Seriously?!?! Did IMTX really happen?!?!
I know a lot of people know this, but I took the Washington State Bar Exam at the end of February (which I PASSED. BOOM!!!) and I wasn’t “training” during that whole prep time. It’s impossible. Stressed is an understatement and the whole sleep thing doesn’t really happen like it should because the brain NEVER turns off. I like to call what I was doing, “exercising for my sanity.” Coach cut the schedule back to one workout a day at no more than 90 minutes which I usually did at lunch time to break up the day between morning review lectures and afternoons of wanting to poke my eyeballs out. Sometimes I had to cut those 90 min to 60 min and sometimes I had to choose a nap over a swim and my HR was always through the roof because of the lack of sleep and stress so yeah…it was just a mid day exercise break.
Once that was all said and done though, the IMTX focus was ON! Ooof. That gave me what…like 8 weeks of build and 2 weeks of taper? I wasn’t out of shape but I wasn’t really in shape. I’d say Coach P nailed it but man o man going from bar exam to ironman was like going from zero to 90mph (and week 1 of that was spent at 7000 ft in Jackson Hole at my sister’s wedding. I don’t like to make life easy). March was tough!!!…I’d like to blame any grumpiness/hangry-ness on my part in the month of March on Dave Orlowski. He’s responsible for this ironman nonsense being born way back in 1978.
Just kidding, Dave. You’re AWESOME! :)
Because of all of the above, I don’t think I could’ve been in a better place mentally going into IMTX. Of course we all WANT Kona but on top of the whole Bar Exam thingy, I aged up to 30-34 (I’m still 29 at the moment though) and those girls are STUDS…especially on the bike. My little chicken marathoning legs can’t quite bike like some of the quadzilla girls out there. I don’t know how they do it! So for all of March, April, May, and race day I told myself to make sure I was having fun…and to ESPECIALLY enjoy the process after I found out I was officially out of academic prison (middle of April is when I found out I passed the Bar). If Kona happened, GREAT! I’ll take that! If that opportunity comes around, you DON’T turn it down! If it didn’t happen, life would go on. I blew up at mile 24 of CIM back in December while on track for a 2:58 marathon and ended up running a 3:02 so I would go back for revenge on those 2 minutes if Kona didn’t happen. No stress. Just enjoying the process and the day.
Fast forward to The Woodlands…No wait…rewind to about 9 days before IMTX. I fell in a hole. Yep. On my last long run I fell in a hole. I have NEVER done that on a run. I scraped up the palms of my hands and more than tweaked my ankle. Connie the Cankle GOT FAT. I actually mustered up the courage to finish that long run since it was my last long run before race day and I knew while running those next 11 miles that I was probably going to pay for that decision. I did. It got huge but I’ve finished an ironman looking worse but I don’t even know how I did an ironman on it. It’s still fat. I should probably start getting concerned about that.
(Connie the Cankle pre-IMTX)
Ok…now fast forward to The Woodlands…
I got to Texas on Wednesday before the race. On Friday, the absolute BEST Sherpas and friends in the face of the universe drove 7 hours from Jackson, Mississippi just for ME?!?! I feel so undeserving and incredibly grateful all at the same time. From the second Donavon and Darryl got into town, they didn’t let me carry anything, they ran errands if I needed something…you name it. I swear I tried to carry my bag and bike to bike check-in on Friday but NOPE, they wouldn’t let me! On top of that, it was non-stop laughing for all of us the whole time and that makes race day stress SO much better!
Race morning was more of the same. A QUICK trip to T1 to put food and what not on the bike and in bags. The whole week before race day was full of non-stop thunderstorms (I actually hadn’t heard thunder or lightening since 2013 when I left the dirty south and moved back to Seattle!) so transition was one massive mud pit that smelled like a giant turd (not even exaggerating one bit!). We walked to the swim start with my awesome pal and all time favorite gal to race with, Caitlin Glenn and her gang that included my equally AWESOME former Timex Teammate, Melanie Sherman! Donavon and Darryl broke the tension by playing fart noises from an iphone app while walking past groups of people and talking about the burritos they ate the night before. Apparently later they connected the phone via bluetooth to a LARGE speaker and played more fart noises when people walked by while they were riding their trainers while I was out on the bike course. Yep. Those are my peoples!
And then the race happened…
I’m not too sure how I feel about these new rolling starts but I totally get the reasoning behind it. It was probably better for Connie the Cankle though because I had less mean men trying to grab an ankle. I was really worried about that possibility. I hopped in near the front of the 55min-1hr group so getting trampled and feeling like I was a sardine in a tiny tin can that was going to drown in a washing machine was kept to a minimum for the most part. I did slip on the boat ramp though. That was “awesome.” My goal was somewhere between 57 min and an hour so I’ll take 1hr on the dot. I found a few groups of feet to jump on throughout which was nice because at one point I got gapped between groups and my solo efforts to bridge the gap weren’t very successful until a dude came up beside me with a sweet draft. Oh…and super nifty exciting stat…I was SECOND out of the water in my age group! Less than a minute down. Darn. Just missed a swim prime!
T1 was a fun run through the giant turd smelling mud pit. Pretty much everyone put their shoes on at the bike exit. I had so much food stuffed in my bra it looked like a massive uni-boob. I’m pretty good at eating on the bike.
