5k:19:17 @ Dublin Shamrock 5k 2011
10k: 41:01 @ Scheel's Turkey Trot 2010
Half:1:30:07 @ Oakland Half 2012
Full: 3:12:57 @ CIM Marathon 2013
70.3: 5:20:07 @ Vineman 2012
140.6: 12:14:21 @ IM Coeur d'Alene 2013
Category Archives: IMCDA
Beneath the hype that is Ironman, there’s a cold and brutal truth that will slowly chip away at your soul. It will test your patience, your fortitude and your waistline.
It won’t be during training.
It won’t come race day.
We’re talking post-race, people.
Naively smiling, not aware of what lies ahead.
It’s a sad and vicious truth that no one warned me about and now I need a therapist, or other Ironman friends, to console our achy iron hearts.
IRONMANS TAKE FREAKING FOREVER TO RECOVER FROM.
Immediately after Iroman, I did everything my coach and every article I could find said: I ate, I showered, I rested, I got in short walks, I took two weeks off COMPLETELY, I then got sick, and soon moved to a different state. Look at me, star student!
Around three weeks, I was back at it, but with no specific plan in sight other than to stay active. I started doing some boot camp classes, I went trail running, I went for shorter runs and then I completely crumbled.
WHY DO MY LEGS FEEL LIKE LEAD?
WHY DOES MY 8:30 PACE FEEL SO HARD?
WHY CAN’T I MAKE IT THREE MILES WITHOUT KEELING OVER?
WHY ARE MY JEANS TIGHTER?
WHERE HAS ANY SEMBLANCE OF SPEED I USED TO HAVE GONE?
WHY? WHY? WHY?!!!
My first world problems left me in a tizzy as I emailed my coach, texted and tweeted friends, and even asked a few pro triathlete friends if this was normal. Their responses weren’t what I wanted to hear:
YOU PROBABLY DID TOO MUCH.
YOU PROBABLY WENT OUT TOO HARD.
YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T REST ENOUGH.
And the doozy…
FOR YOUR FIRST IRONMAN, IT TAKES 6-8 WEEKS TO RECOVER*.
Six to eight weeks?! What?! (*Disclaimer: yes, yes, everybody is different. So take it for what it is). Their estimated Ironman newbie recovery time broke my anxious heart as I felt as if I had already given my body ample time to recover. Now you’re telling this adrenaline junkie that it will take upwards of two months? I already went through three months of waiting and physical therapy this year!
But if I step off my endurance-addicted soapbox and really think about what just happened, you understand why and feel ridiculous for being “that athlete.”
This Triathlete Magazine article explains it the best:
“…from an internal perspective, completing an Ironman is a bit like sitting on a sofa for 12 hours and aging two decades. In other words, the changes the body undergoes in 12 hours of extreme exertion are similar to some of those that occur in the body over the course of two decades of non-exertion, as a result of normal aging. Fortunately, though, those years are restored to you within a few weeks. Then it’s time to start thinking about tickling the reaper again.”
As I sit here, ready to “tickle the reaper” (that sounds inappropriate), I have to quell my urge to go all out, to take each run one at a time, and to not completely question my physical abilities. I need to remember, and give thanks, for what my body just went through because although it feels like a lifetime ago, it really wasn’t.
With a marathon and big goals right around the corner, I’m looking forward to sharing my training approach and new running-specific coach with you.
When I finished Ironman Couer d’Alene, I wasn’t in pain, I wasn’t struggling to breathe, I wasn’t completely discombobulated…I just wanted to sit down. After moving for 12 straight hours, nothing sounded better than doing nothing.
The next morning, I wasn’t really that sore either. I knew I needed to go for a 30 minute walk, but other than that, resting was my goal and I fully embraced it. Little did I know that my body would do the typical “oh I just finished a big race so go ahead immune system, let down your guard” thing.
So there you have it: I finished the race, felt solid, rested, got sick for three days, rested some more, then moved to Oregon. It was two solid weeks of doing absolutely nothing. I was right on pace with my recovery plan (sort of).
Two weeks turned into two and a half or three weeks with very minimal activity. I went hiking and did some very small runs. I heeded my coach’s advice to only run 30-40 minutes, three times a week. He also recommended swimming and cycling over running, as apparently it’s the running that really takes the most time to return to normal. But here’s the thing, my bike is still in storage, swimming is…well…swimming and if I have a choice, I will always choose running.
