A wise women once said " it's good to be traditional, but you need to make your own family traditions. This is our second married Christmas. I officially declare it our tradition to ride the Great Western Loop, then cross the street to target and purchase a tree. Christmas is synonymous with cold, snow, and skiing. Riding the Great Western Loop is about as close to cold , snow , and skiing as it gets in San Diego County. This year, Tim had to go back to work after the ride. I manhandled the tree myself. I am relieved it didn't fall off the car on the way home. Rumor has it my bikes were jealous of the tree for riding on top of the car.
My trusty, but not rusty friend.
Ready for a tailwind home.
For the record:
I drafted Tim the whole way there.
Just when I could no longer hold his rear wheel a passing roadie gave me a mighty push.
I took a deep breath and headed onto the run course. I can go out fast on the bike. The run for me is not so forgiving. I knew I needed to start out easy. Last year, I went out too fast. At Oceanside ,I went out too fast. At Wildflower and Breakwater, I started the run easy and was successful. I felt I was working a bit. Labored breathing and tight shoulders. A look at the Garmin confirmed it. 7:15 pace. I don't maintain this pace (at this point) for an open marathon. Trouble. I tried to settle down. I tried to "JUST RELAX!" It gave me anxiety thinking going out too fast because soon the rent would be due. My savings account would be empty. 7:52 for mile one. I worked on settling down to the 9 minute pace I hoped to average.
Around mile 8 I saw Tim. He was running in the grass parallel to the course getting his run in. He paralleled me for a bit and said "Whoa, Jenny you are on pace for a 3:40 are you sure you want to commit to that?" I smiled and said "Don't worry, I'll slow down soon." He was filming me with the iphone. To do this race, I had to essentially leave my husband for 3 days. Beyond that, I served Tim a lot of bad dinners and had lame excuses for my housekeeping. I wanted to. share as much as I could with him on race day At this exact moment a the bicyclist escorting #3 Kate Major was behind me. Now Kate is a cool gal. I'm sure that she wouldn't give a crap as Tim was not on the course but about 30 feet away in the grass. I was on the far right of the run course. However, they warned at the athletes meeting, we would be penalized for such things as having family follow us on the run course. The cyclists escorting the top 5 males and females would be on the look out!
If your family member was on a bike near the run course that was a penalty too. This saddens me. The most touching stories my friends have of Kona is their spouses biking to different points of the run course to support them. I tell Tim I love him. Seeing him is the highlight of my day but he has to go because I have already been in trouble once. TROUBLE JUST FINDS ME!
I'm hanging in still but slowing down a bit. It still an ok pace but a steady decline. The small hills and 180 degree turn arounds seem to be so frequent. My pace seems to be all over the place. I throw down an 8:08 mile mile but don't be fooled. It’s 8:08 or a surprise in my pants. Shout out to the men wearing white shorts. You are brave souls. One man didn't look so bad. Just dirty from his bike seat. Another? Let's move on.
I run to the bathroom and somebody beats me there. The competitor in me tells me to keep going. I run on and realize it is a bad idea. I turn back and dance outside the porta potty until it is free. This bathroom has no latch on it. Just as I am wiping my behind a man opens the door. Ahh, he screams. Dude, I am the one with my shorts down. I should be screaming. This is not a sport for the weak or the modest.
I'm starting to feel like Ironman is NOT so easy. The distance isn't so bad. It's the rest of it.
Things settle down for a while. I am overcome with the feeling that my eyelids are heavy. They want to close. I feel like I am in a lecture hall falling asleep and my head is bobbing. You know that feeling. It's horrible. I slept a lot in college. I suppose it’s normal in a lecture hall. Not sure about an Ironman. People look at me a little funny though when asked about my race and I say “It was great except the strangest thing happened. I got so, so tired”.
My head wasn't really bobbing but it was such a dig to stay awake. I was going to fall asleep while running. Then I would trip over one of the one billion curbs or fall rounding one of the 180 degress turns. My worse fear was to take was out a row of small children trying to high 5 the athletes. That would be awful.
I was struggling. So far off pace, but so satisfied with my efforts. I was digging. The whole 9 minute/mile pace was out the window. I didn't know if I could even get there, but I knew I would not give up. I did not know what was wrong with me. I was overcome with something I had not experienced before. I am not sure what. Caffeine crash? Tumble weed allergy? Exhaustion? I was not cramping. Electrolytes were ok. I peed twice on the run and twice on the bike so I don't think I was dehydrated. Nutrition had been on. I didn't know what to do. I went on Coke. You know what they say about the dangers of Coke?. Well they are all true. Once you are on, you can't get off. Mile apart aid stations are too far. I contemplated putting it in my water bottle.
