Monday, November 26, 2012

Long Recap for a Long Race!

This post is going to be long and picture loaded.  There, you’ve been warned. 

And while I should be writing my paper... I just found out that the deadline has been moved back a couple days, so I have a couple more days to procrastinate! 
I wanted to make sure my thoughts were recorded before I forget the details, and it won’t offend me if you skip most (or all) of this!

My Ironman journey started two years ago when I volunteered at Ironman.  That was in 2010, and I was in awe of those athletes working non-stop in the cold, rainy, weather.  I was too scared to sign up for the next year, but I volunteered again.  This time with the Ironmoms, and we were all signing up!  And again, I was in awe to the point of tears at the ferocity and determination of the athletes.  So, for the last year, I knew this day was coming. 

I trained casually until this summer.  That was when I really started hitting the bike hard.  I also swam a lot over the summer.  I’m embarrassed to admit, but that was something that happened only a couple of times once school started.  But my schedule generally was a 4-4:30 wake up call most days, either biking or running. 

The days leading up to Ironman were full of fear and excitement.  The athlete dinner Friday night was supposed to pump you up, and it did, but it also scared the heck out of me!  It was exciting getting to hear Mike Reilly say “You will DO THIS!”  And I have to admit, I thought would I really? We also had VIP passes (thank you so much Salt River!) so we were able to go to a reception where I got to meet Linsey Corbin (who won it for the girls this year!).  She was darling, and wearing heels!  

I found myself hanging out at Ironman Village a lot over the next couple of days.  All the things that I could have done in one trip, I spread out to three, on three different days.  I loved just being there in anticipation of it all 

So Saturday night, I didn’t have a whole lot to do.  Usually I’m frantically trying to find all my stuff and putting all my things together for the race the next day, but this time, all my things were packed already in my bags and dropped off.  That was so nice to have that taken care of!  For dinner I had my carbs of choice… teriyaki chicken and rice.  (I’d been making a conscious effort to eat more meat to keep my iron up, and felt strong the two weeks prior.  Yea!) 
Just when I was about to go to bed at 9:30, Gwen came to me crying that her ear was hurting.  Uh oh.  I told her I’d just give her some Tylenol and put some alcohol in her ear and she would be fine.  She cried and said she wanted to go to the doctor.  Really!? Everyone was in bed, except Ryan who was off at T-Mobile getting his new phone.  So off to Urgent Care we went.  After the second one we went to was closed, and I was anxious about the sleep I was losing, I told her we’d go to the pharmacy and get ear drops and Motrin.  That appeased her, the Motrin helped with the pain and we were in bed by 10:45.  I took 2 Tylenol PMs and slept like a champ! 

I set my alarm for 5 am.  I wanted to get as much sleep as I could.   I had a protein shake for breakfast with a banana, Emergen-C, and chia seeds and I drank it on the way to the race.  I made one trip to the port-a-pottys, went to put my water bottle on my bike and suited up.  
I found a short line, YES!
While there a girl next to me mentioned she forgot her ear plugs and asked if I had extras.  I did, so I gave her them.  Once I was suited, I realized I should give my back pack to Ryan, so I called him and found him just as the athletes were being herded into the lake.  That was when I realized that my earplugs had fallen from the neck on my wetsuit, down inside my wetsuit.  So I unsuited my top half as I’m watching the lake start to fill with athletes.  After a frantic search, I only found one.  Luckily I had extra!  Oh wait, I gave those away.  L  So with a quick kiss to my fans, I went and stood on the dock, and wondered what would happen if I just didn’t jump in the freezing cold water.  “You’d have wasted a lot of time and money,” I told myself and jumped in!

