Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ironman Louisville!

So here we go... the longest day of my life!

My alarm went off at 4:30, and I jumped up, ate a Clif Bar, downed a bottle of Gatorade, got dressed, and met my dad (AKA Sherpa Extraordinaire) in the next room.   I was no longer nervous, just ready to get this show on the road!

My original plan was to get in line early enough for the swim that I would not be last in the water, but I discovered right before the transition area closed last night that I had a spoke that needed some TLC from the bike tent.  So my dad and I got there super early and I stood in line for almost an hour -- I didn't leave transition til about 6:15.  Then I had to use the restroom, and by the time I got in the swim line I was pretty much dead last.  There were maybe 50 people behind me out of the 2700 or so that raced.  Oh well -- it is what it is.  It was the longest line I have ever seen in my life - it had to be about three quarters of a mile long.  I think I got in the water somewhere around 7:35.  


Slowest. Swim. Ever.  First of all, I could not spot the buoys for my life.  There were two sets... something about a safety lane? ... and it felt like people were swimming all over the place.  Also the sun was rising in the direction we were headed at the beginning... I was so disoriented.  I also found it really hard to keep good form because every time I put my head down, I would start going off course.  Thirdly, my top was  too big and had a parachute effect with every stroke - I'm not sure if that made any difference but it sure was annoying. I had been concerned about being bored on the swim, but I preoccupied with figuring out where I was supposed to go.  This is a point to point swim, and the turn around the island came fast enough.  Then we go under two bridges.  I was pretty sure the first bridge was never going to come.  And then the second one also felt like an eternity.  And THEN the finish -- seriously I thought I was done once I got through that second bridge, but oh no.. I still had like 15 minutes of swimming to do.  So when I entered this race I was told that the majority of the swim was downstream so "faster swim times can be expected."  Whatever.  I am consistently 1:30 in the pool and I was 1:41 on this swim.  I was pretty disappointed but hey, I guess 10 minutes off my expected time isn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.  


I wasn't trying to set any records as I figured it was better to get it right than to get it fast.  My volunteer was fanstastic.  I headed to Dora, my bike, and set off for the ride.


I felt great at the beginning.  The temperatures were still in the low 80s, and it start out flat and fast.  I was passing people like crazy, and averaging about 18-19mph.  My heart rate was in the 140s, which was on the high end of the Ironman window, but I felt pretty good so I ignored it.  Rookie mistake.

About 12 miles in we make our first big climb - it isn't too steep but it goes on for quite a distance and it's the only so-called "category 5" hill on the course.  I didn't think much of it, though I did notice my heartate climbing out of my window and into the150s.  Soon we hit the rolling hills and then my favorite part, the out and back.  It has two steep hills that I flew down at close to 40 miles an hour.  Then of course I had to climb them at 8 miles an hour, but I love that section of the course, and I still had plenty of energy.  I had been warned that this section always has crashes, and on the way back to the loop I was sad to see a woman lying by the side of the road at the bottom of the first hill with another athlete stabilizing her and he shouted to me to have the next bike marshall or police officer radio for an ambulance.  Scary stuff.

Soon I was back on the loop and headed towards LaGrange where my family was waiting for me.  They are amazing and I would get to see them twice since the course loops through there again around the 70th mile.
I smiled at them and then headed towards Ballard School Road, which I find to be the prettiest but also toughest part of the course.  The rollers are relentless, and the temperature was heating up.  I was still feeling pretty good, but my lower back was starting to hurt and we were only at mile 40.  That was not a good sign -- I've been great about staying aero for 100+ mile training rides and had no back discomfort throughout this whole summer.  Back pain this early into the day worried me.

When I got to the end of Ballard School Road, I remembered how in June when we rode the course, my chain dropped right at that point.  Just as that thought went through my head, my chain dropped.  Seriously.  I tried to back pedal and fix it, but I started to topple over so I clipped out and pulled over to the side. I fixed it in the grass and then tried to figure out how I was going to get back on the road.  I was on a steep hill, there was a steady stream of cyclists on the far right hand side, and there was no way I could just hop on my bike and ride without starting out downhill.  I had no idea what to do so I finally just crossed the center line, made a U-Turn, and got back on the course.  In retrospect I probably should have gotten a red penalty card for that... thank goodness there were no course marshalls around.

