Thursday, October 1, 2015

2015: Ironman Wisconsin


IM Race Report and Training/Racing within the First Year of My Child's Life

This past year just flew by.  I can honestly say that it was amazing to watch my body go from top form at IM Hawaii in 2013, to being pregnant, to having a baby, and then back to top form again for IM WI (with a  few exceptions given that I was still breastfeeding).  Training was definitely more difficult this time than it ever has before.  Not because of the level of effort or type of workouts, but how to squeeze it into my day and not take time away from my family...

For those not familiar with what has been going on in my life since IM Hawaii 2013, here's a quick update:

                                    Raced IM Hawaii Oct. 2013
                                    Pregnant Dec. 2013
                                    Ran a 10k snow shoe race Feb. 2014
                                    Ran a 1/2 marathon April 2014
                                    Ran a 10k trail run May 2014

     No more racing for me, but continued to try to run 3x/week, bike 3-4x/week, and swim 3x/week throughout the entire pregnancy.  Had to stop running around 35-36 weeks because it became uncomfortable and my right groin area started to ache after running.  Switched to hiking up hills, elliptical, and water running.  Was able to bike and run up until the day I went into labor!

     Had baby girl 9/8/14 and husband signed me up for IM WI 2015 while in labor.  (At that point I had no idea how much less sleep and time I would have with a new baby!)

     Walked for the first 8 weeks after delivery and got on my bike 1-2x (on the trainer) for 30 mins during this time period, riding very easy.  I started back running, swimming, and biking on the trainer at about 8 weeks.  I was slow and sluggish, especially at running and swimming.  Gradually, I got in better shape and by around January/February I was able to run 8-8:30 pace for about an hour, (although it was a good effort for me).

     Thanks to Mike Pierson, I gradually got in better and better shape.  I missed more workouts than I ever have before in my IM training (most of them being swim workouts--just because it was logistically harder for me to get to the pool with Matt traveling and taking care of a baby).  I also had to move my workouts around in order to get them in; sometimes doing 2 harder workouts in a row or doing easier ones back to back.  Timing of my workouts was also very different.  Most of them were done between 7:30pm and midnight.  Many of my long bike rides were done by biking home from work (with my breast pump and cooler in a backpack), then switching to my tri bike and doing the TriWisconsin group ride out of Wheel and Sprocket, and then getting on the trainer to finish off the ride (since it was dark).  I'd then get off and run outside to finish off the brick workout.  Unfortunately until about 7-10 days before IM, my daughter didn't start sleeping through the night and still got up every 3-4 hours to eat.  This contributed to fatigue that normally sets in from IM training.  It also impacted my ability to get up and do morning workouts as I didn't really know what time she'd wake up wanting to eat. 

     The best thing that I did with my training this year, was to take 3 consecutive Tuesdays off in the month of August during the heaviest training load.  This allowed me to sleep in a little bit more and then do either my long brick workout or a double workout in (which allowed me to get to the pool) while my daughter was at daycare.

     Going into IM I had several goals: 1.) to stay positive during the race and keep perspective--I had a very tough time mentally at the Door County HIM.  It was my first race back after having a baby and I felt a lot of "mommy guilt" out on the course.  I felt guilty taking the time for myself rather than spending those 5 hours on a Saturday with my family after being at work and training all week.  It was really tough.  Unfortunately I gave into "the dark side" and allowed my emotions to control me during the race rather than the other way around.  My performance reflected it.  2.) finish the race 3. ) enjoy participating in IM WI.

     The days leading up to the race were also very different for me this time.  There was no time to stress/worry or have a taper tantrum about things like I had in the past.  I did not have any opportunity to take naps or put my feet up to recover.  I was chasing after a now one year old, planning and celebrating a one year old birthday party, and dealing with other family challenges.  I also managed to tweak my back 3-4 days before the race when picking up my daughter to feed her in the middle of the night.  The day before the race was a bit hectic trying to check my bike in and get everything set up for the next day. 

     The night  before the race I had about 1 cup of whole wheat pasta with a light amount of spaghetti sauce and some Vitamin Water for dinner.  I then took Salt Stick salt tablets to preload before going to bed.  I set my alarm for 3:30am so that I'd have time to eat and digest my food before starting the day.  I woke up to the alarm and ate 3 Clif Bars.  I took 3 more salt tablets and drank a cup of coffee on the way down to the race.  I felt ready and excited for the day.  The only minor hiccough that occurred with bike set up that morning was that I had to use a different bike bag on the back of my bike as the Speed Concept aero box did not fit with the race wheels that I rented.  Thanks to my sister watching Elliot and allowing Matt some free hands to help me fasten the bike bag on, we were able to get it attached.  I finished setting everything up in transition, put on my wetsuit, and headed off to the starting line.  I positioned myself close to the inside buoy, about 2-3 rows from the front.  When the cannon went off, it was a little rough with everyone jostling for position, but eventually I was able to find some space to swim.  I was able to stay in the draft well and not drift off course.  There was congestion around the buoys and I took a few hits--one time getting kicked in the mouth, but felt like I was swimming fairly easily.  I repeated a mantra the whole time ("swim smart"), and eventually rounded the last buoy to come into the swim finish.  I was surprised later to see that I had swum my fastest IM swim ever, 58 mins 11 secs; especially since I swam less than ever before (distance and number of times per week). 

