Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Back To Training!

It's been over 4 weeks since I heard those word "Linda Kay Richards ... You Are an Ironman" and it's time to say I'm back in the saddle so to speak.  While I have done a few spin classes over the past few weeks, today was my first time running since the big day.

It was 20 wonderful minutes on the treadmill before my barbell class this morning.   The first few minutes were interesting as my muscles tightened up and seemed heavy but after about 5 minutes I was feeling great. If I didn't have to get into my class I would have ran an hour!  Yeah - I'm BACK!

I have 2 goals for the 2013 season.  As I have written in the past, I want to get my Boston Qualifier (3:45) and I want to qualify for the 2014 Canadian National Age Group Team for the Olympic Tri.  Yes I know, both of the goals may be unattainable but what the heck - I've done an Ironman so why set definite attainable goals?

2013 Tentative Race Schedule

  • February 17, Ft. Lauderdale A1A Marathon (first shot at BQ)
  • March 24,  Around the Bay 30k - I want to do this race so badly!
  • April 6,  Beaches Spring Sprint 5k (I want to run this with my 8 year old daughter)
  • May 5.  Toronto Marathon (second shot at BQ if necessary)
  • May 26,  Ottawa Half (to support a friend running her first)
  • June 8,  Binbrook Sprint Tri (to dust off transtion skills)
  • June 23,  Mt. Tremblant 70.3 - (Sub 6:10)
  • July 21, Toronto Triathlon Festival Olympic - 10 age group spots to the National Team!!!
  • Sept 7,  Wasaga Beach Oly (unless I get coerced into the Muskoka 70.3 on the 8th)
  • Oct. 12,  KONA (well, I DID enter the lottery)
  • Nov. 3, Hamilton Road to Hope Marathon - this is only if I don't BQ before
  • Jan 11, 2014 Bone Island Tri Iron Distance in Key West (who needs an off season?)
So I have just under 11 weeks until my first shot of a sub 3:45 marathon so I will be ramping up my training fairly quickly.  Hills and speed work are on the top of my training to do's with just moderate long runs on the weekends.  Let's hope the Canadian weather will be good to me!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Post Iron Void and 2013 "A" Goal!

It's two weeks post Ironman Florida.....
Seriously, I jumped that high!

Oh would you like to see my official IMFL video?

My bike sits, still unwashed, in the basement, with its shipping paperwork stapled to the tube.

My training calender for the past year sits on my bedside table where I glance at it each night, unable to pack it away.

My Gamin is lost in a sea of random things on my desk, untouched for the longest time since I've owned her.

And my Ironman Florida medal and hat hang along side every other medal I have accumulated.

This is the aftermath of the Ironman.  This is the void people speak about, the let down, the what's next, when, where and why.  I've gotten a lot done with my free time over the past two weeks and I have list of my winter projects to keep me busy over the snowy, cold months.  But of course there is that nagging itch to get back to training .....
I miss my bike!
I've been working on my race schedule for next year and I'm not quite ready to put it into stone.  I've registered for the Mont Tremblant 70.3 since it was a race that was sure to be sold out - and in fact it did so I'm glad I registered under the pressures of my TTC club mates.

But before I can set a schedule, I have to set my goals - and as I put out into the twitter-verse  last week - my 2012 "A" goal is to run a sub 3:45 marathon which will give me a Boston Qualifying time.   And the races that will afford me this opportunity are:

Ft. Lauderdale A1A Marathon on February 17.  I was supposed to run this race last year but I was injured. It's a flat course but the heat and the winds could be a major player and with it only 13 weeks away, it means I will have to hit some major training milestones once I start running again ... which I am told to take one more week off before running again.  I will ONLY run the full if I think I have a shot at my BQ otherwise I will just run the half.

Toronto Goodlife Marathon on May 5th.  This race is downhill and fast.  It will tear up your legs but it also can produce quick times (my fast half marathon time was on this course).  It's a good long time away and I will have ample time to recover and go for BQ attempt #2 if I fail at the the Ft. Lauderdale race.

Finally, there is the Hamilton Road2Hope Mararthon on November 3.  Apparently this is a huge BQ race and is rated the #1 Boston Qualifier race in Canada.  Unfortunately, a BQ time from this race will be for the 2015 Boston race as it is after the September cut off.  So this is definitely a last ditch effort to hit my BQ time in 2013.  I also would rather not run this race because it would be just 2 months out from ....

THE BONE ISLAND TRI - my next full Iron distance race in Key West Florida in January 2014.  There is an assumption here as January 12, 2013 is the inaugural running of the Bone Island Tri and I'm assuming it will happen again in 2014.  It looks like an AMAZING course and what Canadian doesn't want to go spend a week in Key West in January???  It's sure to be a good time so if you want to join me - mark your calenders now - you got 14 months to save your pennies for an awesome winter get away!
2 weeks ago today!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

2012 Ironman Florida Race Report

Linda Kay Richards, From Toronto Canada ... You ... Are ... An Ironman!

Overall Time: 12:10:36, 25th in age group, 861 overall
Swim: 1:17:17
Bike: 5:48:32
Run: 4:50:47

If you want to read about the days leading up to the race you can check out The Days Leading up to Ironman Florida 2012.  But this post is going to start early in the morning on Saturday November 3rd.

As usual, I didn't sleep much the night before.  Added to the normal pre-race jitters was my head full of snot thanks to my sinus infection.  I got up at around 2:30 and drank about 8oz of a Bolthouse Farms Protein Plus Chocolate shake and then again at 3:30.  I had only planned on getting up once to get some fuel but since I wasn't sleeping I figured it couldn't hurt to get a little more digested before the race.