With Portland’s great running scene and new friends inviting me out to explore it, I couldn’t pass it up. I ran with some amazingly fast girls and kept my humbled mouth shut as we climbed their favorite routes, I got introduced to trail running and made my way through 10 miles of Forest Park, I went hiking and saw some amazing sights, and I went to new boot camps at Nike because the class offerings are amazing. When you write it all down, I think you can sum it up in four words: too much, too soon.
I met Jen yesterday for a run in her neighborhood and as we started the run, I knew that things weren’t right. My legs felt like I just ran three Ironmans back-to-back. Who filled my legs with solid concrete?!
Jen asked me if I wanted to do the 3.5 mile loop or the 6+ mile loop. I couldn’t take it and chose the 3.5 mile loop. WHAT?!?!?! I just did 112 miles and I can’t even run a 3.5 mile loop? To say I was frustrated would be an understatement.
I wrote my coach and asked him if this was normal. Thankfully, he said yes, and that I probably did too much too soon. Ugh. I also tweeted about it and some seasoned Ironman vets assured me that it takes ~6 weeks to recover from your first Ironman and as you do more, the recovery time lessens.
Needless to say, I’m anxious to get back to my normal self, to stop slogging through miles that feel much harder than they should be, and to be ready for my next round of training come August. But come on, six weeks?! Patience, grasshopper.
So here’s my PSA to any first-time Ironpeople: TAKE POST-RACE RECOVERY SERIOUSLY. You may feel fine, but your muscles are still repairing, so embrace those six weeks. Then join me for a beer so we can bitch about it.
Full of gusto, I made my way out of T2 to run 26.2 miles. If you’re noticing a theme, it’s not an accident or an exaggeration. I was happy the entire day and every time I transitioned into the next sport, I got even happier (yes, it’s possible).
I was on to my favorite and strongest of the three sports, but truth be told, I haven’t run a full marathon since the 2011 Boston Marathon. I had multiple 20 mile runs in this training cycle, but 26.2 miles after 2.4 miles of swimming and 112 miles of cycling – now that was going to be a different story.
I immediately popped some salt/electrolyte pills and started my first Gu. My Gu intake isn’t like most people’s, I slowly work at it over 20 minutes or so rather than taking it in all at once. Thus, I’m usually always holding something sticky in race photos.
I ran, waved to my family, fed off of the crowd’s energy and simply put one foot in front of the other. I was running a marathon!
The IMCDA run course essentially repeats part of the cycling course, consisting of two out and backs. Wait, what’s that? It repeats part of the cycling course? Then that can only mean one thing…HILLS! It wasn’t long until we met those hills and I changed my game: short strides, pump the arms, relax the face, and don’t try charging up it as it would only waste valuable energy.
The first loop felt like long hill, a bit of flat, another long hill, a bit of flat, all repeated over and over until the turnaround at the top. It felt completely manageable as I just ran as to how I felt comfortable, stuck with my fueling plan of one Gu every 45 minutes and only stopped at a bathroom once. I made my way back downtown and once again saw Chicken Face cheering me on – he’s the best!
As I turned back around to start the second loop, that’s where it started to set in. Mentally, I knew how much climbing I had ahead of me, my body was starting to really feel the fatigue and it was time to pull both my mental and physical game together. With no choice but to buckle down and get ‘er done, I ran…or whatever you call a brisk cadence of left-right-left-right.
I stopped at the run special needs bag to get more salt pills and soon started another round of hills. When I met the first real climb, I knew that this second loop was going to be a different game. I pushed for as long as I could, but I knew I didn’t want to unnecessarily waste energy, so I walked a bit of the hill. I would take every sponge, run through every hose and smile at everyone who would give me a “woot!” I heard people say, “Nice pace!” and “Looking strong!” and whether or not they knew what they were talking about, every single positive comment fueled my mental game as you work through the final grueling climbs and miles.
As your body begins to break down, it becomes a mental game to make it to the end. I would make goals to “walk until that tree” then run. As we reached more hills, I began walking every aid station and using it as my rest, then made a deal with myself that I would run once I was out of it.
My frequency to the port-a-potties also increased later in the run, during which, I would shove my Gu into my bra while taking care of business. However, after said stops, I realized that I was getting a bit light-headed and dizzy. Why was this happening? I’m fueling…or so I thought. It took me a while to finally remember that I had shoved my Gu in bra, which also meant, I hadn’t fueled within the last 45 minutes. Crap. When you’re in this stage of the game, every calorie counts and I had missed a whole chunk of fueling due to my bathroom break.
