Sunday, November 29, 2009

IMFL - The Run

As I crossed the timing mat at the Run Exit I couldn’t help but smile. I knew without a question that I would become an Ironman tonight. I felt great and was confident that I could run the entire marathon, but also knew that I had enough time to walk if I needed to, so there was no pressure!

The run was a two loop course, 13.1 mile loops (6.55 miles out and 6.55 miles back).

The start of the run included a short jaunt along condo row before turning to start the run towards Andrew’s State Park. At the turn, I saw Douglas holding a “Run Forrest Run” sign and got a quick kiss and a fist bump before heading out to really start the run.

My legs felt phenomenal and it took a lot of discipline to make myself slow down to run 10:00 minute miles. My goal for the run was to keep it over 10:00 minute miles at the beginning and under 10:30 minute miles at the end. I am used to running fast off the bike, so the beginning felt s-l-o-w. Discipline.

My first loop of the run was congested with runners on their SECOND lap! I felt strong and a handful of fasties on their second loop passed me, but for the most part I was passing a lot of runners. At this point into the run I didn’t see many walkers or folks doing the IM shuffle. I was hopeful I would be running this same pace on my second lap.

My nutrition strategy was to take a Clif block every other mile, starting at mile 1 and to take water at the aid stations, until something else “called” to me. I have never trained with coke or chicken broth, but many athletes told me to listen to my body and if something sounded good, not to be afraid to try it (starting in small doses, of course).

Around 4 or 5 miles into the run I met someone who was also on his first lap and running close to my pace. I wish I could remember his name so I could look up his finishing time. Anyhow, we chatted for a bit (well, mostly I chatted) and we ended up running together for several miles.

The state park was the quietest part of the course, but thankfully, having run the course at the Gulf Coast Tri in May, I knew what to expect. The Ford Motivational Center was set up in the middle of the park and when I ran over the timing mat, two things happened. First, I was excited to know that my supporters watching online were getting their first update on my marathon progress and second, a message from my family came up on the screen saying “Go, Mommy go!” This was a great motivator and pick me up in the middle of the desolate park.

As we exited the park on the first lap, chatting away, we passed a couple of athletes hitting the 20 mile mark on their second loop. They jokingly asked what I was drinking because they wanted some since I was in such a good mood. I replied that “this is supposed to be fun, right?”, and that I hoped I was still in such a good mood on my second lap. I made myself take a mental snapshot of how I felt at that moment because I wanted to recall those feelings when I hit this same spot on lap 2.

Somewhere around mile 8 or 9 I lost my running buddy when he walked through an aid station and I ran through it. It was also starting to get dark at this point, so I picked up a glow necklace as I made my way towards the end of the first loop. The first/last mile of the loop is where the crowds begin to form again and this section is the easiest to run through because the music, clapping, high-fives and encouragement almost carry you. There were women dressed in leather with whips, men dressed in bikinis, little kids holding their hands out for high-fives and what seemed like thousands of spectators lining the streets.

As I approached the turn around, several spectators said things like “bring it on home” assuming I was on my second lap. I didn’t let it get me down though because I knew I would get my turn. After the timing mat at the turnaround, I stopped at Special Needs to pick up the awesome light saber that Kathleen gave me before the race. I was so thankful to have it because it was so much darker on the course than I expected.

I looked for Douglas too, but did not see him and that stressed me out. I hated the idea that he might be out there waiting for me and worrying, since he missed seeing me. I had to keep on going though, so I pushed the idea out of my head and reminded myself that Douglas would figure out what happened. All said and done, Douglas wasn’t even at the turnaround. He thought the run course was a one loop out and back (13.1 miles each way) and because of that he was worried about trying to see me at the halfway point and making it back to the finish line. I should have known that he was tracking me on on his phone, so he knew when to expect me at the finish line.

Next time we plan to coordinate specifically where he will be and when so that there is no confusion. We’ve never had a problem finding each other before, but there were so many spectators and it was so loud and dark, that is was difficult to find people in the crowd.

The first mile of the second loop flew by, as expected because of the crowds. I was giddy to be starting my second loop, knowing I was less than 13 miles from becoming an Ironman. I saw a couple of people I knew on the first lap and I was excited to see them again and cheer for them. There is something about seeing a familiar face that really puts an extra spring in my step. Around the 15 mile marker I made the last potty stop of the race and I was particularly grateful to have the light saber because the porta potty was pitch black. Ewww.

By this time in the run, there were a lot of walkers and I was passing more and more people. The volunteers and aid stations were fantastic and created excitement in the darkness in areas where there otherwise were not a lot of spectators. I was feeling strong, although I was starting to feel the miles. My pace for my perceived effort was decreasing and I made a concerted effort to pick up the pace within my pre-established guidelines. My goal was to make it to the 20 mile marker and then see if I could pick it up (however little!).

My training partner and I run a 2 mile loop around my neighborhood. We have run up to 18 miles on this loop and we regularly run 10 miles twice a week. When I hit the 16 mile marker, I thought to myself, “This is just a regular Tuesday morning, 10 mile run. I run those in the dark too. Piece of cake!"

