Race Report Ironman CDA 2008

This is it the anticipated race report. Ironman Couer D'Alene according to me. I'm sure there are many different versions of this story. Over 2300 of them to be exact and this is mine. First turn back the clock to one year ago. Bruce, Tim's father was racing at Couer D'Alene and I delayed my morning ride to see him come out try to catch him coming out of the water. It was so exciting to see his split times come up on Ironman live. I sat at home, biting my nails waiting for him to cross the next timing mat. My muscles were tense and firing as if I was competing myself. In the fall I was able to track my friend Meredith's journey to Ironman Florida. In addition to following Mer on Ironman live, I was able to follow her blog throughout her training. So much fun. In April I watched my friend "Super Sassy" Shannon destroy the IM Arizona course. Meredith flew along the course that day. I think that started the flow of positive energy. Meredith just got it right. I was inspired to do so too. In Arizona where "Super Sassy" Shannon destroyed the course, she taught me a real lesson in over coming obstacles. What's more than her really fast time is what she overcame. Not only did her car break down on the way to Tempe, but it was so windy that the wind gust cracked the fork on her beautiful and trusted bike. She had a difficult task just to be able to race. (It's a great story......I cried...you should check her blog) I knew reading that blog that there was nothing I couldn't overcome to race. I am really thankful these ladies shared their stories. In a word I decided these ladies were fabulous. My theme for racing and my goal is to be fabulous.
In June of 2007 registration opened for CDA in 2008. I registered. I registered Tim too. Tim was out of the country at the time. You have to sign up for an Ironman a year in advance because they fill up quickly. Tim claims he didn't know I was registering him and forced him to do it. This is a lie. He left me his credit card. It wasn't for me to use at Saks. Or was it? Tim, Timmy Baby, give me that plastic back.
Even though training is a lot of hard work and takes sacrifices from other areas of life I loved it. I'm really glad Tim and I spent his "easy year", the research year, this way.
We began our unofficial base training with the 2007 Rock -n Roll marathon, followed by the Death Ride and AFC 1/2 Marathon. Then we rounded out the 2007 season with the Super Frog 1/2 Ironman. In addition to building a base we built a lot of memories. I was sidelined for a bit in November with laser eye surgery (no more contacts:) and IT band syndrome. I healed quickly and haven't been injured since.
We celebrated Thanksgiving week by riding 290 miles of hilly Northern California. Think Sierra Road from the Tour of California. After that I began my official training plan with coach Mike Plumb. Secretly, I did this because I thought Tim's training plan might kill me. Turns out Mike's was probably worse. My reasons for consulting a coach were simple. I wanted to slow Tim down as little as possible training. I wanted to finish as close to Tim and his Dad as possible. This way I could eat pizza with them after the race. Otherwise they might have time to shower, eat pizza and drink beer before coming back to watch me finish. Not that there is a thing wrong with finishing later I just wanted to feel like I was sharing more of the experience with them. I also wanted to be safe on race day and throughout my training. No stress fractures, no massive dehydration, no major shocks on race day. No thanks.
At the time I signed up I thought a 13 1/2 hour finish would be great. Realistically at that point I might have been looking at a close call on the swim cutoff and a 14 hour day. I told my coach I was willing to commit to training really hard. I realized the more prepared I am for a race the more fun it is. Ironman is a really big deal and I wanted to enjoy it as much as possible.
In a nutshell I more than accomplished these goals and victory is sweet. I reaped the benefits of my training with personal bests at the Carlsbad 1/2 marathon and Wildflower. My margins of improvement were beyond my wildest dreams. Coach Sickie at Masters even called me a swimmer. Those words gave me pride. I tried to give whatever I had in every swim practice. I have struggled with swimming all my life. Ask my brothers. We all had to attend swimming lessons until I could pass advanced beginners. This consisted of me swimming 25 yds free and 25 yds back stroke. They were in life guarding class when I finally passed advanced beginners. I never had a fear of the water or problem treading water but actually gliding through the water and swimming.....not so much. When I decided to become a triathlete my brother Tom said "but Jenny I seem to recall you can't swim". Thanks for the vote of confidence.
Ironman had been a dream of mine for quite sometime. I was a little worried over the last few weeks something would happen to obstruct what I had worked so hard for. I worried about the uncontrollable variables. After seven months of training I didn't want to be left empty handed. I wanted take as much as I could in from the experience without becoming overwhelmed. I also wanted to enjoy the time I had with Tim and his parents. Tim will be working so much the next few years. I really wanted to live slowly this weekend if that makes any sense. Things worked out perfectly. The time in CDA was great.