At the next aid station, I had my first "I never want to see Gu or Perform again" feeling.  I had promised myself I'd load up with calories and electrolytes like crazy on the bike so I didn't crash on the run, but everything was starting to gross me out.  The only thing I wanted was plain water, so I drank half a bottle and then dumped it on my head.  It was getting really hot.  I already wanted to be off the bike, and I could feel my pace slowing down.  The miles were starting to feel long, unlike in the beginning when 12 miles flew by.  I just concentrated on making it to the halfway point.  I was very disappointed to see my time was already over 3:15 -- slower than my first Half Iron ride in 2010 and over 20 minutes slower than the Half Iron I did five weeks ago.  My original goal for this ride was 6:30, but that was no longer a possibility.  I knew I had that category 5 downhill and then a flat section and figured I could make up some time there. The air was like a furnace, and the temperature was continuing to rise. I concentrated on getting back to my family.   Seeing them at the 70 mile marker was really the last positive part of my biking experience that day.     My back was killing me, and it was so, so hot.  Everything at the aid stations made me want to vomit.  I kept thinking "When I get to 80 miles, it's a net downhill, then I get to fly down to River Road, and then it's flat.  And then it's DONE!"

I made the turn at the Exxon at the 80 mile marker and thought "This is where I got my flat tire when I rode the practice course."  And luckily I didn't get one, but I started seeing rider after rider changing flats by the side of the road.  Apparently someone had scattered carpet tacks on the course.  Classy!  Glad I didn't fall victim, but I felt horrible for the guys changing tires -- one had a double flat.

So back in May I blogged "Why do the last 20 miles of a century ride feel like eternity?  Does that mean the last 32 miles of an Ironman will feel the same way?"  Why yes it does!  Although it was a net downhill, there were still rollers and I was dying on the uphills.  I was wishing I hadn't worn the aerohelmet because it was cooking my head.  My back hurt too much to stay aero so it wasn't helping me much anyhow.  I stopped at an aid station and poured water on myself.  I hadn't gone to the bathroom yet that day but the line was enormous so I got back on Dora and said "Let's get 'er done."

I should not have ridden over my heart rate window in the first third of the ride.  Let me repeat that.  I should not have ridden over my heart rate window in the first third of the ride.  I had nothing left.  I hit the final descent and I so wanted to hammer it.  Instead, I gave my legs a rest and stopped pedaling.  I stood up and stretched my back, enjoyed that long downhill, and made the final turn into town -- right into a strong headwind.  Are you kidding me?!?!  I had so looked forward to that nice flat section, and I could not get the pace much above 14 miles an hour.  Those 12 miles were torture.  At least I knew the road well enough to think of the different landmarks coming up.  I played bike fartlek for the remainder of the ride, making myself keep pace to the Islamic center...then the marina... then the golf course.. then the railroad tracks...I convinced myself that I could make my secondary goal of under 7 hours if I kept the pace at 15mph.  I saw transition and had to slow down for some sharp turns and a huge bump.  Crossed the timing mat at 7:01.  Bummer.  And how in the world was I supposed to run at all, let alone a marathon?  Oh yeah, and it was 94 degrees.  Just to make it more fun.


A lovely volunteer grabbed Dora (the bike.)  I said "Thank you very much.  I don't really care what you do with her because I never want to see her again.  Thanks for your help."  I headed for the bathroom, which I hadn't used all day - AH that was a relief.  Then I went to the changing tent.  Another lovely volunteer grabbed my fuel belt and tried to put it on me.  I said "NO!  I don't want anything in that fuel belt.  In fact, I am not running.  I am sitting.  Oh, and thank you for all your help!"  I sat down in a chair and closed my eyes.  She looked at me and said "How can I help you?  Can I wash the salt off your body and get you some sunscreen?"  I looked at my arms and legs.  They were caked in salt.  I nodded but I didn't get up.  She washed me off with a sponge, sprayed on my sunscreen, and then asked me what I wanted to do next.  I told her I wanted to sleep.  She asked me if I wanted her to take off my cleats and put on my running shoes.  I said sure.  Once the shoes were on I figured it was either stay there and get a DNF, or suck it up and run.  I chose run.  I was pretty sure my transition was 25 minutes long but apparently it was only 8 and change.


So my original run goal was 4:30.  I knew the second I stepped over the timing mat that it was not going to happen.  There would be no pushing myself hard on this run, because I did not want to end up collapsing and in an ambulance, as happened to many many athletes on the 2010 course when the temperatures were even higher.  I revised my goal to 5 hours.

I only looked at heart rate on my watch in the first mile.  I walked the first minute, then ran to the mile marker.  I checked my Garmin.  12 minutes.  It was going to be a long marathon.  I took a slog of Perform and a Gu packet, both of which made me nauseated.  I made myself run the next two miles and they came in around 10:30.