Around this same time I decided I would try some flat coke instead of water at the aid stations. It sat just fine in my stomach and I decided to stick with it. I am not sure if it helped anything, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

I also decided that thinking about being tired was not going to help anything, so I started repeating (out loud), “Just keep running. Keep moving forward” over and over and over again to myself. I seriously repeated these two phrases for 8 to 10 miles. I knew my body could hold the pace and if my mind was otherwise occupied, it would have no choice but to go along with the program. The first part of the mantra is borrowed from Dory from Finding Nemo, just replace swimming with running. The second part of the mantra is borrowed from Meet the Robinsons, and I only thought of it because of the sign that Douglas made me earlier in the day.

I also repeated on occasion something I read on Beginner Triathlete – “It only hurts if you care”. One of my goals for Ironman was to run the entire marathon, so repeating this mantra kept me focused on that goal. I did, surprise, surprise, try to say hello and/or good job to anyone I passed and anyone who passed me. I got several looks for talking to myself, but I was still running, so I didn’t care!

Amazingly, before I knew it, I was entering the park again. This time it was dark. Seriously dark. Dark as the inside of a cow, dark. I was shocked by how dark it was and ultimately, how dangerous it was for the athletes. I was extremely grateful for my light saber as it definitely helped guide the way. Next time I will probably also keep a head lamp in my special needs bag.

I passed the timing mat and the Ford Motivational sign again just before hitting the 20 mile marker. I recalled how I felt just over 2 hours before and was pretty excited that my mood was equally as positive. With just over 6 miles to go, running a 10:xx something minute pace, I knew I had just over an house before crossing the finish line. I remember thinking to myself, I can do anything for an hour …

I thanked God when I exited the park and the darkness and put my light saber back on my belt. I was nervous about tripping while running in the darkness of the park, so I was happy to be running again in just the regular dark of night, with illumination provided by random street lights, car head lights, homes, etc.

The next miles were more of the same. Coke at every aid station. I was sticky from having it spill on me as I was running through the aid stations. Coke falvored Clif blocks every other mile. Mantra on repeat: Just Keep Running, Keep Moving Forward. Every once in a while, I would groan from a random pain in my legs and I would remind myself that “it only hurts if you care.”

I can’t accurately describe the excitement and adrenaline that kicked in when I hit the 24 mile marker. 2 miles to go. One loop in my neighborhood, or what we like to call the “Victory lap”. This mile marker was also around the time on the course that we were starting to get a few more spectators. Having people cheer for you and tell you look strong, makes you feel strong too.

I hit the 25 mile marker and ran into a woman who was running about my pace, if not a bit faster than me. I had picked up the pace a bit at the 24 mile marker and decided I didn’t care how fast I was going (I knew it was sub 10:00s at this point) because I knew I had enough juice left to get me to the finish line. I ran for about half a mile with this woman and we chatted a bit, but mostly kept to ourselves and focused on the finish line.

We were passing lots of spectators now who were cheering for us and we started to pass music too. We passed a stereo playing Katy Perry’s Waking Up in Vegas and we both started singing along at about the same time. It really made me smile and I picked up my pace even more.

After the brief singing break, I started repeating my mantra again. We had about a half mile to go and my pace was picking up even more. The girl that I had been running with wished me well and I wished her the same and I took off for the final stretches. I moved my light saber to the back of my tri shorts , threw my glow necklace to some spectators, and took my sunglasses from the top of my hat and put them in the pocket in the back of my tri shorts because I didn’t want those items in my finisher photo.

Somewhere shortly after, I heard something fall, presumably my sunglasses, but it was really dark and I turned around briefly and couldn’t see them, so I kept going. They were inexpensive sunglasses that were scratched up anyway, so they were not worth the search time. I guess I could have gotten a penalty for abandoning equipment, but then again, it was too dark to see them!

When I made the final turn on to the main road before the finisher chute the streets were lined with spectators. It was surreal – there were so many spectators on both sides of the road, it was wall to wall cheering people. I had no idea where Doug, Kate and the boys were going to be, so I was on alert for them.

I reached the turnaround point and crossed over a timing mat before entering the finisher’s chute for the last 100 yards of the race. It was so wonderful to turn right to the finish instead of having to start another lap. I definitely felt compassion for those near me who were about to start their second loop in the dark.

This is the 100 yards I dreamed about for 9 + months of training. 3, 4 and 5 am wake-up calls, six days a week to swim, bike and run. Endless hours of riding. 18, 19 and 20 hour training weeks. This was the moment that I always visualized … except it was louder and far more crowded!

I was overwhelmed by the lights after running in the dark for three hours and the spectators were so loud, I had no idea where to look for my family. I tried to take it all in, but it was passing too quickly, and I still hadn’t found Douglas. I heard Mike Reilly say, “From Houston, Texas, you are an Ironman!”, but I didn’t hear my name. It almost felt like a dream … and that was it. I crossed the line and I stopped running. I meant to raise my hands and smile for the finish line photo, but I was still in search mode when I ran out of real estate to look for Douglas and crossed the line, so I forgot to raise my arms.

A guy named Mike was my finish line catcher and the only reason that I remember his name is because he was wearing a name tag. He immediately congratulated me and asked how I was doing. I responded that I was fine as he walked with me to get my medal , finisher shirt and hat. When we reached the photos, he asked again how I was doing and whether I needed to go to the medical tent. I confirmed that I was ok and he held my stuff while I took my official finisher photo – I was smiling from ear to ear.