I'm glad the water was cold because it's so much more memorable. I think my favorite moment was Saturday. We were supposed to swim for a grand total of 5 minutes that day. It was really warm out. Bruce suggested we go in without our wetsuits. He dove in sans wetsuits and was done with his swim before I even had my wetsuit on. It was so classic because it sort of represented the generation gap. Tim and I, young and futzing. Bruce, experienced and keeping it simple. Maybe you had to be there, but I thought it was pretty funny. I laughed a lot before CDA. Tim and I kept making jokes about how we were going to stop in T2 for a snow cone. T2 was in a park with a snow cone stand.
We listened to pro triathlete Heather Gollnick speak. Sometimes I hear people and sometimes I listen and take note. This time I took note. She said she the athletes she coaches draw two circles. One for the things they could control on race day. The other for the things they couldn't. Mentally I did this.
Can't control: flat tires, broken spokes, broken cables, lost goggles, other people.
Can Control: my hydration, my nutrition, my pace, my level of exertion, and most importantly my thoughts.
Then she has the athletes crumple up the circle of things they can't control and throw them away. It is easy to spend your energy on the what if's and become exhausted. I did a little of this prior. It was time to focus on being fabulous. Prepare properly in all aspects....then have fun.
It's hard in a sport with 112 miles counting on proper mechanics. I was lucky to have Tim, my master mechanic to precisely tune my bike:)
I actually swam really well though my time of 1:28 doesn't reflect it. I did as my coach and masters coach Terry Martin told me. They said nothing was more important than getting used to the water. Everyday I get in and get in before the race starts on race day morning. That saved my a**. The first day I got in and my hands were so cold. They hurt really bad and for a few minutes. I saw my Ironman dreams obstructed, but this didn't seem like a good enough reason to abort a dream. I made myself swim and things got better. After that, I really enjoyed the cold water. I had fun. I was swimming better than I ever have. Tim couldn't believe it. I think the wetsuit and booties helped float my cycling quads. I had a really nice glide. Also the hoodie made it easy to sight. I was swimming faster than usual with less effort. I was really excited for my chance to swim Sunday. This hunger to swim really surprised me. I thought I could swim a 1:20 at that point. I decided to go for it. I started to the far side as my coach suggested. I knew I would swim more distance and would swim against the current this way but I figured my coach was right. He didn't want me wasting energy getting beat up. This was my Ironman and I wanted to swim it. I was ready. I should have focused on swimming doing the swim in a large loop but my inexperience didn't allow me to think past the start. Most swims spread out after the first few hundred yards. Not so at an Ironman swim or at least this Ironman swim. I only thought about overcoming the current. I swam quickly out on the diagonal and caught the masses at corner. It was a cluster and totally stopped like an LA traffic jam. I literally came to a screeching halt. I imagine these swimmers swam straight out from shore and drafted more than me. This translates to they really stunk and Coach Sickie from Masters would say they had no business being out there. They were breast stroking and flailing around. I took a kick in my top lip/nose. I was a little annoyed not because of the kick but because I didn't come to Ironman to tread water. I came to give my all to all three disciplines. I knew I had to get out of the cluster. People seemed to be panicking and I had my hand pulled once and felt like I was getting mulled from behind. We were literally piling up on top of each other. I remembered the picture of the girl on the monkey bars reaching for the top (me as a kid). I knew that girl could and would will herself out of any situation. Never ever would she give up. I would do this. I think many times throughout the day I willed myself into a better situation. Ironman is exhillirating but not easy. I saw where things were moving so I slithered that direction. It wasn't a direct line but it lead to the outside perimeter. I needed to get swimming. The second lap was a bit better but not a ton. Ironic, I put all this emphasis on making my 100 meter interval at masters. If I was able to swim a faster 100 in the pool it wouldn't have mattered. I learned how tactical an Ironman swim is. Tim had a slow swim for him..1:08. He usually swims 27-28 min for the 1.2 mile split. He got stuck in the masses. Bruce had trouble with the cold and cramped fiercely. My friend Julie Dunkle swam 58 minutes. That's fabulous. I'll have to ask her but I am guessing she went off the front. She's got mad swimming skills and I don't have the skills to back that up. I focused on swimming the best I could whenever I had the opportunity. During the second lap my hands got cold and I couldn't keep my fingers together. I did what I could. I know in the days leading to Ironman I swam the best I have ever swam and nobody can take that from me. My coach warned me that the swims in this lake were usually slow because of the current and the cold. He said last year people saw their times and got discouraged. They let it effect their entire race. He instructed whatever my swim time was just get on my bike and get going.
6 minutes and change