As soon as I got to the next aid station, I looked for a Gu (not a Roctane…just a regular Gu). I opened it and shoved it down. But for some reason, ever since that mishap, I couldn’t get my fueling back on track and my dizziness increased. All I could think about was the fact that I didn’t want to pass out, get an IV, or any sort of treatment or help that would DQ me from the race. So in an attempt to forgo my dramatized outcome, I tried everything and anything at the aid stations to see what would work.
Flat soda — I haven’t had soda in 13 years, but I tried it here to see if it would be the “jet fuel” everyone raved about. Meh, I didn’t feel a difference.
Chocolate chip cookies — I don’t eat dairy but I had it here. At first, the cookies were a nice change in flavor, but soon I had to chuck it because it tasted like dirt.
Pretzels – I thought the salt would help, but when I ate them I thought I was eating chalk.
Grapes – Maybe these little gems would do the trick? Nope, tasted like warm mush.
Orange slices – YES! Sweet, sweet, orange slices! I don’t think these provided the caloric intake I needed, but I just bit into them like a five-year-old, never actually eating any of the “meat,” and just drinking the juices. Glorious orange slices.
I made my way on my “try anything and everything at the aid station to see what works” rampage, I continued to make multiple bathroom stops, walk the aid station, and make mental goals to make it to the end. I remember seeing my friend Darren on the way back into town and he shouted, “You’re almost done!” and I just cursed some random mumblings.
As I got closer to the finish, the realization that I was about to complete an Ironman began to overtake me. It’s as if every ounce of mental and physical fatigue escapes from your body and you’re suddenly running on fresh legs.
Two miles out, I became focused and just pumped my arms and got lost in my head – you’re almost there.
One mile out, I realized that this was it. I was going to do this. It’s really happening.
A half mile out, volunteers started shouting, “Your almost there! It’s all down hill right around the corner!” I got choked up and couldn’t quite run and breathe at the same time.
As I turned the corned and entered the final stretch, I could see the blue finish line waiting for me. The crowds were roaring, but I couldn’t hear anything. I saw my dad and my sister screaming, “GO PAGE!” My face bounced back and forth between tears and smiles. My leg turnover increased as pure adrenaline and emotion overwhelmed me.
I saw my husband right near the finish.
I couldn’t believe it.
I pumped my fists in the air.
Page Williams. YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!
FINAL IMCDA RESULTS: 12:14:21
19th AG / 109th F / 664 OA
It was pure happiness unlike anything that I’ve ever felt as I achieved a lifetime dream. I put my head in my hands and cried.
A volunteer congratulated me and escorted me to get my medal, finisher’s gear and photo. He then handed me off to another medical volunteer to see how I was feeling. I told him I felt fine, just tired. Still able to walk, I grabbed the highly coveted pizza and walked out of the gates, sat on the grass and waited for my family. When they arrived, I couldn’t be happier to see them. It was a combination of Ironman joy and being with my family (who were there every step of the way), that emphasized that this was one of the best days ever.
It was a long journey to that finish line, and perhaps my honeymoon high is shading the tough parts right now, but I can confidently say that the Ironman changed my life. I’ll share more about why in a later post along with my post-race thoughts, but I can tell you this, if there’s something you want to do, do it. Don’t be afraid to take those risks, challenge yourself and make sacrifices for your goals.
On Sunday, I fell in love with a sport that tested every ounce of who I was and because of it, I see my future in a whole new light.
Thank you to my amazing husband, my parents, my sisters, my nephew, my entire family, my coach, my friends, and all of you for your support. This truly has been a journey that I will never forget.
And so the story continues. I was out of T1 feeling pure happiness.
As I made my way out of T1 and onto the ride, I saw my dad who shouted, “NUNI. (family nickname) YOU ARE A WARRIOR.” My heart almost burst into a million little pieces. My grin was wide and I was shouting back – it was time to ride!
You exit the transition and ride through downtown for a bit where the majority of the crowd support is. This portion pretty much consists of your brain being lost in some sort of cycling and endorphin euphoria. But soon you are out of downtown and on to the meat of the course.
The IMCDA bike course consists of two loops. However, my definition of a loop must be different that their definition of a loop as what we actually did was ride out and back to the east, then out and back to the west, and then that was one loop. To me, the IMCDA bike course is a series of four out and backs, not a full loop like Ironman Texas.
