Saturday, October 8, 2016

IMMD 2016: Dreams Do Come True

Ironman Maryland was not really on my radar this year.  I had loosely talked about it with my teammate Heather if we hadn't KQ'd earlier in the year, but I was leaning more towards doing a late season 1/2 and attempting to punch my ticket to 70.3 Worlds 2017.  Well, IM MT came and blew up in my face and I was left with a burning desire to use the fitness I had spent the long hours working so hard for over the year.  A few days passed after IMMT and I noticed Maryland was still open.  I talked about it with my coach, signed up and told about 2 people, mostly wanting to keep this a bit more low key.

My body came around and the last couple weeks of training went really well.  I rode the bike course two times during my last training block and was confident with where my running was it.  I was much more careful to listen to my body, sleep a full 9 hours and cut workouts short when I needed to as we got closer to race day.  My body had been good to me and I was doing my best to take care of it going into my second IM in 6 weeks.

A mostly non-eventful day - I was able to work 1/2 day and then pick mom up at the airport before heading out to Cambridge.  I loved having an IM so close, it felt like much less of a 'big' deal and just heading out to Cambridge for another long day of training.  Mom and I picked up my packet, checked out the Choptank Lighthouse and the aptly named Choptank River before heading to dinner.  We ended up with a ton of free time on Thursday evening so I decided to start getting my gear bags ready, which I figured wouldn't be a big deal since this was my 6th rodeo and I have photo references of what I like in each bag.  The ever so prepared Holli had prepacked nutrition for each segment of the race into Ziploc bags the week before...and...OH heart sank when I realized I left ALL the nutrition in the bags on my shelf, in DC, almost a 2 hour drive away.  It was 7:30 in the evening, I was on the verge of getting in my car and driving back to DC, though I knew that was not a smart move.  I started getting in contact with everyone I knew still in DC that was heading out to Cambridge.  My lifesaver of a teammate and friend literally saved the day.  She was just getting in her car to head out and drove straight into the middle of the city to get my nutrition - there are not enough words to express my gratitude.  So thank you, Heather, for being the best friend, teammate, and cheerleader I could have ever asked for.  A huge thanks to Paige, Bryan and Adam for also offering to help however they could to prevent me from driving back to DC.

A relatively calm Choptank on Friday afternoon.
After a good night of sleep I got in my final 2 workouts - an easy swim and bike.  I headed down to the Choptank, got into the wetsuit and jumped in.  It was a solid 20 minutes of getting thrown around by the river, and this was in the protected cove.  I was somewhat relieved to see that there was a small craft advisory when I got home and I knew the swim was unlikely to take place in the conditions I had just faced.  A quick and easy ride to check out the far end of the run course and I called it.  It was rainy and nasty and I was ready to go out for pancakes.

After big breakfast we swung by the Base Salt tent to say hi to Heather and grab my nutrition.  Then it was back to the house (2 blocks from the village/finishline) to finish the gear bags and clean up the bike before heading to check it all in down at Great Marsh Park.  With bags checked and bike racked it was a very lazy afternoon with my favorite movie, Cool Runnings.  Mom and I made a simple dinner and lounged around while Adam made the drive down to Cambridge.  Friday evening an official announcement was made that the bike course had to be shortened by 8 miles due to flooding.  While not a major deal this would take away from the time I could put into my competitors as the bike is my strongest discipline.

On Friday night I told my mom I wanted one thing out of the race the next day, and that was to experience every feeling and emotion possible while I was out there.  To be present in every moment and enjoy the day.

RACE MORNING - "Rise and shine it's butt whipping time"- Cool Runnings

Normal pre-race breakfast and Adam and I were off to wade through the tide waters to get to transition.  The tides had come up and some roads were flooded but it wasn't raining so at least we were staying mostly dry from the knees up.  I made it into transition, inflated my tires, calibrated the power meter, loaded on my nutrition and hydration and then made may way to a lili pad on the playground to sit and wait.

I told a good friend a few days prior to race day that I was racing with 3 angels.  An angel for the swim - my uncle John, an angel for the bike - my dad, and an angel for the run - my friend Brady.  