Heading over for a good bye kiss.
The Swim:
The water was so cold!  My feet and face were numb in an instant.  So I swam out to the font/middle of the pack.  I wanted to take advantage of any draft.  I also wore my pink arm sleeve over my wetsuit so Ryan would be able to seem me the whole time I was swimming.  It’s worked really well in the past, but with the hot pink caps on all the girls, it didn’t show up.  Once the canon blew, it was face in the water and swim time!  It was crazy.  A constant contact swim.  People would just pop up underneath you or on top of you.  I caught a hard elbow to the goggles, and my right brow bone is still sore from that.  Also, at probably 2 miles, I noticed my head felt cooler (which was nice at this point, even though my feet were still numb).  Then I also felt like my hair was moving.  I reached up to find that my cap had been pulled from my head and was just being dragged behind me, attached from my goggle straps.  Also, at about a mile and a half in, I had warmed up for sure.  Some water got in my mouth, and I thought “that is SO refreshing!”  Then without even thinking, I swallowed it!  It was so good.  Seriously, Tempe Town Lake water, good.  Eww.  I know.  I may have continued to drink the water the rest of the swim. 
I was surprised when I reached the last buoy.  I had anticipated the dread feeling when you’re just dying to be out of the water, but it never came.  And as I climbed the stairs thinking 1 down, 2 to go, I was feeling ready!
2.4 mile swim - 1:18:48

The chute to the bike bags was forever long.  And while I wanted to hurry, I also was doing my best to scan the crowd, looking for Ryan and the kids.  I never saw them, and my vision was so blurry, like my eyes were coated in lotion.  (They’ve never been before, so I don’t know how I came up with that analogy)  But I had blinked them clear after about thirty seconds, in time to see Jack and Janeen cheering for me.  That was so exciting and gave me such a boost of energy to see their excitement for me. 
I grabbed my gear bag without a problem and headed for the changing tent.  There a sweet lady had me sit down and dumped my gear bag and started helping me dress.  I only was throwing on bike shorts over my tri shorts, arm warmers on, compression sleeves, socks, and gloves, but it took forever!  I toweled off with my chamois, but still, the wetness you can’t rub off was preventing my tight sleeves from going on both my arms and legs.  I wish I had baby powder! 
From there I ran out and a volunteer put sunblock on me, I ran to my bike area where another volunteer grabbed my bike while I put on my helmet and glasses.  Then I was off.  Riding down the chute through the crowds, again was so exciting!

World's Greatest Support Crew!
The bike I was very concerned about.  The day before I had a bad kink in my back that I thought would go away once I laid down and slept.  It didn’t.  I felt it pull every time I bent over.  It hurt pretty bad, so I loaded up on Ibuprofen that morning.  Well it really helped, and I pedaled at what felt like was an easy pace, but I was going fast!  I figured if I wasn’t hurting, why not maintain it?  
My mom was at aid station 1, and as I passed I yelled “hi mom!” and I could hear her start cheering me with so much excitement that it made me so happy and proud to be working my tush off! 

I fueled with Bonk Breakers, bananas, and lots of Swedish Fish and Redvines.  I also stuck some Honey Stingers on my top tube, but after drinking all that lake water, I through up all over those, so they didn’t get eaten.  :[ 
The first lap, I felt strong despite some stomach cramping.  Throwing up and taking salt pills helped that.  Coming in from the first lap, I saw Ryan and the kids!  Again, seeing their excitement was just like the Bonk Breakers as far as fuel goes.  I was charged up.  

How the kids kept busy
The second lap, I got to see mom again at aid station 1.  By then I was definitely warm, so I through her my arm warmers.  During the second lap though, my Ibuprofen was wearing off, and I could feel the pain in my back.  Second lap was slower.  I saw Annette cheering from the side of the road on lap 2, and I was concerned.  I wondered what happened, but was pumped from seeing her smile. I was looking forward to seeing Ryan and the kids on my way back from 2, and their cheers gave me what I needed to start lap 3.  

Babies getting tired.  It's exhausting watching an Ironman!
The third lap, was a little better than the second.  I made it a point to talk to the other athletes to get my mind off my back.  Also, I saw a girl wipe out, and so I had a burst of speed as I hurried up to the Penalty tent to let them know a biker was down.  That was the third biker I saw down.  The other two the ambulances were already there by the time I saw them.  My third lap was hard, and I dedicate that one to Swedish Fish.  You saved me.  I had serious discomfort from the lack of powder on the under carriage.  I didn’t think it would do any good going on a wet chamois, but I wish I would have tried it. 
112 miles – 6:01:44