As I was on to the first out and back to the east, my body felt fine and my nutrition was right on track. Drinking, chewing, and getting into the zone. When you know that your going to be out there for six plus hours, it’s important that you just settle in…and that’s exactly what I did.
As I pedaled, I had to consistently keep my eye on the prize and hold myself back from being the hare. Usually, when other women in my age group would pass me or I would see another woman ahead of me, I’ll push it to pass them. However, the Ironman is a completely different beast. It took everything in me to not pick up my cadence and stick with women as they would pass me. Instead, I just told myself, “I’ll be seeing you on the run.” I knew I had a long day ahead of me and I needed to ride strategically and save my legs for this little thing called a marathon that would be coming up soon.
Around an hour into the ride, I started not feeling well. But this wasn’t the usual endurance event pain, instead it was the onset of that time of the month cramps and headaches. Perhaps this is TMI, but it’s what I dealt with for two hours. Bad cramping and my head was throbbing. Couple this with my missing salt/electrolyte pills, and I wasn’t feeling too hot.
I knew that this wasn’t anything that would make or break me, just an unfortunate nuance that took away a bit of energy. I even pulled off for a bathroom break, stood in line, and tried to get my cramps down for a hot second. It didn’t help, so I kept doing what I was doing, and at IMCDA that consists of only a few things: climbing, fueling, climbing, fueling, climbing, fueling.
One note of annoyance: as I was riding I kept hearing this squeaking noise. I was completely confused as I thought it was my bike, yet it sounded so far away. Was it my bike? Was it a bird? What the hell was that noise? I even pulled off to the side to make sure it wasn’t me. Then I figured it out. One girl’s very fancy Cervelo bike squeaked every time we were climbing — which was ALL THE TIME. I wanted to tell her to stop and fix her bike, but I kept my mouth shut and tried to drain out the constant squeaking.
Soon the first loop was done and we made our way back downtown. I was looking for my family in the crowd and when I spotted my mom, she was playing with her camera. I began shouting, “MOM! MOM! MARTHA! MARTHA!” She finally saw me and we all screamed, waved and did the usual race cheering. Seeing my family was the boost that I needed to charge into the second loop.
Once you were out of downtown, crowd support was sporadic. So to stay entertained, I would try to say a few things as I rode next to people. Sometimes it was, “Cute kit!” or “Nice bike!” or even “Are we stiiiiill climbing?” I even got a few old guys grumbling about how I would pass them on the climb, but they would zoom by me on the downhill and I was reminded by them that this was a “lesson in gravity.” I must admit, the guy I saw asleep on the ground as his family cheered was pretty entertaining though too.
Outside of the chit chat, I stayed focused on hydrating and fueling as I had planned. I stopped at my special needs bag (another big shout of to the amazing volunteers there) for my extra stash of salt/electrolyte pills, Ibuprofen and Pringles. By the time five hours rolled around, the thought of one more peanut butter and jelly anything sounded revolting and the Bonk Breaker Bars tasted like dirt; thus, I changed to whatever I could get at the aid stations. As we neared five and a half hours, I increased my calorie intake to 300-350 calories per hour to ensure that I got in a bit extra in preparation for the run.
As I was nearing the end, I couldn’t believe that I had already ridden for six hours. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get my goal time, but the 6+ hours of riding actually went by fairly fast. I even saw/met Abby on the ride! Plus, I didn’t get a flat (which I was fearing the entire time), no accidents, perfect weather, gorgeous scenery – overall it was a great afternoon on my bicycle.
FINAL BIKE RESULTS: 6:39:45
26th AG / 188th F / 1114 OA
As I entered T2, I smiled and once again, my energy went through the roof. The fantastic volunteers (yes, they always need to have an adjective before the word “volunteer”) grabbed my bike and would take care of racking it. What?! I didn’t even need to rack my own bike? I asked, “What do I do with my helmet and shoes?” They instructed me to take them with me and off to the T2 bag pick-up and changing tent I went.
As I was running into the tent, I heard another volunteer say, “She better save some of that energy for the run!” I turned around, smiled, and couldn’t help it. I was 2/3 done!
Another lovely volunteer dumped my bag, helped me with my shoes, visor, pills, and I made my way to the run start. As I was fiddling with my pills, I looked up and saw Chicken Face. I was so incredibly excited to see him, ran over and gave him a sweaty kiss. Once again, nothing but pure love and happiness overwhelmed me.
And like that…I was on my way to run 26.2 miles.