Mike gave me back my stuff and congratulated me again and he asked me if I needed anything. Hmmm … I had one major question for him, probably the most telling of how one feels after an Ironman, “What do I do now?”. Mike pointed me to the food and massage areas, gave me hug and he went back to help another finisher. Thanks, Mike!

While I still felt sort of dazed and a bit overwhelmed because of the crowd, I was on a mission to find my family. It took about 10 minutes of searching and borrowing multiple cell phones to no avail before Doug spotted me. I was so freakin happy to see him! He confirmed that everyone saw me finish and that they were screaming for me like crazy, but they were sitting higher up in the bleachers, which is probably why I didn’t see or hear them. He also confirmed that Mike Reilly did say my name, even though I didn’t hear it.

After our reunion, I went for the massage, which felt heavenly, and then I was reunited with the rest of my family. After hugs and kisses all around, we made the nearly 1 mile walk back to the condo … so, it was really 141.6 miles! After leftover pizza and a handful of cookies, I had the best night sleep of my life!

Run: 4:30:14 -- 10:19 pace

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

Wishing you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving full of love, laughter, family, friends and everything else you are thankful for!

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for ...

My incredible family who love and support me unconditionally, no matter what crazy idea I may come up with next. My boys (all 3 of them), what can I say, they complete me. My friends who can always make me laugh. My chocolate lab, Indy, the best cuddler ever. My health and fitness, that made a dream come true this year. My job. My church community. My sponsor, Trakkers, who has some incredible things in store for 2010. The triathlon community, including Beginner Triathlete and all of you in blogland.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

IM Celebration Party

The last installment of my IMFL race report will be posted soon, but I want to take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to acknowledge a couple of fellow triathletes and do the weekly rewind.

Going Iron
First, Brittany kicked serious butt at IM Arizona today by finishing in just over 11 hours! She was 9th in her Age Group! She is one hell of a triathlete and an Officer in the Army as well. I had the opportunity to meet her at Redman and she is as nice as she is fast. Brittany was supposed to race IMFL but one of her soldiers was killed in the line of duty. I am so proud to have women like Brittany serving our nation. Thank you for your service and congrats on a fantastic race!

Second, Trishie is racing IM Cozumel this weekend and she is going to totally rock it! I absolutely love her blog and know that we would be fast friends if we lived in the same state. She is one of the few people I "know" that is more organized and even more of a planner than I am, and she is funny to boot! Good luck this weekend, Trishie!

Weekly Rewind
I am struggling to reconcile my need and desire for recovery, the guilt I feel when I skip a workout and my desire to do a trail race this winter. Plus, I love to eat, so I need to do something not to gain 5 pounds!

This weekend Doug threw me a purposefully belated 30th Birthday and Ironman celebration party. It was so much fun to celebrate with friends and indulge in margaritas and Mexican food. Check out this awesome cake Douglas made me too!

My Iron Sherpa
Birthday / MDot Cake
Mileage for Week Ending 11/22/09
Swim: 2500 yards in 1:00 [1 workouts]
Bike: 28 miles in 1:30 [2 workouts]
Run: 22 miles in 3:15 [3 workouts]
Total Time: 5:45

Stretching / Foam Roller: 1:00

With the weekend festivities behind me, it is time to end the bender!

Friday, November 20, 2009

IMFL – The Bike

What a beautiful day for a bike ride! The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the wind was blowing (so I don’t really know if the birds were singing, because I couldn’t hear them because of the wind!) …

The bike exit was surrounded by cheering spectators – I felt like I was starting a leg of the Tour De France. Of course, Douglas was there holding a sign based on my fortune cookie, “In Dreams and In Life, Nothing is Impossible”. It was a good reminder as I was setting off for what turned out to be nearly a 7 hour bike ride!

Starting my 112 mile tour

The first half mile or so is on S. Thomas Drive where many condos are and the main staging area for the race, before turning onto Front Beach Road to start the first real stretch of the ride. I knew that the rest of my family would be waiting for me at the Shores of Panama so I took this short section nice and slow so that I could wave to my boys and to my mother-in-law, Kate. It was great to see them as they were sleeping when I left in the morning and I didn’t know if I would see them again before the finish line.

When I turned on to Front Beach Road, I attempted to settle into my bike and get mentally organized for the ride. I didn’t feel quite right on the bike, but I couldn’t put my finger on what the issue was. I felt like my power was slightly off, but I was holding a good pace at the right effort, so I stayed positive and kept pedaling.

About 15 miles into the ride I got worried because my right leg was starting to feel like it does when my sciatic nerve acts up. It hasn’t done it since the Gulf Coast Tri, ironically enough, on the same course. I remember thinking to myself, what is it about this course?!?! Thankfully though, I shifted my aero position a bit and after another 10 miles or so, the feeling was gone, never to return. I was also thankful that despite swallowing a bit more salt water on the second loop of the swim, my stomach felt fine. My power still felt just slightly off, but nothing to get worked up about.

I took my first porta potty stop at the second rest stop and also used the time waiting in line to stretch a bit, which I think helped my right leg pain. I hated that I had to stop and wait in line, but this girl just can’t go on the bike.

