Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ironman Texas 2015 - 2nd go around

I debated with myself for a good month after Ironman Cozumel if I ever wanted to do another Ironman.  I figured after a less than stellar day there, I owed it to myself to try and do another one.  So I found a spot for Ironman Texas and registered.  I did Ironman Texas in 2013 and had some nutrition issues which made for a tough race so I wanted to see how I could do 2 years later.

My lead up to the race was okay.  I did a couple of race day simulations and nailed them.  BUT after doing my long run two weeks before the race, I got sick.  I felt like my throat was sore after my run, just thought I was thirsty? and then that night we went to see the new Avengers movie (great movie) and towards the end of the movie, I felt like someone took the wind out from under my sails.  The next day I could barely breathe and I called off of work.  I went to work the next day which was a terrible decision and was totally out of it. And then the same with the next.  That entire week, I did not work out as I barely could breathe.  That Saturday I did a relay that had me running 1.5 miles and it went better than I would have expected but it still hurt like hell.  The next day I did a very EASY 3 hours on the bike and the rest of the week, I just tried to get better and do as minimal as possible.  Let's just say that I over tapered.

I left work early on Thursday to pick up my race packet and visited the Wattie Ink tent (I am on the Wattie Ink team) and met Wattie himself!  Friday I did a quick run around my neighborhood, went to the practice swim, came back home to get the bike and gear check items and then back to drop them off at transition.  Which was disgusting!  The mud was all over the place and it smelled terrible, like manure.  It was raining the few days up to the race and that is what caused the mud.  Anyways, racked my bike and covered it up with trash bags and went home to chill on the couch.  While I was chillaxing, I noticed that my throat was again sore and nose was running.  Not ideal conditions for the day before an Ironman.  Had my regular dinner of baked chicken, sweet potato and sautéed spinach and then in bed by 8pm.  And slept all night.  I know a lot of people have trouble sleeping the night before a race and I did when I first started doing triathlons, but now I seem to be able to sleep all night.

Race morning was paleo pancakes with banana, walnuts and syrup and then some Herbalife 24 hydrate, a decaf coffee and a Herbalife 24 prepare.  Parked by the mall and then walked to transition. Set up my bike and then walked to the swim start.  Checked my bags and got in line for the swim.

This year was the first year that they did a rolling start for Ironman Texas.  Basically like a running race, you self seed yourself based on what swim time you think you will have.  I seeded myself aggressively by the 1:10 mark.  I did a 1:07 in Cozumel and so it was hard to guess where I need to stand.  Some people don't like the rolling start but actually I liked it.  It seemed to space everyone out more on the bike a little.  The thing I didn't like was when it was time to go all they said was "GO" no air horn or cannon!  That takes away a little of the feeling of the mass start.

I wore my Blueseventy swim skin, Wattie Iink team shorts and Wattie Ink sports bra with my heart rate strap already on.  So we walk into the water and then we dive in.  And start swimming.  There was quite a bit of rough swimming for a while, only got one really good elbow.  Which thankfully was not to the goggles.  Anyways, after I got in the water, I swam the entire way. At a comfortable race pace.  I know I could have swam more aggressively but I didn't want to overdue it since I still felt sick.  And I certainly was.  Did you know that you can have a coughing attack while swimming?  I do know as I had 3 over the 2.4 miles.  And when I first got in the water, my nose was stuffed so I was having trouble breathing but eventually it cleared and it was swimming as normal.  I found myself at times getting scattered brained like loosing track of forward movement which I tend to have happen in open water, but then pulled it together.  Best way for me to swim open water is to focus on getting buoy to buoy and just take one at a time and don't worry about the big picture.  That gets overwhelming as it seems so long otherwise and sometimes feels like you are going no where fast. 