Anytime you’re going through the crowd, it just charges you.  Add to it the anticipation of finally getting off your bike, and I was ecstatic!  At dismount a volunteer met me and told me he had my bike and I could get off.  Could I??  I had to use my arm to help lift my leg over my bike.  My feet were dead, but somehow, those dead feet started moving and carried me into the changing tent where again, another sweet volunteer helped me change shoes and hat.  Thank you for not being disgusted by my sweaty bike shorts.  (or at least for not showing it!)  I had packed a full change of clothes, but I decided I’d be fine in my tri suit.  (A decision I later regretted) 

I felt good, and as long as I didn’t think about having to run a marathon, I felt like I could keep going no problem.  I looked for Ryan and the kids on my way out, but didn’t see them.  When I made it to the first aid station, I was more than happy to partake of their pretzels and a cookie.  The aid stations were fantastic.  Well stocked, and full of energy.  They all cheered you on by name, and I thanked them each time.  Also, I heard lots of comments about me smiling.  I gathered that maybe not many athletes were smiling by that point, but I was telling myself over and over, “your doing a freaking IRONMAN!” and then I couldn’t help but smile.  

cup of ice in hand
I only used the bathroom once the whole day, and that was at mile three.  Another no so shining moment of the day, I sat on the toilet seat of the port-a-potty without a cover, and didn’t even care! 
The run course is a funny figure 8 with the crossing point over by transition, so there are tons of crowds that you pass through twice on each loop.  Each time, I was scanning the crowds looking for my family, and I didn’t see them.  That was hard. 
The first half of the run I was so hot.  I kept a cup of ice that I chomped on until the next aid station where I’d refill my ice, stick a cold sponge down my back and ice down my jersey.  But as soon as the sun went down, it was nice. 
But also with the sun going down was darkness.  The majority of the run was well lit, but there were a few spots that were dark.  The first time I fell, was as I was finishing up my second loop, I was scanning the crowds looking for Ryan and the kids when I hit a pot hole and went down.  Luckily that one was in the grass and didn’t hurt too bad.  (Although the bruise on my hip still manages to get hit on everything)  I saw Althea’s family and Patty (I assume Kate was with her?) on the run, but never Ryan and the kids.  I was hoping to see them in every crowd, but each time I’d pass through the crowd, I’d be disappointed they weren’t there.  As I got closer to the finish, I was worried they wouldn’t even be there.  

Poor Gwenny with double ear infections.
 Apparently Gwen’s ear got worse, and the other ear was hurting too by that point.  She was crying and Ryan had to take her to the ER.  They got some antibiotics and Motrin, and he took her home to sleep.  Poor girl! 
So anyway, I was mentally down a little.  Even though I kept doing my affirmations, my mind was wondering where they were.  So when I came down a fast, poorly lit hill and hit gravel at the bottom, I was mentally defeated.  I cried.  Loud.  For a while.  I was hurt for sure, but I also thought that was the end.  I swam 2.4 miles, biked 112, and ran 22 for it all to end now, and I wasn’t going to be an Ironman.  I laid there for probably 30 seconds until a runner came up and asked if I needed help up.  YES!!  She helped me up where I assessed the damage.  I could stand, so I could walk.  I told myself you can walk and cry until you reach the next light pole, and then you are running your butt into the finish!  I didn’t want to look at my knees because I didn’t want to know if it looked bad.  So I did.  I walked, and sobbed, for maybe 100 yards, then I forced the run.  (Run is a loose term at this point.  I just mean a jog.) 
After a half mile, I had the pain and crying under control and my mood was starting to improve .  I was thinking even if my family isn’t here to see me do this, I’m overcoming a lot.  I’ve worked so hard for this.  I’ve gotten up so early for months and juggled the kids, school and training, and this is the pay off.  I’m accomplishing a life goal!  I started up my affirmations again, and I couldn’t wait to get to the finish! 
Just as I was coming back into the transition area, I saw my girlfriends, Catherine, Kassidi, and Megan holding signs they made.  I wanted to stop and hug them, but I didn’t want them to see the tears in my eyes, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to start running again.  I told them I was going in the finish and kept going. 
 As I started entering the finishers chute, I saw Janeen and Jack, and my emotions boiled over, and I stated bawling!  Just then I heard Mike Reilly say “Kristin McPhie of Mesa, Arizona, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” “This is the moment!!” I told myself, don’t cry!  I heard my family cheering for me (even over all the crowd!) and I danced my way into the finish. 
Run 26.2 miles – 4:43:05

 Total – 12:14:53 

Once I crossed the finish, a volunteer wrapped me in a mylar blanket, gave me my finishers shirt, hat, and medal, and had me pose for a picture.  From there I went to the medic tent where they “cleaned” my knee up and watched me for a bit to make sure I didn’t get loopy on them.  