     I ran up the helix and into T1.  I ran with my bike shoes in my hands to my bike.  When I got there the volunteers weren't ready.  I ran to my bike and got it off the rack.  As I turned the corner to run with my bike down the main isle, I somehow either tripped or lost my balance.  The bike went down and I had to jump over it to avoid crashing myself.  In the process I managed to scrape up my right ankle.  The volunteers sprung into action and checked my bike for me.  I put my shoes on while they did this.   They determined that all the necessary functions (e.g., brakes, etc.) were working.  I ran the bike to the mount line and got on.  Just before heading down the helix I heard someone yell, "Watch the chain!"  I looked down to see that my chain was only partially on my big ring.  As I rode down the helix, I was able to shift a bit to get the chain all the way on the bike. 

     I reminded myself to ride easy and thought about my nutrition plan.  I checked my power meter to make sure that I was within my target watts range.  All was going well until a little ways out on the stick when I was surrounded by a pack of guys.  They went ahead of me, but not enough to the point where I would have been outside of the draft zone.  I knew that I was within the draft zone (especially since the distance had been changed from 3 bike lengths to 5 this year), but figured that everyone in that pack was drafting and hoped that they would just pull away from me eventually.  Unfortunately a course marshal was behind the group.  Just then, the marshal pulled up along side me and gave me a drafting penalty.  This was a first for me.  I decided there was no point in getting upset and just took it in stride.  I expected there to be a large group at the penalty tent when I hit Verona, but I was the only one (even though the rest of the group had been drafting too).  I stayed positive during my 5 minute penalty, and watched the cyclists go by.  The remainder of the bike went well and I felt strong for the entire ride.  This was surprising because I have never felt this good.  My legs felt ready to run as I headed back into town and into T2.

     When I got into T2, I grabbed my bag and hunkered down for my planned 4 minutes of time with the breast pump.  I got a couple of surprised looks from the volunteers, but they were eager to help in any way that they could.  I was able to multi-task (thank you inventers of the hands free pumping bra!), and put on my socks and shoes while I pumped.  After taking the edge off, I was out on the run. 

     Unfortunately, my stomach decided not to cooperate with me from the start.  I had to stop at the first port-a-potty on the square.  Then I stopped again at mile 4.  Felt a little bit better after that and was able to run a more "normal" pace.  I was doing fair/good with running until I hit around mile 14.  Then my GI system decided to take a turn for the worse (again).  I battled issues for the remainder of the run, hitting port-a-potties 4-5 more times, with minimal success.  For a while I wished I could just puke because it seemed like nothing was moving through my body.  When I was shuffling/walking along and feeling really nauseous, another athlete gave me a mint to help.  I didn't know of this trick before, and it was helpful, although I still had the other end of the GI system acting up.  I was able to walk/shuffle my way to the finish line, and was still able to finish in my goal range. 

      Overall, I was happy with my performance.  I felt it was amazing to be able to complete an ironman just after having a baby 1 year and 5 days earlier.  I was on track for a PR given that I had clocked my fastest swim and performed equally on the bike compared to previous years (including the drafting penalty--would have been a PR without the penalty).  My legs felt fine on the run and were only minimally sore for about 2 days after the race.  I am certain that I could have equaled my 2012 IM WI time if not have gone faster without the GI issues.  My only thoughts about the GI issues are that maybe I took too much salt and this may have thrown my body out of whack a bit?  For me, digestion and nutrition have been a delicate balance that I have still not yet fully mastered after 6 IMs.  It's tempting to sign up again and give it another try, but I feel strongly that IM will always be there for me, and that it's important to spend this time with my new family.

Now, for the most important part!  The THANK YOU'S:

Mike Pierson (Your Training Zone)--I could not have achieved such a great performance.  You are a great coach and friend.  Although I will be stepping away from Triathlon for a while, I plan to keep in touch with you and cheer you on at your future endeavors.

Matt Amman--Thank you for your time and support this year.  I could not have trained without you encouraging me to get my workouts in, taking care of Elliot, and being supportive of this goal.  I realize that it was tough for you to juggle things at home while I was out training.  You are amazing.

My parents--Thank you for baby sitting and spending time with Elliot so that Matt and I could get a chance to swim or ride bikes together occasionally and also to help me get some workouts in.  We really appreciated you joining us for the Door County HIM and all of your help over the past year.

TriWisconsin--Thank you for the group rides and swims.  It was great to have others to work out with and encourage me along on the workouts.  The IM recon rides were especially helpful.  It was also wonderful to see you guys out cheering on the course.  You guys are great!

     From the beginning (when I signed up for this IM), my plan was to "retire" from IM for a while.  Overall, I was happy with my race and really enjoyed the process of training and being out on the race course.  I have mixed feelings about my plan to "retire" from IM, but really feel that it's the best decision for me and my family at this time.  I plan to stay active and do some running races, snow shoe racing, and cyclocross, but at a more relaxed/social pace.  I look forward to running, biking, and swimming with people socially in the future and maybe even exploring some new activities, such as XC skiing and mountain biking.  (If anyone would like to help me learn how to do either of these things, I am very open to help!)

Total Time: 11:06

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