Ironman Coeur d’Alene will forever go down as one of the best days of my life. It was a goal that I’ve had tucked away since high school and now I find myself looking back on the day that was. It’s a strange feeling to reflect on something that had been a far off, shiny goal for so long. But I’ll do my best to recapture the day that was, starting with the swim.
Prior to race day, Coach Paul had a series of mini swim, bike, run shake-out workouts on Friday and Saturday. I had heard the terrors of last year’s IMCDA swim and its frigid temperatures of 52 degrees. I had also heard the tales of how people got hypothermia, the second loop was incredibly choppy and that people lost major time sitting in the warming hut during transition. To say that I was nervous about the swim would be an understatement.
I met my fellow teammates on Friday for our first shake-out workout. I had never worn a neoprene cap, so I watched my teammates to learn the proper placement (neoprene under, regular over). We entered the water and my heart rate and mind lost it. Compared to my cozy little Shadow Cliffs, this water was ridiculously cold (I know, I was spoiled with my open water swimming back home). It took me 15 minutes of breaststroke and anxiety drills until I could even start swimming. I got through the quick workout but was mentally defeated. The rest of the day I doubted how I was going to finish the race if I couldn’t even manage the solo shake-out swim.
We met again Saturday morning and repeated the same routine, but this time, it was a different story. It was as if the whole situation (the temperature, the scenery, the color of the water) were no longer new and my mind could be at ease. I did my drills for a few moments and then was able to swim with the boys. As I got out of the water, I felt 100 percent different than I did on Friday – proof that time in the water prior to the race is absolutely essential to my performance.
In addition to the pre-race workouts, there was plenty of Ironman shopping (without buying too much as the fear of a DNF was still there), prepping, eating, seeing my family, chatting with Chicken Face, and getting that beloved Ironman backpack that is part of your registration.
Fast forward to race morning…
I was in bed by 8:30 and set my alarm for 3:30. While I actually didn’t have any trouble sleeping, I was up at 3 a.m., more nervous than I had ever been for anything…in my entire life. Today was the day that I was going to attempt to become an Ironman.
As Chicken Face slept a bit more, I tiptoed around to gather everything that I had laid out before. I wore my favorite SOAS race kit, I braided my hair (this would be the first time I’ve ever raced in “power braids”), I put in my headphones and made my way downstairs to use the breakfast area of the hotel. I sat silently, just listening to my music, eating my PB&J, Gatorade, and a bit of oatmeal and blueberries. I could see my hand shaking as I ate.
By the time I got back to the room, Chicken Face was up and ready to go. We let the rest of my family sleep and headed to the race start. The prior days in CDA were ridden with rain and skeptical weather. However, Sunday looked like it was going to be perfect race weather – I consider myself extremely lucky on this one. We found easy street parking, walked straight to the special needs bag drops, and then right over to the body marking. It was all really well organized and far too easy.
Some final touches on my bike and a few stops at the port-a-potty, and it was time to get suited up. I kind of just stood there, looking at the water with the light fog resting above it. The nerves were having one hell of a day.
IMCDA was the first race to ever implement the new Swim Smart initiative and to sum it up: it was fantastic. In fact, initial analysis is showing an average of 3-4 percent faster swim splits because of it. I give major kudos to the Ironman team for developing this initiative because as far as I was concerned, it went seamlessly and was critical to my swim’s success. As part of the new initiative, they opened up a warm-up swim area off to the right side of the lake. After you warmed up, you were to place yourself in a wave based on your estimated swim finish time, and instead of a running mass start of 3,000 people into the water all at once, you were to walk through a funnel of sorts. Your time would start the moment your timing chip passed the timing mat under the arch. In addition to the warm-up and the waved start, there were also “rest platforms” in the water that you could take advantage of if needed. Also, each buoy was numbered. The Ironman team mentioned that this was more for their purposes, but it was actually quite useful during the swim as you could count down how far you were from the turns or the finish.
After I kissed Chicken Face goodbye, I made my way to the warm-up area and entered water. It was honestly colder outside of the water than in it, so I just swam and tried to get my chattering teeth to be quiet. As I lined up in my wave, I just couldn’t believe it was happening. I tried to stay calm and walked through the arch, over the timing mat, and just like that…into the water.
