Following Ironman Texas I took about one week off to allow my body to recover and reset. I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly my body seemed to bounce back. I was feeling pretty good about 3 days after the race and within a week was back to training. (I attribute this somewhat to the method of training I follow (the MAF method) as well as the fact that I really didn't run all that fast at Texas so my body wasn't quite as beat up as it could have been). As explained in my last blog, I raced the Reno Tahoe Odyssey with a team 3 weeks after IM Texas and would follow up that race with Ironman Coeur D'Alene 70.3 another 3 weeks after that.
I was ready to see where my "speed" was following a Winter of mostly long-course, ironman training with little to no intensity or speed work. I knew it wasn't going to be pretty but I was ready to see if my body could pull out a little muscle memory from years past.
Since the hotels were pretty expensive in the Coeur D'Alene area we decided to camp. We found a beautiful campground at Heyburn State Park about 45 minutes outside of Coeur D'Alene where we made our home for about 5 nights. After getting there we discovered we had made camp right next to the Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes, a 72 mile paved bike path. This proved to be perfect for my pre-race training and helped me to avoid the swarms of people that usually crowd a race course pre-race.
With the exception of getting rained on the first night of camping, followed by a day filled with heavy rain, things ran fairly smoothly pre-race and camping and being out in nature was the perfect way to stay relaxed and calm before the race.
Race morning went smoothly until I pulled on my wetsuit and realized the entire seam was torn up the side and up the back. Arghh!! I wasn't exactly happy with this, but I had no choice but to wear it as it was and just forget about it. There are always things that will not go according to plan during a race and you've got to be prepared with how you will handle those things. Getting worked up and upset is definitely not the answer. "Keep calm, Carry on". The water temperature was only 60 degrees so it definitely required a wetsuit. Once I got into the suit I completely forgot about the tear and focused on the race itself.
The swim was rather uneventful although I was super stoked to learn that they were doing a rolling start with this race. I was not aware they had started to do rolling starts outside of full ironmans, but I think it is a fantastic idea. It seeds us based on pace rather than age and avoids having to stand, for sometimes hours, waiting for your heat to go off.
My swim was just ho-hum. I'm pretty sick of coming out of the water and seeing a 31:xx on my watch. I think it's time to put a little more work into my swim to see if I can push that time into the 29:xx range.
I planned on pushing the bike pretty hard before the race and did my best to "stay in the moment". I did not allow my mind to float to other thoughts like "How much longer?" or "Shit, I better save my legs since I still have to run a half marathon off the bike". I stayed focused and instead continued to ask myself, "Is this all you have you big weenie?" which was usually followed up with a "Nope, I can do better".
It was a hilly course which helped to alleviate the usual draft-fest that occurs with the age-group males. I had a few songs in my head which I sang over and over and OVER! My head was still stuck with "Lost Boy" which is still a song that inspires me, but since it wasn't quite the pump-you-up beat, I reached for Pink's "Just like Fire" and the obligatory Eminem's "Lose Yourself", an oldie but always a goodie.
Coming in off the bike I had just one minor problem... I fell at the dismount line. Duhhhh! Yes, I was that idiot. I actually had no problem dismounting, but I was just a little too focused on getting my bike split and so I reached over to stop my Garmin on my bike and THEN proceeded to reach over to my left wrist to stop my newest gadget, my Garmin 920XT watch. Hmmm, a little too wrapped up in technology?? Possibly.
Thinking back now on what I did I realize even more what an idiotic move that was. Since I only have two hands and my left one couldn't stop the watch on my left wrist, it would have to be my right hand, which was also the hand holding my bike. Sooo, of course when I let go of the bike to stop the watch on my wrist, my bike was going down. Double duhhhh! My bike fell to the right and I promptly went down with it landing right on top of it and hitting the ground pretty hard. OUCH! It was painful, but I was less worried about what I'd just done to my body and more concerned with what I had done to my bike. I was really hoping I hadn't broken the derailleur. My bike mechanic (aka MattyB) would not have been happy with this. (Thankfully, nothing was broken).
There is always a huge crowd at the bike dismount line and this was no exception. I could hear the entire crowd gasp as they saw me go down. As I returned to my feet and tucked my head in embarrassment running into transition, the crowd began to cheer for me which almost made the scenario even more humiliating.
The run is the thing I have struggled the most with since moving to Flagstaff. It used to be my strength, but has quickly become my weakness. Running at 7,000 feet elevation after coming from sea level in Seattle took a huge toll on my run. My runner's highs have been replaced with many running lows and a feeling that I'm about 50 pounds overweight.
BUT, I'm not here to make excuses. I told myself before the race I was going to do my best to tap into that feeling I used to have running off the bike. I did my best to get my legs turning over and took off. My pace definitely slowed over time, but I did not allow my mind to wander to negative thoughts. I tried not to allow myself to think too much. With a mind that never wants to shut off this wasn't easy, but I just kept repeating to myself "trance" hoping I could just drift off into another dimension as my body did the work.
At one point on my first lap of the run I heard someone approaching quickly behind me. I knew I was about to be caught. What I didn't know was that "someone" was first place pro Heather Jackson. She passed me swiftly and I did everything I could to use her to push my pace and to try to hang on.
The fun part about this is that some people actually thought I was the second place girl so I got some good cheers which is always helpful. "Go get her, she's right in front of you". If only :(
I finished the race 2nd in my age group and 6th amateur overall. I am always searching for the best I can get out of myself and for that day and for where my fitness currently is, I am happy with the result. I always have much bigger goals, but I understand it's a process and I'm doing my best to just be patient with that process.
My nutrition wasn't too different from IM Texas (read about it here). For this race I think I probably consumed about a total of 200 calories in the form of some honey stinger blocks on the bike and on the run I stuck with my licks of Skratch (yes, I know that sounds really weird but I'm not quite sure how else to describe it). Again, you can read about how I've been doing my race fueling in the aforementioned blog. I had steady energy levels once again, no bonking and no puking, farting or diarrhea (just in case you were wondering).
Following the race, we stayed one more night at the campground and woke up to a spectacular sunrise.
Since I didn't have the chance to ride too much of the Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes before the race we decided to go out for a ride the day following the race. We rode to the cute town of Harrison where we splurged and enjoyed a huckleberry milkshake. Yum!
We had several weeks to kill after the race and just about everyday leading into that we changed our minds on which direction to head in. There were so many places we were wanting to explore, but we finally settled on Glacier National Park and made our way back to Montana. Glacier was beautiful and provided the perfect place post-race for a little rest, relaxation and some long hikes and recovery runs.
Being on the road and living part-time out of a van has meant a lot more time to watch sunsets. In a world where we are constantly being inundated by emails, texts and social media, it's great to be able to unplug for a bit.
May your life be filled with more time spent watching beautiful sunsets and being in the moment, and a little less time on your computer (except to read my blog of course).