By this time, the head wind was really rearing its ugly head and my average mph was dropping considerably. I was pretty disappointed by this at first, but I reminded myself that it was a beautiful day and that I was fulfilling a dream, whether I was riding at 16 mph or 18 mph (or sometimes into the wind, well below that …). I was also getting hungry, something that I was not expecting, so I ate 3 Clif blocks to help stave off the hunger. The Clif blocks and the Infinit worked like a charm.

Special Needs snuck up on me around the 50 mile marker (conveniently around 3 hours into the ride) and I debated about whether to stop. However, by this time in the race, it was obvious that I was going to be going longer than 6 hours, so I pulled off to grab the extra Infinit powder I put in my Special Needs (“just in case”) and dumped it into the concentrated bottle that I had just finished. I also dropped off my arm warmers. Just as I was about to dump the bag back into the pile, I felt a piece of paper.

I didn’t remember putting anything in the bag, so I pulled it out to see a sign from Douglas and the boys that read, “Keep Moving Forward.” It was exactly what I needed at that moment! The quote is from the Disney Movie, Meet the Robinsons and it is about overcoming adversity. I cried the first time I saw the movie and I love the quote – I didn’t realize at the time that the quote would play an integral part during the marathon that was yet to come.

I assumed that the course would mark the halfway point with a timing mat and I was getting really nervous when it felt like I had been riding forever without seeing a sign or a timing mat. I ride with my computer on time, not distance, so I was relieved when I hit mile 60! I also had my first emotional experience of the day because for the first time since the bike exit, handfuls of cheering spectators were on the course. It was so neat to watch their excitement, especially as their athletes were approaching. Shortly after this, I stopped for the third time (2nd potty stop) and had 3 more Clif blocks to help keep the hunger at bay.

At mile 65, on a slight downhill portion of the course, I was surprised to see my family waiting for me! I was not expecting them out on the bike course, so it was a major pick-me-up. I actually had to turn around and ride back to them because I had passed them by the time I realized who it was! Had Douglas not called me back, I probably would have kept going, mostly because mentally my brain was locked in the “Keep moving forward” mode. It was great to gets hugs and kisses all around and to tell Douglas about the wind. They decorated the Suburban as Lightning McQueen, which I am sure was fun for the other riders as well! So creative! After one more kiss from all of my boys, Douglas told me where to expect the out and back and I was off.

Lightning Suburban (Tyler is crying)

Turning around to greet my #1 fans

And I'm off ... again!

Douglas later apologized for holding me up, thinking if I had not stopped I may have broken the elusive 13 hour mark, but as I told him then, this race was not about a couple of minutes and I was happy to have my cheering section on the bike course.

I rode on in a just-saw-my-family high until I turned into the wind on to the worst stretch of road of the entire course. There were cracks/bumps every 3 feet that jolted me for miles. I rode on the edge of the road on the white line (there was no shoulder) in an attempt to get away from the shocks. The wind was really just adding insult to injury at this point. When I saw the turn around and the timing mat (finally!) I was beyond thrilled. The road conditions on the ride back out were just as awful, but with the wind at my back it just didn’t feel as bad.

At this point, I was starting the countdown to get back to transition. I was still in a good mood , despite my readiness to get off the bike, and I chatted with people I passed and with the many people who passed me . When we got back to the Intercoastal Bridge (the only real hill on the course), I was thrilled to see the 100 mile marker. 12 miles to my running shoes! In training I did a lot of 45 minute spins / 15 minute runs at work on the spinner and treadmill at lunch. I always marked these workouts as 12 miles on the bike (to be conservative), even though there is not a distance computer on the bike, so I was confident that in a mere 45 minutes I would be handing my bike to a volunteer!

The last stretch back on Front Beach Road was physically tough with the wind and my feet were killing me (not something I had experienced in training either) but it was also very exciting. The anticipation of starting the LAST leg of the race was nearly electric.
I had worried for months about experiencing some sort of mechanical failure on the bike that would take me out of the race, so to be so close to the bike finish without having experienced any bike issues at all was a major relief. I definitely thanked God for looking after me and keeping me safe on the bike course. I later heard about an incident where a car hit a cyclist and several crashes – there was nothing like that near me, thankfully!

When I made the turn back onto S. Thomas we were again surrounded by throngs of cheering spectators. I had the biggest smile on my face as I searched the crowd for Douglas. He was waiting right near the bike dismount with a sign that listed each leg of the race with the respective distances, with the swim and the bike legs crossed out. The bike ride had taken longer than I thought it would, but it was done and I was ready to run!

Bike split: 6:52:08
16.3 mph

So happy to see the bike finish!
Side note: It wasn’t until much later that evening that a possible reason for my lower than expected MPH came to light. Douglas picked up my bike from transition and rode it back to the condo and promptly informed me that I had been riding with a slight brake rub. Rookie mistake. It was an ever so slight rub, just enough for me to feel off but now I possibly know why. Did it affect my bike split? Who knows, and I am not going to dwell on it because I still enjoyed every minute of that windy ride! For the record, I did check the brake in transition, but it was only after braking that it shifted too much to one side and created the rub.