Please anyone with any ideas share away!!!! I beg of you.
I think I took a swig of a gel. I saw my friend Meredith, her husband Dave and their baby Soren. After swallowing the gel I swear I felt like I might implode. For certain, I was in hell on earth. Not sure how I would get out. I refused to end my race here. I kept moving. No muscle aches, no cramps but I am overwhelmed with my struggles right now. Past struggles have came and went in prior races have given me confidence that you can come back from a low point. This one was different. It made me nervous. I swear I looked crazed and scary. I swear Mer's brow furrowed. To top it all off, I swear to you that baby Soren saw me and let out a wail. I scared him so badly. Mer claims that none of this is true. She said I was smiling all day. We'll have to say I was hallucinating here. Great!
I remember crossing the bridge. In lap 2 of last year it turned evil on me. This time it was no worse than anything else. Things were bad, but could have been worse. I just kept going and singing to myself. The channeled song was Janice Joplin's "Oh lord why don't you by me a Mercede's Benz”. In my head it was very slow and very labored. I thought of Elizabeth and could hear her laughing. It got me through.
With about 12 miles to go I saw Tim. I felt compelled to tell him I was STRUGGLING. I confessed I fell off the wagon. "So, who cares?" he asked. He knew I went hard today. I could tell he was proud. This made me feel better. I didn't train hard to race like a pansy. It reminded me about what a personal journey this was. About the intentions I had set for myself. I wanted to get closer to my edge. I believed I was doing so. I will grow from this day. I knew if I could just keep plugging I'd finish and I would be happy with. He said if I ran 10 minute/miles to the finish I could still finish by 6:00 p.m. I nodded. I knew that 10 min/pace is so easy in theory but it wasn’t now. It was what I was fighting for .
Strangely things started to get better. The sun started to set. The air seemed to be more “humid” My eyes didn’t feel so heavy. My speed started to build. Then next 6 miles went by and by the time I hit mile 20 I felt good. Fresh even. Over the final 6 miles everything was right. My stride was smooth. The kind of running you wish all runs were like. I ran with everything I had. It was my goal to finish with the best time and effort I could. Whatever than maybe. I didn’t think I could break 11 hours but it wouldn’t stop me from trying. I saw Tim a mile or two out from the finish. He looked surprised to see me so soon. I threw my water bottle to him. “I’ll get you to the airport”. It was awesome.
At mile 25.5, a man yelled and screamed to me. He was just a figure in the now dark night. He had this amazing amount of energy for racer #2338 . He yelled #2338 you have 3 minutes. You can break 11 hours. GO! GO! I knew running 0.7 miles in 3 minutes was unlikely. The energy was so amazing. It’s why you do an Ironman. It's why you watch an Ironman. It's why people cry at watching, doing , and thinking of an Ironman. Regardless of how everything else transpired. all things were right in the final miles of my race. It was my lucky day. I finished on such a high note.
I turned the corner to the now dark alley that lead to the finish. I could hear the roars of the crowd and Mike Riley's voice booming. I heard breathing down my neck. I picked it up. We entered the lighted finish. We ran neck and neck and then she passed me in the chute. I didn’t care. I sort of wanted to soak in the final minute of such a long journey solo. I came to compete with myself. I’m not sure when I’ll run through the finish chute of another Ironman or when I will dig so deeply again. Ironman distance is not a race to be taken for granted. The finish is worth savoring. The time on the clock reads 11:01.
I am satisfied.
Segment 1: 3.5 miles/8:35 pace
Segment 2: 8.6miles/9:20 pace
Segment 3: 8.3 miles/10:18
Segment 4:5.9 miles 9:02... :)
Total Run 26.2 miles/ 4:09:16
P.S. No need for my husband to hail a cab to the airport.
Leaving T1: Let's get this party started
3 loops. 112 miles.
I tend to ride with songs in my head.
Song Channeled: One Love by Bob Marley.
Tempo: Double time maybe triple time.
I clip into my pedals and say " Get Em" Sweet Thunder. Then I steal Natacha Badman’s line (whose bike is Cheetah). She said with her thick Swiss accent "Run Cheetah. Run now. This is your home." I tell Sweet Thunder to run. I remember what I did on this course last year. I know this bike course is a day in the park compared to Sweet Thunder's riding. I think her tires are filled with helium as I fly above the ground. The course is exactly as I remember head wind out and up the slight incline and tailwind back. It is so much fun. I can’t stop grinning. I think my grin is so aero dynamic it should be banned.