2013 swim time: 1:39:04 2:33/100m
2015 swim time: 1:12:50 1:53/100m

So what did I do differently from 2013?  Well, leading up to 2103, I had felt like I could teach myself how to swim.  Wrong.  Oh and I had some panic attacks.  I joined a master swim class for all of 2014 (it hasn't worked into my schedule for 2015 yet) and that made a huge difference.  If I want to keep on moving forward, there is more drill work and hard internals in the future!  But I am quite happy with that time as it got me out of the water in 15th in my age group.

2013 T1: 7:36
2015 T1: 4:35

Every minute counts!  I taped up my transition bag with a special design in black duct tape so I wouldn't run past it.  Normally I run past my transition bag (did in 2013) and then have to back track to it.  I ran with my bag to the tent, took off the cap, goggles, swimskin and put on my Wattie Ink team bike jersey, helmet with visor and held my shoes.  Thankfully, with the muddy transition, they had little kiddie pools by the exit of transition for us to clean off our feet.  And some really nice volunteers splashed my legs with water.  I put on my shoes and runish to the mount like.  I hate running in bike shoes.  Hop on the bike and off I go. 

About 5 minutes in, I go to blow my nose and my visor popped off.  I should have checked it before running out of transition.  Plus it felt like my back brake was rubbing.  So I hopped off, checked the brake, clipped the visor in and off I went.  While on Woodlands Parkway, an Escalade pulled out in front of me to cross the road and I had to slam on my brakes which caused me to slide sideways a little and luckily just missed the car and didn't wipe out.  That's one way to spike the heart rate!!

112 miles is a long way but I have trained prior to getting sick, at an aggressive power that I had maintained for my long rides.  But this day, I just wasn't feeling it.  I normally have a whole another gear but I guess with being still sick and my over taper, I just didn't have anything more.  I felt really bad at mile 30ish and just couldn't get myself to pee on the bike, so the next aid station, I took a few minutes to get off and go to the port o potty.  Which was down hill and incredibly difficult to get out of in cycling shoes without slipping. :)  Back on the bike and I still felt so out of it.  My visor had popped back off at mile 10ish and I had been riding without a visor/sunglasses for almost two hours.  It had been overcast so it didn't really bother me.  But then the sun came out in full force and I decided to stop again and pop the visor back in.  I got the attention of a motorcycle cop who was just what I needed at that point.   I asked him to try to snap back in my visor, which he couldn't, and then I got it in myself.  I was chatting with him, telling him I seriously just wanted to quit and he said that you are doing better than me by just starting.  Nice man.  Also, at that point, I was more concerned with how I would get back so I decided to just keep on going.  The ride took more out of me than it ever normally does so it just wasn't my day.  I have never been passed so many times on the bike before.  I now know what the faster swimmers/slower bikers feel like, getting passed over an over. :/

At 80% of the water stations, I squeezed water over my jersey, in my mouth and in my speedfill aero water bottle.  As far as the rest of my nutrition, I had 3 bottles filled with Herbalife 24 prolong, 1.5 Powerbar performance energy peanut butter chocolate bar, Powerbar cola blast energy chews and a Gatorade hand up at the last couple aid stations.  I also had 1 Energy Lab electrolyte tab every 30 minutes.

2013 bike: 6:08:11
2015 bike: 6:06:52 

Considering how much faster I have been on the bike last year, this is disappointing.  But in 2013, I didn't stop at all and in 2015, I stopped 3 times, so I guess that is good??

2013 T2: 9:41
2015 T2: 5:11

So, as I was running from where I dropped off my bike, I was unzipping and taking off my jersey (ran in sports bra and shorts for the run), taking off my helmet, quickly found my run bag taped in black and got in the tent.  Where I had the best volunteer.  She brought over water for my muddy feet while I put on my Injinji toe socks and Asic zoosa tri shoes. I clipped on my belt that had my 6 gels and electrolyte tabs and put on my shades and off I went.  I was one of the few people that wasn't wearing a hat.  Everyone had a hat or visor on to help with ice to the head and shade.  But on long runs, wearing a hat or even a visor feels like it squeezes my brains and causes me to overheat so I just can't wear them.  The downside is that my hair is long and usually my French braid as a few fly aways that are annoying but I will take that over a head ache!