Never been so proud to post a picture of me looking haggard!
When I came out, my family was all there waiting for me, and it felt amazing.  It really meant so much to me that my brothers had come out and cheered me on.  And mom, I could tell you were so proud of me, and that made me feel incredible!  Thank you!

 Also my friends!  I can’t tell you “thank you” enough.  It meant the world to me that you brought me Diet Dr. Pepper and skittles!  You know how I roll!
 Thank you to you other Ironmoms for examples and encouragement.  Kate, you planted the seed, thank you! 

And most of all, I owe the biggest THANK YOU to my sweet family.  Gwen and Drake, thanks for putting up with a sometimes absent mom.  And Ryan, thank you for picking up any slack!  You win for best cheerleader, and this dream couldn’t have been realized without you.  Thank you!    
 So now that it’s over, I’m diving back into my studies.  Two papers and two finals in the next couple weeks. 
As far as future Ironman races?  I’m hoping to be there in 2014!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Congrats to the IronMoms!

Ladies - I am so proud of ALL of you!  It seems like forever ago we started this blog.  What a journey it has been.  Everyone has come such a long way.  If you stop and really think about it, the training alone for this event is a victory in itself.  Everyone put in a ton of miles and lots of sweat and sometimes tears.  I wish I could have been racing with you.  I know I was a total instigator for this and I'm proud to have helped plant the seed. 

I am now cleared to run and bike eventhough I still have tingling below both knees and in my hands. I took a 15 mile ride and ran walked 20 minutes. I am starting from zero fitness level.  Luckily (?) my weight is in its usual spot and I didn't gain while I wasn't moving.  I am going to continue this Ironman Journey with Annette and anyone else who wants to join us.  I have already put together a plan to get me to IMAZ2014. 

Again, I'm proud of all of you! 

You Are an Ironman!

Here it is, my Ironman 2012 Race Report!!  I can't believe the race has already come and gone.  There was quite a bit of anticipation and preparation going into this race that the race itself seems like just a drop in the bucket. 

Pre-race:  In the week preceding the race, I came down with a cold.  I didn't really do any physical activities other than some yin yoga and strength training.  I wanted to keep my muscles in top shape even though I wasn't in any condition to do any cardio.  I tried to keep hydrated all week and just hoped that and rest (and adrenaline) would be enough to fuel me through the race.

The morning of the race, I got up and forced down some breakfast.  I really wasn't hungry, but I knew I would need something to get me through the first part of the race.  My family got up early and took me to the race start.  It was a madhouse.  It took longer than anticipated for us to get parked.  Then, I took longer than I wanted getting my bike and run special needs bags dropped off.  I waited way too long in line for the port-a-potty and before I knew it, they were calling us to get into the water!!  I didn't have my wetsuit on.  So, I raced from the port-a-potty to my bike to make sure it was ready to go and pulled on my wetsuit (I think I put it on in record time).  I dropped my morning gear in the bin and hurried to the water. 

The swim was packed!
The Swim:  As I got to the edge of the lake, I was looking desperately around for the other Ironmoms or any other familiar Ironman face.  I didn't see anyone and I was a little sad (and panicky) about that.  I really felt alone at that point.  I sucked it up and jumped in the water and it was COLD!!  I knew it would be cold, but it was still a shock to my system.  I slowly swam toward the start line and tried to calm down and get in the center of the pack.  The volunteer who helped me zip my wetsuit didn't quite get the velcro and the strap for the zipper lined up, so I was trying to adjust it (something that I would try to fix throughout the 2.4 mile swim--with little success).  As I bobbed in the water waiting for the race to start, I felt both ready and terrified.  I couldn't believe I was starting the actual race!  The cannon went off and the swim started.