Well this was less than graceful. My chief problem was when I came out of the cold water each day in practice was I had vertigo. I think this has to do with cold water getting in the ears and messing up my equilibrium. There probably is a simple remedy like ear plugs. I decided to deny it. I worried a lot the two weeks before Iron man and I was done worrying. It sucked my energy. I forgot about the vertigo. I exited the water. I reached for my wetsuit cord while I started to run. This is something I have never faltered with, the stripping of the top half of my suit while running. I stumbled and fell. I got up stumbled a little more then finally made my way across the timing mat. I headed to the first available wetsuit stripper. I was happy to plop my wobbly self down and thankful for the wetsuit strippers. I didn't come all the way to CDA to stumble like a drunken sailor but this is what happened. I didn't get down about this. In life you will fall 1000 times. Just get up and get going again. It would have been a lame excuse to not finish. By the time my wetsuit strippers had me free of my wetsuit and my booites (no easy task) I was fine. I didn't worry about the swim. I just wanted to get on my bike and get going. Unfortunately it would be a bit longer. To save time I always wear my number on my race belt and tuck it into my shorts. The Iron man corporation actually recommends not to do this. They say the numbers won't hold up. They are right....not because of the duration but because they use cheap numbers. They are really thin compared to some of the other numbers. (I've now researched this). Now that I think about it.... so are the Ironman goody bags, but I'm off talk. The pins ripped through one side and the volunteers were yelling "your number, your number, it's going to fall off." I remembered Steve Talley's voice, TCSD beginner coach, saying P&P. Numbers are for points and penalties. I wasn't planning to get any penalties but this was Ironman and I wanted my pictures:) I let them fix it and I thanked them. Always thank the volunteers. It's a tough job. It was probably a mistake futzing with the number. When they tried to pin the one spot that had ripped,they ripped the other side off. This required them to pin the entire number back on and required me stand perfectly still as the time ticked away. Not exactly the what I had in mind but again not worth letting it get to me and culminating into a DNF. Just get on your bike and get going I thought. I got to my bike, pushed the on button of my Garmin and it popped out of the holster and fell to the ground. Numb fingers. I scrambled for it, put it on and left that cluster behind me.
19.0 mph

Ahh ...my beloved pink bike. Always a pleasure to ride. Once I got on the bike things were great. I felt good and I was moving fast without a lot effort. I started to drop boys:) I really liked the course and felt prepared for it. I did a good job getting my nutrition down ....1300 cals total. Next time I will take a little more and also drink more. I've finally mastered the use of the aero front bottle. At first I drank only water from it and it made me burp and gave me a stomach ache. Then I tried some electrolyte solution in training and I was fine. I had two Nuun tablets with me to add to the front bottle as I rode. I try to avoid Gatorade as it's gross and full of high fructose corn syrup. HFCS had been proven to make rats fat and lazy in a least one study. (Don't ask me to footnote it). As soon as I got settled on the bike and got my heart rate down I reached into my Bento box to pull out the electrolyte tablets I had. My hands were still cold and futzy. When I pulled the container of e-caps out the zip lock bag with Nuun tablets fell into the street. I realize the zip lock bag made this happen. The night before it had rained and the inside of my Bento box was damp. Without the plastic bag they would have dissolved. I realized how important it is to have a plan, yet be flexible. I mixed Gatorade and water in it throughout the ride. I managed to down my bottle of Sustained Energy taking small sips and by pouring bits into the front bottle. (Don't tell Hammer Nutrition I mixed Gatorade with SE.....they say it's dangerous....the simple sugars of the Gatorade can cause you to cramp.)
The CDA bike course is awesome. Absolutely gorgeous with over 7,000 ft of climbing. The descents were fun. I let out a few whoops as I rounds some corners.
If you are lady like you might not want to read this section, I share it because it may help somebody else*
My problem on the bike occurred when I had the urge to urinate. I didn't urinate and the urge went away. Then I couldn't urinate when I needed too. LIke when you hold it too long on a car trip.I wasn't getting off my bike to use the port a potty because every time I got near a port -a potty the fumes about knocked me off my bike. Mostly, I was afraid to stop moving and go inside a hot port a potty. I thought it would be a good way to pass out. I tried to go on the bike. This is common practice, who just hose your self off with a water bottle to clean up. I even wasted a few down hills standing and trying during the last split of the course. This is why the end of my ride was a bit slower. True, it was windy. Honestly my distraction with this need to pee overshadowed the wind. I was so close to T2 though I decided to just wait. By the time I rolled in I was fairly crumpled up feeling. This was a good lesson learned because I felt so crappy at that time. I thought I might be bonking or my nervous system might be shutting down because I started feeling nasty. I felt chilly and shaky. I read not to eat or drink anything in the last 5 miles of the bike to make the run transition easier. No gut sloshing. Forget that I thought. I rode slowly through what had been a fast section in the fist lap. This was humbling. I drank h20 from my bottle and doused my face. I felt a little better after this and eased into transition. Turns out I hadn't bonked or I don't think I did, but it cost me a bit of my confidence. I worried I would get sick and wouldn't finish. I put all of my energy into fixing this situation I was in. Above all I would finish, but I hoped I wouldn't have to walk there. I gave my self props for doing other things right. I had kept my heart rate under control. Often my breathing is the limiting factor because I have a bit of underlying asmtha. I had no problems today. I have that department pretty well under control. This leads me to think I was where I should have been speed wise. I kept a high cadence and spun one gear less than I knew I could push. I wanted to keep my legs fresh for the run my goal was I to PR the marathon. Despite my general feelings of system distress my legs felt fresh. Well relatively speaking for a 112 mile bike ride. I guess I need to focus on practicing voiding on the bike or using sweltering port -a potties. Maybe the Velo Bellas can have a clinic on it;0)