I ran through the first couple aid stations tossing water over my head and then realized that I was going to need to walk the aid stations.  I have a very high sweat ratio and I need to consume at least 2 - 3 cups of fluid at every aid station in that kind of heat to keep performing.  Unfortunately learned this the hard way.  And everyone else was walking the aid stations.  I tell you, it is really hard to walk for a minute and then get back to running.  That is what makes this race so tough.  Your body is saying F this and you are like do I really want to do this, yes you can do this.  I personally have arguments with myself in my head all of the run about walk or run.  Anyways, I found a slow pace that I could run forever and stuck to it and ran from aid station to aid station.  It is the hardest on the last lap because a majority of the people are walking so it is so hard to keep running when everyone else is walking.  Kind of draining.  But someone had a sign along the run course that said "it's all about that pace, that pace, no quitting" that I found myself singing at a couple points. Thanks for that sign, whoever put that up there.  I did Gatorade for two aid stations in a row then a couple waters with a tab and Powerbar gel every 3 miles and put ice water over my head and ice down the front and back of the sports bra and shorts.  Towards the end of the second lap, I added coke into the mix and the last lap, I took one of their gus at mile 21 and grabbed more salt out of my special needs bag on the last lap.  I did stop 3 times to use the port o potty which is pretty much the same as the last time I raced here.  Last lap was incredibly tough as I could feel my heart rate spiking a little and my breathing being more labored but wanted to get it over with. :D  Ran up to the finish line and for the first time since being married, heard, Claudia Smith, you are an IRONMAN!

2013 Run: 4:53:48
2015 Run: 4:23:53

I really thought I would run faster as I run 1 - 2 minutes/mile faster on my long runs in training but all in all, I guess I can't complain.

2013 total time: 12:58:20 31 in AG 30 - 34
2015 total time: 11:53:21 16th in AG 30 - 34

Honestly I was expecting more from myself but can't be that disappointed as this is a new PR for me!!

Aftermath:  I had a Herbalife Rebuild endurance shake as soon as I picked up my morning clothes bag and tried to eat a Powerbar protein bar.  The back of my legs were/are pretty tight and there is a massage scheduled for Tuesday.  Hobbled back to my bike and off to Ginos for pizza.  And I had blood blisters under both of my big toe nails.  Probably will be loosing one or two in the future.

I have to take a moment to thank Wattie Ink and the sponsors (Blueseventy, Speedfill, Rudy Project, ISM, Powerbar and Herbalife) for their support on this journey.

I also have to thank my husband, Ryan, for his support of this crazy hobby of mine.  He would normally have pictures for me to share (he brought his very nice camera) but he raced in a beer mile that morning as part of the Jockstrap Catapult IM Texas festivities, which was his first one and he ran a 6:46 which is like good for 150th in the country???  And a few jello shots later, him and all of the JSC crew were cheering on the runners in their underwear.  But I looked forward to that part of the run every lap. Thanks for the cheers.  And thanks to all of the volunteers - amazing!

Next up is Escape from Alcatraz on June 7th, so after a week off this week, I am going to do some easy sessions to just experience that race.  Then I have a little gap to fill before the half in Redman at the end of September.  Future focus is building on my speed on the bike and run and maintaining the improvements on the swim.

I think this may be my last ironman for a while.  I do so much better at shorter stuff. And while it still hurts doing shorter stuff, it is more my style of hurt!  On to the next one...

Kemah Triathlon 2015

So, I promised someone that I was going to write up a blog about this race, and here I am a months later.  LOL.

Race morning started like any other.  With the addition of seeing definite rain in the forecast.  Was afraid there would be lightning but thankfully it held off for us to race!

