Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ironman Arizona Race Report

First, I must start with the thank yous.  I know this might not be the part many people want to read but upon finishing a race and, in this case, an entire season, what I am mostly left with is a heart full of thanks for all the people that make living my dream possible.  I feel overwhelming gratitude to so many who have selflessly helped me on my path.

To SOAS, Brooks, PowerBar, Rudy Project, CompuTrainer and Xterra: Your support is so appreciated.  I love working with companies that I believe in and that believe in me.

To Dr. Brad (ART) and Greg (massage): Without your weekly (okay, sometimes more than weekly...) treatment, I'd never make it to the starting line in one piece.

To Casey at CID Associates: We met at the YMCA about a year ago.  Never could I have imagined the friendship that would come of that brief chat!  Your support has transformed my ability to compete at the professional level as an athlete.  THANK YOU.  And, WE ARE!

To my amazing friends (both in and out of the sport): Your encouragement means the world to me.  Thank you.

To my friend and long-time teammate Kim: We have been chasing dreams together for a long time.  Thank you for always setting the bar so high for me.

To QT2 Systems: You guys have it figured out.  Thank you for welcoming me to your family.

To Tim: Your patience is never ending.  Thank you so much for teaching me how to do this sport.  Most of all, thank you for believing in me enough for the both of us because I certainly didn't believe enough on my own.

To my family: Thank you for putting up with me!  Without you guys, none of this would be possible.  Your support is so appreciated and I know I'm so blessed to have you.  Thank you for your love no matter if I race a 9:15 or 17:15 Ironman.

To Oscar: I don't even have words!  You are the love of my life and my very best friend.  You are an amazing man and I thank God every day for you.  Thank you for allowing me to pursue my passion and for being the best partner ever on this journey.

Okay, I'm cutting myself off.  I could go on forever with the thanks...  :)

I did Ironman Arizona in 2012 so I was very excited to see what kind of improvements would result from the many changes I've made since then.  Coming into the race, I really had no excuses.  I told Tim that I had possibly never felt so prepared for a race - both physically and mentally.  Time to get the job done!

Swim: 1:02:37 (:50 faster than 2012)

Oh swimming.  I like you, but not so much on race day.  I have faith that one day we will get along.  I also have faith that one day I will swim under 60 minutes.  But apparently that time has not come!  

I got dropped from the pack that I wanted (NEEDED) to swim with pretty early on.  My penalty for this was a solo swim around Tempe Town Lake.  I obviously have some work to do (not a surprise)!  But this has happened enough times that I know not to let it affect the rest of my race.  Ironman is a long day.  Onward.

Pre race with my dad.  My parents come to just about all my Ironman races.  They are clearly gluttons for punishment.

Bike: 5:01:55 (2:07 faster than 2012)

I hopped on my bike and was quite excited to be riding!  But I'll admit, my excitement quickly turned into a bit of discouragement.  Why discouraged so early on, you might ask?  Well because I was getting passed like I wasn't even pedaling!  And also because my first time check on Sarah P at the turnaround did not bode well.  Sarah and I had gotten on our bikes at the same time but not even 20 miles (20 miles!) into the bike, she had put close to 5 minutes on me.  CRAP!  Now obviously Sarah is a SUPER cyclist and I did not expect to ride with her.  But 5 minutes in 20 miles?  I'm no mathematician but even I know, that's not good.

I tell this story so that we can all learn from my mistakes.  I had no business worrying about other people, ESPECIALLY just 2 hours into a 9-10 hour race!  I know this.  I KNOW THIS!  Yet I let myself get wrapped up in it anyway.  Bad Beth.  Focus on the things I can control and don't worry about the rest.  After I gave myself a stern talking to I got back on track.  And I spent the next 3.5-4 hours focusing on my nutrition, my power, my HR and sticking to MY plan.  This made the ride go by very fast.  I felt very good.  I felt very excited about the marathon.  

Leaving for the bike.  Here we go!

Other points of interest related to the bike:

*It's very hard to pee on the bike on flat courses.  There is no place to coast!  And I had to pee multiple times.  I'm pretty sure you're all very glad I told you that.  :)

*I had to pee so many times because I was eating and drinking like a CHAMP.  QT2 does not let the major detail of nutrition slide and so I've worked just as much on my nutrition as I have my fitness.  My gut is just as well trained as my legs!  (and probably better than my arms...stupid swimming... :)  If you can't tell, I'm pretty proud of this because nutrition used to be a major limiter for me.  I certainly don't have it all figured out but I've made BIG improvements here thanks to Tim and Cait!

*I like the 3 loop course at IMAZ because it's a very easy way to break 112 miles down in your head but man does it get busy out there on the 3rd loop.  Between other riders and the media/course marshal/race support motos, there sometimes isn't anywhere to go.  Add in an aid station and pandemonium ensues.  Word on the street is, next year the course is going to be 2 loops.  That will be a nice change.