I got off my bike, handed it to a waiting volunteer, trotted over to the T2 bags, called out my number and received my bag from yet another volunteer. Then it was off the changing tent where another extremely helpful volunteer opened my bag and handed me everything that I needed. I did a quick change of my socks and shoes, changed out my helmet for my visor, picked up my Garmin and grabbed my nutrition before exiting the changing tent. I made a pit stop at the porta pottys in transition because there were no lines and I didn’t know what I would find along the course … and then I was off to run a marathon!

T2: 5:37

Monday, November 16, 2009

IMFL – The Swim

I got a great night’s sleep the night before the race and woke up feeling rested and ready to race. I started the day with 2 packets of maple flavored Quaker instant oatmeal with cinnamon sugar and managed to eat two-thirds of it. Then it was off to body marking, dropping of my bike nutrition and my Special Needs bags before heading down to the beach for the swim start. I even volunteered to take someone else’s Special Needs bags (he was waiting in the long porta potty line) to the drop off area – nothing like starting the day off with some good karma!

At Body Marking
I ran into several people race morning, including IronBob, Raymund, Kimberly and Augie. It was great to see familiar faces and share in the pre-race excitement.

After getting everything situated, I put on my Body Glide and sunscreen before putting on my wetsuit. It was giving me a hard time, but I finally got comfortable with a little help from Douglas. Then it was down to the beach to prepare for the swim start. I was surprised at how calm I was as we took a couple of photos and as I made my way to the athlete corral. There was a lot of nervous energy on the beach and I kept waiting for it to hit me, but as I stood there all I felt was ready.

In Athlete Area
Waiting for the Swim Start
We listened to the National Anthem, I ate 3 cola flavored Clif Blocks and I got one more good luck kiss from Douglas before the cannon fired and the race clock started. I lined up on the far right of the beach and swam diagonally towards the last buoy. This definitely added to my swim time, but I was happy to not be fighting with other racers for space in the water. It was also nice that there were still enough other people who also took this path that I never felt alone (imagine that with 2500 other athletes in the water!).

National Anthem

Pro Swim Start

Age Group Swim Start
I'm on the far right
This is what 2500 people swimming in the Gulf looks like
The first lap of the swim felt awesome! I kept thinking to myself, “You are doing an Ironman today!” … and it was not in an oh crap! voice but in a giddy school girl, excited voice. I was shocked when I reached the first turn buoy and managed to avoid the cluster that invariably occurs there. Before I knew it I had made the turn to head back to the beach. I felt like a rock star in the water!

It is no secret that I am not the best swimmer out there and I was apprehensive about swimming in the Gulf, but I was actually really enjoying myself! The water was beautiful and clear and I even saw a school of fish before I hit the last sand bar. When I hit the beach I saw Douglas screaming for me and holding a sign that said, “Just Keep Swimming”, which of course made me smile from ear to ear. Unfortunately, the end of the first loop also marked the end of the feeling good in the water sensation.

Exiting the water after the 1st loop

Everything the first lap was, the second lap was NOT. It seemed to take forever to move down the beach to get back into the water to start the second lap and start swimming again. I was happy for the opportunity to have some water in between laps, but I had not swallowed much salt water at that point, so it was really just to rinse out my mouth. The racers in front of me seemed to be taking their sweet time to move along the beach and I felt like a sardine in a school of fish, stuck and not able to break away. I was frustrated because I felt like I was losing precious minutes. I took a more direct line along the buoys for the second loop, hoping that the fasties would be gone and that there would be fewer people in the water to wrestle with. There was more contact on the second loop, but nothing traumatic.

The big issue on the second loop was the surf and chop that had come in and I felt like I was swimming in a choppy Endless Pool. So, not only was I starting to swallow more salt water but I felt like I was making zero forward progress towards the buoys. I kept my spirits up though and tackled the buoys one at a time because it was very important to me to enjoy every moment of my day.

Sure enough, I slowly but surely passed each buoy and before I knew it I was on the beach. I started removing my wetsuit and running up the ramp to the transition area. The ramp was crowded with people on both sides and I was almost overwhelmed by the mass of people and the noise … so much so, that I nearly missed the wetsuit strippers. Thankfully, they found me and had me lie down to remove my suit. It was definitely organized chaos. They had my suit off in no time and I was off to T1.

Swim Lap 1: 42:19
Swim Lap 2: 44:51
Total Swim Time: 1:27:09

Our transition bags were laid out by number and I was told to scream my number out as I approached, but there were so many racers that the volunteers were too busy to help everyone. I finally made eye contact with a volunteer in the right area and got my bag. Then it was off to the super packed changing tents.

Volunteers searching for T1 Bags
The tents were standing room only and had it not been for a volunteer who saw my overwhelmed look as I was searching for a place to sit and asked what she could do to help, I probably would have gotten frustrated. Thankfully, Kathy from BT (although I didn’t know it at the time), helped me into my arm warmers and handed me the rest of my gear while also packing up my swim gear. I was so thankful for her help!

My T1 time was pretty long for me, considering I did not change clothes, but I am not sure what I could have done differently, given the crowding and the long run from the beach into transition.
After leaving the changing tents, I had to run all the way to the back of the transition area, only to turn around again, grab my bike from the waiting volunteer (that part was super cool!) before heading to the bike out exit.

My bike rack with volunteer at the ready ...T1: 8:46

And just like that, the swim was done and I was off for a little bike ride …

Sunday, November 15, 2009

One Week Post Ironman Musings ...