I finally got out of bed just before 5 and started my normal race morning routine.  Coffee, toast with peanut butter and water with NUUN and bathroom visits.  I wasn't hungry and I felt pretty good.  Everything went smoothly as I packed up my special needs bags ( Bike Special Needs: 3 bottles of nutrition, cliff bar, bag of salt pills and 5 hour energy drink. Run Special Needs: Dry socks, Afrin, 5 hour Energy drink, KT tape, jolly ranchers candies) and my transition backpack with my wetsuit, goggles, earplugs, sunscreen and bike nutrition.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous
We left the condo around 5:30.  I remember just walking away, leaving Barry and Carole to close up the condo and Griffin following me starting his day's duty of photographing the event.  It was dark, warm and humid.  And I was nervous.

It was only about a 7 minute walk to the race site.  I was alone, surrounded by many.  It was like any other race morning only times a million!  I easily found a volunteer to body mark me (with my usual question of "do you have neat writing?"), then I was off to put my fuel on my bike, drop a few last minute things into my bike and run gear bags and then back out of transition to drop off special needs bags.  I wished I had a headlamp as it was very dark in transition!

body marking didn't last through sunscreen and sweat!
I remember hearing the announcement that transition was closed and all athletes were to report to the beach.  I was being encouraged to walk through an athletes only area so I gave my last good byes to Barry, Carole and Griffin and walked away.  Turns out I should have just walked with them as was never able to find them again once I got to the beach.  I passed a water station on my way to the beach so I downed my first GU of the day along with a ONZA and gulped some water out of a gallon jug as there were no cups.

I nervously waited on top to the dune scanning the crowds for any sign of Barry, or my folks, my kids ... anyone I might know.  I was alone but in hindsight it was probably good though at the time I really wanted to see my family before I stared the long day ahead.  The Pros went off, the anthem was sung and then it was go time.  I made my way toward the middle, out to the right (current was going right to left), and took some big breaths.  2,500+ of us started walking into the water and then before I knew it "BOOM", the cannon singled the start of my first Ironman.

I'm in there somewhere for sure
The waves were breaking quite large and I got frustrated that we were in waist deep water and we were still walking.  The waves would hit and we would come to a standstill.  I finally made my move and dove under the next wave coming my way and started swimming.  I was swimming head up front crawl because I had to look out for the breaking waves and for other athletes.

It was MENTAL - photos just don't do it justice - it's was a washing machine of bodies.  I was hit in the heat and grabbed a few times.  I obviously seeded myself too far back as I was never swam over but I swam over/around a lot of people.  The first stretch out to the turn buoy went very fast and before I knew it I was caught up in the turn.  I don't understand why people stop at the turn buoy and tread water or breast stroke.  I remember yelling out "just turn and go people, turn and go".  The back stretch was swimming with the current so the second turn buoy came quick.  I finally found some clear water and settled into a nice stroke.  I kept thinking how proud Kyle (my swim coach) would be as I reached, pulled and pushed with great efficiency.  The swim to shore seemed to take forever.  Again, I was frustrated as folks stopping and walking in waist deep water.  I swam and rode the waves in until I could no longer stroke.

Coming onto the beach was a blur.  I saw the clock read 50:00 and I thought holy cow - pros went off 15 minutes before, did I really do my first loop in 35 minutes!  That's amazing.  I spotted Barry standing on a hill and called out to him.  He seemed surprised to see me already.

I was so happy volunteers were handing out cups of fresh water - salt water does a number to your system and my mouth was parched but I was feeling good and ready to do the swim again.  I made a mistake of running back into the water too soon - it would have been better to go wide right again and use the current but the excitement got the better of me.  The surf had picked up a lot in 35 minutes and the waves seemed massive as we re-entered the water.  I dove right in - I was not going to let those waves push me down.  I think I remember diving under about 7 or 8 huge breaking waves before I got out into the clear water.  

The second loop took me quite a bit longer - probably because of the increase in the surf and the line I took.  It wasn't as crowded on the second loop but I was swimming with folks left, right and center all day.  I saw a few folks being pulled from the water which made me feel sad for them.  I never felt bad on the entire swim.  After the race I heard a lot of folks were seasick and there was a lot of vomiting in the water.  I'm pleased to say I didn't experience any of that!

I came out of the water and immediately spotted Barry.  I asked for my time and was so happy to hear him say "an hour 17".  I killed that swim!  I was so pleased!  My official swim split was 1:17:17, 34th in my age group.

useless showers
The wetsuit strippers were quite aggressive (ON THE GROUND, BUTT IN THE AIR) and got my wetsuit off in record time.  Next thing I know I'm at the showers, which were quite useless however there were a few guys really trying to get cleaned - move it people, move it!

I ran through the transition path, grabbed my bike gear bag and headed into the woman's change area.  There were a ton of volunteers ready to help.  I dumped my bag out and tried to stay focused.  Jersey on, headband on, shoes on, helmet on, Vaseline on, sunglasses on - thank the volunteer and out the door to the sunscreen volunteers who lathered me up.  7:12 in T1 but I felt like it was much shorter - but I guess the run up from the beach did take some time.

I was feeling great as I grabbed my bike and headed out.  It had been awhile since my last long ride and I was ready for it!

The mount line was a bit crazy as to be expected but I got on my bike, clipped in and off I went.  I knew my family would be outside the entrance to our condo about half a mile down the road and I was ready to give them a huge smile.  I screamed "I love you guys" as I flew by - seeing my parents with my kids was inspiring.  I felt great and I knew it was going to be a good bike ride!

