Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ironman World Championship 2011- race report

Today (Wednesday after Ironman Hawaii) was a long day. There’s nothing like leaving Kona at 6pm, traveling for 11 hours and winding up straight in a meeting at work by 7:45am. But, I’m determined to get this race report written before I start writing cutesy “I love Kona” stuff and forget how much that freaking hurt and how many dying animal noises I must have made in the last half of the run.

If you want the short version- my facebook status from Sunday sums it :
“Thanks to all for the cheers all day long! I had a great start to the day, and a very rough finish..No fun to puke for 13 miles, but tried to grin and bear it. Not the result I was hoping for, but proud of myself for sticking it out. 15th amateur woman overall, 7th in my division- 10 hours and 4 minutes. Glad it’s over. Mai Tai, Please!”

For the long (ish) version...here we go!

Pre Race-
James and I woke up at 3:30 and got our breakfast and coffee on. I had some oatmeal with half a banana and some yogurt- about 400 calories. I slept pretty well and was ready for the day! We walked the half mile down to transition and somehow got all mixed up in our directions and went the wrong way through body marking & dropping off our “special needs” food bags. We eventually got it done, but I could tell James was getting a little stressed we were running behind. We were all good, though and made it into transition with plenty of time to load up our bikes with water & food, pump the tires and wait way too long in line for the bathroom. Since my breakfast hadn't been so big, I also ate a Rice Krispie Treat drank some coconut water in transition (so 200 more calories...I'm thinking, in glorious hindsight of course, that this wasn't enough).
Ducks in a row in transition- Photo by YndeCam

Swim- 2.4 miles (1:04)
We hopped in the water at 6:40 which seemed a little early, but we wanted to try to get in good position for the swim start. The problem at the Ironman Hawaii swim is that there IS no good place to start. No matter where you go, it will be the most violent washing machine experience you can imagine. I didn’t have any swim goals other than “survive” and “don’t go slower than last year” (last year was a 1:06). I know I’m a better swimmer in the pool this year, but it doesn’t always translate to the ocean & triathlon swims. I KNOW I need to swim in the ocean more in san diego, but the truth is that i hate it. I really hate it. Our San Diego part of the pacific is cold, wavy, kelp-y, and shark-y. Not so fun if you ask me! I think I’ve only done two non-triathlon open water swims this year. Oh well, pick your battles. 
Swim start- photo ripped from sonja's blog, Thanks, sonja :) 

Back to the swim. The cannon fired and we were off. It was total mayhem and pretty violent. We started left-center (near the Ford car float) and I’d say it was “worse” than starting on the pier last year, but who knows. 
Swim start- photo-YndeCam
Anyhow, I didn’t freak out, I just put my head down and tried to get out fast. I think I did a pretty good job and soon enough I looked up and I was ON the buoy line. Whoa, either there was some current going on or we swam diagonal instead of straight. Either way, I just tried to keep my arm turnover going and swim comfortably hard. The turn around is at a boat 1.2 miles out and its probably the most hectic piece of the swim other than the starting line because everyone gets compressed. Once past the turnaround, I just tried to stay strong and enjoy. I actually LOVE ocean swimming in Hawaii and as I looked up at the clear blue sky, I tried to enjoy the last few moments of the day when I was actually cool instead of blazing hot.

T1: This year I tried to clean up my transitions. Last year they were about 4 minutes each and I’m stoked to say that i streamlined things a bit more. I hopped on my bike (shoes already clipped in and I did much better than in Vegas because I actually pedaled on top of the shoes until I was more up to speed) and we were off!

Bike: 112 miles- 5:21:45- 20.9mph
My bike goal was to go a lot faster than last year (went 5:48). I have been putting in the work and seeing consistent and solid improvement in my bike all year- this training thing is finally working! I don’t really break down miles per hour or splits on the bike, I just go with heartrate. I took my powermeter off before Timberman 70.3 and haven’t really missed it. My goal was to ride with a heart rate below 160, but hopefully hovering around 155...The pace and effort this gave me felt perfect and I was cruising. I saw some faster swimmer friends in the first 30 miles and realized that a) my swim hadn’t been so bad, and b) my bike was going pretty well! I felt totally in control and my legs felt fresh, but I was passing a lot of people and worried maybe I was going out too hard? Oh well, didn’t feel too hard.
At one point, Michelle S. and I were leap-frogging a bit. I went in front for about 5 minutes and then she came around and she was ripping into some big tall dude that had apparently been sitting on my wheel the entire time. She really made him feel like a winner saying, “you really have to draft off a GIRL?!?” It was AWESOME! Yeah Michelle!!! 