Kemah Olympic Triathlon is unlike most other triathlons because you get to jump off of a paddle boat.  Everyone has to be on their boat by 6am and then the boat slowly takes you out to the starting point 1500 meters from shore.  The swim is pretty straight forward as you just pretty much swim in a straight line to shore. 

On the boat, I hung out with my JSC/SBS friends and we all jumped off the boat one after the other.  I had ordered a wetsuit as my last one's zipper was broken and was tossed, but unfortunately it didn't arrive in time for the race.  Luckily enough, my friend Amanda had a sleeveless wetsuit that no one claimed that fit me great. Anyways, since the start was a rolling self seeded jump off the boat start, it was hard to figure out where you placed as it did take 15 minutes for everyone to get off the boats.  We were towards the back of the line.

It came my turn to jump off the boat, maybe 10 foot jump??, into the water and placed my hands over my goggles so they didn't get knocked off and in I went.  I have been working a lot on my swim.  I have previously always gotten out of the water towards the middle of my age group and then passed a lot of people on the bike and run.  Something about open water, I get so confused and scatter brained.  It's like I swim myself in circles and prevent myself from moving forward.  Anyways, I told myself on this day that I would swim the entire time and only stop for dire circumstances (water up the nose, choking, goggles off, etc.). So after I jumped I got in my grove and had an okay swim.  Note: I took a good elbow to the face as I passed a dude and then had to fix the goggles and then back to swimming.  Seeding wise, should have jumped sooner but oh well.  There was plenty of space for me to swim.  Swam in 32:21(2:09 per 100m) which was good enough from 3rd in my age group.  I guess everyone else had a rough swim.

Seriously, I never take a good swim exit photo.
A little jog to transition on concrete to the bike and off I went. Or so I thought.  I had my bike shoes rubber banded on my bike and the right shoe had somehow snapped as I ran it out of transition.  I didn't realize this until after I hopped on my bike and it rubbed on the ground and then unclipped itself.  And of course I was rolling at this point, so I had to turn me around and go pick it up and dodge people going out for their bike ride.  And a volunteer was yelling at me to get out of the way and I was like, I will get out the way after I get my shoe.  Anyways, put my shoe on then hoped on the bike.  Annoying. It was raining at a decent rate at this point and there are few spots on the road that had little pebbles and dirt so everyone looked kind of like they pooped their pants after they got off the bike. :D There was a few pot holes so between dodging those and passing people, the ride went by quick.  But again, should have jumped sooner so I wouldn't have had to do quite so much dodging.  Average watts: 230 for a time of 1:09:29 21.4 mph
They see me rollin'
Had a more successful dismount and sprinted to re-rack my bike.  Since I had Ironman Texas in a few weeks, I didn't want to get any blisters by running barefoot, so I put socks on.  I have, since this race, found a pair of shoes that I can actually run in for 6 miles without blisters, so next race I will wear those! Anyways, set to work on the run, my first couple miles being faster than the last two as I was a little too aggressive (uh a 10k is not a 5k) and ran with my heart rate through the roof.  Ran a 42:46 10k which is a 6:54 pace.
I would like to think I look tough in this photo. :D
Overall time 2:28:44 good for 2nd in my age group which I lost 1st just by over a minute.
So, something else awesome about this race is that you can bypass the lottery for Escape From Alcatraz race in San Francisco by winning your age group.  I was really gunning for 1st in my age group because I have wanted to do Alcatraz ever since I have first heard about it.  So I was pretty bummed after I heard that I was 2nd in my age group.  I approached the girl that won the age group asking if she was going to take it and she said she was a maybe. 

That's me in the pink
Well, if the first place person doesn't take the slot, they do roll it down.  The roll down process was slower that Ironman (you get an email in the middle of the week after the event if you get the slot, and then it is rolled down.)  The girl who beat me, found me on Facebook to let me know that she was not going to take the slot as she is already registered for this year and doesn't want to do it next year, so I got the slot!!  YAY!  I let them know I wanted to do it this year, so I am all registered to do it this year on June 7th!! Seriously can't wait!!