The bike course is flat except for one bridge that you hit at about 12 miles and 100miles!  I've never ridden where you are just full out flat for miles and miles.  You start out heading west along the beach for about 6  miles then you head north.  It was a draft feast for sure!  We were riding 3 to 4 across and there were bikes as far as you could see.  I tried my best not to draft but for the first 20 - 30 miles it was near impossible.  I was averaging well over 30 kpm and felt great.

 The winds were light for most of the ride and it was pretty uneventful.  I saw lots of guys with flats and I just tried to push that notion out of my head.  I had promised myself that I was going to try to be a true Ironman and not stop to use the washroom.  I was actually proud of myself that I was finally able to make myself pee on the bike.  However, I was never able to completely relieve my bladder.  Due to the flatness of the course, the aero position was really cramping my bladder so I finally decided to stop around 70km and it was a good decision.  I probably added 3 minutes to my time for that potty break but it was well worth the time!

Barry and Carole had driven out to the mid point out and back section of the bike course.  I was feeling great when I turned the corner and saw Barry.  I knew I was having a great time on the bike and was really enjoying the day.

This is the first out and back section of the bike course.  And while the rest of the course is on pristine roads, this out and back section is a crotch killer!  I complained about that cruddy road at Muskoka 70.3 ... well, this was worse.  5 miles out, 5 miles back ... bumpity bump bump bump.  Cracked roads!  Dodging lost water bottles, CO2 cartridges, saddle packs.  I'm amazed I didn't lose anything and kept my speed up!

The special needs stop is out on that stretch and I had to stop  to replenish my liquid nutrition.  The volunteer dropped the ball and I ended passing my box which added some extra time as the volunteer had to run my bag over to me.  I quickly grabbed my 3 bottles and my bag of salt and got back on the bumpy road.  At this point I was feeling good.  I was pouring cold water on me at most aid stations so the heat wasn't bothering me and I was nailing my nutrition and hydration plan.

From this point we headed north again then west where you eventually join back up to the out route.  My right quad was cramping a bit which I attribute to the flat course.  Luckily it never gave me too much trouble and I increased my salt intake as a precaution.  The winds had picked up and we were riding into a pretty sizeable head wind for quite awhile.   My speeds decreased from averaging 31kph to 27-28kph.

I knew I was on track for a bike split way under 6 hours.  When we made the last turn to head East on Front Beach Road I just hammered it.  I was feeling so great and I knew I only had about 6 miles to go and I was ready to get off the bike.  I averaged 33 kph for the last 10km of the bike!
woohoo Bike Done
My official bike split was 5:48:32 averaging 19.28 mph!  I was 22nd off the bike in my age group!  I can honestly say I never felt bad on the bike and while the head wind was annoying at times, the ride was not even close to as tough as some of my long training rides were!

I handed off my bike to the volunteer and had to explain that my bike numbers had come off, to make sure to rack my bike appropriately.  I ran through the gear bags, grabbed mine and made it into the change area which was fairly empty.  I had 3 volunteers to help me.  I sat down, took a breath and said "I'm not in a rush right now".  That being said I started my change.  I decided to change into my running shorts but keep my jersey on.  I put my socks on then had to take them off again to put glide on my feet.  I sort of felt like the volunteers were rushing me and I just wanted to make sure I got everything right because I knew I had a long, long run ahead.  I again got lathered up with sunscreen as I left the change tent.  I knew the back of my neck must have been rubbed raw during my swim because the sunscreen burned like crazy.  I hit the porto-potty before heading out of transition.  I spent 6:48 in T2.
Christina and me leaving T2... not a cloud to be seen!

I ran into Christina, a training buddy, as I was leaving T2 and we chatted for a moment or two.  I saw Barry and gave him a kiss and was on my way.  I felt pretty good but the heat and the sun which are barely noticeable on the bike were already present on the run.

The course is a 2 loop, out and back course.  The aid stations were supposed to be about every mile (1.6km) and my plan was to run from aid station to aid station.  Unfortunately, the spacing of the aid stations was not as predictable as I expected.  There were some that came too quickly and then some that came too late.  After the race, I heard this complaint from many athletes so I wasn't just me!

I'm not going to lie, I do not remember everything about this marathon.  I do know I went into this run a little cocky and it got the best of me. I also knew when I started the run there was a good chance for me to break 12 hours. And sitting here 3 days later, with legs not nearly as sore as they should be - it was a mental battle for sure and I could have broke 12 hours if I had kept it together on the run.

The first 2 miles of the course are spectator friendly.  As you run along Surf drive you gather tons of energy from the tailgating spectators.  I remember they were feeling good the first time I passed them, feeling great the second time, drunk the third time and truthfully, I hardly remember them on my last pass.

After that you run a long stretch on a busy road with few spectators, then into a residential area and finally into a state park where the turn around is located.

I was initially pleased with my running, though my right leg was a little sore, I felt pretty good.  I was having trouble eating on the course.  I wasn't have GI issues,  I just wasn't hungry.  I forced down 2 Gus on the way out and 2 Gus on the way back.  At every aid stations that had ice I would dump most of the ice into the front of my sports bra and the rest down the back.  I would dump a cup of water over my head, take any sponge offered to wipe off the salt and sweat on my arms, neck and face.  There was no shade and the sun was relentless.  It was just hot.

I ran a bit with a guy named Steve.  Steve and I had passed each other a few times on the bike and started chatting sometime before the entrance of the park.  He was trying to get me to stay with him, as he was on a sub 12 hour pace.  His pace was just pushing me too much and with such a long way to go I had to let him go.  When I told him to go ahead without me he said "ok, but you come and find me when you can ok?". I never saw Steve again.