I am amazed at how amazing I feel! I forgot. I did my hardest training in a very un-tapered, un-rested state, and sometimes under-fueled state. Oh yeah, and today I have race wheels. I sail my disc. It is awesome. I love it. I bought it used from some nice man a few years ago. His wife was …um over it…so he gave me a great deal. Tim exchanged some the faded orange stickers with pink ones. I have had some trouble with the disc in certain conditions. This course and these winds are perfect for it. Weeee. It is awesome. Lap one feels like 5 minutes although it is 38 miles. I am in happy land. I have coconut water in my front bottle. It tastes awesome and is full of electrolytes and even has some calories. I feel like I am dancing at a party. (Yes, you can ask? Am I on drugs? Nope, just having fun.)
I know I should settle in. I should slow down soon, but “I don’t wanna!”. I am excited to see Tim at the turn around. It makes me go faster. I see Tim and my friend Suzanne. They are jumping up and down so excited for me. Tim is excited because I am going faster than ever. Really he is proud of me not because I am going fast, because I am having fun. I am not wasting my day being fussy.
Loop 1: 37 miles
No pee stops
Ironman Official Split: 22.01 mph.
Songs Channeled: Any songs with the word Sailing in them. My disc is sailing me and it is fun.
Tempo: I am trying, trying, trying to keep the tempo down.
I look at the clock. I know I should chill out a little. My HRM does me no good as my HR doesn't spike on flats. I know this. I have tested this on the Island of Fiesta. I decide to harness my energy. I know this is a long day. There is that marathon to run in a few hours.
I find out later that I shared the same first loop bike split with the likes of pros Kate Major and Linsey Corbin. They maintained the pace for the entire race. They also weren't benefiting from the windshield people riding 15 mph created. I am not bragging. I'm not a drafter or a cheater. I know times on crowded courses are artificially fast. There is a draft 5 bike lengths back. Plus, people were often riding 4 abreast. I did my best to ride cleanly and honestly. I just trained my self silly on the bike this year and this was my venue to rip it up in.
There are so many different ways to slice things. I will never know if I paid for lap one's episode later or if I would have ran the same way if I had smoked the entire bike. I will never know if I could have sustained that pace. I just wasn't ready to take the chance. Ironman is such a huge investment and too much guts will get no glory. Half IM, now that is a different story.
It took a full loop for me to know where I was pace wise. The course had very different conditions in each direction Head wind out /tail wind back. Last year, I rode each loop in about 1 hour and 50 minutes. I negative split by 1 minute last year. The one minute negative split makes it look text book perfect. I had a pee stop before the halfway stop in truth I was even, but we’ll call it a good execution. After loop one, I was well under the 1:50 mark. I chose to make a conscience effort to ease up and execute appropriately. I focused on nutrition, hydration, smooth pedaling, and maintaining the 4-5 bike lengths behind other cyclists. I made sure not to get pulled into any groups. I passed last year's pee stop and was happy I made it further without stopping. I needed to stop soon. There is always something to improve upon. I know real triathletes pee on their bikes. They rinse off with water. I am unable to execute this manuver. Any tips will be appreciated as commentsJ. (Note: This is where my mother just sighed a huge sigh of relief. My father just cringed. He’s disgusted). Rather than to do what I did at Couer D'Alene, and hold it the entire bike course. This lead to dehydration and abdominal cramping. I did what worked last year. I stopped got off my bike and used a port a potty. This wasn't so bad. VIP treatment from the volunteers. They held my bike for me. When I came out of the bathroom their arms were full of anything I might possibly need for my ride. A water bottle and a high five and I was on the road again. “I must be a celebrity” (with Bruno’s voice).
I hit the halfway point and was excited for the tailwind back to town. Ironically, the girl who couldn't pee on herself was sprayed. I passed a man as I was wizzing down the hill. He was coasting and wizzing in a different way. I am a nurse. I have seen many men pee. I have been peed on many times. This was by far the most disgusting. He peed like a large work horse. Not a race horse but like the big draft horses. The kind that pull carriages on Mackinac Island. Yuck. It hit my leg. I stopped feeling so inadequate about stopping to use the port a john. At least I didn't pee on a girl riding a pink bike.