I was ready to go wetsuit and all, in line ready to get this show on the road.  I had been watching the water all morning and I'd be lying if I said I was excited to swim.  The water looked rough and I was convincing myself it was going to be ok, a slow swim for everyone, just get out there and get through it.  Just a couple minutes before we should have entered the water the announcement was made to delay the swim by 30 minutes.  I was relieved and I knew if the swim had to delayed anymore than 30 minutes the course would have to be shortened due to time restrictions and course cut offs. Back
Just sitting on a lili pad.
to the lili pad, watch the water, text coach, and chill.

As 7:15 approached I zipped back up, made my way back towards line and didn't quite get there before they made the final announcement.  I thought we'd be doing a shortened swim, but was  surprised to hear the swim would have to be cancelled.  I had a great 2.2 mile OWS just 1 week before and was excited to see what I could put together for a full 140.6 on this day, but looking at the water conditions there's no way you could have sent 2500 athletes in there and be confident you'd get 2500 athletes back out.  The call was made and we were all sent back into transition to the change tents in order to get ready to start the bike in time trial format.  I had registered very late and was bib 2593, pretty much almost the back of the pack.  I had plenty of time in the change tent to prepare for the race - just about 2 hours. Thankful to have friends Mack and Hilary starting at the back of the pack as well to hang out with in the change tent as we watched everyone else file out to start, mostly in the triple digits.


THE BIKE - 4:37:16 - 100ish Miles
Pure joy.  This bike was built for this.
The course apparently had to have a couple more miles taken out of each loop due to flooding.  I started out on the bike with the goal building into and holding IM effort through the first 90 miles and then pushing hard at the end if I was feeling good.  As per usual my electronics started going crazy on race day.  I backed off for a few minutes and tried to straighten things out (as best one can while riding 21+mph).  I had riden the course two times in the prior 3 weeks at Ironman intensity so I focused on what that should feel like, checked in on the data to see if it might be working and kept at it.  Nutrition and hydration were on point and the weather was fantastic.  

As I came around to start my 2nd loop, I pulled up to special needs to restock.  BSN looked like a complete clusterfuck.  The entire beginning of the area of bags was backed up with lines of athletes.  I contemplated just rolling through and using aid stations for the rest of the ride.  I knew that wouldn't be ideal so rolled on past the crowd toward the end of the bags (thank you high bib #) and started shouting my number.  Thankfully DC Tri had a good number of volunteers working special needs and Pat quickly hurried over with my bag.  No waiting in any lines for this girl, mostly because there weren't any lines at the back of the pack for bags yet.

Second loop was more of the same, head down stay aero and just get it done.  I actually love this course and didn't find it boring at all.  The amount of men I passed that were drafting was horrid (yes you #2053), but not my problem.  My bike was built for the conditions in Cambridge - flat, straight, shifty winds.  I was loving all of it, at some points thinking, what head wind?  As I made the turn off of the loop to head back to town I started to pick it up.  At this point folks were fading and I was feeling the best I'd felt all day.  I pushed it and enjoyed the ride back into T2.

T2 - 3:37
Tried to be as fast a possible.  Flying dismount at the line, had to rack our own bikes and into the change tent.  Socks, shoes, visor on and race belt in hand and I was out of there.

