Saturday, August 25, 2012

My First Ironman - Mont tremblant Ironman 2012

Of course when i got into this sport 3 years ago i said that i would NEVER do an Ironman. I WAS a tennis player, full of high intensity short burst speed, nothing close to the make ups of your typical endurance athlete. I would cramp terribly almost every single race i entered for the first 2 years, walking for a good part of my half marathon's in the 70.3's. Race execution and pacing was just an afterthought. All i knew to do was to go as hard as i could for as long as i could, barely make it to the finishline and then i would proceed to pass out and get a few IV's to recover. I would convince myself that if i did not give that effort - i was weak and not worthy of a great result. If i was a pro - No pain, no gain was the only way to race. During each race i would go to the deepest, darkest part of the mind questioning myself whether i could finish, comparing myself to everyone else who was faster than me and in turn promise myself that i would never do another triathlon again since i was obviously wasting my time. Yes, we have all been there. I thought there was no way that i could take myself through all those emotions for the duration of an Ironman, nor would my body hold up. In the past I had been carrying some sort of nagging injury into every race. But thankfully, this year things changed after racing a ton with great guidance and preparation from the TriDot system and coach Jeff Booher. Thanks to proper guidelines for pacing, nutrition,weight training to stay injury free and learning to tap into my source of true strength and finding mental peace( God ), i was able to string together some consistent, controlled efforts in the 70.3 distance and suddenly doing an Ironman seemed possible.

After Boulder 70.3 this year ( 2 weeks ago ) and a string of 70.3's all 2-3 weeks apart ( think 7 almost in a row ) i was looking for a new challenge. While i was mentally stronger every race, i wasn't able to string any training blocks together in between races. It was race, recover, taper, repeat. And for me to get to the next level at the 70.3 distance i needed to train harder and faster and the body and mind was not willing. It was however willing to go longer and slower :) - so why not do an Ironman... in 2 weeks. I was going to Mont tremblant anyway ( Tri Team Transport was transporting 65 bikes from Texas and Mexico )

So i got back from my effort in Boulder (note to self - never race at altitude and drive 18 hrs pre race to transport bikes again), recovered as best as i could for the next 4 days to fit in one long ride on the Fri where i subsequently had to be picked up off the side of the road 5 hours later ( thanks Catherine - TTT's awesome accountant and friends ) . Think - getting off my bike and laying down on the side of the road TWICE (4 hrs in then 5 hrs in)while my training buddy, Chris, tried to provide shade and pour bottles of water over me ( thank you Chris ).It took me 2 days to recover from that effort but then attempted my longest run, a slow 17 miler. Ready for my first Ironman in 6 days ? not ideal prep .. but was going to give it my best shot. And i am so glad i did - The challenge was an amazing experience. Fresh and FUN.

Below are my random facts, observations and musings from my First Ironman.

1. I picked a great First Ironman location and I highly recommend Mont tremblant as a bucket list race. Amazing organization. Course was set in a resort town with tons of restaurants,bakeries, shops and activities all in one spot (i was picking all my post race eating treats well in advance). Spectacular opening party with bands and fireworks. Beautiful scenery. Clear, calm lake. Newly surfaced roads. A crushed granite trail for half the run. Cool weather. Amazing support from the locals and volunteers. French people shouting for you as you passed. I couldnt help but start speaking English with a french accent for most of the trip.

2. Even if you feel terrible the days leading into race day, doesnt mean that your race day will be ruined. God moved mountains and parted water is what i kept on reminding myself as i lay on the bathroom floor feeling the effects of food poisoning or what was a stomach bug on the Wed-Fr before the race. A Diet soley of Core Power drinks kept the stomach happy till Sun - then no problems, phew !

3. The swim is long ! And people are aggressive !! I had a 10 min head start on the masses but that didnt stop a bunch of guys catching me the last few 100m. One guy came up on me so quickly and when he hit my foot i thought he had robbed me of a toenail ! The next few strokes pretty much sank me as he swam right over the top of me. Totally unneccessary. I Was ready give him my best karate kid elbow jab on the next stroke had i not been 2 ft submerged under water trying not to drown.

4. The amount of crowd support is incredible compared to a 70.3. The run from the water to T1 Tent had people stacked 5 deep on either side of the barriers cheering you on. Tried to smile but i fear it looked more like a grimace as my hrate was skyrocketed at this point. An impressive 175 - full on adrenaline.

5. People Draft and the officials are too scared to give penalties or know its a losing battle since of the pack of 20, do they write them all up ? what a mess.

6. No matter how much Chamois cream you put on and even if you have the best seat on the planet ( ISM breakaway ) ,from about mile 80 on the coochicoo is NOT happy. I did stand up more on the hills from here on out and that seemed to give som relief, but OW.

7. What you plan on taking in for nutrition may not be what your body wants during the race. I ended up taking most of my calories from whatever was offered on the course ( Honey stinger waffles, a banana here and there ) My planned Gels were not very appetizing.

8. Your day is not over when you start to cramp. I am so happy i had tons of Salstick tabs on me. My hamstrings and hands started cramping up at mile 80 or so. 1500 mg of salstick consumed within the next 20 min and cramps be gone. i was fine for the rest of the race, but made sure to stick with 1200-1500 mg per hour.

9. KT tape is amazing. I have been suffering with some IT band issues, or "runners knee" since my little fall down the stairs at Buffalo springs 70.3. The result was the last 2 mths of pain anytime i ran under 7 min miles, hence i didnt run fast, do track workouts and got slower. The day before the race, running 15 min hurt, and i knew 26 miles was going to be a far cry the next day. But a little KT tape from the expo physio and zero pain all day. Voila !Converted!