The first 40 miles were GREAT. We had a SWEET tailwind and I was riding well for myself…then the Kona conditions happened. Heat, humidity…and STIFF headwinds with crosswind gusts. Must be nice to be a big dude and able to stay aero in that. I spent A LOT of time on the hoods. You’d think we would’ve gotten a break at some point. NOPE. Just NOPE. The whole rest of the way. I did my best to stomach some sort of food every 20 minutes. Gels, uncrustables…there was a snickers at one point in there too but since it was hot I had to shove that whole thing in my mouth at once because it was melted. One of my uncrustables got soggy from water I had poured on me so it was a good thing I always pack a few extra gels. 5:46 is decent for me on such a windy day. That tells me on a good day I’d be closer to 5:30 which is what I was aiming for. No complaints. Except for the quadzillas, it seemed like the average bike for most was around 5:45 and I only dropped to 9th place even though I wasn’t paying attention to positioning all day. I told myself not to because then I’d start stressing about Kona possibilities.
T2 was uneventful. I shoved more food in my bra and off I went. The turd bath smelled even more awesome at this point in the heat and humidity. The change tent smelled even better. I don’t even want to think of what the puddles I ran through barefoot ACTUALLY contained.
My favorite!!! I normally wouldn’t be too thrilled with a 3:41 (that sounds ungrateful. I know that’s great off 112 miles but I know I have better in my legs, that’s all) but in Texas it’s moving. The run course in The Woodlands always seems like a survival fest. I felt good for the first mile and then after that, I walked pretty much every aid station. I actually didn’t look at my watch (the new Timex ONE GPS) AT ALL for the whole run. I couldn’t. I knew it would bring me down seeing walking/running splits. I was positive I wasn’t even going to break 4 hours. That’s how awful I felt on the run course. At this point in the day, Darryl was dressed like Gumby and Donavon was dressed like a giant whoopie cushion…so if you saw them at the beginning of the portion leaving the waterway after that grass mound hill we have to climb, THOSE WERE MY PEOPLES!!! Donavon later changed into a cheerleaders outfit and I had no idea it was him until he chased after me for like 50 yards yelling ridiculous things. I stopped to pee on the first lap. I’ve never figured out how to pee on the bike. I just can’t. My bladder gets pee shy. When I raced IMTX in 2013, I didn’t even pee all day because it was 100 bajillion degrees that year and my mom likes to bug me and ask me a million times after races if I’ve peed yet so when I passed Donavon, I told him to tell my mom (via FB) that I stopped to pee. I knew she’d be so proud! Those first two laps were ROUGH though. I almost threw up a few gels. I was doing my best not to over heat and just stay positive. On the second lap I stopped to poop. S*** happens and I felt so much better for it. Lap 3 was the best lap…because it was the last lap and I really REALLY wanted to be done and demolish some pizza.
SO here’s why an extra large pizza punched my ticket to Kona…
By lap 3, the course was FULL of people. People everywhere. People stopping at aid stations and and just plain scattered all over the place and whatnot. Just people everywhere trying to survive the BRUTAL day and become an ironman. I made the decision at mile 24 to NOT walk anymore aid stations…mainly because I REALLY wanted pizza. Darryl and Donavon are aware of my post ironman love for pizza. Pizza tastes WAY better than usual after 10 ½ hours of exercise. They tried to keep it a secret but I knew they were planning on ordering a pizza from Grimaldi’s Restaurant on the finish line and having it waiting for me. Did I have the BEST Sherpas in the face of the universe or WHAT?!?! At mile 25 ½ I saw a girl with a 33 on her leg and passed her but at that point, you don’t know what lap anyone is on so I just thought, “cool!” and kept on trucking at the pace that I was going…because PIZZA. Plus, I STILL didn’t know what place in the AG I was in or how many girls I had re-passed back on the run course or how many Kona spots were on the line. It turns out she was on her 3rd lap like me…and she was in 3rd place in our AG…and there were 3 Kona spots…and I beat her by 10 seconds. I’ve actually been on the other end of that 10 seconds before and missed a Kona spot. I didn’t even know I got 3rd until Jennie Hansen wrote on my Facebook while I was demolishing the infamous extra large pizza that I got THIRD. WHAT??? THAT REALLY HAPPENED?!?!
I think my picture from awards the next day really sums up the best weekend ever (the one at the very beginning). 10 weeks ago, I didn’t think Kona was going to happen this year and I was okay with that. I knew it COULD be a possibility but I didn’t want to stress about it. I just wanted to go RACE. I worked my BUTT OFF in those 10 weeks between Bar Exam and Ironman but I just made sure I enjoyed the whole process and day. This will be my second time going to Kona and it almost feels way better/sweeter than the first time I qualified…and what’s REALLY exciting is that Caitlin won 25-29 and IS GOING TO KONA TOO!!!…and Melanie is going to come…and we’re trying to convince Darryl and Donavon to come because the weekend was just so hilarious with them around and they HAVE to be there! They’re also both racing Whistler so I get to be their Sherpas for that weekend. I’ve got high standards to meet but there are plenty of shenanigans in the works.
As always, big thanks to Tristan and Team Timex and every single one of our team sponsors. I feel so lucky to be part of the best team in the world! Coach P for nailing the 8-10 week Bar Exam to Ironman plan and believing that Kona was a possibility the WHOLE time (he always nails my training plans though so I was never worried). My Sherpas, Darryl and Donavon, for driving 7 hours on Friday and making the weekend FUN and less stressful even if it meant having to take my computer and phone in the bathroom out of fear that they would hack into my Facebook when I wasn’t paying attention. My parents for getting excited for this stuff as much as I do…and all my friends in the tri community. You guys make this FUN as well. Misery loves company out there and cracking jokes with friends when the going gets tough helps lighten the mood.
See you guys on the Big Island!!!