THE RUN - 3:52:03 - 26.2 Miles
Parting the waters.
My legs felt good and I tried to settle in to a steady cruise as soon as possible.  I saw Adam soon after exiting Great Marsh Park.  I knew by my bike split that I was probably doing pretty well, but pretty clueless about my position within the age group at this point (especially since most of my AG started 90 minutes before me).  Around the 1st aid station I saw Lauren and crew from District Multisport.  I love having familiar faces cheering on the run course.  I kept a steady intake of water and gatorade at every aid station as I ran through.  Around mile 2 I passed 'the lead female', she was on mile 11 or so and probably not in the lead time wise, but she was physically so she had the lead bike.  I calculated the time difference compared to my pace as best I could and figured I was doing quite well.  I felt great through the first out and back and was enjoying seeing so many friends racing and cheering.  I came back through Great Marsh - got a good kick in the pants from Heather and Ellen at the Base tent and headed out to Water St. to make my way to the downtown turn around.  Water street seemed to be taking on a good amount of water, but luckily had some high ground left to keep the feet somewhat dry.  My #1 cheerleader, my mom was out there taking videos and pics every time I went by. As I made it into downtown I was greeted by more great cheerleaders from District Multisport (Jen and Daren) and was happy to see Melani and Malissa out there as well.  As I approached the turn around I heard a chant start up, it took a few seconds, but then I realized almost an entire block was chanting my name.  Thanks to my coworkers, Rachel and Kendall, for getting this crowd fired up!
Swim or Run? Still not sure.
Back around for the 2nd loop and still feeling pretty good.  I felt good through about mile 16, started feeling the fatigue set in and kept grinding it out.  I used Brady here, whatever he was going through one year ago was nothing compared to the pain I was feeling in this moment.  Keep digging, keep grinding. This time through Great Marsh was more fun, passing through the Base area and then Water Street...oh Water Street.  It was completely flooded.  Most people were walking through, I powered through with the run and didn't mind it too much.  Friend and teammate Bryan got himself a lawn chair and relaxed in his speedo, ass deep in street water.  It made me smile and laugh, it was great.  Down through town again, more chanting and smiles and I knew I had a shortened loop ahead.    Got some encouraging words from Darren as I came through and then more wading through Water Street before wading through Great Marsh Park.  The swim didn't really get cancelled, the race just got reorganized.  The final 'loop' is modified and much shorter, such a good mental boost.  I knew I was in good position and was told just to hold my pace.  Ellen and Heather had given me the best pep talk as I came through around mile 19.  Hold the pace, got it, in my mind this made me think my lead wasn't all that big and I just had to get my butt to the finish line as fast as possible.  Made the turn around,  more wading into Great Marsh Park and down Water Street.  Matt from Base told me Heather and Ellen were making there way to the finish to bring me in to Kona as I passed through one last time and I started getting very excited.  One final turn around in town by the brewery and it was downhill into the finish.

Coming in to the finish!

I smiled, I pumped my fists, I jumped (even if Mikal says I barely left the ground) and I celebrated.  I was fortunate enough to know that I had punched my ticket to Kona as I crossed the line.  A little collapse beyond the line and I was dragged off to the med tent for a short while.  Luckily my support crew busted in to start the celebrations early.  Adam told me all of the news on my results and then the
girls came in to celebrate.

FINISH TIME - 8:32:56 - 1st AG - 10th Female Overall

Friends, training partners, teammates.  
I can truly say I was present in every moment.  There was enough feeling and emotion to last a lifetime, and that's what I had asked for.  I had the best, and one of the biggest, support crews out there.  Big thanks to my mom for making the trip for #6, Heather for getting the nutrition I left in DC, and Adam for making the trek out to stand in water and keep me going.  A huge thanks to my Coach, Kim Schwabenbauer of Fuel Your Passion, for believing in me to make the turn around from IMMT and setting me up for success going into Maryland.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about it.  There were a couple of times on the day that I thought I'm either having a great race or about to have an epic blow up.  Thankfully there was no epic blow up.

She's excited to go to Kona!
I'm excited and ready for a few weeks of off season, planning out the 2017 season, and a trip to Kona to cap it all off.  After Mont Tremblant I started doubting myself big time, wondering if I wasn't really sick and just making excuses, considering hanging up the bike for a few years and focusing on things I 'should' be doing (relationships, family, kids).  I can assure you I was more sick than I thought in Canada, IMMD showed me that.  I love the journey I'm on, the relationships I've forged through triathlon, the places I've had the opportunity to see and the life I'm living.  Here in lies my passion and allows me to thrive in all aspects of my life.

Celebrating with Rachel and Kendall!
Thank you to all of you that have been a part of this journey, it's been an awesome ride, and I wouldn't change it for the world.  To be able to have the race I've been training for in front of a 'hometown' crowd and so many friends was very special.  Thank you to my Snapple Teammates,  DC Tri Teammates, District Multisport friends, athlete friends (old and new) on the course, and my amazing coworkers.  Your cheers did not go unnoticed, I wish I could take you all to Kona with me.

 Thank you to my newest sponsor, Ultragrain, for helping to incorporate healthy whole grains into my diet (#haveagrainday). Thank you to my sponsors DC Tri Club, Snapple Triathlon, Team, District Taco, Xterra Wetsuits, Rudy Project Helmets, Louis Garneau, Pierce Footwear by Seven Dynamics, and Rose Physical Therapy Group and thank you to Base Salt for being on the course (#saltsaves)! I missed you at IMMT!