Race Report: IMAZ 2009 The Swim

Swimming is a work in progress, just a slow one. My mom swears when I was 3, I used to look at her wedding ring and dreamily state "Someday (exaggerated pause) I'll have a ring." I'm not so sure what that was about but I now proclaim with a dreamy sigh "Someday (Pause/smile) I'll be a swimmer."

6:45 I headed down to the water and hopped in at 6:50. I wanted to swim a little before the gun went off at 7:00 a.m. I expected to swim the same time as last year but would have been thrilled with more. I knew the swim would set the tone for my day and wanted to do what I could to make it a positive one.
Last year I started way back and swam way wide. I was in the water ready to go and realized there were still at least 1000 red (male) caps standing on the wall. I realized that many of these folks were not going to get in and warm up. They were going to jump in after the gun sounded. That happened last year. In addition to the usual mass start cluster, men jumped in on top of us (Jess, Tina, Elaine and I). I never want to get in the way of a faster athlete but given there were 2888 athletes, I would be in someone's way for sure. I was near the back and started to get cold just floating. I knew the way to get warm was to keep swimming. There really was only one place to swim, to the front. One last look up at the red caps standing on the wall and I started swimming forward. It was such a solid decision. I knew it was gutsy to swim close to the front. I also knew that it was wear I needed to be to give myself a chance to succeed. As I swam towards the front I took ownership of my choice. I accepted any blows, kicks, or trouncing I may encounter.

I have some really, really fast friends and to them I apologize with all my heart for being one of the slow mo's who clogs the way. I do respect you. I promise you I was nothing but the best white cap to plant off . I swear on a stack of "Triathlete" magazines that I did not breast stroke kick or flail once. I am slow because because my swimming is the equivalent of a cyclist pedaling in the smallest chain ring downhill. I promise you though that once you pass me, I'm history. I also never stop swimming when I sight. Well, except for when I am in the cove alone and don't want to swim out to sea.

I started fairly close to the front and to the right hand side. Then I swam to towards the buoys and followed the buoy line all the way up instead of the wall. It was no worse than last year Because I owned my choice of line I really didn't care about any of the blows. There are good and bad people in the world, but for the most part good. It probably some toddler's mommy or maybe your best friend. It is probably not the villian you created in your head to blame.It's also probably 1/2 as bad as the worst thing I have inadvertently inflicted. On the way back I swam right on the buoys. It was strange. Everybody else was taking the buoy line 2-3 feet wide. I had a clean non chundered swim back. Not much draft but I figured it was more energy efficient than getting tossed about.

As I made the turn and headed towards the exit I visualized the clock saying 1:18. My watch was under my wetsuit so it was just a guess. It's funny how well you can know yourself without any guages at all. 1:18 was on the clock.

I know this is slow for most people. For me it is reason enough to celebrate. How could I be dissapointed when I never swam that fast before. I was totally excited. Exuberant actually. That was 5 minutes off of last years time and 5 minutes off the time before that. All my mermaiding around in the La Jolla Cove had dividends. Coach Sickie was right! There is a swimmer in me. It's just bursting to be let free. Woo hoo.

Ironman is like basic algebra. I love basic algebra. Balancing equations is fun. A five minute faster swim changed my equation.....now I don't need to run so fast to meet my goal time :) Now it is my goal to take 5 minutes off every IM swim. Three more Ironmans and I swimming like a fish. I know it is not that simple. But I can have goals. Let me play!

The above was my internal monologue as I ran to my bike. I was running to my bike with bike shoes on. The cement was wet. I repeat "bike shoes on, running, me. I slid and bashed my arm on a bike rack. I kept running. I took that as a sign it was my lucky day. Lucky day? Yup, if I wasn't so lucky I would have fallen and cracked my aero helmet on the cement. So there. Lucky. Now that would be a rough way to start the day. I remembered Marit's blog of how she ran with her bike shoes in her hand to her bike. Smart. I love reading blogs.

I grabbed my bike and was off. I hoped Tim saw me as just like last time I was 5 minutes ahead of schedule.