It was a brawl.  The first few hundred yards were full of feet and fists.  I got caught between two guys for most of the race.  Now, not to be sexist, but men are much less considerate in the swim than women.  I was knocked around quite a bit as the two of them tended to veer from side to side (one was basically swimming zig zags over me the entire swim).  Other than that (and the constant rubbing of velcro on my neck), the swim was alright--long, but alright.  When we finally reached the turnaround, I was disappointed to see how far it of a diagonal north it took before we turned in towards the finish.  All in all, I was surprised at how quickly the swim passed.  In actuality, it was close to 2 hours, but it felt like minutes.  Then, it was time to get pulled out of the water and move on to the bike.

T1:  One thing I did not look at before the race (partially due to how rushed I was, but also due to lack of prep), was where the transitions were.  I did not realize how far we'd have to run from the water to get our bike gear.  It was nearly a quarter mile from the edge of the water to the change tent--after the long winding path we took to get there.  The problem with this--my icy, cold feet hurt like crazy running on the cold, hard ground.

Sweet finisher SWAG
The volunteers in the change tent were amazing.  There were volunteers just outside the water who stripped our wetsuits off.  Once we picked up our bags (thanks to more volunteers), we moved to the change tents.  I didn't really need to change, since I wore my tri kit under my wetsuit, but I needed to get socks on and other bike gear.  The volunteers helping us change really did tend to our every need.  My volunteer helped me get my socks on since my fingers and feet were so cold.  She opened my powerbar, mixed my water and zipfizz, and helped me get my bike gloves on.  After I stepped out of the change tent, another volunteer grabbed my bike and walked with me so I could finish my powerbar and drink.  I hadn't been prepared to be famished coming out of the water!! 

The Bike:  Then, it was time to get on the bike and go--for 112 miles.  It was a long ride.  I just tried to focus on keeping my average speed up and not over thinking everything.  I wanted to focus on hydration and nutrition, so I tried to eat and drink with regularity.  I stopped at the same aid station on the Beeline (at Gilbert Rd) to use the port a potty on each of the three laps.  The first lap I stopped because I really needed to, the 2nd and 3rd laps I stopped because I needed to get off my bike and stretch.  There were different points on the ride where the headwind was a bit stronger than I would have liked, but overall, I couldn't complain.

It was really sunny, but I didn't get too hot on the ride--my feet stayed icy and numb almost the entire 7 1/2 hours I was out there on the bike course.  The highlight of my ride was something of a mixed blessing.  On my second lap, I saw Annette cheering on the side of the road.  I had to do a double take!  I was so sad to know that she wouldn't be finishing the race (I hope she writes a race report too), but I have to say it was wonderful seeing her and hearing her cheer each time I passed on the bike.

Other than that, the bike feels lonely.  It's a long ride and there are long stretches that are very quiet.  I kept thinking about something the yoga instructor at my gym says, "feel the different sensations in your body without judgment--it's not good or bad, it just is."  This helped me even though my back and shoulders were tired and achy by the last loop.  I knew I was in good shape as far as time went, so I just kept pedaling.  I also saw my family cheering me on as I finished up the bike, so that was great motivation to bring it in to the end. 

T2:  This transition came and went quickly.  Though I had packed extra clothes for the run, I decided not to change.  So, I really only needed to change shoes and helmet to hat.  Again, there was a lovely volunteer who helped with everything--including finding me a kleenex because my stuffy nose was running like a faucet after I got off the bike. 

The Run: Then, it was time for the run.  I was so happy to be off my bike that I didn't care that I had a 26.2 mile run in front of least when I started.  I was excited to see friends at various points on the run course.  At first, I didn't realize I knew the people cheering me on.  Our names are on our race bibs, so people cheer you on by name all day.  It wasn't until I passed my first group of fans, that I realized I knew them!!

Looking a little rough about 3 miles into the run
I started the run with a pattern of run 5 minutes, walk 90 seconds (plus walk through aid stations as needed).  I was holding pretty steady with this through about mile 10.  My feet were getting hot and I could feel a blister forming on my pinky toe.  So, I moved to a run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes pattern.  I kept this up until around mile 17 when I dropped to a run 4 minutes, walk 2 minutes pattern, which is what I kept until the finish.