Then I hit the miracle aid station.  A volunteer was opening up a can of chicken broth.  I had read somewhere that you have to try the chicken broth.  The thought of anything with sugar was just revolting, so I downed 3 entire cups. And I felt like a new person.

For the next four miles I would run to each aid station like it was the entrance to heaven, and then I'd walk to the chicken broth table and stop and drink three cups, walk to the ice and stick handfulls down my shirt so I could pretend it was not 94 degrees outside, and then dump a few cups of water on my head.  I made myself take a GU packet every 3rd station (in retrospect, I should have gone with bananas.)  By the eighth mile I could drink and run at the same time, and I was feeling really good.  I ran (easy run pace, keeping my heart rate around 115- 120) all the way to the 18th mile.  So many people were not running anymore, but I was feeling good.  I could have run faster but I was afraid my body might revolt later, so I kept my heart rate in the lower end of the window.  But I was still running, and passing lots of people.  I even passed a pro,  (and a pro from AUSTRALIA no less!)  And then the 18th mile came and I NEEDED A BATHROOM.  Amazingly enough there was one available.  Sorry to be graphic but let's just say that anything I had taken in along the last few aid stations was no longer in my body.

Hydration became an issue.  My body was refusing to accept it, and I still had 8 miles to go.  I figured I could run a little faster which would get me to the finish line faster... the sun was setting and it was really cooling off.  I started to book it and the next mile was about 9 minutes... and then I started feeling dizzy, seeing dancing lights and having double vision.  Everything was spinning.  I realized I wasn't sweating.  I pulled into the next aid station and tried to eat some pretzels, but I had no moisture in my mouth and had to spit them out.  I drank a cup of water and a cup of broth and decided I was going to have to walk for awhile.  The last thing I wanted was for the past 13 hours to end with me in an ambulance.  My legs said "Yes, you can run!" and mentally I was totally there, but the vertigo, obvious dehydration and apparent shutdown of my digestive system scared me.  I walked until I could see clearly, so probably about 15 minutes.  Then I allowed myself to run 3 minutes/ walk a minute to til I hit the 25th mile.  I could run the final stretch.  I promised myself I'd stop if the world started spinning again.

But it didn't.  And finally I could see Fourth Street Live.  I could hear the crowds.  I knew I was going to make it across that line.  I saw my dad, then I saw Jamie and Susanna.  Susie screamed "Go Mommy!" and I remembered her the day before when she saw the finish line at the Ironkids race, just minutes after she cried that she didn't think she could go the whole mile, and then she sprinted to the end.  I was so proud of her, and that image was my inspiration.  I wanted to make her proud!  I raised my hands over my head and I ran through the finish chute in 4:59:42.  Hey at least I met one of my (secondary) time goals.

"Gretchen Liechty Lynch, from Fairfax, Virginia, a first time finisher, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN"
(And, as a bonus, he pronounced my name correctly!)

Check it out:

Overall time was 13:56:55 -- My goal was 13:30 - 14:00 so I just made it!

Sure, as soon as I got my finishers medal I started shaking and they got me a wheelchair and hauled me off to medical where I spent the next hour and half getting intravenous fluids.

Sure, my first thought after I got my medal was "Why would anyone in their right mind do an Ironman?"

Sure, as I lay there in the medical tent shivering I thought "I am never doing one of these again."

Sure, two days later I started to think that maybe Cedar Point would be a good second Ironman for me.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It's an Ironman - it's not The Hunger Games!

I can't believe that in less than 12 hours I will be racing an Ironman.  Well at least attempting to finish one! :)  The past two weeks have been filled with strange dreams, and the race seemed like this far off, distant, very scary thing.  

Finally I told myself to stop it.  It's not The Hunger Games!  It sort of feels like it - we arrived Thursday and Friday and Saturday were filled with all sorts of preparations for the race, including a group ride, practice swim, pre-race banquet, athlete briefing, expo, etc, all in preparation for the big unknown tomorrow.  

But it's not The Hunger Games.  It's a race, and one where we can all come out as finishers.  I've done lots of races, I've been nervous before lots of races, and after tomorrow this will be another race I have done.  I remember freaking out the night before my first  Half Iron -- the thought of being out there for 6+ hours terrified me, the out and back lake swim terrified me, running a half marathon after biking 56 miles terrified me... the second time around (Musselman) I wasn't even phased.  I just went out there and had a great time.  