Cruisin' the Queen K

Anyway, at one point, Sarah caught up to me and to my surprise, I went with her. Soon enough, Hailey was in the mix too and she got ahead of us both. I was having fun “racing” and stoked that I was actually in the game enough to have people to race. At mile 30-ish, a pack of about thirty people came screaming by. SERIOUSLY?!? It was insane. Also insane was that one of the eventual age group winners was plastered right on the back of the group...I know this because her name was written in HUGE letters on her bum. Must be nice to have a sub 5 hour bike split as an amateur woman! Despite a few flagrant drafters, it was nice to see everyone racing, but playing fairly too. The girls I race with frequently or know from blogland (like Hailey, Sarah, Jess, Beth, Sonja, Tati, Julie, Michelle etc) have way too much self respect to play that game. I've never seen any of these girls in a pack. Go USA (and Mex for Tati :)

Anyway, the climb up to Hawi (the turnaround) is long, but nothing steep...Just a big grinder and this year, a solid headwind with some crosswinds. However, I wasn’t nearly as close to tears as last year, so either it wasn’t as windy, or I’m just toughening up a little bit. 

Coming down from Hawi, I lost Sarah somewhere and just tried to be a big girl and stay in my aero bars. Lisbeth Kenyon (the eventual W45-49 winner) descended right ahead of me and I made it my goal to just stay safe and do what she did. I knew she had competed here many times before so would be a good judge of how to take the descent and the wind. Overall it was NOT SO BAD! Yay! I said a little prayer when we turned back onto the Queen K at Kawaihai and tried to keep my power steady. I was passing a lot of people and feeling pretty good. I never questioned that I was going too hard because I really felt as though I was just right on that edge of being comfortable and racing. AND, I knew Hailey was ahead of my and I trust that she wouldn’t totally blow herself up and we often have similar bike splits, so I was content. 

At some point, Sarah got her second wind and came blazing by....bye Sarah! This time, I couldn’t stick and she rode away. Around mile 85 the road got lonely. Cyclists were strung out everywhere. A man passed me and I dropped back behind him. When a cyclist passes you in a triathlon, you have 20 seconds to drop back 4 bike lengths. I dropped back and I heard a motorcycle roll up. I looked over and saw the draft marshall. I think I even waved. They sat there for a minute and I thought they were just making sure everything was cool. Well, after a bit, they came up to me and said I had gotten a red card for drafting which is a 4 mintue penalty. HUH?!? She clearly explained “for the past minute, you have been sitting 3 bike lengths back and you need to be 4 bike lengths back”. Ok, I know the rule is 4 bike lengths. Thing is, I thought I was 4 bike lengths. Maybe it was 85 miles of cycling in 95 degree heat, but I was confused. However, I didn’t argue-there is really no point and I would just waste more time. And, I’m not even saying the penalty was not my fault. I guess by her description, I was in the wrong. I just find it almost comical that i KNEW they were there watching and I totally thought I was legal distance. Whatever. It is what it is. I was told to go spend 4 minutes in the penatly tent in T2. My first ever penatly...grrr...After they left, I stepped on the gas and pedaled hard-ish back to T2. I hope I didn’t try too hard to make up time!
I cruised into T2 SO happy about my bike split (5:21!!!!!) and so bummed about the penatly, but what can you do?

T2: 6:42 (includes the penalty)
First stop- the sin bin! I did my 4 minutes and made friends with the volunteers in there. There is no eating, drinking, sunscreening, or peeing- you are on time out! So, I just waited it out and then got on my merry way. I tried not to let it get to me and kept trying to think that 4 minutes shouldn't make or break my race.