Ironman Arizona: Pre Race Report

IMAZ 2009

Pre Race Experience: On Thursday I left beautiful San Diego and headed to Tempe town. I was excited to race in the Ironman but the drive was hard. This was because along the way I passed my favorite riding destinations. Great Western Loop, Mount Laguna, Kitchen Creek Rd. Oh, the temptation was everywhere!!!! Trouble just finds me! Reluctantly I drove on, knowing some of my gang was riding as I drove. If I just exited the freeway I could ride to meet them. Sure, they may have a head start but isn't that what race wheels are really for. I realized it was my turn to put on the show. Yup, I had my fun watching friends and family smoke courses. Now it was my turn to put on the show while they tensed muscles watching the splits come up on Ironman Live. It was time to let them race vicariously through me. I needed to focus on what my goal for the year was not my goal for the moment, but I really did think it would be fun to do just one more ride. What's 2.5 hours and 4500 ft shared amongst friends.

Without event or adventure I arrived or in Tempe and checked in to my hotel. Actually, the gas station in Yuma was a slight bit of an adventure. I headed out for a short run. I found myself running on the course. Memories of 2008 floated through my head. I had a better race there than I dared to hope for. I realize there are pros and cons in repeating a race you have fond memories of. I didn't want to go home from disappointed. I weighed the pros and the cons when I signed up. They were risks I was willing to take. In spite of it all I felt myself smile. Finding myself smiling confirmed that I had made the right choice.

Entering my second Ironman I thought the fun would fizzle and I would be frustrated and fatigued. I was wrong. The opposite story couldn't be more true. I think I am able to enjoy things more now. The nice things about being an eager beaver prior to my first Ironman and cracking before my second is that I became aware of the good and the bad. Things managed to sort things out along the way to number 3. I appreciate more the things I do love are care less about the rest.

Friday I did the usual short swim and ride. After the swim I headed over to check with a couple other TCSD members. We had a long line to wait in but truthfully it was really fun. An opportunity for us to exchange war stories. Not intimidation stories. The fun ones, stories of dumb things we did in passed races and how much better we did in races after that. I love to laugh at myself.

If I didn't have such a strong intention to race the best I could I am sure I would have found myself some adventure Friday or Saturday. However, given I am a freckle face girl I stayed out of the sun and saved my adventuring for another day (although a quick trip to Sedona did cross my mind). My hotel was fine but a bit stuffy and generic. Not a good place to sit around and count the hours down to race time. I settled for a trip to Barnes and Nobles and seated my self in a comfy chair with a few books. It was quite nice actually.

Note my feet are even up. Well sort of. I am even wearing compression tights. I am so proud of myself:) By the way, competition is everywhere. That kid was so trying to out-read me.

Saturday afternoon I picked Tim up from the airport. This is when things perked up, much more fun to have my husband in tow. He kept telling me how it was going to be watching and how he was a little nervous about the timing of his execution, his nutrition, managing his electrolyte and hydration. He had quite a plan, rather than to share it with you myself have made Tim promise to do a guest entry and write a race report himself.

Sunday morning came early. I am not sure how much I slept that night but that's normal. I didn't stress about it much. I still need work here but I did a better job getting to bed on time throughout the year to support my training. I figured I had reserve in the bank. I wasn't very hungry at 4:00 am but I knew my goal could and would not be met without adequate and appropriate nutrition so down the calories went. Off to the race we headed. I turned in my special needs bags, aired my tires and loaded my nutrition on to my bike. Then I did something different than ever before. I left the transition that only athletes are allowed to be in and avoided the frenzied area. I grabbed Tim and headed to a quiet area about 1/4 mile away. I put on my wetsuit and stayed relaxed. Of the scenarios that could go wrong I had prepared for them. What I didn't need now was some random person asking me if I was swimming with an extra pair of goggles inside my swim cap just in case…. I read blogs of the best, have coaches and friends I trust for advise. What I didn't need was a head trip.

Soon it was time to warm up in the water. I kissed Tim good bye and prepared to put the finishing touches on 2009.


Before Ironman I set an intention.
I would go as fast as I could with respect to the entire distance.
I would be true to myself.
I would have fun.
I would dig deep if needed.
I would learn a lot along the way.
I would do my best to get my husband off to the airport on time.
This meant finishing by 6:00 p.m.
I accomplished these things.

The 2009 season is complete.
It is time to set some new intentions.
In 2010 I will learn to swim and run faster.
I will ride my bike to the best of my ability and beyond my current ability.
In 2010 I will slay dragons.

IMAZ Pic Preview

Wouldn't want to struggle finding my gear bag so I added a little something, something.

Post race pizza...not so much. Frozen yogurt with extra toppings. Right on.
Except for the post race shivers that forced me to fill the tub with hot water. Then eat fro yo in the bath tub. Once again....right on.

Best of All.....

Getting home and seeing the note I left my husband and reading what he wrote back.

See he underlined the "so proud" and used an explanation mark.