... and yes, I promise a full race report will be up this week!

In the mean time, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on Ironman, a week later.

I think that one of the reasons that I have delayed writing my race report is that I don't want the Ironman journey to be over. The entire experience has been surreal and I feel like the whole thing has been a dream and I am going to wake up and have to do the race again. I am actually a bit sad that it is over and I may even actually have a taste of what is commonly referred to as Post Ironman Blues.

To be completely honest, crossing the finish line was almost anti-climatic, in part because the race was not as hard as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it was extremely challenging, but it was not the impossible feat that I once that it would be.

It took about 12 hours before I came to the realization that it is because of this amazing journey that I was able to cross that line. In April 2008 when I started down this path, Ironman was a dream, a seemingly impossible dream.

Somewhere along the way I lost perspective about how far I have come. Somewhere in the process of Ironman training, 15+ hour training weeks became the norm and I forgot that just a year and a half ago I couldn't swim 25 yards. Perspective is exactly what I needed to appreciate the magnitude of what I have accomplished.

I now believe, like many others, that the training is harder than the race itself. In my experience, the consistent training, focus on race day nutrition and pacing my race to my ability level allowed me to execute what, for me, was nearly a perfect race.

I was probably the happiest athlete on the IMFL course on Saturday and more than one person commented on my constant smiles. What I have learned from Ironman is that the journey is the reward. So, yes I am a bit sad that this leg of the journey is over, but Ironman Florida is just the first leg of what I hope is long and fun journey in triathlon and endurance sports.

The other big surprise for me has been how great I feel and how easy the recovery has been. I think I expected to feel like I was hit by a train, but after the initial tightness directly after the race, my body has bounced back like a pro! I woke up Sunday morning feeling like a new woman and was even chasing my kids on the beach by sun down.

I also feel very fortunate ... I am not sure if you all were following the weather, but Hurricane Ida brought some serious surf into Panama City Beach on Sunday and they even closed the beaches. By Monday, it was windy and rainy, a far cry from the clear, sunny skies we had on race day!

Finally, this post would not be complete without the Sunday report:

Mileage for Week Ending 11/08/09 -- Race Week!
Swim: 8836 yards in 3:12 [3 workouts]
Bike: 146.5 miles in 9:01 [4 workouts, 2 bricks]
Run: 37 miles in 6:10 [4 workouts, 2 bricks]
Total Time: 18:23

Mileage for Week Ending 11/15/09 -- Recovery Week
Swim: 1500 yards in 0:30 [1 workout]
Bike: 61 miles in 3:30 [2 workouts]
Run: 4.5 miles in 0:45 [2 workouts]
Total Time: 4:45

Stay tuned for detailed a race report and photos this week, plus an update on Team Trakkers 2010!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

IMFL by the numbers

$550 - race registration fee
2423 – number of triathletes that started the race
1239 – number of first timers that started the race
18 – DQs (most like penalty was drafting)
41 - DNFs (did not finish)
5 - bathroom stops (3 on bike, 1 in T2, 1 on run)
24 - Cliff Blocks (3 before swim, 6 on bike, 12 on run)
1,494 – calories consumed of Infinit on the bike
2 - chafing spots (wrist from Ironman wristband on the swim, armpit)
8 – number of family sightings
11 – number of personalized signs
-- Just Keep Swimming (Swim Loop 1)
-- Anne Moore – 2316 – Go Mommy Go! (Bike Start) - Tyler
-- Anne Moore – 2316 – Ride Hard IronMommy! (Bike Start) - Andrew
-- In dreams and in life, nothing is impossible (Bike Start) - Douglas
-- Keep Moving Forward (Bike Special Needs)
-- I’m so ‘cited Mommy! (Bike – Mile 65)
-- Lightning McMommy (with eyeball posters on the Suburban) and racer # 2316 (Bike – M. 65) -- 2.4 Mile Swim, 112 Mile Bike, 26.2 Mile Run = MDot! (Bike Finish)
-- Run Forrest Run (Run Start)
-- We love you! See you at the finish line. (Run Special Needs)
-- Next time we see you, you’ll be an Ironman! (Run half-way)
3 - pairs of socks (1 went unused)
15 (give or take) – number of Ziploc bags I used on race day
2 – number of times I was hit in the face on the swim
5 (give or take) - swallows of salt water
1 - lost item (sunglasses on the run)
3 - hours running in the dark
Countless - Number of times I repeated, “Just keep running, keep moving forward” on the second loop of the run
22 - hours in the car to/from FL (1600 miles on the GPS)
$240.07 - amount spent at the Ironman store
13 - numbers of items I now own that say IMFL (4 gifts, 2 finisher shirts, 1 finisher hat, water bottle, pint glass, stickers, socks)
10 -Number of MDot purchased (2 hats, trailer hitch cover, race belt, 3 magnets, 2 tattoos, and 1 decal)

Receiving an Ironman Finisher Medal .... Priceless!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ironman Florida – Quick Race Report

A full race report is forthcoming, but I want to spend some time on the report so that I can really capture how I felt on each leg of the race. Stay tuned for all of the gory details …

In the mean time, I am in a surreal bubble right now … I can’t believe that the race is over and that I am officially an Ironman! IMFL was the perfect first Ironman and nearly a perfect race.