Yes, there is the possibility of not finishing.  Tomorrow is going to be hot.  The bad news is, it is supposed to hit 91 degrees right around 4pm when I will likely be towards the end of the bike.  The good news is, it's supposed to cool off a few degrees every hour during the marathon, so perhaps ONLY 82 degrees at the finish line.  

Tomorrow will be a long day.  And for it I am thankful.  I am most thankful to my amazing husband for supporting me through these long hours of training -- all 386 hours of training I have put in since January.  He has put up with an alarm clock permanently set at 4:50am, he has taken the kids for the entire day during my peak season 8 hour training days (yes, there were about three of those), and right now he is at CVS buying me toenail clippers because I left mine in Virginia.  I am thankful to my parents for their amazing support, for watching Susie and Jack during our tri-camp weekend and during races, and for coming down to Louisville to support me.  I'm thankful to my former boss who told me in December to stop talking about Ironman and sign up for one.  I'm thankful to my family for putting up with this Iron Dream for the past six months (even though I annoyed my brother to the point that he hijacked my iphone and reported on Facebook that I was retiring from triathlon.)  I'm thankful to my experienced Ironfriends who have given me many words of advice during this training cycle.  

Here we go.  Game on.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

You are ready....

... as ready as I'll ever be.

Reality is coming.   I took a look at my training diary today, and when the race is over, I will have hit 2000 miles of cycling, 100 miles of swimming,  and 1200 miles of running since January.   I still am having trouble sleeping at night, wondering how my body will handle this ultimate test of endurance.  Veteran Iromen (and Ironwomen?) tell me that at this point, all I can do is trust my training and race plan.

This was posted on one of the IM Louisville forums.  I need to keep reading it every time I freak out.  (Did I mention that I am tossing an turning every night unable to sleep?)

You ran in the snow. 
You rode in the rain. 
You ran in the heat. 
You went out when others stayed home. 
You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads. 
You have survived the Darwinian progression that is an Ironman summer, and now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you've already covered so much ground...there's just one more climb to go. You shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lies before you...and it will be a fast one. 
Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, your mind cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you. 
It won't be pretty. 
It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren't ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn't know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth: 
You are ready. 
Your brain won't believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish - that there is too much that can go wrong. 
You are ready. 
Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It's the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, "How will I ever be ready?" to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go...knowing that you'd found the answer. 
It is worth it. Now that you're at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it. 
You are ready. 
You will walk into the water with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes. You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong. You'll feel the chill of the water crawl into your wetsuit, and shiver like everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for so VERY long is finally here. 
You will tear up in your goggles. Everyone does. 
The helicopters will roar overhead. 
The splashing will surround you. 
You'll stop thinking about Ironman, because you're now racing one. 
The swim will be long - it's long for everyone, but you'll make it. You'll watch as the shoreline grows and grows, and soon you'll hear the end. You'll come up the beach and head for the wetsuit strippers. Three people will get that sucker off before you know what happening, then you’ll head for the bike. 
The voices, the cowbells, and the curb-to-curb chalk giving you a hero's sendoff can't wipe the smile off your face. 
You'll settle down to your race. The crowds will spread out on the road. You'll soon be on your bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling your Ironman. 
You'll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It's warmer now. Maybe it's hot. Maybe you're not feeling so good now. You'll keep riding. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep moving. After all, this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right? 
You'll put on your game face, fighting the urge to feel down as you ride for what seems like hours. You reach special needs, fuel up, and head out. 
By now it'll be hot. You'll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus. Everyone struggles here. You've been on that bike for a few hours, and stopping would be nice, but you won't - not here. Not today. 
You'll grind the false flats to the climb. You'll know you're almost there. You'll fight for every inch of road. The crowd will come back to you here. Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer for you - your body will get just that little bit lighter. 
You'll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for the run to come - soon! You'll roll back - you'll see people running out. You'll think to yourself, "Wasn't I just here?" The noise will grow. The chalk dust will hang in the air - you're back, with only 26.2 miles to go. You'll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2. 
You'll roll into transition. 100 volunteers will fight for your bike. You'll give it up and not look back. You'll have your bag handed to you, and into the tent you'll go. You'll change. You'll load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman summer - the one that counts. 
You'll take that first step of a thousand...and you'll smile. You'll know that the bike won't let you down now - the race is down to your own two feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a summer Sunday. High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you've worked for all year long. 
That first mile will feel great. So will the second. By mile 3, you probably won't feel so good. 
That's okay. You knew it couldn't all be that easy. You'll settle down just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You'll see the leaders coming back the other way. Some will look great - some won't. You might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don't panic - this is the part of the day where whatever you're feeling, you can be sure it won't last. 
You'll keep moving. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep eating. Maybe you'll be right on plan - maybe you won't. If you're ahead of schedule, don't worry - believe. If you're behind, don't panic - roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon. By remote control. Blindfolded. 
How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don't waste energy worrying about things - just do what you have to when you have to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don't sit down - don't EVER sit down. 
You'll make it to the halfway point. You'll load up on special needs. Some of what you packed will look good, some won't. Eat what looks good, toss the rest. Keep moving. Start looking for people you know. Cheer for people you don't. You're headed in - they're not. They want to be where you are, just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people headed into town. Share some energy - you'll get it right back. 
Run if you can. 
Walk if you have to. 
Just keep moving. 
The miles will drag on. The brilliant sunshine will yawn. You'll be coming up to those aid stations fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup. TAKE THE SOUP. Keep moving. 
You'll soon only have a few miles to go. You'll start to believe that you're going to make it. You'll start to imagine how good it's going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don't want to move anymore, think about what it's going to be like when someone catches you…and puts a medal over your head... all you have to do is get there. 
You'll start to hear the people in town. People you can't see in the twilight will cheer for you. They'll call out your name. Smile and thank them. They were there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, and when you left on the run, and now when you've come back. 
You'll enter town. You'll start to realize that the day is almost over. You'll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a 10-minute mile (if you're lucky), but you'll ask yourself, "Where did the whole day go?" You'll be standing on the edge of two feelings - the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible. 
You'll hit mile 25. Your Ironman will have 1.2 miles - just 2KM left in it. 
You'll run. You'll find your legs. You'll fly. You won't know how, but you will run. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon you'll be able to hear the music again. This time, it'll be for keeps. 
Soon they'll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You'll run towards the lights, between the fences, and into the night sun made just for you. 
They'll say your name. 
You'll keep running. 
Nothing will hurt. 
The moment will be yours - for one moment, the entire world will be looking at you and only you. 
You'll break the tape at the finish line, 140.6 miles after starting your journey. The flash will go off. 
You'll stop. You'll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and suddenly...be capable of nothing more. 
Someone will catch you. 
You'll lean into them. 
It will suddenly hit you. 
You are ready. 
You are ready

