were really rough, so I'm happy with where I was)  The lake was pretty choppy from the get go, and I felt seasick at beginning of first loop, then the back side turnaround had HUGE swells!  But my body adapted to the rise and fall of the chop and the seasick feeling went away before the second loop.  
Right on target
When I came out of the water to start the second loop I was right on target for 1:10 split, but second loop was choppier, so I feel ok about not quite hitting that goal.  On the second loop I found some lovely feet, which was super helpful.  I would peek up now and then, but he was swimming a pretty straight line and I was pushing to stay with him  – not sure if it slowed me down or made me faster but made for a pleasant experience!  
Hoping I made Coach Tom proud!
Gear: Roka Maverick X full sleeve wetsuit, R1 goggles in Arctic Mirror, Coeur Sports Team One Piece tri suit, Coeur Sports Team sports bra.
Off to my happy place #bikelove!
Bike: 5:47.20 - third fastest bike split in my age group (7th overall female)  Not a PR, but there was about 4k feet more climbing, and some significant headwinds on the way out of town, so again - Pumped!
I realized after the first out and back (around 14 miles/45 minutes in) that I hadn’t even finished one bottle.  I knew it was going to be a scorcher, even though it was shady and cool during that first part.  As the second aid station was coming up, I downed my bottle of water, grabbed one for my cage in the back and stuck another one down my sports bra. I continued that for the rest of the ride!  So I ended up drinking AT LEAST 12 bottles.  I peed 8 times on the bike! #soproud
There is one point on the bike, somewhere around mile 27ish that is a false flat but honestly looks like it’s a slight downhill.  I was riding near another guy and as I came up to pass him, I asked “am I crazy or does this look like it should be downhill”…he responded that it looked uphill to him!  Well screw you!  Silly man!  Other than a bit of a headwind – nothing crazy, but it was noticeable on the way west of town – the bike was pretty uneventful!  I steadily made my way from 11th AG out of the water to 3rd AG off the bike!  I had bigger hopes in terms of time, but based on the conditions, I am super pleased…and I definitely learned that you can’t always judge your race based on time because of the conditions, have to look at it comparatively to the other racers
The volunteers (in the whole race, but especially on the bike course) were AWESOME – honestly, such a hot day, and out on 95, they were standing on blacktop in the baking sun, but they were enthusiastic, and ready to go!
One of my biggest goals was to hit my nutrition, because that is what failed me at IMAZ.  Proud to say that my nutrition was on point!! Mainly because I want to remember this for the future, here’s what I took in (I don’t go by total calories, just by macros):
- Goal: 250-300g carbs, 20 g protein, 50-100g caffeine / hour
- Actual:
4 clif blocks (200- 50g carb each) - 2 salted watermelon, 2 black cherry (100g caffeine each);
3 ritz sandwich crackers (60- 20g carb each),
1 choc/cherry clif shot (20 + 100g caffeine);
2 bottles: each with 10g protein (Optimum Nutrition chocolate/coconut) + 20g carbs (unflavored pure dextrose)
1 hot shot at mile 90ish
I had about 2 pieces of clif blocks and 2 ritz crackers leftover
- My second bottle of carbs/protein stayed frozen/cold until I needed in starting the second loop, and I didn’t drop any of my nutrition, so I didn’t stop at special needs