I immediately positioned myself to the outer right side of the water to try and avoid the infamous kicking and punching of Ironman swim starts. But of course, my heart rate shot up. No. No. NO! I had to stop, catch my breath, and do God knows what, all while trying to continue to move in a forward direction. All that I can remember is that I literally told myself, “Page, get your shit together.” With that kick in the pants, I put my face in the water and swam. Thankfully, that was the last of my anxiety, the water temperature became perfect, I could see the sun peaking out from behind the clouds, and I knew I was going to do this!
Yet swimmers beware! The two turn buoys for each of the two loops were absolutely chaotic. It’s as if everyone forgets how to swim and splashes, kicks, and pushes like rabid dogs as they turn. Somehow, I got mixed up in the middle of the turn buoy mess and practically came to a stop as people were kicking and literally pushing me out of their way. I learned there to stay far, far away from the middle of the swim pack, especially during the turns. I’d rather swim a bit longer of distance than get caught up in that mess again.
I swam with my heart rate monitor on and it was being a total pain in my ass. I could feel it slipping down to my waist, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. So I tried to ignore it and just kept swimming.
The CDA swim course is actually two loops, including getting out of the water and a short jog on the beach between each loops. I can’t tell you how grateful I was for that mini-break. I got out, took a deep, happy breath in, and made my way back into the water for the second loop. Because I wasn’t freaking out, the second loop actually felt much faster, but the funny thing is that it wasn’t. Mind over matter, I suppose.
I remember sighting, seeing the finish, and just smiling in the water. I could see the volunteers’ feet in the water, but wait, I wasn’t done yet! I’m supposed to hit the sand with my hands three times before I stand up! So I kept swimming and got up when it was time. 2.4 miles DONE!
FINAL SWIM RESULTS: 1:18:04
35th AG / 205th F / 1081 OA
The volunteers (who are all AMAZING!) were saying congrats, giving high fives and directing us up to the grass patch where we met another circle of volunteers. I saw two girls waving me over, telling me to sit on the ground, and then just ripped my wetsuit off. I couldn’t help but to laugh through the entire wetsuit ripping experience. They handed me my wetsuit, I ran to the T1 bag section, called out my number, where another volunteer handed my bag and directed me into the changing tent. I found a seat by some light (as the entire tent is quite dark) and once again, I was met by another friendly volunteer face who dumped out my bag and said, “What do you need?” I didn’t need to change because I going to wear the same kit throughout the entire race, but if only all of life was this easy with such great help.
As I got dressed, I kept looking for my salt/electrolyte pills. They were nowhere to be found. Shit. There was nothing I could do about it, so the volunteer helped me pin on my bib that had ripped off of my belt and continue getting the rest of my gear on. I grabbed a bag of pretzels as I ran out of the tent to try and make up for my lost pills, and made my way to my bike (which was positioned perfectly near the exit of the bikes).
On my way to my bike, I ran into my friend Darren who was walking his bike out, we chatted, and I remember talking to him and being so damn happy. As I got to my bike, I saw Chicken Face and my sister outside of the gate and all I could do was smile. My sister screamed, “SMILE FOR INSTAGRAM!” I laughed and it was at that moment that it hit me: Oh my God. I made it through the thing that I was afraid of the most, did better than I had anticipated, and I AM DOING AN IRONMAN! I was just so incredibly happy.
And like that…I was on my way to ride 112 miles.
Hello! It’s me, Page!
I’m up here on cloud nine right now and I don’t plan on coming down anytime soon, but I wanted to do a quick check-in. On Sunday, a dream that was a long time in the making finally came to fruition: I became an IRONMAN!
Official Results: 12:14:21
19th AG / 109th Female / 664th Overall
(My Garmin read 12:09 — not sure what happened.)
The course was difficult, complete with plentiful climbing on both the bike and the run, but I’m feeling great today and my legs are just a bit sore. I’ll be posting a full recap soon, but nothing can quite explain the feeling of coming down that finisher’s shoot and the pure emotion that consumed me.
Thank you SO MUCH for all of your support over the past year and a half, as well as the overwhelmingly amazing tweets, comments and good vibes. I definitely felt the love and can’t wait to share details.
More to come soon!
Everything is getting real.
My bike has been shipped. I’m 99 percent packed. My pre-race pump-up playlist is complete. I swam for the last time at Shadow Cliffs this morning. I’ve practiced flat tire repairs. I haven’t tripped over my own two feet. I’ve checked into our flights. We leave tomorrow morning. It’s time for Ironman Coeur d’Alene and I can’t believe it.