Loop 2: 37 miles
1 stop porta potty
Ironman Official Split: 19.89 mph
Song: Country Road/John Denver
Tempo: A bit Up Tempo
The wind had died down/changed direction. It was just like last year. It was much faster than previous loops. I felt great but it was time to start thinking about the run. So I honored my nutrition, hydration, and salt. I disregarded any temptation of full on time trialing to the turn. I felt so good. Better than last year at this point. I forgot how it feels to race so well trained and tapered. AWESOME!
I think I collected some yoga dividends. I felt good. No niggles, just giggles for the freckle faced girl. I couldn't ignore the urge to pee ...AGAIN. I told myself I was still ahead of my ETA . To once again avoid a stressing my body I stopped. I decided to see it as a chance to rest and absorb nutrition. Besides I wouldn't have to change shorts for the run. Plus, best of all my kidneys were perfused. It would be bad for me professionally to infarct my kidneys.
The final return to town was a congested ride. There were a lot of riders who were 38 miles behind me riding the inside part of the lane. There were people passing me that were riding faster than I could or felt I should. I had no intentions of chasing them and destroying my run. The hard thing to execute is the “dropping back” when somebody passes you and then slows down.
At mile 102, I get stuck in this situation where is a cluster. It's like a story problem. Two guys, we'll call them Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb, are riding a touch slower than me. A few others are riding a lot slower than the Tweedle Brothers. Two others pass me. They are legitimately faster. Tweelde Dumb is about 1 inch off Tweedle Dee's rear wheel. He is undeniably drafting. I am getting sucked into this crowd. The draft is strong. I don't want to blow my quads for the run passing Tweedle Dee. I don't want to draft either.What am I to do. I decide to pass. I pass as conservatively as possible. I used the full 20 seconds. Tweedle Dee picks it up as I attempt to pass. He changes gears and everything. I know this will end badly. I pull ahead and he picks up. I am afraid I have been in the pass zone too long. I point to change lanes and Tweedle Dee yells something not nice at me. I pull in and of course Tweedle Dee with Tweedle Dumb in tow pass me. (Now you know where the Idropboys.com spirit arises.) I want NOT to be involved in any of this. Perhaps, I deserve it. Lovingly applied to my rear disc in pink is a sticker that says “idropboys.com”. I have had it a few years now. People find it hilarious or completely offensive. It’s brought a lot of fun to club races and otherwise monotonous training. Perhaps this is why Tweedle Dee speeds up as I attempt to pass him.
I need to get out of this mess. I would be much happier riding alone into a gusty headwind singing "Take me home (pause) county road (pause) to the place I am from. That's how I like to ride. This is my race but I am sharing it with 2887 others. I take a deep breath, stop pedaling, sit upright. I decided to take some salt in hopes they will be 4-5 bike lengths ahead. I tap my brakes. I am passed by another while attempting to drop back. This guy is not faster than me. He passes because I tapped the brakes, trying to play by the rules. Another rider is to my left. I am sandwiched. They are legitimately slower than me. I attempt to navigate around to a clear spot so I can pass. I hear the motorcycle. It is sitting on my wheel. I slow not knowing what I am supposed to do. I have a feeling unless they watched all of this it is going to end badly. It does.
I am now obstructing the motorcycle. The man pulls ahead and says something and shows me a yellow card. I don't hear all of what he says. I know this situation is a mess. I am actually not sure what I did wrong. I am sure over the last few minutes there were a great number of things that weren't quite right. Why in this mess did they choose me? Maybe they aren't amused by my pink bike (or the Idropboys.com stickers). I say nothing except the "what." It isn't a snotty, sassy, disrespectful what. He flips the yellow card to red (a much worse penalty). He says very clearly, this I do hear "Racer #2338 you have been issued a red card. Report to the next penalty tent and serve your penalty."
SCRATCH....Silence. The needle of the record player snagged the record and the tunes are done. I feel like I have gone white as a ghost. All of the freckles have fallen off my face and onto the ground. I ran them over. They are stuck to my wheel and I feel slightly ill. I am unable to channel any more music. My smile is gone.
Worse than the 5 minutes I would serve in the penalty tent is that my ride now feels tainted. It’s a really disgusting feeling. What would everybody say? I only rode fast because I was a cheating drafter? Probably. Is it the truth? I think not. Feel free to judge me but please ride with me for 100 miles first. You will see that I don't fade. 40-50 miles of sheer speed not as good for me. Miles 80-120 are my forte. If you are looking to get smug and wag your finger at somebody here is your chance. This one is on me. Throw a dart, hit the bulls eye.