Fun time is over
Gear: Giro Aerohead helmet, Louis Garneau Tri-400 Triathlon Cycling Shoes, Enve 6.7 wheels, Cervelo P3 Di2
Run: 4:09.25 - Nearly 37 minute Ironman marathon PR, ZERO GI issues, and it was faster than my first 2 open marathons! I ran almost the entire thing, walking aid stations only after mile 15.
It was SUPER hot on the run (not quite like 2015, but still a scorcher) so it was ALL about ice, water, sprinklers, hotshots, and singing “I will not break down on the run” to the beat of the new Taylor Swift song!  I am absolutely most proud of this leg of the race.  I never had a super dark moment (I had a slightly dim section between miles 15-19ish, but it was never terrible.  I just got in a zone an kept moving forward.  Just like in Arizona, my training buddy Jeff and I started the run right around the same time and I spotted him when I was just exiting the park. I yelled out to him with a big wave and eventually caught up to him.  If I’m having a good day at our Tuesday track practices, I can settle in right behind him…and we were able to run together for about the first 4 miles!  We were either next to each other, or one was just ahead, but in the same rhythm.  It was a pretty cool experience.
Ready to go to "the dark place"
I knew that the 35-39 females were going to be a competitive age group, and at every turnaround, I saw the same ladies, not too far back.  I knew that I couldn’t let up because we were all so close.  No one was falling back and it was a huge motivation.  On loop one of the run, Ginny just flew past me on her way to a blazing run split and 2nd AG in her FIRST ironman!  So amazing.  I knew that Emma (3rd place) was right on my tail and hunting me down (I saw her checking out the age on my calf at one of the turnarounds!!! She was on a mission!), and she passed me just after the turnaround on the third lap around mile 19.  Because of the rolling start, I didn’t quite realize how close we were.  But I didn’t get down after she passed…I just kept running my pace, nice and steady.  Had I known that she was only 17 seconds faster, I might not have walked that last hill, run a little faster down Sherman, picked up the pace just a tad, but I honestly have zero regrets. 
Getting in the zone
I felt “great” the whole run.  I mean, how good can you really feel during an Ironman marathon…but I RAN almost the entire thing.  I walked only the aid stations, and not until mile 15 or so.  Even then, I didn’t walk until the first table of the aid station and immediately started running again at the last table.
As for my nutrition, I didn’t quite hit all my numbers but had ZERO GI issues, never felt like bonking, and didn’t feel sleepy like I did at IMAZ
- Goal: 160-220g carbs, 10 g protein, 50-100g caffeine / hour
- Actual:
1 bottle: 10g protein (Optimum Nutrition chocolate/coconut) + 20g carbs (unflavored pure dextrose) frozen and surprisingly still cold in my Run Bag
2 chocolate coconut GU Roctanes (40g carb)
2 choc/cherry clif shot (40 + 200g caffeine)
1/3 banana and 1 orange slice at miles 21 and 24
Coke at miles 21 and 24
I finished my bottle at around mile 21, then tossed it so I wouldn’t have to carry it anymore
Make it hurt and hold it...
The one think I need to figure out is how to address the cramping in my Vastus Medialis and my Achilles/foot.  I was on the razor edge of cramping the whole time, just like in the 70.3 and the end of the Eugene marathon.  I drank about 5-6 Hot Shots, which would help for a bit, but the feeling would come back.  I took in a bunch of BASE salt, but it didn’t go completely away… Always something  to learn in an Ironman!
Spectating is serious business
I had my watch face showing my pace until about mile 3 (where I was trying to get myself to slow down so I didn’t go out too hot), then switched it over to just my heart rate, which I didn’t really even look at.  I just literally just ran.   I just clicked away the miles until I got to take the arrows point to “finish” instead of to “laps 2/3”.  Making that final turn down Sherman was unbelievable.  I knew that I had made the podium, and finishing in the daylight was so so cool.   
Pure Joy!
Before hitting the finish line, you get to run along Sherman Ave. for 6 blocks.  The streets are lined with spectators cheering, and you really get to revel in what you just did.  The finish at IMCDA is soooo much better that IMAZ which is just a tiny turn and then you’re there.  I saw my mom and her cowbell, and a giant high five to my husband, then I was there!  I had done what I set out to do!
High five with my man!
I know I sound crazy, but I felt so great after.  I was able to eat, right after the race (and lots after) unlike IMAZ where I could barely stomach a milkshake until hours later.  I think my post race pizza count was 4 giant slices – basically the equivalent of a whole one for myself!