On the way back in I was melting; physically and mentally.  Some of the aid stations were waiting for their replenishment of ice supplies which left just water to keep us cool.  I took sips of perform and coke here and there but drank water every opportunity I had.  Time seemed to crawl and it took forever to get to the half way turn.  In looking back, I don't think I realized that I had just done  the first half in about 2:15.   I must have been having pains in my legs.  I know at some point on the first loop I put dragons ice muscle cream on my right leg but I don't remember when or if it helped!
this photo brings back a lot of emotions

I can't really tell you what I was physically feeling when I rounded that corner into special needs and when I saw Barry.  But emotionally, it was a disaster. I was ok until I saw Barry and then I started hyperventilating a bit and crying.   I was overcome with emotions.  At this point I knew there was no doubt that I would finish this thing but I didn't have a clear enough head to realize I was still on pace to break 12 hours.

Did I mention it was hot and the sun was beating down?  After a bit of a cry and a hug with Barry I was off again, Just to see Carole and do it all again.  I remember listening to all the positive words from Carole and responding "it's so far to go, it's so hot and they ran out of ice".

I remember slowly shuffling away, taking a breath, putting my head down and going. It was getting later in the day and the sun dropped lower in the sky.  I was dripping wet, soaked to the bone, even my shoes.  I was a little concerned that once the sun dropped it would get cold and I would freeze because I was so wet.

The second loop seemed to drag on forever.  This marathon is not like any you will even run outside of an Ironman.  So many people are walking,  people are vomiting on the side of the course, friends are holding the arm of their training partner.  The sportsmanship out there is amazing.  You start recognizing the same people over and over, and you remember seeing their name on their bib so you ask in a quiet voice "how ya feeling Hillary", "looking good Rick", "the aid station is just around that corner".  The support is amazing.

I walked a lot.  Mentally I checked out for a bit.  I walked more than I ran.  Time was slipping away and I was sure I had lost all chances to finish in under 12 hours.  I saw the splits as they came up on my watch - 7 something, 8 something a km.  I don't remember exactly what hurt, but it hurt and I was tired.  It hurt to run but it also hurt to walk.  I was also a bit sad because I wanted to run faster but I couldn't so I would just walk.

I pulled out my inspirational notes before I got to the park the second time and before the darkness set in.

Leave it to a 6 year old to write something like that!  I was laughing and crying at the same time.
my last turn around
I had a goal to be out of the state park before dark and it was a little victory in my mind when I accomplished that.

It must have been about mile 20 or 21 where I started running with Gabe or Gage.... He asked if I was on my second loop and then told me to stick with him.  He said that he had been using me to keep him going.   He told me the heat has ruined his chance to get in under 12.  I laughed and said at this point I didn't think I would make it under 13.  He assured me that I would finish well under 13 and we shuffled along together.  His wife was also running and he was hoping to see her on the other side heading out for her second loop.  We shuffled along, walking, shuffling, walking ....  as the sun disappeared and it got dark, fast.  While there was relief from the sun, darkness did not bring chill but it did bring humidity.  I remember being thankful that I was not cold!

I don't remember much about the aid stations on my way back in the second time.  I started taking the chicken broth which was just a yummy, salty reprieve from water, perform and coke.  I had given up on gagging down GUs but I'm pretty sure I ate a banana or two and some orange slices.  I even tried a chocolate chip cookie. I made sure to drink water whenever offered to me.  I never felt like I bonked or hit a wall.  I just felt tired.

Then I heard the finish line.  I was still over 5 km away but I heard "you are an Ironman".  I was ready to be done.  The next time my friend stopped to walk I just keep shuffling and I heard him say "you go girl, you look good, finish strong".  It seemed to take forever but mentally I checked back in.

I look back on the splits and laugh because I thought I was running fast.  I was running faster than anyone else around me at that time as I passed quite a few people. I pushed on, taking water at the last 2 stations and just moving forward.  Right, left, repeat.

My last 5 km splits - I fought back and won the mental battle at the end!


As I round the corner and into the long finishing shoot I was happy to be done.   There was a guy a head of me and I looked over my shoulder to make sure no one was coming behind me as I wanted my moment of Ironman fame alone.  I didn't see my family and I don't remember hearing much but blurs of sound.  And then "Linda Kay Richards .... you are an Ironman".  I wasn't even sure if he said "from Toronto Canada" but apparently he did.

I attempted my signature jump over the finish line which looked quite goofy as my hat and sunglasses slid of my head. I was an Ironman with an official time of 12:10:36.  Six months ago I would have told you I would be thrilled to break 14 hours so I am proud of this time.

But I have something to settle with that run course - it got the best of me mentally this time but it better watch out - I'm not a first timer any more and I have a score to settle.  So even though 11 hours into this race I was telling people "I'm one and done", and even right at the finish I thought I probably wouldn't do another Ironman ... and there probably won't be an Ironman for me in 2013 - but you wait 2014 - you just wait!

my so supportive family
and best friend

The journey to becoming an Ironman was one of the best experiences of my life.  I have met some amazing people along the way and I have proven to myself that anything is possible.  If you have the heart and drive, you too can be an Ironman!

And for those who want to know - 4 days post race and my only complaints are a very sore big toe nail that has no chance of survival and a tight pinched/pulled muscle in my left shoulder.  My legs feel better than they did during the last 6 weeks of hard training!

The Days Leading up to 2012 Ironman Florida

It's hard to even start to write this post - just 3 days since I completed the longest race of my life.  After a year of planning, over 400 hours of training, more money than I wish to add up and buckets of sweat - I am an Ironman!  This is just the PRE race report, the next post will just focus on race day!

