I haven’t written a blog in a long time: it’s hard for me to talk about myself. If I say things that I have done well then I feel like I am being cocky, and if I talk about things that didn’t go well, I feel like I am being too negative and complaining. What does that leave to talk about? I feel like Ironman Texas and the weeks leading up to it are a big enough event for me to finally write a blog!
I had never really paid much attention to Ironman prior to last year. I was always more aware of what was going on in the ITU world and I raced in the Olympic non-draft bubble. Last October, Barrett and I watched Kona. We cheered our friends on from home and were glued to the computer all day. The hype leading into that race was amazing and I remember us talking about the importance of Kona. If you’re not going to the Olympics, Kona is really the only other thing that people in this sport care about. So we started mapping out a plan to get me to Kona. I was finally healthy and felt ready to go, so we decided that after the Island House Triathlon, I would continue to train, race Pucon 70.3 and Panama 70.3 in January, then Ironman New Zealand in March. Things went pretty well during that training block, but the actual race was a disaster. I struggled with my nutrition, some illness, and had to pull out after some severe dizzy spells in T2 and medical tent.
I was incredibly disappointed. Now what? We decided it would be best for me to still take my 2 week break and travel as planned to see my Dad in Bend. So I had a great break, and felt incredibly rejuvenated and ready to go after. After a lot of thought, we decided that I should race Ironman Texas since it is almost a home race (I live 3 hours away) and I was already going to be down there cheering for Barrett. If I wanted to qualify for Kona then I needed a 6th or 7th place at 2 championship races (Texas and Frankfurt). So that became the new plan. I had 8 weeks…
The first 6 weeks of my training block were amazing. We followed a plan of 3 weeks really hard, and then 3 days easy. I biked a ton (15-17 hours each week - yes, all on the trainer), ran as much as I could (4-5 hours each week) and swam when I could (swimming was the first thing to fall of the wagon!). I ended up swimming about 15k per week but using it more as recovery because I was so tired from everything else).
I had never trained so much and so hard in my triathlon career. Just one of those 6 weeks would have been my biggest training week ever and to put together 6 of them was a confidence builder. It was awesome. Training was so consistent and it was exciting. The biggest difference was in the bike and not only how much I was riding, but how hard. My husband, who is also my coach, enacted a KJ (Kilojoule) ration for almost every bike ride. I had to reach the goal KJ’s before I could stop even if I got my intervals in, etc… this was a HUGE difference for me. I no longer could just ride easy. Every ride was a lot harder, but needed to get done, and the result was feeling really strong during my Ironman.
2 weeks before IM Texas on my last long run (long runs were 2 hours and I think I did 3 of them) things started to fall apart. My patella had shooting pains, my calf was really tight, and my heel started hurting. Oh well, a couple days off and should be good to go. Unfortunately, no… the pain continued and we decided to just not run much the final 2 weeks, get worked on, and hope that with the extra rest and downtime everything would be ok for race day. However, when I got to the Woodlands I was still in pain and asked our friend Kirk Noyes who to see to try and work on my leg. Friday, the day before the race, I was in Dennis Evans’ office (from F3) hoping that he could work his magic :) I got some soft tissue treatment, and it definitely helped, but I was unsure if it would hold up for 8+ hours. Before the race, we made the decision that I really needed to finish unless I felt I would do long term damage to my body. The disappointment of NZ was not something I could easily deal with again.
Thank you Paul Phillips/ CompImagePhoto for the pic
For the swim, I just swim! I am a true distance swimmer, and have only one speed. It was like this when I swam at Nebraska, but now far removed from my swimming career it is even more so. So while I have had good swims in Olympics and 70.3, a 2.4 mile swim is always going to suit my strengths and that is what you saw on Saturday. I ended up with the fastest swim of the day, (out of the men too!), but more importantly, I had good time gaps to the women behind.
Another advantage I have is that when I get out of the water, my heart rate is low, I’m relaxed, and I am ready to ride. This is probably why you see my riding a lot harder than other people at the beginning of races. Before Texas we set a goal of 200 watts AP, and I am happy to say I rode 199! I got a little excited the first 30 miles, but I also had no information for time gaps, and wanted to make sure no ladies rode up to me at the beginning of the race.
As I mentioned earlier I ride the trainer all of the time. Riding outside stresses me out because I think that I’m going to die! :) The downfall to this is that I am not the fastest at turns and u-turns. If anyone watched the Island House race, I am actually quite terrible at bike skills. When the course changed for TX and there were going to be 80 plus turns, I actually went outside to make sure I could still go around turns. I felt great during the ride in Texas and I I was very happy to keep my lead off the bike and onto the run. I ended up being 40 seconds off the fastest bike split of the day on a course that couldn’t have been worse for me! I am definitely excited about how far my cycling has come and I am so thankful to Ventum for bringing me on board their amazing team and fast bike :). With the Ventum water bottle and Torhans Aero 30 BTA bottle and bento, my setup was perfect for me to be able to always be in aero and still drink and eat.Onto the run, legs felt great, but boy did I feel sick. I had to stop a few times to throw up, and my stomach was cramping pretty badly. I think drinking a lot of Gatorade during the aid stations might have caused it, but it is something I need to figure out for next time! After walking through the aid stations, the cramping eventually subsided. I was moving all right the first lap but on the 2nd lap, my calf started hurting and it just got worse. By that last lap I could barely move. I told myself to walk through all of the aid stations and jog the rest. I didn’t jog fast, but got to the finish. I got passed by quite a few people the last few km, and ended up 12th.
Photo by Donald Miralle
On one hand I was disappointed to lead the race for so long and then fall out of the top 10, but am also happy I chose to finish. I learned a lot from this race, and can continue to build on the training I have done and improve.
A few days removed, my leg is slowly getting better, but we will probably take it slow to get it back to 100%. While there were a LOT of the positives on the day, Kona 2016 this year isn’t going to happen. I think I’m ok with that. Disappointed, but ok. I am not going to rush into another Ironman and chase points at the expense of my long term development and possibly health. So the new plan is that I am going to do some 70.3’s, go to 70.3 World Champs, and then do Ironman Arizona at the end of the year to start getting points for Kona 2017. With where I am in my career I think this is a much better and more sustainable plan.
FInally I would like to say a huge thank you to the Wing family for being such an amazing homestay in the Woodlands! Y’all are the best! Loved our Good Luck cards from the boys race morning : ) Also, a huge thank you to my sponsors Ventum, Blueseventy, CorioVelo, Torhans, Skratch Labs, and Endurance Shield for their support. Thanks to the hubby for dealing with me during this hard training block….two people in one house training for the same Ironman is interesting! Shout out to Meredith Kessler for giving me a lot of advice before the race. I really appreciate it! And to all of our family, friends, and other supporters.. So many cheers during the race and we are so thankful for all of you!
A little pre-race ride with the hubby
Barrett on a little post race ride. Love the Wing family!