A year and a half ago I decided to make this giant leap from runner to Ironman. Why I was propelled to make this jump had no logical explanation. I had no swimming background, and cycling appeared dangerous and I couldn’t even fathom clipping in – all I had was running. But truth be told, an Ironman has always been that shiny star that silently consumed a hidden part of my heart. Every time I heard that someone had done/was doing one, they immediately entranced me. They were pushing the human body to its ultimate limit, reaching new highs and lows to achieve something once thought impossible. There! That’s it! Seeing what you’re made of to achieve the seemingly impossible – what is more inspirational that that?
I said no to the idea for a quite a while and used my 60 hour work weeks and two and a half hour commute each day as a rational reason not to train. But after three years of this, I decided to this wasn’t the life I wanted to live. I needed to do this. I talked to my managers, explained my goal, figured out how to make it work and it was settled, I was starting a new journey because it turns out, I am indeed in charge of my own life. As we all are.
The journey began and the beginning wasn’t pretty. I gasped for air as I paddled through eight laps, I experienced crippling open water anxiety, I asked my husband how to pump air in my tires, I was terrified of clipping in, my confidence was rattled when I showed up to my first group ride and everyone was wearing Ironman jerseys, I was mocked for not having the right gear and looking like a Fred — I literally had no idea what I was doing.
At the time, I was embarrassed, nervous and well, just think of every adjective you could use to describe your first day of your freshman year in high school and that was me. But here’s the thing: when faced with trying experiences, you’ll find out more about yourself and the people around you than you could have ever expected.
Coach Paul put up with my crazies and helped build my skills and physical endurance to where I am now. Simon swam with me in the open water, talking me through my anxiety. Ilona, Jared, Tom and Ray spent entire weekends with me, making me laugh as we rode hour after hour. Carrie helped work my ankle out after I obliterated it. The entire Kinney Multisport team became my weekend family, swimming, cycling and running, helping push me to new levels. My friends didn’t abandon me even though I never saw them. Aron and Nicole always Gchatted to check in on me. My husband and real family put up with my absences and supported this time-consuming endeavor. And my dad, my dad is the truest form of inspiration that keeps me going every single day.
Without ever planning or realizing it, a group of people form that build this incredible support system, a net that will catch you when you fall. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s not a matter of if you fall, but when. I’m blessed they were there to catch me when I did.
Just days before Ironman Arizona, I fell, both literally and proverbially. As they wiped away my tears, I knew I had to get back on the saddle. After three months of physical therapy, I wasn’t about to quit and I re-dedicated myself to Ironman Couer d’Alene.
It’s been six months and we’ve come full circle. This morning’s swim had a significant amount of open water anxiety that seems to appear whenever I get nervous, and to say that I’m getting nervous would be an adequate assessment. The flurry of questions and fears about race day are never-ending: will I have an anxiety attack? Will I get a flat? Will I fuel correctly? Will my ankle act up? Will my GI system play well? Will I finish?
But as Coach Paul likes to remind me, right now I can’t waste energy on things that I can’t control. My mental game will either make or break me and I need to stay positive. With that, I look back on where I am now as compared to this time before IMAZ (prior to the injury), and it’s fascinating. I feel like a different athlete. My swim speed hasn’t improved, but my endurance has. I am so much more comfortable on the bike and have fallen madly in love with cycling. I also got in far more long runs this cycle as my knee injury wasn’t too much of an issue. I feel strong, excited and happiest when I’m cycling and running. Being out on the road fills my heart and it reminds me of my only mantra I’ve ever given myself, “This is who I am.”
My heart feels like it’s going to beat out of my chest and I haven’t even left California yet. The journey to Ironman hasn’t been easy, but it has transformed me into a new person and has helped me test my limits, discover new loves and honestly, discover who I am. As my dad always says, “It’s not always about the goal, but the journey.” This adventurous journey has been truly irreplaceable.
Now that we’re nearing the finish, I’m left wondering what it will be like to cross that finish line and hopefully hear my name called. Of course I have time goals that encourage my never-ending mind games. But deep down, I know that the goal here is to simply enjoy the day, what I’ve accomplished and to finish. That’s what the first Ironman is all about anyways, right?
The journey isn’t over just yet, but I can say this, if there’s something you want to do, then do it. Don’t be afraid to take risks, be courageous and go on adventures. But more importantly, do it with passion or not at all.
With that, I want to say thank you for being part of this journey. Your comments encourage me every day and always bring a smile to my face. If you want, you can track me here. I’m #129. I’ll be posting on Instagram and Twitter, and am contemplating having Chicken Face tweet for me. Thoughts?