Run: 3:06:39 (35:05 faster than last year)

If someone would have told me in January of this year that I would run a 3:06 IM marathon (EVER, let alone this season) I would have laughed in their face.  Actually, maybe I would have slapped them for being so absurd.  After all, my OPEN marathon PR was 3:11.  So to say I didn't expect a 3:06 is a bit of an understatement.  After running 3:15 at IM Wisconsin in September, I was thrilled but also a little worried I might never be able to replicate it!  HA!  My run training in between the two races certainly suggested I could run faster but my ability to wrap my mind around these types of things isn't especially good.  

Nevertheless, I have learned that executing the race plan is the only real measure of success so when I hit the run course, that was my only goal.  I ran 6:55-7:05 miles for the first loop (the run course is now just 2 loops at Arizona) and I felt good and the nutrition was still going down well and my HR was right where it was supposed to be.  Of course I knew it was going to start to feel REALLY hard and soon enough it did.  By mile 15 I was telling myself "just one more mile at this pace and you can relax."  But then I'd get to the next mile and tell myself the same thing.  Again and again.  Until mile 20 when I ran a 7:15.  Shoot!  Luckily by this point I was also fully engaged in the RACE (this is a race after all!) and trying to track girls down.  Mile 20 on the bike is not the time to be thinking about where the other girls are (bad Beth!).  Mile 20 of the run, however, is definitely the time to start thinking of these things.  This distracted me from thinking about my legs.  Oscar was all over the course and letting me know there were 4-5 girls only 1-5 minutes up.  I couldn't see them but the promise of eventually seeing them kept me pushing very hard.  At this point, I think I also started talking to myself out loud.  So if you raced IMAZ on Sunday and a crazy girl who was repeatedly chanting "you can do this, you can do this, you can do this" ran by, that was probably me.  I was in my own little world.

In the end, I caught one of those girls but 4 of them I did not.  Not for lack of trying though!  I crossed the finish line confident that I had run as hard as I possibly could.  And that's all that you can really ask of yourself.  Was I at least a little mad at myself for the fact that 8th place (the last $$ spot) was only 38 seconds ahead and that 5th place was only 3 minutes up?  Sure.  That's a lot of money and a lot of points!  But mostly I was elated for a race well run and honestly, for the opportunity to even be in that position at all.

Usually pizza makes me smile.  Apparently after a race, not so much.  :)
Overall: 9:15:38 (38:02 faster than last year)

It was a great result for me and one I'm very thankful for.  Obviously a very big PR in part thanks to very good conditions on a fast course but mostly thanks to a hugely improved understanding of how to do this distance thanks to QT2.  My fitness has improved for sure.  My nutrition and pacing has VERY much improved.  And slowly but surely my belief is improving.  It amazing how much more your body is capable of than you think.  Not to say I don't have a long way to go and much learning to do!  Lord knows I continue to make many mistakes!  But that's the fun part of the journey.  Here's to much more fun in the future!

Congrats to all who raced and finished!  Twas a spectacular day to become an Ironman.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Is This Thing Still On?

Oh boy, it's been a while, hasn't it?  I've turned into one of *those* bloggers that only writes race reports!  YIKES!  And to think, when I first started my blog (loooooong before blogs became popular and then became unpopular), I used to post almost every single day!

Well the good news is, you didn't miss much!  I last wrote just a few weeks after IM Wisconsin as I was getting back into training.  Since then, yep, you guessed it, I've done more training!  There have been some lows (had a rough week of fatigue right around the time of Kona) but many, many more highs.  It's hard to believe that I will be lining up for Ironman #2 of the season and #6 of my life in just one week's time!

Doing a "late season" Ironman is always interesting.  Especially when you don't live in a particularly warm climate.  I also did IMAZ in 2012 but last year the weather cooperated a bit better.  This year there were several VERY cold and windy outdoor long rides that helped toughen me up.  One such ride was 7 hours, solo, on a day when the windchill never got above 35.  I'm going to tuck that one in my back pocket for the next time I think I can't do something.  Interspersed with the cold outdoor rides have been some good indoor heat acclimatization riding on the trainer.  Although IMAZ isn't usually a terribly hot race (like a Kona or a Cozumel), it's certainly warmer than 35!

Nevertheless, I've really enjoyed my training this fall and feel quite blessed to be healthy and happy and in the position to work hard and see some really good results!  My last big day was yesterday so from here on in it will be resting up, relaxing and, my favorite - PACKING!!  :)

Some fall photos:

Roxy made it onto Slowtwitch before me.  Helps to be as cute as her.

My least favorite set of paddles (PT paddles) and I got into a fight at the pool.  No worries, I MacGyver-ed that baby right up and it's as good as new!

Some days I wish I was her.

The 7 hour ride where I apparently tired out my Garmin.  The file refused to download after I was done.  If you ride 7 hours but the Garmin file doesn't exist - did you really ride 7 hours?

One of Oscar and my favorite fall activities - filling our Operation Christmas Child box.  Check it out here if you want to get involved!