I arrived in Panama City Beach on Wednesday morning and spent the better part of the morning sorting out the accommodations which was more stressful than it needed to be.  Once I got into the condo, the breathtaking view made all that stress disappear!

I registered on Wednesday afternoon, picked up my bike and got my rented race wheels.  Everything went smoothly with no line ups.  The atmostphere at Ironman village was awesome and the volunteers were so supportive!  I was planning on swimming on Wednesday but the surf was huge so I put it off to Thursday.    Mom and dad came on Wednesday and we went out for a nice steak dinner.

Thursday morning I woke with a bit of sore throat and a head full of snot - the makings of a sinus infection.  I tired to cast it aside and go on with my day.  The surf was still rough but I decided to head on down and join the other athletes that were heading out for a practice swim plus a bit of salt water might be the cure to the oncoming cold!

The surf was still very rough!  I made my way out through the breaking waves, practising diving under the waves and swimming.  My heart rate was sky-rocking and the swim was sucking a lot of energy out of me so I decided to only swim for about  10 minutes.  I felt like conserving my energy was more important and at least I got a feel for swimming through the break waves.   Everyone you talked to agreed the surf would lay down by Saturday ... we hoped!

I picked the family up from the airport on Thursday afternoon and Barry, Griffin and Carole joined me at the athletes welcoming dinner and meeting.  I was not impressed with the food or the set up for this dinner but did enjoy the presentation.  

I slept a little better on Thursday night thanks to some night-time advil but I woke with a full blown sinus infection on Friday morning.  This was suboptimal to say the least but it was out of my control.  I decided that taking sinus meds was not a great idea as they can make me a little loopy and effect my balance.  So I decided to use a nasal spray that is not good for you but brings pretty much instant relief.  

Friday was a bit of blur getting ready for race day.  I started the day with another short swim in the ocean.  It was a bit calmer but I still only swam for about 15 minutes.  Then I decided to go ahead and check my bike and gear.  I was under the impression that once I checked my gear bags I wouldn't see them until race day but it turns out you have access to your gears bags whenever transition is open!  Good to know!
nice rack!
Bike Gear Bags

Run Gear Bags
After we got all my gear checked we headed back to the condo and then met up with the family for lunch on the pier at Pinapple Willy's.  The food was ok but the atmosphere was great!
A lesson every true Floridian knows!
I spent the afternoon alone resting in the condo, trying to think of anything BUT the day to come.  However, I think all I did was run through the race in my head over and over and over again.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I would have loved to have been hanging by the pool or at the beach with everyone else but I knew that was not good for racing!

Friday night Mom cooked a nice spaghetti dinner.  So nice to have a good home cooked meal the night before something I always miss when we are at out of town races!
SO nice to have a home cooked meal the night before!
I don't recall being very nervous.  More than anything I felt like I was forgettign something or that I just wasn't prepared right even though I was.  I felt like my special needs bags didn't have much in them and I just kept thinking I had to be forgetting something.  After dinner I said my good nights to the kids and my folks and they retired to their condo and I completed getting ready for the day to come.
preparing my nutrition for the bike
I crawled into bed shortly after 9 for the long sleepless night ahead....

Monday, October 29, 2012


It's now less than 5 days until I run into the gulf waters and begin the ending to this amazing journey to Ironman Florida.  Time has been playing tricks on me the past week - speeding up, slowing down.  But now I think we will be on fast forward until Friday night.  So much has been done - packing for me and for the kids, organizing their life for the 2 days I'm gone, making sure they have lunches and snacks and rides lined up if the weather is as bad as the forecast.  Not to mention keeping the house in order so I don't return to a disaster afterwards!  I'm trying not to dwell on the fact that the weather up here is not all that great for air travel tomorrow ... I have no control over the weather so that is all I am going to say about that!

My Sweet Gym Friend Jo gave this to me as a special token for the week!
I have been thinking more and more about my race execution.  I run through the entire race in my head over and over again so today I thought I would try to get it out of my head and onto the page.

It will all start Friday night with a nice spaghetti dinner cooked my favourite cook in the whole world - my mother.  I'm looking forward to have a nice early meal with my family and friends and then retiring to my condo shortly thereafter.  We all know that sleep will be restless on Friday night so I'm preparing to lie, with eyes closed and as still as possible for as long as possible.  I'll get up around 3am for a snack to fill my belly. If sleep comes, my alarm will wake me around 5.

I plan on my normal morning routine of coffee, toast and peanut butter.  Followed my bathroom duties and a very hot shower, then I will be off to the race site.  It's a 10 minute walk to transition and body marking so we will leave the condo around 6 giving me more than enough time to drop my special needs bags, get marked, and relish in the excitement of the day.
my toenails are ready (and yes I do have all my toenails... sort of)
The swim
I'll pop my first gel of the day about 10 minutes before the swim start.  I'm planning on seeding myself  in the middle of the pack with the expected finish time of 1:15 even though my expected finish time is more like 1:20 - 1:30.  I would rather be swam around / over by a few then get caught up behind a bunch of slower swimmers and God forbid breast strokers!  I feel very prepared for the mass start thanks to the mass start at Welland.   If I could survive being beaten up for 2,000m in that narrow canal, I'm sure I can handle the mass start in the vastness of the Gulf of Mexico.  I'm just going to go out strong and easy, keeping my heart rate in check and focusing on a strong reach and a strong pull.

It's a two loop swim so you have to exit the water, cross a timing mat and re-enter the water.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  It will break the rhythm of my swim but it also breaks it up into 2 very manageable swims.  It is what it is so I will just focus on keeping my heart rate low and get back into the rhythm as soon as possible.  If all goes plan I'll be done with swimming in about an hour twenty.