Other than the port -a -potties being full T2 was relatively painless. My nemesis, the number, had once again ripped from my race belt. I had the extra number available and had the volunteers put it on while I put on my shoes, changed socks, and grabbed my sack with everything I thought I needed (but now feel I didn't need with the aid stations). I headed out to the run course and then transferred the contents of my bag: Shot blocks, extra e-caps, and a pack of jelly belly sport beans to my pockets. Actually ....correction, the TCSD kit has the difficult to reach rear pockets and no pockets in the shorts so most of my groceries I shoved up my shorts:) In future I need to take on the run only what is offered from aid stations. At this point of the day what I carried made me feel so weighted down. There is plenty of support on an Ironman course. I can not say this of all race courses though.
26.2 miles

I started running and had an 8:45 pace for the first little bit. My coach thought I could run 9 minute miles and this was my goal. My number immediately tore again from my race belt. I had to laugh. I stopped at the first available port a potty. I felt better. The worries and feelings of a potential system shut down were gone. I was a little irritated with myself for stressing my system unneccessarily. The ICU nurse in me should know better. I was glad to know I hadn't bonked or had I? Next time more calories and hydration on the bike. I resumed running and ran the whole way. My pace slowed quickly I ran slowly. I remember glancing at my heart rate often and seeing it in the 130's. I would like to have a better story for my 10:44 pace but I don't. Like I hit the wall at mile 20. I didn't. I drank a ton. I carried an 8 oz flask in my hand and refilled it at each aid station. I did this without stopping. I sipped along the way as well as drenched myself with it until I lost the top. I ran without the bottle for a little while. Then I ran passed as aid the CDA police and ambulance had. They were giving out bottled water. "Thank you" I said, you made my day. I took the 20 oz bottle and it felt heavy to carry. I learned Ironman is about getting over your little quirks. In going the distance you get over a lot. I don't know if the water was a psychologic need or a physical need. My pace was slow but consistent and I just kept trucking. I ran every inch of the course. I was afraid if I stopped at the aid station I might not get my shuffle back. I wanted to run a lot faster. I would surge then my pace fell back. I decided to embrace what I was able to accomplish. Try as I might, I wasn't going to go any faster. Rather than to overdo and end up walking. I shifted my focus to making the best of things and ensuring that I ran the entire 26.2 miles. I decided to be thankful for not cramping ( just generalized leg aching and fatigue) and something odd feeling in my shoe. I swore there was something under my sock. I thought it was the spare pony tail holder I had in my bike -run bag. It turns out it was. I ran 26.2 miles with a pony tail holder in my shoe:) No blisters though.
I took a lot of e-caps tablets and when the race was over I weighed the same as weigh in (however I was wearing drenched clothing so I don't know). I didn't cramp at all but my ankles really ached...maybe some people would call that cramping. I took all kinds of stuff to eat. 700 calories total, My stomach was fine. I guess with a heart rate of 130 I could have eaten a pizza. I've never ran with a heart rate of 130 before. Ironman is a first for a lot of things. I was breathing through my nose yet I couldn't get the pace up. I tried to spread out what I ate from aid station to aid station to keep my energy level constant. I did find a little boost of energy after some sips of coke and after eating a cookie. This energy came and went quickly.