Coach Muddy
Gear: Nike Zoom Pegasus 34 (goldilocks shoes!), Feetures socks, Trislide (on feet before socks = no blisters FTW!), Coeur Sports Race Belt, Nathan handheld, Coeur Sports Team visor
Completely in a daze  The day went by in a flash!
Post race: After taking lots of pictures, I chatted with Coach Muddy and John, saw Jeff cross the finish line, turned an insta friend into a real life one, then headed to our house for a shower and Ice bath.   
The sun was on fire, and the volunteers were still working hard!
Then my mom and I went back down to Sherman for the Root Beer Float that I had been dreaming about since June and cheered until #mullettduo PIC rounded the corner onto Sherman.  Definitely teared up – she crushed both her swim and bike goals, and fought through a tough run to a shiny new PR.  It was really great to be out at the finish line cheering.  I had lofty goals to do that at IMAZ, but one I got back to the house I wasn’t moving – it was really great to see so many smiles as everyone made that last turn to the finish line.
Monday: I started the morning reliving the race at the athlete breakfast with my Coeur teammies.  It was just awesome to share the course with these ladies.  Our kits were easy to spot, and sharing encouraging words and smiles with everyone on the course made each lap much more bearable!  The awards ceremony was so cool.  I was honored to be up on that stage with such speedy ladies, and it was great to meet the women who pushed me all day long.  I still can’t believe how close 3-5 were.  Everyone put up a great fight. 

Team Coeur: Lilias, Heidi, Stephanie, Kim, me :)
Going into this race, my goal for the season was to make it onto the podium (top 5…my mom and husband were confused and though I was delusional when I said I made the podium – they thought it was only top 3).  While I had hopes of an outside chance at a Kona slot, anything more than a podium would be icing on the cake.  Well…thank goodness for ageing up!  The female 35-39 age group was the biggest women’s AG by almost double, and with the additional slots that IMCDA had for its sunset year, we were originally given 3 slots.  Rumor was that the winner of the race (and our AG) wasn’t going to take hers, and during the awards ceremony, the second place lady said she wasn’t taking hers!!! Squeal!  I didn’t want to get my hopes up just in case the winner showed up, or Ginny changed her mind.  Then, the AMAZING and super badass 70-74 year old female declined her slot (because she already had one!!! Seriously I want to be her when I grow up) and it was reallocated to our AG for a total of 4 slots…Holy cow, no question about it, I WAS GOING TO KONA!!!!!
Women's 35-39 Podium!
As they worked their way through the announcements, my excitement grew and as soon as I heard my name, I jumped up and practically ran to the stage to get my lei and super important piece of paper to sign my life away.  Unless you win your AG outright, getting to Kona always involves a little bit of luck – a combination of how many slots the race has, how big your age group is, who shows up to the race, and how your individual race shakes out.  The way it worked out, the third, fourth, AND fifth place finishers in my AG are ALL going to Kona.  I am so happy to share another course with those ladies and I am incredibly happy that everyone got a slot, given how tight our race was! 
Aloha bitches!
I truly cannot believe that I will be racing in Kona in 5 short weeks with the very best in the world.  With the short turnaround and the fact that this wasn’t even on my radar at the beginning of the season, it will be a week-long Celebration on Life, as Coach Muddy likes to say.
Mantras to get me through the race, inspired by Erin at
A huge thank you to everyone who played a part in this journey: Coach Muddy, Coach Tom, massage therapist Dave, nutrition coach Alex, NCFit, La Dolce Velo, Coeur Sports and all my teammates, Mom, Dad, #mullettduo Eileen, and most importantly, my amazing husband.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Huckleberries and Mooses - IMCDA 70.3 Race Report