I am swimming in my trishorts and my sports bra so in T1 I just have to get out of my wetsuit (I plan on using the strippers), rinse off as much sand as possible, throw on my bright yellow/green jersey  put on my shoes and out I go.   If the weather is as forecasted I will not need arm-warmers or socks!  I hope to make quick work of T1.

When I first get on the bike I'm going to mentally settle into my long ride.   I'm actually really looking forward to the long ride as I have really enjoyed riding long this year. At this point I know the day is really starting and I have to avoid any mental mistakes.  I've heard it is important to rinse your mouth and get hydration into you pretty quickly as the salt water swim dehydrates you more than fresh water.  15 minutes into the bike I'm planning on taking the only gel on the bike and then settle into my nutrition plan of drinking 200 calories an hour and eating an addition 80 calories of gel blasts with the occasional peanut M&M.  I'll stop at special needs to pick up the last half of my liquid nutrition.  If I lose any of my bottles I am prepared to switch to my back up nutrition plan which utilizes the course provided nutrition.  I have trained with that and while it is sub-optimal, it will get me through to the run.

I'm hoping for a quick T2 with just a quick shoe change - and of course I will have to put on socks too.  Grab the visor, shove some nutrition in my back pocket.  I am putting a full clothing change into my T2 bag just in case my trishorts are too gross (I'll just leave it at that) and I want clean shorts to run in but I think I would rather run in my trishorts than my running shorts.  I know I will see my family at this point and that is going to be a high point of the race for me - mentally I will be settling in for a long, long run.

At this point I will know I am on the backside of the race but I will have to keep it together because 42.2 km is a long way to run.   It's a 2 loop course so that means I get to see my family again and at that point I will be telling myself I only have a half to run, an easy Sunday morning run, my favourite distance. Of course I will be in uncharted territory at this point - I will have been going for longer than I have ever gone before.  And if the weather is as forecast, it could be very hot and sunny on the run so I will focus on keeping my heart rate low and my body temperature in check.  With an aid station every mile, I will break the run down into 9 - 10 minute chucks, running from aid station to aid station.

I'm going to put a small bottle of carbo-pro + NUUN in my run special needs bag just in case I'm sick of plain water and perform.  I'm not sure what else I will put in there ...

And then there is the finish line.  Just like that - a full day of swimming, biking and running.  This year the time change comes later (in fact it changes the night of the race) so we will be given an extra hour of light at the end of the day - if everything goes perfect I should be finishing between 7 and 8pm.  Any time before 9 and I'll be thrilled.  And of course, just finishing is a feat in itself!
I hope delta lets me carry on both my carry on sized pieces on tomorrow!
And that's that!  Next post will probably be my race report unless I try to post from my Ipad before the big day!  So if you think about it on Saturday, send me some good vibes as I complete my journey to becoming an Ironman!

Monday, October 22, 2012

My last ride to Lake Simcoe this year

Today was a bit bitter-sweet   The weather was down right perfect for a long bike ride today.  Of course I'm in taper so my "long" ride was just under 4 hours - but enough time to ride up Lake Simcoe one last time.  Last week I told the nice old man at the Lakeside Convenience Store that I wouldn't see him again until spring.  He was happily surprised when I rolled up today to grab a bottle of water.  He said the weather was sure to be nice again next week and that he would be sure that he would see me again.  I explained that sadly, no, I would not be riding up again this year.  He wished me luck and sent me on my way.

I enjoyed my ride today, soaking in the beautiful fall colours and warm sunshine.  I've been so lucky to have such great weather this year to train in.  I can't wait until spring and I can ride up there again!

11 days and 6 hours to Ironman Florida!

I'm off to the pool!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Mental Game - 12 days and Counting

I've been told by every Ironman I know - it's the mental game that you have to win on race day.  I've thought through how I'm going to deal with the mental game at Ironman Florida and in fact, I've trained that mental game.  I've ridden most of my long rides alone.  I almost always run alone.  I've rehearsed in my head, while training, exactly what I'm going to think about when my glutes decide to stop firing or my quads seize up, when my big toes feel like they are on fire or when the pinch in the back of my neck just won't ease up.
But what I haven't prepared for was the mental game that is presenting itself in these final days leading up to race day.  The fears, the doubts, the worries - they cloud  my mind.

I worry about my tight right hamstring - I've never had a problem with a hamstring like this ...

I fear blowing out both my CO2 cartridges and not inflating my flat.

I doubt my ability to run.

I worry about hydrating enough, about eating enough without over eating, about sleeping enough.  

I fear this nasty cold virus is going to settled in to my sinuses for one nasty sinus infection.

I doubt my ability to maintain my good form swimming for 2.4 miles.

I worry it's going to be too hot, too cold, too windy, too rough, too rainy, too sunny.

I have to trust in my training - like my training partner and Ironman mentor Christina said the other day " We must think of ourselves as a cooked lasagne and in the next 3 weeks we are letting the cheese bubble- that's it....work is done!!! "  

I still have my taper week ride of 4 hours to do tomorrow then I enter taper week 2.  Let the cheese bubble baby - let the cheese bubble!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

14 Day Weather Forecast IMFL

Well, it only goes to say, if I can see Saturday, November 3rd on the 14 day weather forecast on my Ipad then Ironman Florida is officially less than 2 weeks away!  The first week of taper went quite well, and really it's still a lot of work.  I got through it all but the 4 hour ride which is scheduled for Monday - with a forecasted high of 17*c, sunny and light winds.  I'll take it!