The highs:
- The first loop of the swim -- no mosh pit, just clear water and what felt like a great stroke (starting down the beach made all the difference)

- Getting a surprise note in my bike special needs bag from my family, “Keep moving forward.” This is a quote from the Disney movie Meet the Robinsons that I love and it was exactly what I needed. Seeing my family on the bike course about 20 miles later was a great treat too!

- Running the entire marathon … and doing it in 4:30!

The lows:
- The second loop of the swim – the chop started and it was not nearly as “easy” as the first loop. My splits were almost even though, considering the run along the beach required to start the second loop.

- The headwind on the bike and my pace. I know I am a stronger biker than my bike split and the only thing that makes me feel better (or worse) is that I realized after the race my brake was slightly rubbing. Not much, but enough to make a small difference. Maybe.

What I wish I had done differently:
- There are lots of places in my day that I could find 3 minutes and 53 seconds to break 13 hours … skipping a potty stop, not putting on arm warmers, trying to adjust the brake, etc. I am NOT going to pick apart my race though.

- Slow down near the grand stands, walk if needed, to find my family. I looked but was overwhelmed by the number of people and the noise. We didn’t coordinate ahead of time where they were going to be and I couldn’t hear them screaming for me over the crowd. I didn’t hear Mike Reilly say my name, but I heard him say, “from Houston, Texas” and Douglas told me that he did say it. I am looking forward to video so that I can hear it myself.

- Raise my hands and smile when crossing the finish line. I was thrilled but I had a deer in the headlights look.

- Coordinate with Douglas where to meet afterwards. Athletes get shuttled off in an athletes only area and the crowd made it difficult for Douglas to quickly get to me. There were so many people and I spent 10 + minutes looking for him and not knowing if he even saw me cross the finish line. It was a major bummer at the time.

I am cloud 9. I hit 2 of my 3 goals, and got very close to the third in my first Ironman.

Goal 1 – Finish: Did it!
Goal 2 – Run the entire marathon: Did it!
Goal 3 – Sub 13: Next time!

I was planning to post something the evening of the race, but when I got online to login I was so blown away by the sweet note from Douglas that I decided I wanted to keep it as the top post for a couple of days.

I got emotional several times during the day, but I never cried … but I was overcome in reading my husband’s sweet note. His unending love and support made this journey possible.

Race Stats
Overall Place: 1423/2423
Overall Time: 13:03:52
Division Place: 49/95

Swim Overall Place: 1755
Swim Division Place: 65
Swim Lap 1: 42:19
Swim Lap 2: 44:51
Pace per 100M: 2:18
Total Swim Time: 1:27:09

T1: 8:46

Bike Division Place: 68
Bike Overall Place: 2026
Bike Pace: 16.3 mph
Bike Time: 6:52:08

T2: 5:37

Run Division Place: 33
Run Overall Place: 807
Run Pace: 10:19
Run Time: 4:30:14

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Gushing Pride of a Husband.....

Anne Moore, you are an Ironman!!!!! Let me say that again, ANNE MOORE, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!!! I can’t really say that I am surprised; you told me years ago that you would like to try this some day. What I heard when you said that was; I WILL do that one day. I never had a doubt in my mind that you could or would do it; it was just a matter of time.

Baby, I can’t tell you how proud of you I am. You are the most driven person I have ever known. When you set your mind to something, you have this magical way of making it happen. It didn’t matter how many 4 and yes 3 o’clock mornings, rain or shine, you got your training hours in. I know I have complained some about the hours and tried to guilt trip you once or twice (wink, wink) but I will always be your biggest fan, bar none. I love that you make things happen, it is the one thing I admire most about you.

I think the most amazing thing about this whole endeavor is that neither I nor the boys have felt neglected the whole time. You have juggled your work, training, and home responsibilities flawlessly. And I have been bragging on you to anyone who will listen for the entire time.

So anyway, congratulations! You will never know how proud I am of you. You are the best at everything you do and I still can’t believe how lucky I am that you picked me. I love you so much, My Ironman.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Follow Me On Race Day!

If you want to track my progress on race day, go to and look for the live event coverage for IMFL and go to the Athlete Tracker. You can search by name (Anne Moore) or bib # 2316.

Bike is in transition. Transition bags have been dropped off. Pre-race pizza dinner is done. Clothes have been laid out. Special needs bags are packed. Morning bag is ready. Infinit is cooling in the refrigerator. Timing chip is on my ankle. Sunscreen is ready to be applied. Practiced changing two tires. The only thing left to do is get a good night's sleep ...

Tomorrow is going to be a long day, but I am committed to enjoying every moment of my 140.6 miles! There are 1239 first timers on the course tomorrow, so I will be in good company.

Ironman is as much about the journey as it is about the race itself. I have logged the hours and I am ready to finish this challenge!

Good night, everyone!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Strange Sense of Calm

It was a beautiful day in PCB today. The seas were mostly flat and I had a great 1.2 mile swim on the course. The surf report shows there may be more swells on Saturday.

While I was hoping for calm seas, I know I can swim in the chop and that was one of the reasons that I did the Gulf Coast Tri in May here ... I wanted to compete in rougher conditions to be mentally prepared if those conditions presented themselves on race day.