As I rode my bike in the oven of South San Jose yesterday (#hotasballs, #windyAF), I had lots of time in my head.  All I thought about was IMCDA coming up in 5 – yes 5!!! – weeks!  And as hard and hot and miserable my ride was, I knew that the training was $$ in the bank and whatever mother nature throws at us on August 27, I will be ready for it…but please please please don’t give us a 106* day!!!  And since I was thinking reminiscing on the awesome course, I figured I should probably post my race report from the half!! Enjoy…
I had such a blast riding and running through Coeur D’Alene for the 70.3 race and I CANNOT WAIT to head back up there in August (7 weeks away!!!) for the full Ironman.  Even though I haven’t done the full yet, I am already bummed that the full is leaving CDA next year.  This was, hands down, my favorite race course to date!!  After racing the half, I would have been very sad if I wasn’t signed up to race the full this year.  Ironman is certainly missing out by canceling this race…the town was delightful, the course was beautiful, and it was run seamlessly.  Boo :(
Hi Mudgy - Mudgy the Moose!  photo credit: Mitymous
Race day was Sunday, 6/25, so my mom and I headed up on Friday in order to get situated in town.  This was my first time flying with my bike and using my Scicon bag.  I was a bit nervous, but this bag was a dream!  So freaking easy to pack my bike, no stress of rebuilding it, and Penny arrived safe and sound.  Our only hang up upon arriving at Spokane airport was that the bag didn’t fit into the trunk of the full sized car my mom had rented because of the funky design when the seats folded down…so we were super cool and upgraded to the minivan life (which ended up being super convenient…shhhh don’t tell!).  The drive into CDA was easy and we went straight to Stanley Park to check in. 
Kept Penny the P3 safe and sound
I had been watching the weather apps like a hawk leading into race weekend, and I knew it was going to be a scorcher.  It was supposed to be hottest on race day, but Friday was already cranking up the heat, especially while standing in line to check in! Registration took a bit longer than expected, so I pushed my shake out swim to Saturday, and we grabbed lunch at Unchained Taphouse – the bike themed restaurant was the perfect way to set the mood for the weekend!  Then we were off to Safeway and our Air B&B…
Definitely not a problem come Sunday afternoon!
Saturday was a shake out swim/bike/run.  The lake was gorgeous…just cold enough to be PERFECT for a wetsuit swim.  I even saw some fishies!  The awesome thing about triathlon is the camaraderie…I needed to pump my tires after deflating them for the airplane, and got to meet some other lovely triathletes who offered their pump.  Since I was testing out the new Coeur one piece aero suit on race day in preparation for August, I was decked out in my team kit for my ride on Saturday…you know it’s an awesome kit when you are asked if you’re a pro ;)  Thanks again, Kebby!  The spin along the first part of the bike course was so fun and my legs felt fast and zippy.  I then ran along the lake, checked Penny into transition, and hightailed it out of there to give myself time to relax.
Looking like a pro for my pre-race shakeout ride!
The rest of the day was spent driving the course, prepping my bottles, carbo loading, and finally finishing the library book that I had lugged up to Idaho.  Dinner was my ever faithful Thai food outside of Spokane, Basil chicken and all the rice.  Not quite up to Tee Nee Thai standards, but definitely tasty and served it’s purpose.  Back to the condo and in bed by 9.
All ready to go!
Race morning – my mom is an AWESOME Sherpa and an expert body marker, so we headed to transition super early so she could be ready to volunteer when transition opened.  We snagged a great parking spot, which was key post race, and I did my race day hair (braids), ate my banana, and rocked out to Hamilton.
Bananas for Eileen with my personal body marker!
Swim: 35:07, not quite a PR, but came out feeling better than ever and right on pace for IMCDA
Gear: Roka Maverick elite wetsuit, Roka R1 goggles, Tri Slide

The rolling start took way longer than expected.  Muddy told me to get in as early as possible to save myself from being out on the course in the hottest hours – being the rule follower that I am, I seeded myself where I thought I should be…but that meant that I wasn’t in the water until 10+ minutes after the AG start.  Other than that, the swim was uneventful until the 2nd to last buoy where my right calf cramped up.  I did some breast stroke kicks to stretch it out, swam a bit further, and then my left calf cramped!  So frustrating…I think I lost at least a minute working those out, but eventually I made it onto dry land.  Apparently I got too excited that I was almost done and kicked too hard – duly noted!  We lucked out with wetsuit strippers and I was off and jogging through transition in a matter of seconds.
T1 – nothing super exciting here aside from the fact that I had the best spot ever!  Right by bike out/in meant that I didn’t have to run through the whole transition with my bike like I have in the past.  Fingers crossed my AWA status will land me a similarly good spot in August.
Best transition spot EVER!  Bike in/out is just to the left of the picture - So close!
Bike: 2:45:44, 20.27 mph - PR CITY!!
Gear: Cervelo P3, Rudy helmet, Louis Garneau Women's Tri-400 shoes, Smith Pivlok sunnies, Coeur One Piece Aero Suit