But let's not beat around bush - it's not the weather forecast for Monday that is taking over my mind!  Weather is clearly out of my control - so I shouldn't give it much thought - but everything about the race seems to revolve around the weather - is it going to be hot and sunny?  Cold and rainy? Windy and rough? or just perfect conditions ...

So here it is ... 14 days out ...
that's 79*F - 73*F
I know, I know - it's 14 days out and it will probably change daily ...  and I'm sure the first thing I will do every morning is turn on that Ipad and check!  I know on race day I will focus on what is in my immediate control - my swim start seeding, my effort and nutrition on the bike, and my mental toughness to push through the pain on the run.  But leading up to the that day, I will also scrutinise the weather forecast but being aptly prepared for the weather is also in my control!

13 days, 14 hours, 5 mins ... and counting!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Because I Can - Ironman Florida

If you go to the Ironman Florida site you will see the count down clock ... in fact right now it reads 14 days, 13 hours, 33 minutes and 16 seconds! Wait, 15 seconds! Wait ... you get the picture....

I get to run today and I get to run pretty long considering it's my first week of taper.  My plan calls for an hour and a half run this weekend.  Since our weekend is now are filled with hockey (4 times this weekend), and Theatricks,  plus a family photo shoot this weekend, I am happy to get my runners laced up and hit the road for a nice, easy long run on this Friday.  The sun is going to shine once this fog burns off and the winds appear to be light and it's going to be a great day for a run.

As the excitement builds and race day gets closer, I think a lot about the things I will think about during the long day that will be November 3rd.  The thoughts that will push me through my 6 hour bike ride and especially what is going to get me through the "hurt" on the run and across the finish line.  There will be thoughts of my kids, my husband, my parents.  Thoughts of kids who have touched my life, that no longer can run, like Darcy and Stella.  Thoughts of people I have lost, my Papa, my grandmas, my Ma Beatty.  Thoughts of those who are battling something much more than the Ironman.  There will be happy thoughts too - like knowing how many friends will be tracking my progress as the day goes by, cheering for me from far away places and of course my family at the finish line!

I often get asked why I'm doing an Ironman.  I get my fair share of head shakes and "wow you are crazy" or "a FULL marathon???" but mostly over the year my friends and acquaintances have just realized that  once I put my mind to something, I'm going to do it and I really don't care what other's think.

When I was a child, I was not athletic at all.  I didn't play soccer or hockey, I didn't swim competitively, I didn't try out for the track team.  I did keep the 5th grade basketball and 8th grade volleyball benches warm.  I was an pudgy kid and struggled with body image and my weight my entire life.  Luckily I could fall back on my academics to give me a path and a purpose, but sport never presented me the opportunity to excel.

I became a bit of a gym rat when I was at university but my weight yo-yo'd throughout my 20's as my professional life had me travelling all the time which wasn't conducive to a healthy lifestyle.  It wasn't until after the birth of Calli Anna that I decided to focus on a healthy lifestyle, and now, 8 years later, I no long struggle with my weight, though I will always struggle with my body image.  And now, 8 years later I'm running an Ironman, and if you want to know why - the answer is simply because I CAN.

A year ago, I could NOT swim 2.4 miles.
                        I could NOT ride my bike for 6 plus hours.
                                                   I could NOT run a marathon.

But, today I can.  And I will.  And I will relish every moment, because I can.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I couldn't have done it without you ....

On November 6, 2011, nearly one year ago, I took the leap and registered for Ironman Florida.  In just over 2 weeks, on November 3, 2012, I will race in the biggest event of my life.  As every Ironman will tell you, it's the journey to becoming an Ironman that will change you forever.  And throughout that journey, there are many people along the way that sacrifice for you, inspire you and mentor you.  And to them all, I am grateful!  Here is a call out to a few of them!

First and foremost I have to thank my husband Barry.  He convinced me 2012 was the year I should do Ironman instead of putting it off to 2013. He has been my biggest supporter, footed the huge financial bill, listened to me go on endlessly about training, allowed me to watch as much triathlon "porn" as possible on uTube, and has put up with going to bed obscenely early. I'm so proud of him for getting into the best shape of his life and joining me in the sport of triathlon (and duathlon).  I look forward to racing with him at Mt. Tremblant 70.3 in June 2013 and one day supporting him in his journey to become an Ironman!

Next I have to thank my kids: Calli Anna, Jensen and Griffin.  They have put up with a momma who is usually tired and grumpy and sore.  I hope that one day they look back on this year and see the grit and determination I put into this training to accomplish something amazing.  I also hope they realize that I tried my best to not let the training affect our family life.  I tried my best to do my training while they were in camp this summer and in school this fall.  Of course this didn't always happen and I know they spent a fair amount of time with sitters.  I hope they know how thankful I am that they have allowed me this opportunity. And knowing they will be at the finish line is all I need!

Carole @ Ottawa Marathon

My biggest fan, after Barry of course, is Carole.  Oh what would I have done without Carole?  If ever I was in need of just about anything, Carole would be there.  In a pinch with the kids, Carole to the rescue.  I'm frustrated, tired and low, Carole was there to pick me up.  I'm high on endorphins and want to talk endlessly about my incredible workout, Carole was always there to listen, without complaint.  AND, she is coming to my race, flying down with Barry and the kids - because goodness knows, how could he fly with the kids on his own?  Carole, from the bottom on my heart, and from the entire family - thank you for being you!

Speaking of childcare, my next big shout out goes to KatD!  While I wanted to get my long rides in while the kids were at school, I just couldn't make it back for pick-up   Not to worry - KatD is here!  Thank you for always being willing to grab the kids after school or look after them early before the school day started.  You gave me those precious extra minutes needed so I didn't have to rush and I could get my training in.