Overall, the run was exhausting, but I felt pretty good.  I was concentrating on form and actually running during the run part of my pattern.  The pinky toe blister popped shortly after the 25 mile marker and that was probably the worst of my pain on the run.  I felt lucky.  I passed so many people who were stopped or doubled over with pain on the run.  I was glad I had added so much strength work to my training regimen.  The last loop was infinite.  Just prior to starting the last loop, I saw my friend Caroline (a running rock star) and she looked great.  Earlier, I had seen my friend Linda who was holding strong and in good shape to finish.  It was so nice to see familiar faces on the course.  Of all the points on the race, the run is where having outside encouragement felt the best.

A woman named Tyler was running along side me at one point (and was obviously feeling some pain), she was a loop ahead of me on the run (I was just starting my 2nd and she was starting her 3rd).  This was her 2nd Ironman.  She was so encouraging--she did some mental math and confirmed what I already knew, which was that I was going to finish in plenty of time before the final cutoff.  It was nice having someone else confirm that for me.  When I finally passed that mile 25 sign on the last loop, I felt like the end was truly near.  Popped blister and all, I ran it in to the finish and finally heard the words I'd waited 15 hours and 52 minutes to hear--"Kimberly, you are an Ironman!" 

Post-race:  The finish line was kind of crazy.  I was ushered through by a volunteer who gave me my swag and then all of the sudden Adam was there!  I didn't know where he came from.  There were so many people cheering at the end, it was impossible to see or find anyone in the crowd.  I happily drank an entire chocolate milk (my obvious state of exhaustion and deprivation exemplified by this act--because I am not a milk fan normally).  Other than that, I wasn't really in the mood to eat the other post race fare.  We headed home, where I took an Epsom salt bath (seriously a miracle) and went to bed.  I had trouble sleeping--general soreness, adrenaline, and too much caffeine during the run were probably to blame.  I took another Epsom salt bath on Tuesday morning.  I wasn't sore at all by that day.  I could even walk up and down stairs without trouble.  I went to yin yoga on Wednesday and my body felt good--in terms of muscles and joints.

The race did not, however, help me get over my cold.  I am still battling it.  I've lost my senses of taste and smell for now and I can't wait to recover.  Once I shake this cold, I'll start thinking about my next race.  Right now, I don't see another Ironman in my future, but we'll see what I think in a few years.  For now, I am happy with "short" races--like 1/2 marathons!

Awesome surprise from my awesome friend Danie!
I have to thank my fellow Ironmoms for their support and encouragement.  Kate--you inspired me to do this, and I can't wait to hear about your journey to your next IM.  Annette--you have been the best training partner and friend throughout this--I will be there to help you train for the next one!  Kristin--you are amazing--I am in awe of your speed and energy.

Thanks also to my family--Adam and the girls have put up with so much while I trained for this!  My parents for teaching me that I really can do anything that I set my mind to, but that hard work will be necessary to reach those goals!  Thanks to all the friends who've trained with me, sent me encouraging messages, came out and cheered during this race and others, or who just kept tabs on me throughout this so that I kept moving forward toward the finish.  While I felt lonely at various points during the race, I knew I was never alone.  I had a legion of supporters who helped me get from Ironman goal to Ironman completion!!    

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ironman eve

Well here it is....night before the big day. All the gear is bagged and sitting in transition. Enzo is parked in bike transition. Now I just gotta get myself to bed now.

Some reflection on this past year includes learning riding a road bike with cleats - I did crash at least once. Learning to swim in a wetsuit - too much buoyancy. Running and I are still trying to find a happy medium. Kinda late to say that now but hey, we got 26.2 miles to figure something out. : )

I decided a couple years ago to be healthy for myself and my children. It dawned on me after my middle daughter, Anne Marie, came to live with us that I'm their only parent and I better take care of myself! I was in not very good shape - pushing 250lbs, triglycerides at 223, and I could only do 15 minutes on an elliptical. After a year of Shakeology and keeping on the elliptical I dropped the triglycerides down to 107 and 40lbs. That's when the original Ironmom, Kate, did her Ironman in 2010.