Well, I guess this is see you later and Happy Running!
There was big news in the triathlon community yesterday: Ironman announced their new swimming initiative called “SwimSmart.” Some people are complaining, saying that it’s making the Ironman “soft,” where as I couldn’t be more excited.
Here are some of the changes that I’m looking forward to:
A few 2013 IM events (including IMCDA) will feature modifications in the swim start. Including a pre-race swim warm-up, new water temperature regulations (if the water is too cold or too warm, the swim will be altered), and self-placed rolling starts (aka “waves” like in running races).
For those who are as lucky as I am to have open water anxiety, I was terrified of the IMCDA swim start. Formerly, they didn’t allow for in-water warm-ups and it was a mass start: you literally just run from the beach, into the water with thousands of other people. The old plan would mean that I wouldn’t be able to do my in-water anti-anxiety drills and warm-up, and I was just going to stand in the back and try to stay calm. In other words, it might have been a disaster.
But with the changes, I can do the critical warm-up and drills that I desperately needed to get my heart rate in the right place. Furthermore, it won’t be a mad dash. I’m used to waved starts, I like waved starts, I won’t have a heart attack. This is awesome.
In addition to these modified starts, there is a second phase:
The second phase of the initiative will feature a comprehensive effort to educate athletes about reducing anxiety associated with the swim portion of IRONMAN events, focusing on pre-race screening for potential health issues, pre-race training and race-week preparation. Such efforts will use all IRONMAN media platforms and will include a checklist and on-line videos. Swim-specific educational communications will begin at the end of May.
I can’t express how grateful I am for Ironman taking notice of the anxiety that open water swimming causes. For those who are complaining about this new change, try getting an open water panic attack and then come talk to me about these changes. I value life over a running start any day.
Details on the IMCDA swim start are as follows:
IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene will feature a rolling start…athletes will enter the water in a continuous stream through a controlled access point… An athlete’s times will start when they cross timing mats under the swim arch.
If you are now complaining that your finish photo won’t match your gun time, welcome to the running world. They never match.
If you can’t tell already, I am SO EXTREMELY grateful for this change. Thank you, Ironman.
Now it’s your turn: what do you think about the new Ironman SwimSmart changes?
Hello! I’m back from vacation and feeling exactly what I set out for: rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to take on 2013. While I’ll share the tales of my trip to Utah with Oakley and to Mexico with my family later, today is an exciting day that I wanted to share.
Today marks the first day of training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene, Idaho!
First and foremost, I am working with Coach Paul again. He was incredible throughout this entire journey, plus he listened to me sobbing multiple times as I gave him the bad news.
Second, we decided to take each day as it comes and monitor my ankle closely. While I am getting back into the swing of being active again, I need to make a natural progression and not push it. If I push it, I risk re-injuring myself.
With my IMAZ training not too long ago, Coach Paul and I are going to focus on a) rebuilding my fitness, b) rebuilding my endurance, and c) work on speed over multiple long, long, loooooong workouts. The goal: GET FAST and STRONG!
IMAZ’s training cycle was long…too long. While much of it wasn’t specific IMAZ training but rather teaching me three different sports and how you put them altogether, I will admit that I was burnt out by the end. So much so in that it is probably what caused my body to be lazy, trip and sprain my ankle. This training cycle will be just about six months. My mind, body, family and friends much prefer the sound of this.
Preventative care will be a top priority. With the mysterious knee injury behind me, I know I’m not out of the woods. Regular rolling, stretching, ankle strengthening, chiro ART and monthly sports massage appointments are incredibly important.
Last year I learned a lot about how to fuel, but I’m almost glad that I’m getting this extra chance to really optimize and perfect my fuel plan. To be honest, I still feel like I wasn’t 100 percent sure what was best for me.
We’re also switching to TrainingPeaks from WorkoutLog to schedule and track workouts and I’m excited to be better about uploading detailed data and analyzing it.
Oh, and I WILL overcome my continual fear of open water swimming, seamlessly fix flat tires, learn about bike maintenance, and take better care of Dora’s chain. It got pretty bad.
These are some of the big changes, but I’m excited to continue adding more triathlon knowledge to my neophyte athlete’s knowledge library. More than anything, I’m ready to show failure that it hasn’t deterred me. I can, and I will, pick myself back up and give it the bird as I fly by on Dora.