Post race Ironman tattoo.
Not for me.
An S dot (16.1) tattoo.
It that washes off yet still tells the world I 'm the champion of my block.
Thumbs Up.

More to come but be forewarned a long hard fought race equals a long race report.

That's a wrap folks!

Well folks the 2009 training is over. The entire point of this week is to relax and taper. I repeat the point of this week is to relax and taper. I will do just that as soon as I finish a weeks worth of work in three days, pack for the weekend, and drive to Arizona. I have such fond memories of last year's race. I am afraid my mind played a trick on me and erased all the difficult parts from my memory in some sort of body mind disconnect. I know I went through rough patches out on that course and I got through them. Hopefully this year will be more of the same.

I think the coolest thing going into this race is the support I have had from family and training partners. They have looked me square in the eyes and said that I am capable of more. Knowing that people I care about and respect believe in me is worth the workload of 100 Ironman races. So thanks guys and know that my best efforts will be fueled by you. If you feel a little fatigues next Sunday blame me. I probably channeled some energy from you;)

I am not sure what I am capable of. Mostly, I just hope to execute whatever I have to the best of my ability. I also have a bit of unfinished business with the back half of the run.

Two Week Taper

Two weeks from an Ironman means it is time to taper. Taper means a percent reduction in total volume of of training time. Hence rides with this time on the clock are over for now.
Yes, Mom I really pedaled that bike for 6 hours and 25 minutes. Don't worry, I haven't lost my mind and no I wasn't alone. I hope next Sunday the speed on the odometer says something better than 0 mph. However I didn't want to crash my bike trying to take a picture of the speedometer with actual numbers on it.

Given that tapering isn't just sitting around eating bon bons. Tim and I went for a run this morning. Tim decided to be the enforcer of my planned work out. He decided we would run my marathon race pace. The strangest thing happened. We were running side by side and my Garmin said 8:15 pace. Tim's Garmin said 8:40 pace. Tim commented we were off pace. I said we were 5 seconds too fast. Anyway, I told Tim the true reason for this discrepancy was that I must be faster than him. The watch doesn't lie now does it. Eventually our watches equaled in pace. I really had to work hard to keep Tim from getting ahead of me. I believe he uttered the words "everytime I attempt to go up tempo you herd me like a dog and box me out into the cars like a sheep". Herd me like a dog....like sheep. Hysterical, I am surprised I am not still lying on the pavement laughing. Later, he accused me of surging a minute/mile below pace when he had to slow to answer a page.
What can I say folks? I drop boys anyway and anytime I can. Even if I have to lie, cheat, and perform underhanded tasks. Even if it's my husband. Someday I hope to be able to perform such tasks with graciousness, but I lack the genetics and talent to do so at this point.

After the run Tim asked if I would go to the bike swap at the San Diego Velodrome. I had never been to the velodrome and thought it might be cool. Hey it's taper week! We didn't get there until afternoon so a lot of the vendors were packing up. It was a very strange combination of expensive goods mixed in with things that probably should have been given away at Goodwill 20 years ago. You can buy anything at the bike swap meet. In fact I'm guessing you might even be able to buy a pair of Lance Armstrong's used shorts there. Now if there are still salty sweat rings on the shorts they are more valuable. We came across a guy selling a bunch of castoff Rock Racing gear and some (we hope) unworn speed suits. He even had a shirt my size. I turned it down on the grounds that I am fairly certain it was his ex-girlfriend's. Not that there is anything wrong with selling your ex's good on E-bay. San Diego is just too small of a community. Anyway, we couldn't pass on an opportunity for a Speedsuit for Tim . I know you are all thinking "Hello Fiesta Island Time Trial Series." I think since I have invested in this suit for Tim he should have to wear it to the 101 Olympics (aka Saturday morning on the Pacific Coast Highway).
Umm Timmy Baby. I am not sure how to tell you this but you need to shave your legs with that suit.

After that it was off to the UCSD pool for a bit to work stroke. Tim caught me doing something wrong with my stroke. One might ask why the coach didn't identify that? Probably because the coach doesn't swim backwards underwater below me observing my stroke. Tim can hold his breath for an abnormal amount of time which is very helpful in the critiquing of my stroke. I hope though I didn't aspirate any of the pool water while laughing during this time.


This was a message sent to me from one of my best friends/training partners. 2.5 weeks out from Ironman my hardest training has been logged. Training is never going to be easy, nor should it be. Being surrounded by friends that inspire you with messages like this makes it all so worthwhile.