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What if...

Tuesday I made a big mistake.  I started reading race reports from people who did Ironman Louisville the last time there was a major heat wave, and 26% of the field either DNS or DNF.  (Sidenote:  Currently Accuweather is predicting a race day high of 87 with rain... which to me sounds absolutely wonderful.  Still 9 days out, and the forecast for Saturday is a ridiculous-for-running-a-marathon-at-4pm high of 92 degrees with blaring sun...)  And news articles where people didn't just not finish... they died.  I ended up going to bed terrified, tossed and turned until 3am, had to miss swimming in the morning because I didn't think I could function on 2 hours of sleep, and then spent the entire day thinking about What Ifs.

In Ironman Louisville 2011 a man died in the first 8 minutes of the swim. Athletes helped him to shore, but he had drowned after possibly having a heart attack in the water.  There have been countless stories like this -- in fact, just last week in the NYC Ironman the same thing happened. This summer alone there have been at least 8 drownings in triathlon, and I read that statistically there are 18 per year in the US.  I'm not sure how much swimming experience these people had, how much open water experience, etc.  I grew up swimming in a lake, I did my first open water swimming at Camp Aloha  when I was 14 (across thee lake swim), I carried lifeguard certification for five years, and I don't tend to panic in the water.  Still... the stories are scary.

A little less scary but still disappointing -- I read a race report of a woman who trained hard and was doing well until the 15th mile of the run, and then her body just gave out on her.  This was in 2010 when the temperature was well over 90 degrees.  And she wasn't someone who lacked in running volume -- in fact, she was a 3:30 marathoner. I just can't imagine how I'd feel if I worked that hard and then my body quit on me at that stage in the race.  It happened to someone in our Tri-Club last month, as well -- except he was at the 18th mile.  Just about finished.  And they pulled him off the course.  His day was over, just like that.

And then there is always the bike failure what if.  What if my chain breaks?  What if I flat... or double flat... or a spoke breaks....

What if what if what if what if what if?!?

9 days.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A few thoughts as this training comes to a close...

