Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ironman Florida

Ironman Florida- Full circle

Admittedly the allure of completing a full Ironman distance race has been the fear and the fuel behind my journey this season.  After surpassing my wildest dreams in completing a Half Ironman after my knee surgery, thoughts began to creep in about "could I" dare to dream.  Being accustomed to injury and knowing I was tempting fate pushing beyond the half distance I still could not put the thoughts aside.  With the progress I had made during the summer, the durability I had gained, and new found confidence, there was only one way to find out. DO IT.  Tim assured me he could get me across the line and that was just the goal.

To back up a bit…about half way through the season my goals began take shape; a clearer picture arose.  What was motivating me?  My entire motivation to get to this point was a matter of doing things I didn't think were at one point were even possible:  Complete an Olympic distance triathlon...check, qualify for Pro license...check, complete a Half Ironman...check.  The Ironman distance seemed to check that box for me and continued to motivate the daily grind....IF I could do this it seemed to me to be the absent piece of the puzzle.

So we trained and trained, more than I ever have. There were tears, doubts, worries, fears then things seemed to click.  Paces were dropping, watts (well they weren't getting much higher but they were holding for longer), swimming was consistent.  I went in to Ironman Florida feeling confident in the training but just plain nervous about the unknown of the actual race.  I'd done 2 x 2hr long runs as my max.  What would that last hour + feel like in the marathon?  Would the knee hold up?

I waited to sign up until the day before the deadline for two reasons 1.  Was I actually going to do this? 2.  Would I stay injury free?  So nervously I hit the enter button on the computer, and confirmed my registration with Hearther Fuhr.  It was happening...

Rachel Jastrebsky and I made the 13h car trip to Panama City the Wednesday before the race.  Rachel is such a positive athlete, lots of enthusiasm and support and she quickly calmed my nerves as we joked and chatted the entire trip :)

Anthony and my Dad set out a day later (military calls) and met us Friday before the race.  I was overjoyed having my two favorite guys there to sherpa and help with logistics pre race.  I go through the usual meltdown i.e.- wheel choice, gear choice (as it was going to be quite cold), tubular spare, garmin malfunctioning.  Something always goes wrong and it was reassuring knowing I had Anthony and my dad!

Something new this year that seems to really calm my nerves is having an actual race plan.  Tim's pre race call is a saving grace.  I know longer have to think to much about that part.  He gives me a play by play of HR's paces watts and contingency plans for the day.  Did I mention I love my coach!

Race Details:

Woke up Saturday morning to 20mph sustained winds, 25-35mph gusts and 40deg temps.  For someone who despises the cold this plain STUNK!  We made our way to warm up only to find about 5minutes later after being crushed by unrelenting waves and current that the swim was cancelled.   While I never truly fear any swim conditions and was prepared to gut it out, it was definitely the right call.  The safety personnel were overturning in kayaks and to put those folks at risk, let alone all of the other athletes with differing swim abilities would have been a mistake. It was the right call, we adjusted thoughts and prepared for a TT bike start at 8am.


Brrr.  that's about all I have to say!  Kit, Jersey, wind vest, arm warmers, ear band, gloves, compression socks, toe warmers.  Seriously??!  The first 25miles was almost all head/cross wind and I knew I was in for a long day.  Rachel passed me within the first few miles and was looking strong.  I just decided to focus on my watts and nutrition.  Too bad my HR wasn't registering (oops, reset the garmin and forgot to pair it the day before).  No need to panic, this was a long day.  I've ridden long rides this summer and felt pretty confident I could go on RPE/watts although tough in the wind.  I'd say after about mile 80 I was feeling pretty strong.  Made one pass on the bike and two passed me.  It was great to see Anthony and my Dad on the course snapping pics and cheering.  Apparently they found a spot to go "off roading" in our new Truck ....boys.

The last 25 miles with the exception of  a small out and back were tail/cross and you could really fly! This was fun and gave me a chance to prepare to run without having to work too hard those last miles on the bike.  Getting into unknown territory soon and I wasn't sure what to expect so I played it a bit cautious the last 10miles.


I had strict instructions with HR and pace during the run.  Tim and I both knew I hadn't done the volume to support a fast marathon but we knew If I paced it right it wouldn't be a slow death!  My first mile split registered 10:09 and I started to worry- later to find out this was wrong!  I picked it up before realizing it was impossibly wrong and settled into my pace thankfully.  I came off the bike in 5th and stayed in that position for the remainder of the race.  After the first half marathon I thought, here we go- the unknown, focus!!  It was great to see Rachel on the course cheering;  she was killing it. Also to see so many fans dressed in Halloween costumes.  It appeared to be quite the party.

Coming through the finishing shoot I was elated.  A high five from Anthony and a huge grin on his face, I could feel how proud he was.  This was as much as a victory to him as to me.  He's been there through the ups and downs, decisions, indecisions and unknowns.  He' s the one who motivated me to continue this journey and I'm so thankful for his support.  Rachel waited at the finish line and a huge embrace was in store.  We've spent countless hours on the road together and we were equally happy with our/eachothers' performances.  What a day!  I've truly come full circle in this journey after a devastating knee injury in 2011 and now training successfully and executing an ironman against statistics with microfracture surgery.  I truly couldn't have done this without the team behind me.

Lew Hollander, Ironman Legend

What's next?
Well, that's a funny question...... Technically I didn't do a "full Ironman" and that was the goal.  In some thoughts I feel a little disappointed about that but completing the marathon was really the big accomplishment in my mind.  I still have a few questions unanswered…. Who knows.......will see.

Thank you:
Anthony for your unwavering support
Dad for always being there no matter how far
Family and friends for the encouragement
Tim Snow for the guidance and patience!
Qt2 systems- Truly a program I believe in: Jesse, Caitlin, Rachel (Coaching, Nutrition plans)
Zoot Sports- Apparel, kit, gear
Village Bicycles- Walt Garner- Keeping my bike rolling especially the new Di2 two days before the race!
Bon Secours in Motion PT- Julie Blandin- Your knowledge and dedication priceless, Keeping me injury free and moving correctly this season
Bon Secours Personal Training- Aaron Ransom- Strength and power! Thank you!

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