Run: 26.2miles - 3:29 - 7:59/min mile pace
Just gettin' going- YndeCam photo

I got going down Ali’i drive. The first mile was good. The second mile was ok. The third mile, well, my legs felt a bit more tired than they did at this point last year. Maybe that’s what happens when you actually ride your bike! My goal for the run was to run within 10 minutes of my time last year (last year I ran an amazing (for me) 3:10 and I knew that if I biked a little harder, I may sacrifice some minutes on the run. BUT, since I had swum 2 minutes faster, biked 27 minutes faster (and then spent 4 mintues in the penalty tent), I already had a 25 minute cushion over last years time. MEANING, that if I ran a 3:20, I would break 10 hours. YES. THAT was the goal. The section down Ali’i drive was fun, but also very hot. I passed Sarah, Jen, and Hailey at some point and saw a bunch of friends at the Zoot and TYR houses along the way. Jordan was awesome and gave me some great intel on where the other girls were, but all I could muster was “I don’t think these are 3:10 legs today”. I stayed positive though, knowing that I could still squeeze out a good run. My mile splits were still mostly below 7:30 and I was headed out to the Queen K. Up Palani hill, I felt terrible and even walked a few steps. My stomach was cramping up and my legs were not feeling fit 'n fresh. By mile 13, I knew I was digesting nothing and my stomach was bloating and I was cramping in my stomach and legs. My pace slowed dramatically and i was running 8:30 to 9 minute miles. grrr...This is not what I had planned! 
Somewhere on the lonely Queen K- photo by finishline-multisport.com
At some point, Sarah (she is the comeback girl!) passed me at a very good clip. Like a good friend, she willed me to go with her, but within seconds she was out of sight. I trudged into the Energy lab (the hot, desolate, final point before the turnaround back to town). In the energy lab, things went from bad to worse. I felt like I was barely moving (which is funny in hindsight as apparently this "barely moving" and walking still amounts to 8 to 9 minute miles). At the turnaround, I saw my friend Jen Sloan who is in my age group and she overtook me for what I knew was the final podium spot in our age group. I was happy that Jen looked so good, but just switched into survival mode, knowing I just had to make it home and I was puking everywhere. Out of the energy lab, I calculated I had around an hour for the last 10k and I could still break10 hours. Unfortunately, having puked up (on multiple occasions) the contents of my stomach and attempting to run on empty for 13 miles....it just wasn't in the cards. My body was totally drained and I hobbled along to the finish. I finished in 10:04, still a 9 minute PR from last year, but not the race I knew I could pull off on a great day. I've got to get this nutrition stuff re-figured out!!! I used to have no issues, but the reality is that I wasn't really "racing" until the run. Now that I'm racing, I've got to get it together!
Of course a fist pump at the finish.My friend went for the double pump...Awesome photo by YndeCam
Anyhow, I was happy to reach the finish and happy to find James who had an awesome race and went 9:30 in his first (and last so he says) Ironman Hawaii. I left my sorrows on the race course and enjoyed the finish and the amazing energy of Ali'i drive. I gave it my best on that day, and that was all I could do. No regrets....well, except that penalty- which was likely the difference between 9:59:XX and my 10:04 finish time. Live and learn and go on to fight another day!

Although it wasn't the race I had dreamed of, it has fueled the fire and given me the confidence that I CAN go faster and I already have the pieces there...now I'm just determined to put it all together. Thank you to everyone who helped me get here and who makes it possible for me to follow my dreams each day. James, coach Dirk, Bryan &the Rehab United crew, Dan the A.R.T. man to the stars, Pete, Simone- masseuse extraordinaire, Nytro Women,The Zoot ohana, MRM USA, Betty DesignsNuttzo, and PowerBar.


Nat said...

Beth - You're an amazingly strong athlete and I'm so inspired by your hard work and dedication! Congratulations on your Kona PR. Can't wait to see what your triathlon future has in store for you.

Jill Costantino said...

FAN-FRIGGIN-TASTIC! You ROCK! It was so much fun tracking you online. You are such an inspiration and I would LOVE to have THIS marathon time (even though not your best), I'd take this one without the swim and ride before! SUPER Congrats out there Lady! WOOHOO!

Mandie said...

Hi, I came across your site and wasn’t able to get an email address to contact you about some broken links on your site. Please email me back and I would be happy to point them out to you.

Mandie Hayes

GZ said...

Wow. Lots of awesome stuff in there, from shark-y waters to penalties to setting a PR while blowing chunks. I think that last part makes you officially part of the island.

Well done, recovery, and looking forward to your next steps.

Ana-Maria RunTriLive said...