After the first couple miles my pace fell and remained consistant until the last 7 miles when I picked it up a bit. Even though I wasn't running the 9 minute mile I had intended. I was running. I saw Tim come to a walk with 5 miles to go. He was headed the other direction, the course was two loops. I became was confused, thinking he had finished already and was back to cheer Bruce and I on. I yelled across the way to him "are you done already?" I don't think he heard this. If he had he wouldn't have known I thought he was done with the race and probably would have thought I was goading him. He yelled I was close to his dad. He said he was out of gas. I don't know, Tim had a broken ankle on Chrsitmas Eve. I think he did fantastic. This gave me a glimmer of hope. Maybe I could catch up to Bruce and we could run together. Running long is always better with a friend. I caught up to Bruce at the next aid station. We ran together for a bit. This gave me more energy. We exchanged war stories from the swim. He said he was cramping. Running with Bruce made me really appreciate my 10:44 shuffle. I may have been off my base pace but not nearly as much as some. Bruce did all the tempo runs, intervals, and long runs you can imagine. If anyone should have been running close to their base interval it was Bruce. I still don't think this was fair for Bruce. You get what you get during the run of Ironman. I learned that. Life isn't about fairness, it's about acceptance. I decided to take my shuffle and be happy. My form I think and was told looked good. I had a nice cadence and good posture. Honestly what more could I ask for. We laughed. I said my coach wanted me to run sub 4 and ride a 5:30-5:40 bike split. Bruce said his coach, Dave Scott, wanted him to go 10.5 hours. Dave even said his 2nd place Wildflower finish was soft. I guess we don't hire these people to be our friends or our cheerleading squad. This validates how important the relationship you have with yourself is. Bruce told me to go ahead. He said he thought I could break 12 hours. I laughed it was a long day. For the next seven miles I was going to enjoy the show. There wasn't a more pituresque course than this. I worked my way to the top of the climb and rounded the corner. As I headed back down I high fived Bruce and felt a little more spring in my step. I enjoyed every bit of the next 7 miles. I thought about Madonna Buder and Scott Rigsby (the double amputee who did Ironman) They don't care what their times are. They just want to be out there. They just want to participate. I just focused on being and looking "fabulous." I'm not certain if I actually ran faster but I am certain it felt that way. The seven miles went by quickly. The best part of Ironman CDA is the finish. It's classic. 6 blocks of a slight downhill going through the downtown. The streets are lined and everbody is cheering. My favorite part was the kids who line the street with there hands held out in hopes of high five from an athlete I high five them, all of them. Those people don't care what your time is. They just think you are fabulous. Even though I have been ready to be finished for the last 26 miles I want to suspend myself in the moment. It the wierdest thing because as I see the clock turn from12:11 to 12:12 I am happy. I like that number better. My grandmother's favorite number was 11:11 and 12:12 made me think of her as I crosse the line. The voice of Mike Riley booms Jennifer Yake of La Jolla California, You are an Ironman.
I finished. Not only did my dream came true also my vision. My vision is that I would see Tim at the finish munching on pizza. He would be smiling and saying "oh man" that was hard. It was exactly like that. I saw him right away but it was a few minutes before I would be released to him. The officials do a very good job of checking people over at the finish. The grabbed my timing chip. I stopped near Tim but they made me keep walking. They didn't want me to cramp. Do you need medical they asked? No. Chicken broth? No thanks. What do you need they asked? My loved one I replied. With that I was released to Tim and his pizza.


Flatman said...

Epic. Congratulations on a wonderful day...

tim said...

nice job! it's amazing how quickly we forget the pain....

12 hr madness said...

Epic, epic, epic. Awesome story. You will remember that day for the rest of your life. Congratulations! You are an Ironman. (thanksss)

Shan said...

You ARE fabulous, Jen. In every single possible way!!! Keep enjoying that high!!!! Ahhh, I loved the few weeks post-IM. :)

Maybe I'll see you tonight at the cove swim/potluck? Hope so!