10. There will be a point in the run when your body just decides it has had enough. For me it came late. I was actually feeling great and moving along decently until about mile 21 or so. Then rigor motis set in. While i wanted to go, my body said no and before i knew it i had pins and needles to my left foot and had to run on the side of my foot or heel the rest of the way. I laughingly thought that at the end of this they were going to have to cut my left foot off to save the leg ( dramatic, i know ) . All worth it to become an Ironman - right ?

11. Ironman people are way more serious than half ironman people. There was way less cheering for others on the course. I figured it was because everyone was very cautious not to waste any unnecessary energy while trying to finish their own race.

12. You will chafe! Best option - lather yourself in antichafe cream EVERYWHERE. My belly button has a scar ! Who knew ?

13. During the run portion, when all stomachs are tired of the sugar overdose, there were tons of "barking spiders" or "Canadian frogs" as Garrick ( my pace buddy for most of the run ) put put it.

14. Dont think you are going to lose weight doing an Ironman if you do what i did ( I know i am not alone here ). A good diet plan does not consist of Taking 150 000 mg of sodium ( yes you read that right ), tons of sugar from gel's, coke, etc for 10 plus hours. And then you are so excited and starving when you are done that you just eat everything in sight and easily eat more than what was burnt off.
What i ate in the 3 days after the Ironman (for fun, as a reward for my first Ironman, and because Steve and i were "vacationing" for 2 days - no i wont do this next time)
In no particular order or consumption, and truthfully - in training i am on a gluten free diet and count every calorie consumed so this was too much fun )
The list - gallons of chocolate milk, 2 pizza's (one proud sitting ), 5 croissants, a dozen eggs, two burger and fries ( never order a burger in canada - they cant cook it rare , what a waste of meat ) , an orea ice cream sandwich, 2 baguettes, a muffin, yogurt covered pretzels, my first mcflurry from mcdonalds, nacho's, a few bags of chips, and my first cookies and cream chocolate bar ( yum ) and a massive waffle cone with a few different scoops of cookie dough and mint ice cream. All that and i came home 1 lb heavier. SOOOO worth it. Now i am back on it. :)

15. You will run on adrenaline for the next few hours. After doing my Ironman , Steve and i had an Ironman of bike loading ourselves. I feel it was more impressive than racing if i do say so myself. We proceeded to get bikes out of transition for our Tri Team Transpor athletes, clean, tag up and load all the bikes into our trailer for transport back home . 6 hours later, 1am and still wide awake ( Ironman excitement is my only explanation ) But we did proceed to sleep ALOT the next few days.

16. Lastly... i am fortunate this is my life. I have the best and most supportive husband ever ! He was out on the course from start to finish, cheering me one, giving me time splits, taking pics and video while encouraging me every step of the way.

Then i had My family back home in South Africa following on the computer and BBM'ing Steve to find out every move or update. Lastly to see all the supportive notes from all my friends in Austin, Houston, etc. Thank you all ! I am lucky !

17. Thank you to all my sponsors. I am so lucky to have the support from so many great companies that provide the very best equipment, training, nutrition, health care and more to allow me to keep doing this sport. I really could not do it without them. And i am beyond grateful !! All the key players for this race -

*Tri4Him and TriDot Creater - Jeff Booher got me race ready with great guidance in a short time. Know doubt it would have gotten very ugly out there had i not had sound wisdom going in.

*My Aquaman ART wetsuit is an AMAZING wetsuit and for sure a big reason why my swim has suddenly come along ! Comfort, Speed, great fit = fast !

*Jack and Adams got my bike perfectly tuned up and ready for race day.

*My Blue Bike survived the 5000ft of climbing like a champ. One word - Di2 !

*My IBike powermeter allowed me to keep track of powernumbers and stay conservative and pace my effort on the bike - no bonkage !!

*My Breakaway ISM Saddle was super comfy and was i fully expecting i would saddle sores after that effort, but nada. yay !

*Core Power was the ONLY thing i could stomach Wed-Fri while i had a stomach bug and thankfully kept my energy levels topped off till race day.

*I flew with my TriggerPoint kit and yes, if you saw someone in the middle of the airport rolling their IT band while waiting on their flight. Yup, that be me.

*Chris Winkle, my Massage therapy extraodinaire for the last 3 years and Dr Chris Sellers and his team from Performance wellness have put Humpty Dumpty together many times this year and allowed me to get to every start line.

*Hill Country Running has the best variety of running shoes and best customer service by far, and i was able to choose the perfect pair for this race. Light, comfy and survived the run blister free.

*Oatmega Bars and Perfect Fit Cookies were consumed in abundance during travel and kept me topped of between all race prep workouts and meals.

*Compex - when i couldnt run cause of IT band pain, i used my compex to keep things firing. Works !

*Rudy - aero helmet and fog free glasses - winning.

*Team Beef - I am a massive meat fan and believer in its Health and Energy Benefits ! Are you Tired - Eat meat !

*Hammer - All my multivitamins are from hammer ! Daily dose keeps the Dr away.

*Torhans - Splash free Aero bottle ! Huge Neccessity ! And looks darn cool with the aero straw

*Healhty chocolate - Need i say more. Training for an Ironman, being super lean and chocolate in the same sentence usually dont fit. Not anymore. Sugar free and filled with vitamins while being super tasty. What a treat !!

*Pure Austin Gym - So importative and imperitive for a great training program. I strength train throughout the season a number of times a week. So so important. when i miss my strength training sessions - i get injured. Simple as that - get in the gym, stay healthy and walk taller when you leave.

Next up - Branson 70.3 or Augusta 70.3, Austin 70.3 and i WILL be training for IM Florida !