Hi Beth,
Thanks for explaining the penalty bc I was yelling at you for spending 6 min in T2. I was like, please someone tell her not to change into Lulu speed shorts and just go! Grr about the penalty, but I am SO impressed with how you handled it. Plus the stomach issues! You are amazing and once you figure out the nutrition you will be unstoppable!
And in fact you DID go sub 10 - the penalty just does not matter!

Melissa said...

Wow what an amazing finish! Without the penalty you would have made the podium. Your run/walk/puke is still way faster than my run! Amazing.

Christina said...

Way to go. And way to keep such a positive attitude about everything from penalties to nutrition! You're really an inspiration.

baker said...

Fantastic race report! Congrats! You still managed a great race even with nutrition issues, impressive!

Beth said...

Congrats on such a great race Beth! Fighting as best you could is so impressive! I had no idea you were feeling so rough when you passed me. You looked strong and good as usual! ;) Regardless, I feel your nutrition woes pain. I'm starting to wonder if anyone has a happy stomach during Ironman?!?!

Wassdoc said...

As always, you make us normal mortals feel better about our races with your race report. I followed you all day and wondered what happened on the run, but it wasn't to be. One thing I've learned is that in ironman anything can, and will, happen. There are so many factors that can go into gastrointestinal distress, eating too little, eating too much, going too hard, heat, electrolytes, etc.. Your swim was amazing, your bike was incredible, did the refs really think that you were blatantly ignoring them! Come on! I think the neatest thing is that you pushed your limits on the swim and bike. You can't test your limits any other way. You should be incredibly proud!

Ryan Denner said...

hey beth - great race and RR!

Rose said...

Congrats on a great race! Nutrition is such a bitch to get right. Once you get down what works for you, you will be unstoppable!

jc said...

It was so fun to be out there watching and supporting... you had an amazing race to finish strong in spite of the challenges! Great work.

Michelle Simmons said...

I wish someone would have gotten a picture of that guy drafting you... it looked so funny b/c he was HUGE (and not even in his aero bars?!?) and sitting 3" from your wheel but I was wondering if he was even getting a draft given that you are 1/2 his size and we had a tailwind. ;) Anyway, congrats on your race! It's good you wrote the report while you still remember it well b/c in another week you'll probably have a much better feeling about it. :)

Meaghan said...

Awesome awesome awesome report -such an inspiration! Keep putting in the hard work, and you'll see sub 10 SO SOON!!

Meaghan said...

Awesome awesome awesome report -such an inspiration! Keep putting in the hard work, and you'll see sub 10 SO SOON!!

MissFancyPants said...

Congratulations! Way to be strong and sticking it out, I don't think I would consider 13 miles of puking fun...Nice job - I was totally excited for you since I got to watch you cross that line on the internet!!

FatDad said...

Inspiring to watch you and JW cross the line on Saturday. Fist pumps all around. Great job.

SixTwoThree said...

So damn proud of you girl! Yes, such an inspiration - not only for the race, but for getting to that meeting by 7:45 a.m. after taking the red eye. It's amazing what you (and James, ahem) pull off with all that determination!

Mary IronMatron said...

You survived that last 13 amazingly well. There is nothing worse than moving to total nausea -- keeping nothing done, and running on empty.

Kim said...

rockstar!! congrats on the PR!!

Michelle Alexander said...

Hi Beth - I tracked you down by googling "beth ironman kona 1706." I'm the volunteer in the bad boy (girl) tent that took your picture. Send me you email or fb and I'll send you the picture of you doing time.

Btw - you had the best attitude of anyone who had to come visit us and loved that you didn't get to upset or let it ruin your. And Congrats on an awesome race!


Michelle Alexander said...

oh - my email is michelle_m_alexander@yahoo.com

goSonja said...

Wow beth, just wow. I enjoyed your attitude at the end. When the going got tough, you fought, and that's the mark of a champ! Xoxo son

Mike @TheIronYou said...

Congrats on the great result!!!
Truly inspiring.



Matt said...

congrats, killer Kona PR and smoking bike split. Feeling like that for 13 miles and still running well shows your a tough mofo! Way to lay it all out there!! Impressive!

Heidi Austin, PT, DPT said...

such an awesome race again! sorry to hear about the drafting penalty and the fact that the penalty def should have gone to somebody else...booo.... but you ROCKed it out there-congrats :)

Kim said...

Wow.. what a race! You really put it together despite having some big obstacles! NICE work out there Beth.. great great job!