Other than choppy seas, the weather forecast is perfect! I am looking forward to biking 112 miles under patchy skies in 70 some-odd degree weather and then running as the sun is setting and as the air cools off.

I picked up my packet today and saw the finish line and my heart skipped a beat, knowing that the next time I will be there I will be an Ironman. There was only excitement, no nerves as I got my race number and transition bags. I have a strange sense of calm for the time being.

I went to the race meeting this evening and had a raging headache, which made me feel a little nauseous, especially when I saw the size of the crowd and imagined the swim start. With the headache thankfully gone now, I have reminded myself that I can control my surroundings by starting down the beach and waiting a minute before entering the water.

Tomorrow morning I will do my last short ride and run before Ironman and packing my transition bags. I plan to get up early to get that out of the way so that I can spend the day relaxing with my boys, trying not to think about Saturday.

Be present. Live the moment.

Thank you for the good luck wishes, I will race strong knowing that I have so many people rooting me on, near and far!

Crowded Athlete Meeting (and that is the people you can see, there were a ton more to the left and right of the frame and in the hall with me)

I'm Official

This Morning ...

Andrew, playing on the beach

Tyler was running around like a mad man ...

I'm Here!

I've arrived!

10.5 hours in the car and 3 stops later, we arrived in PCB yesterday around 4 pm. Got into the room as the sun was setting over a FLAT gulf! The weather was warm but not hot and it cooled down with the sunset, but it was not cold.

We went to Iron Bob's for dinner and I got to meet a couple of fellow bloggers, Kendra and Melissa. It was neat to meet in person people I have been following online. Then it was to Walmart to stock the condo -- it had been decimated by the Ironman community.

The forecast this week is the same every day, so here is to hoping that race day is as beautiful as it is this morning. I am headed out shortly for a swim where I hope to meet a large Beginner Triathlete crew and then I will hit Ironman village to pick up my packet and check out the expo.

I am looking forward to an afternoon on the beach with my boys!

View from our condo:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

PCB, Here I come!

I am officially on vacation!

Work was super busy and productive today, which was good because I didn't have any time to think about the race. I went straight from work to a parent-teacher conference for Tyler (my 2.5 year old), who, small mom brag, is doing very well and is "one of the most advanced in the class". I then raced to the polls to do my civic duty and made it with only 15 seconds to spare. Talk about a full day!

So, now it is 8 pm and we just finished dinner. I am going to be up all night packing, but come 5 am we will be on our way to Florida!

I am really looking forward to meeting Iron Bob , Kendra and others tomorrow night.

Our condo has wifi so I will definitely be updating the blog every day with my Ironman experience. PCB, here I come!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bouncing off the Walls!

I have to be honest, I have been wondering what this “taper madness” everyone refers to was all about, because it really hadn’t hit me. The last two weeks I have been tired and even the shorter hours didn’t seem to be helping.

Well, I woke up this morning after a very restful weekend feeling well rested and energized – with more energy than I have had in weeks, make that months! I can’t remember the last time I was not struggling for energy at 3 pm, but not today. I am bouncing off the walls. I am perky, positive and upbeat … and I think I am annoying everyone around me, myself included! It is Monday after all …

I had a great swim this morning (my last with my Masters group before heading out) and a good spin on the bike at lunch. I am making an effort to hydrate too, something I have not been great about the last several weeks. I am not sure if the renewed energy is the excitement of race week (can you believe it is really here?!?!?) or the results of a good taper, but either way I will take it! The only good thing about working Monday and Tuesday this week is that I am staying off my feet and being forced to rest and not stress. If I had taken Monday and Tuesday as vacation I think I would be climbing the walls at the house!

I have already double checked my reservation this morning, verified we have wifi, finalized my travel folder, and added to my list of things to pack.

Bounce, bounce, bounce!

I am also getting lots of emails wishing me luck and people stopping by to see how I am doing … I know that these are small gestures, but they mean the world to me!

If anyone has any last minute advice, I would love to hear it too!

Oh, and I have to mention that my best friend Allie sent me the most thoughtful birthday gift! She scoured my blog to see what I needed and sent me the halter style cycling jersey that I have been wanting! I can't wait to wear it -- incentive to get back on the bike this spring!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October in Review

Even with the taper, October will go down as my largest month in IM training.

It's funny, because I seem to be training all.the.time, but all said and done, my training made up only about 10% of my available time in October (75 hours vs 744 hours in the month).

October's Totals:
Bike: 38h 14m - 652.5 Mi
Run: 25h 19m - 166.25 Mi
Swim: 12h 00m - 28,800 Yd

Total Time - 75h 33m

I keep waiting to get nervous but so far I am pretty calm ... anyone want to bet how long that lasts?

Aging Up

Well, it's official.

I have been racing all year with "30" in sharpie on my calf (thanks to the USAT rule that you race as your age as of 12/31) and as of today the age on my driver's licence will match the age on my leg in Florida.

I think doing an Ironman is going to be an awesome start to my 30s!

I started this morning by sleeping in until 9:30 -- with falling back, that was like sleeping until 10:30! I am going to spend the rest of the day relaxing (a pedicure is on the agenda) and celebrating with my family, oh, and getting organized for FL too!

Happy Birthday to me!