Clinton and Julie: clearly they are both triathletes!
Now, how did I exactly get into triathlons and eventually the Ironman?  For that I have to thank two of my childhood friends: Julie and Clinton.  It was September 2009 and through Facebook I found out my most athletic childhood friend Julie was racing the Nation's Tri - an Olympic distance in Washington DC.   Then in November 2010, Clinton, who used to ride the bus home with me in Middle School to be dropped at MCHS pool as he was a swimmer, raced in Ironman Florida.  That sealed the deal and I knew in 2011 I would complete a triathlon (Nation's Tri was my "A" race that ended up being Wasaga Beach) and the seed of one day becoming an Ironman was planted!  If they had not lead the way, who knows if I would have ever found and fallen in love with the sport of triathlon!

The year after Calli Anna was born I joined my gym - the Mayfair.  One of the best decision I ever made.  I have to thank the Mayfair, and in particular some of the trainers especially David, Sabine, and James.  They have supported me, pushed me, and mentored me every step of the way and most important they never stopped believing in me.

And I cannot thank just the trainers at the Mayfair but also the dear friends I have made there. It's friends like Joanne and Lawrie that making going to the gym extra special.  It's that extra little push to get you to your workouts knowing a friend will be there and after the sweat there was sure to be a coffee (or beer, or wine) and chat to follow.

Training for an Ironman takes a toll on your body.  I want to thank my medical team - Jen, my ever wonderful massage therapist who changes her schedule to accommodate me, Will, my chiropractor who tortures me with ART and electric acupuncture (and doesn't get too mad when I forget my appointments) and finally my sports doctor, Howard Chin - who thankfully, since healing my "hip" injury I have not had to see!

TTC Group Ride
And last, but by far not least, I thank my training partners and the Toronto Triathlon Club.  Riding with Cavin, Chad, Michael, Dushan,  and Phil pushed me to become a better cyclist.  These guys had the patience to ride with me knowing it would slow them down.  I remember my first "long" ride out of Wilcox.  I think it was 80km - and it appeared no one was riding that distance - and Michael stepped up and said "I was only planning on 40 -50, but I'll ride with you".   And I'll never forget Chad taking off work one Friday (very last minute) to join me for my first 100 mile ride - he went from a longest ride of 105k to 180+k that day!  You boys really taught me a thing or two about cycling - stop getting faster so that one day I might catch up!  Joining the TTC was a great decision and I have formed friendships with like-minded (crazy?) people that I look forward to training and racing with in the future!  Mt. Tremblant 70.3 will be one heck of a fun race!  When the going gets tough at IMFL, I will think about all of you following me, I will imagine the words of encouragement being posted in real-time on Facebook and I will draw from your collective strengths to persevere!

I'm sure the moment I publish this post I will think of someone I left out.

To all of you who have listened to me go on endlessly about my training, thank you for listening.

To my friends who I don't get to see very often any more because I'm either training or sleeping, thank you for understanding.

To my Facebook friends and twitter followers, thank you for the supportive words, encouragement and accountability.

And to my mom and dad - thanks for everything - I love you and I'll see you in 2 weeks in Panama City Beach!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Taper Time - 3 weeks until Ironman Florida

Really?  3 weeks?  It's been 49 weeks since I registered for the biggest race of my lifetime and now only 3 weeks!

This past week was a recovery week in the plan before taper  - seems strange to me but after running the Chicago Marathon (not on the plan) - it seemed like a good idea.  Unfortunately I missed my last big bike ride due to family, weather, and Chicago.  So I'm still striving to put at least 5 hours on the saddle tomorrow.  If it gets put off any longer it will just turn into my 4 hour taper ride on the plan for next weekend.

I'm swimming with the Toronto Triathlon Club's Master's swim on Monday and Wednesday nights and I feel like my stroke and form are improving.  I want to get in the pool this week and complete a 3,800-4,000m continuous swim - aiming for Tuesday at the public pool - always fun.

I got back on the bike trainer for a session this week and lasted 1:22.  I forgot how much I dislike the bike trainer.  I'm going to have to find a way to mix it up and enjoy it for at least one "long" ride a week during the off season but I'm happy to say I won't be on the trainer again before IMFL.  The interval work I get at spin class will suffice!  I'm feeling very ready for the bike.

This week I only ran once, for 30mins on the treadmill after a spin class.  My run has been going great and my performance at the Chicago Marathon has me feeling very prepared for the run.  I'm looking forward to getting back to some running this week especially the long run next weekend.

I started my packing list yesterday while watching Kona on the internet.  It was so awesome to watch Leanda Cave persevere over Caroline Steffen and Miranda Carfrae.  Carfrae left it all out there on the course, collapsing at the finish line; her efforts on the bike took it's toll on the run.  As if it couldn't get any more inspirational, Natascha Badmann finishes 6th at 46 years old!  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

The packing list is work in progress and I hope to have it complete by the end of the week.  I've raced quite a few overnight triathlons so the basic swim-bike-run aspect of packing is there.  But since I'm going for nearly 7 days, I have to bring loads more stuff.  But I remind myself, there will be shopping to be done there too!

So this week I start my 3 week Taper - after my long ride tomorrow of course.  The plan looks quite civilized actually and I'm looking forward to enjoying some shorter rides and runs.  My swim will stay the same with the 2 master's swims plus one session of 3,800 - 4,000m continuous. The taper week ends with a 4 hour bike followed by a 30min run and a long run of 1:30-1:45.  Still a lot of work to be done but I'm feeling good, healthy and strong!  Main goals are to stay injury and accident free!