I officially hit my taper this past Tuesday.  The 20 mile runs and 112 mile bikes are out of the way.  The next time I will hit those numbers is on race day.  I forced myself to finally swim 2.4 miles in the pool yesterday - it was the longest swim of my adult life - so I've done all the distances  (2.4 mile swim, 26.2 mile run, and 112 mile bike) during the 30 week training plan.  So now we'll see if I can do all three of them in one day!

My Race Day Plan

Two weeks ago I was terrified.  Now I'm ready to get this party started.  I have no idea how I'm going to feel 8 miles into the run.  The longest run I've done after a 5+ hour bike ride was a little less than 7 miles.  It wasn't too bad, but I wasn't racing on the bike, and I knew that I was only running for an hour.

Time goals?  Not really.  I guess under 14 hours would be a goal, but since I may or may not blow up in the run I'm not going to hold my breath.  And who knows what will happen on the bike... I'm saying a big prayer for no mechanical failures, but I did flat the last time I rode that course.

My race plan is to get in line for the swim early enough that I'm not last in the water -- since it is self seeded that's going to be pretty early.  I just don't want to risk missing the bike cutoff, since as stated above, who knows what can happen... no flat tires, no flat tires, no flat tires!  As for the bike I'll try to keep my heart rate around 130-140ish, which should be a slower pace than Musselman, and to not hammer on the hills (which I have a tendency to do.)   I also know I need to really make sure I drink the Perform drink throughout the course.  It looks like it should be close to 90 on race day (much better than close to 100, but still hot) and also remember to do some salt tablets and gels.  The marathon -- I just hope I don't crash and burn.  This will be my 9th marathon and there have been a couple where I did crash and burn.  Granted, one of them I was pregnant with Jack and my digestive track told me it was not having it at the 15th mile so I walked 8 miles.  I think that ended up being 5:36. The other one I broke my foot at mile 17 and ended up with 4:53.  I'm going to start out with 10 minute miles, making sure to really hydrate and replace calories in the first few miles, and hope I can keep it there but I would not be surprised if I can't.

It's going to be a long day.

Something that has been on my mind

Last week while I was at the beach I saw a news article online about a triathlete in upstate NY, very close to where I did Musselman, who was killed riding her bike the previous Sunday morning.  As it turns out, she was one of the women I raced with just two weeks prior.  I have no idea if we chatted or stood in the finish shute together.  I do know she was, like me, a teacher, a mother of two, and someone who likedsolo long rides at sunrise on Sundays.  A couple in their early 20s was driving home from a long night of drinking and partying -- the woman in a car and the boyfriend on his motorcycle.  He attempted to pass his girlfriend on the right, where the cyclist was riding on the shoulder.  He knocked the bicycle in front of his girlfriend's car, which ended the cyclists life.

What a senseless tragedy.  My thoughts and prayers are with her, her husband and their two children.

I think of all the solo long rides I have done this summer, and how that could be any of us.  I met a couple from near Charlottesville at the Lousiville training weekend and the husband told me he trains almost exclusively on his trainer bike because he is afraid of getting hit by a drunk driver.  This just makes me sad.  I don't think I'd be doing this race if my long rides were reduced to sitting on a stationary bike in my basement.  Although the training has been tough, the beauty I've seen on the 4-7 hour rides is the reason I love being on my bike.  I've seen gorgeous sunrises, horses, bales of hay, mountains, fields of flowers, rock quarries...

I guess that's just what it is... every time you get on a bike, you're at a risk, because you and a few pounds of aluminium are no match for a big black SUV .  I wear my helmet, I follow traffic rules, and I guess that is all I can do.

Some thoughts on the training

The volume of training in this program is insane.  The ONLY reason I was able to do this with two kids is because the peak training came when I was not working and I have a fabulous husband who took the kids during the 4-5 ridiculous long ride/ brick days.  Had I been working, my poor children would have been in daycare 5 days a week and then not seen me for 6-8 hours yet ANOTHER day of the week.  Even the weekdays were intense since most days had workouts with two disciplines.

I think marathon training is going to seem like a walk in the park, time wise.  I can actually finish just about all my sessions before work.

Will I do this again?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  We'll have to see, and if I do, the race date will have to be  chosen with this in mind (yes, this the whole reason I'm doing IM Louisville despite the brutal heat factor - the date just was the only one that worked for our family.)  I have loved the training - well, most of it --  but it has also been all consuming.

I do think it has increased my mental toughness.  Most of my long rides and bricks have been solo.  I've done a few 16-18 milers all alone, and many many 8-10 milers in 90 degree heat with only my itunes for company.

Ironman Lousiville, here I come.