I wanted to make my friends and family proud today. That was my motivating factor and my biggest goal. This red card really makes me feel like I have let them down. It makes me sad. I don't think I could have avoided this situation. I am done with 38 mile loops that hold 2888 people. I will find courses that are not so known for such situations. Maybe they will even require some handling skills. I am glad I passed on the Clearwater 70.3 spot. I am not going to that race. EVER!
The motorcycle pulls ahead and books some others. I feel paralyzed now the motorcycle is obstructing the flow of cyclists more than anything else. It's going 17 mph. 21 mph is about what I should be doing here. Tweedle Dumb, is not booked for anything. Hmmm
I am less than 8 miles from the finish. I need some chamois butter. My a** is now chapped. I fight off the sinking feeling that TROUBLE JUST FINDS ME. Even when I try my best to do the right thing. Even when I try to play fairly it finds me. I fight the feeling of defeat off of me. This fight takes a little wind from my sails.
The last 8 miles to the finish were miserable. The motorcycle is obstructing. I am trying to remain 4-5 bike lengths from the moto but it is going so slow. Are you allowed to draft the moto when it's riding slow in the passing lane?
The no pass zone is painful. People are riding so slow I think they are on their cell phones talking. They are probably updating their face book statuses. This is like fingers on a chalk board to me. Today is the race. What am I doing? I'm riding out of the bars, sandbagging, noodling around to avoid another penalty. This feel insane. I'm really struggling to WIN here. It is really hard. My attitude is sinking. I know I need to change my thinking or I’ll be my own worst enemy.
I see Tim. He's says I was smoking fast. He's beaming. I am very disappointed to tell him I have to go to the 'Sin Bin". He needs to know I'll be delayed 5 minutes. I don't want him to worry. I am not falling apart physically. I'm just serving some time. Tim's response is the best ever. With a hint of scorn, he says "So, who cares?"
Honestly, in that mess of people? In the 112 mile cluster of 2888 riderd complete with Tour De France style peletons.? I get nabbed. Me? The girl who did more Great Western Doubles and Great Western/Laguna Loops than the average Starbucks junky does Double Shots. Me, the girl who rode her 50lb mountain bike ( ok it's not quite 50lbs) up Mt. Soledad, home from the grocery store with bags of flour in the basket. If I believe the above of any worth then I am strong enough to give the 5 minutes. I don't need them. I don't blame the officials. They can't see everything. I am glad they were trying to enforce things in the final 15 miles.
Tim was right. So who cares? I decided to give the 5 minutes and get on with MY RACE. I said wanted to race with an attitude like Bree Wee (fast and fun) I am sure she wouldn't let this stop her. Besides Stacy told me to WIN. It may not be easy to WIN but it is very easy to loose if you allow yourself to become negative. Who wants to be a looser?
I arrived in the penalty tent. I had 5 minutes to think about how I wanted the rest of my race to go. It is under this yellow tent I made the choice to win. Ok, that's a lie. the volunteers were so nice that I could help but get over myself. I gave the mental middle finger to a whole lot of thoughts poisoning my head. I (tried) to make peace with myself. I knew this course. I knew the crowds and loops were a liability. I signed up for it. I own it. In the end I have given countless hours to this race and 5 minutes is minutia. Take my 5 minutes. I wanted to race in a Ironman distance race that I could drive to. That is why I chose this race. I owned this choice.
Loop 3: 38 miles
1 stop porta potty
5 minutes under the yellow tent
Official Ironman Split: 19.97 mph
Not sure how I rode faster than lap two but the wind did die. Also, I like to step it up at mile 85 if I feel good. I feel good that day.
Overview: Toughen Up Buttercup!
My husband was watching me. My family and friends were watching on line. Many people made sacrifices for me to have a good race. I would give them the best performance I could. I would be on the run course by 2:00 p.m. That was my goal to begin with. So who cares how I got there?
I am happy with a 5:26. I won't lie I would have been happier with the ride time on my bike clock. I would have been happier with a 5:26 if the ride time on my computer didn't state a much different number as it would have indicated a better execution. Truth is when I left the start I only hoped to ride as fast as 2008, which was a 5:29. I could accept a 5:26 and be happy. Sort of ….the whole red card thing is eating at me a bit.
The execution? Well it wasn't perfect. I own the 4 bathroom stops and the 5 minutes in the sin bin that caused the discrepency between my ride time and my split time. I also am mature enough to know that others battle these things too. At least I have fitness. I'll figure out the execution in my later years.