So freaking fun!!!  We had driven the bike course the day before – the hills definitely looked intimidating…not super steep, but LONG!  Well…they didn’t feel long on race day!!!  There were quite a few times when I was going downhill on a section that we had already climbed and thought to myself “I didn’t realize we were climbing this long” because it felt like I was descending FOREVER!  I hydrated well and did my first bottle grab.  I was pleasantly surprised at the speed I was holding, as I thought that I would be way slower because of the hills, but there was definitely enough downhill to balance out the uphill!  I even spun out a few times so I’m excited to see how my new chain ring will affect my bike split during the full!  The course is super spectator friendly since you roll through town in the middle and got to see/hear my mom and her cowbell 3 times!
I didn't want to get off!!
T2 – I hydrated like a champ and had to pee like a racehorse when I got off the bike, so I took advantage of the grass and changed my shoes while sitting down #multitaskingforthewin! 
Fleet Feet Coeur D'Alene
Run - 1:44:03 - WHAT!!!  #headdowndowork – mantra of the year!
Gear: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34, Ironman visor, Garmin Fenix 5S
Quad Damn!  So darn comfy <3 Coeur Sports
Rolled out of transition WAY too fast – or so I thought.  When I looked at my pace about .5 miles out of transition and saw 7:3x on my watch, I knew I needed to dial it back.  But when I thought I dialed it back and was still running sub 8 min miles, I decided to just go with it.  I locked into a rhythm and worked to keep my core cool at each aid station as the temperature started rising.  I would call out for water to splash on my face, and ice to dump down my sports bra.  Half way through the run, I went to dump ice into my sports bra, felt that I still had some cubes in there from the last aid station, and realized that my chest had gone numb!  My core DEFINITELY stayed cool which helped me run a super consistent pace.  
Anatomy lesson for the day - muscle right above the knee on the inside

Since the run course is 2 loops, it was AWESOME to see my Coeur Sports teammates Liz and Christine kicking ass in their beautiful kits.  And I was beyond inspired as Coeur Pro Jess Smith raced past me on the hunt for her podium spot...seeing her fight definitely kept my head in the game!  I could feel my vastus medialis (thank you Google) riding the razor edge of cramping, but with the help of my Base Salt vial, I managed to fend it off for the remainder of the run.  I slowed a bit on the hill before the turnaround on the second loop, but managed to pick it up and raced down Sherman Ave for a shiny new PR and a very happy mom.
Overall time: 5:11:00!  10th place 35-39, 8:31 Personal Record

This was my first race in the 35-39 age group, and man, those ladies are FAST!!! I am super proud to have raced into the top 10 with all of the talent at this race, and couldn't be happier with my 8 minute PR!  Huge thanks to Coach Muddy for his genius knowledge of training, my massage therapist Dave for painfully helping my muscles recover after I trash them to pieces, RP diet coach Alex for getting me to racing weight and fueled properly through the day (no GI issues AT ALL!! Huge win!), and Coach Tom for making the swim feel easy after countless jello-arm inducing swim sets!  Lots of love to my #mulletduo training partner, my #sherpaextraordinaire mom, and the hubs for letting my chase my best week after week.
Finishers chute with Liz
Also my Goldilocks search for shoes has come to an end, thank goodness!  My Nike Pegasus 34’s were a dream – just cushy enough, but solid arch support and room for my toesies!  No blisters, and I didn’t even think about my feet at all during the run.  #Winning
New colorway to match my race kit for the full!
Celebrated with some giant slices of pizza, a giant salad, a beer, and a cookie for lunch…and capped off the day with a ginormous banana split for dinner. #willraceforfood - like, all of it!
Color changing spoons #FTW
Mom and I  wandered around the town, stopped in the awesome toy shops (and found our house puzzle for August, #icecream, duh), and walked along the dock at the marina along the lake.  CDA is a great town and I can’t wait to play on the water after race day when we come back.
Lake CDA showing off

5 more weeks…but who’s counting!