It was while we were celebrating that I committed to my first triathlon the following April. I've been hooked ever sense. Halfway through that Summer I started thinking I could take on an Ironman. Heck Kate said we'd have a year to train!

Now the day has come. It's a dream I thought was gonna be really hard if not impossible. What I've learned this year is that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!

Thanks to everyone for the words of encouragement, the prayers for safety and strength and that pats on the back. I'll be doing my best and expect to see a big smile on my face all day because I'll be living my dream!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Falling Apart!!!

Wow, it's been months since I lasted posted!!!  And now, it's only 6 (closer to 5) days until Ironman!  I can hardly believe it's here, but at the same time it feels like it will never get here.  Since Nathan's Olympic tri, I've also completed the Soma 1/2 Iron (for a 2nd time) and the Women's 1/2 Marathon (for a 3rd time).

Soma 1/2 Iron Tri
The good news is that both races went well.  I felt much better on Soma than I did on either of my two previous 1/2 Irons.  My time was a PR, even though my swim and bike were both slightly slower than the previous 1/2 Irons--my run was just significantly faster.  I have been trying to find a good balance with using salt tabs and eating more.  I still find it a little difficult to get enough to eat during a race.  I really need to stop if I'm going to eat more than a bite of something at a time.  I am hoping that I will just be so hungry during IMAZ that I will have to eat.  On my Soma swim, I felt like I was really moving--I think my overall time was a little slower than last year's for a couple of reasons.  First, I was wearing a wetsuit and that takes longer to get out of (and the timing mat isn't until you are entering transition).  Second, since we were swimming into the sun, I had a bit more difficulty spotting and actually swam 1.4 miles rather than 1.2 according to my Garmin.  I think I veered too far center a couple of times when I was spotting off another swimmer.  Finally, I am trying to walk my transitions in order to avoid getting too amped up and winded when I start the bike.

My ride times have been consistently slower this year.  I am not sure what this is other than I have trained much more for distance than for speed, so I may just not be quite as quick as in previous races.  Also, I did stop for a potty break during the ride, so I am sure that didn't help with the overall time.  By the time I hit the run, I actually felt pretty good.  I followed my walk-run pattern.  I started with a run 5 minutes walk 90 seconds pattern that stretched to a 2 minute walk around mile 10.  But, that's much better than my 2 previous 1/2 irons where I walked more than I ran.   So, after Soma, I was feeling pretty good about the last month before Ironman.  Then, things started to slide a bit...
Women's 1/2 Marathon

First, we took a quick weekend vacation to Rocky Point, Mexico--where I did nothing (no running, biking, or swimming).  Then, I had a conference in Atlanta, followed by an important presentation at work the following week.  Between Atlanta and the presentation, I ran the Women's 1/2 Marathon.  I had a good run, despite not having run anything more than 6 miles since Soma.  It wasn't a PR, but it was an improvement over my previous times for the same race.  Following all of that travel and stress, I had severe back and neck pain (like crying in my bed because I couldn't lift up my head pain).  I have made 3 visits to the chiropractor in the last week and have one more scheduled before IMAZ.  I can finally lift my head, but my range of motion with my neck is still limited.

What's worse is that I've definitely gotten sick.  It started with a cough--this morning I woke up with a throat that felt like it was swallowing glass.  The pain has gotten a little better, but I am just hoping the soreness and congestion ease up before Sunday!!!

As a result, I haven't tapered so much as quit training cold turkey.  I have been doing some strength training (because it doesn't cause huge coughing fits), but little else.  I tried a ride yesterday morning, but the cold, my lack of a spare tube (due to a flat on a training ride a few weeks back and me being too busy to get to the bike shop), and my compromised health resulted in a very short ride on the beeline.  In retrospect, I should have skipped it altogether, because I felt like crap after I got home.

I did get my bike into the shop for some final tweaks.  I replenished my tube and CO2 tank supply.  I got a new back tire (a gator skin--so I better not get a flat!!!) and I had my brakes realigned, so I should be good to go with that.

My plan for the rest of the week is to rest and hydrate.  I am hoping that will be enough to get me through the race--that and my sheer will to complete it!  At this point, the main thing fueling me is the thought of hearing the words "You Are an Ironman!"