Monday, June 25, 2012

Ironman France Race Report

Sitting here in bed eating a pain au chocolat & drinking a cappuccino the morning after the race. Yes, really. And it's so good and if the boulangerie wasn't a block away and I wasn't embarrassed to go back for another, I probably would. I wrote down my initial race report below, but have no pictures yet :( - I'll update this once I get some good ones.

Ahhhhhh Ironman.....You are so much longer than a half that's for sure! Interestingly, my body feels much better and less sore than post Hawaii 70.3, probably because the Ironman shuffle doesn't pound you to the ground as much as the go go go of the run in a half... Anyway...

I started the morning with some coffee and a couple big bowls of cornflakes & soy milk & a banana. I try to keep it gluten and dairy free for a week before a big race which is pretty dang hard in France when all you see are baguettes and croissants and yogurt. Their yogurt aisle is twice as long as ours in the supermarket...Anyway, pre race all was good and I headed to transition at about 5:15 for a 6:25 start.

Swim-2.4 miles-  59 high
Mass swim start (pros avoided the chaos 5 minutes earlier)
My goal was to swim under an hour and stay with the ladies pack if there was one (men & women pros started together). Off the start, I went hard and missed the first pack and found myself swimming in no man's land for about 1200 meters to the farthest buoy. I was swimming pretty hard and kept thinking, wow, this is going to be a tough swim, swimming alone, sighting, navigating. As I rounded the buoy, I saw a pack of 6 people about 5 yards behind me. What? They've been here the whole time? D'oh! I let the pack swim around me and I hopped on for a free ride. Wow, for the same speed, I was putting in about 30 percent less effort. It. Was. Awesome. AND, I had thought the pack had swum away, but in reality, I just went out too hard. We exited the water for about 10 yards and dove back in for loop 2 which was a bit shorter. I continued to swim with the group and exited the water squeaking in just under an hour! An Ironman swim pr for me by 4 minutes...Thank you to coaches Hux & Patty & all my swim buddies.

T1 is very very long. They need to cram 2500+ bikes onto a beach path and this takes more than 1k of real estate. So T1 is a mini race in and of itself and I was determined to drop a solid Ironman transition. I spent maybe only 30 seconds grabbing my things (helmet, food, watch) then I booked it to my bike.

Bike-112 miles- 5:44

bike with a view

me & Slice...

Oh, the bike. It's funny. I had the MOST fun on this Ironman bike course than I have had anywhere else except maybe Kona. It is truly breathtaking, so hard and so very interesting. There are constant twists and turns and switchbacks and rolling though all the villages is just  exquisite. Sadly, despite having a fine time and having a perfect bike thanks to Cannondale, SRAM, Race Day Wheels (& Sonja!!!), & my Blaze, my bike tactics and technical skills were just not up to par yesterday. I was hoping for a 5:30 bike split, but rolled in at 5:44. I lost some time in the beginning of the ride as there were officials riding all around me & a French local pro. She was clearly a favorite and at one point, I passed her and was riding in front of her. The official came up and whistled at me and started speaking quickly in French. Now, I speak French, but had difficulty understanding this speedy-over-the-rumble-of-the-motorcycle French. I think he was telling me I couldn't just pass her and move right in front of her. But honestly, it felt like he was just trying to slow me down so she could get away. I spent a minute or two figuring out that he was not in fact giving me a penalty...And when I finally got back on track she was gone. Anyway... nothing too crazy, but after that, i was again probably overly conscientious of drafting, etc - the penalty here is 6 minutes and I didn't want one!
The middle of the ride is punctuated by some beautiful climbs, most notably the Col de L'Ecre which lasts from about 50 to 70k and is a long long grind. But I loved it.

The last 50k of the bike is nearly all descending and this is where I lost most of my time. Martina was behind me until this portion of the bike and then passed me at the start of the descents. Looking at the times- she put 8 minutes into me over the last 50k and I'm quite sure the other girls put more. Live and learn. As much as I LOVED this bike course and am dying to do it again....It's just not suited for me at this time and I'll choose better in the future...Anyway, getting off the bike I felt ok. Nutrition was good. no real low spots and it was time to run.

Zoot Ultra tempo 5.0s, visor, change glasses & GO!

Run- 26.2 miles 3:08
Spectators having fun....
As much as I loved the bike, I must be honest and say I did not love the run. The run is four 10.5k loops of a stretch of boardwalk that goes from downtown Nice to the airport. It is hot hot hot and by loops 2 and 3 it gets very very crowded. There is also nearly no shade and no ice! Ice is not a big thing in France. They never serve it with water or sodas and I guess not on the Ironman run either. It was sorely missed by me as I love having little ice parties at every aid station by mixing it with coke and water then stuffing cups of it in my mouth and sports bra ;). What they lack in ice, however, the Français make up for in spectating. There were thousands of folks lining the run course and I never got tired of hearing "Allez les filles!" and "Bravo" and "Courage"..It was very lovely and you can tell this race is very special for France.
note to self: Top 3 have Rollerblade escorts! Must. Get Faster ;)

Although a flat course is nice to get into a rhythm, it doesn't allow you to have much variety which can be pretty draining after 20 or so miles. It was just a get-er-done kind of day. Nothing dazzling, everything painful but I kept moving. Wah wah wah...enough with the complaining! I just had one of those "I'm sticking to 70.3s!!" runs for about 22 of the 26 miles ;).

I think I ran the first half in about 1:30 and the second half in 1:38. I was only able to pass one pro girl on the run as most had put some serious time into me on the bicycle ride. I was closing in on 5th place but ended up 2:30 back from here. The last few kilometers, I just focused on breaking 10 hours since I knew it would be close. I squeaked in round 9:58. Looking at the splits, I'm happy with a 3:08 run, but was secretly hoping to run around 3 hours. But let's face it. Signing up for an Ironman 3 weeks ahead of the game and throwing in just one 2.5 hour run 2 weeks out is not exactly meticulous preparation. Lesson learned, but I'm happy that I was able to eek this one out on fumes. I'm not even too hemmed up today but that may be because I visited the med tent and got a couple IVs...

I finished in 6th place in a time of 9:58. Cheers for a paycheck to pay for some of my travel expenses ;)

First 30 seconds of my finish caputured by Thierry Sourbier, race photog extraordinnaire



Didn't get in too much IM celebrating post-race as I needed a nap, but I did have some frites and a glass of rosé later on!
Congrats to women's podium : Gina Crawford (2nd), Tine Deckers (1st), Kristin Moeller (3rd)

Thank you to all those who support me and help me follow my dreams. Thanks especially to Cannondale and to the Ironman France race organization who helped me so much in making this last-minute trip possible. Also a huge thank you to Tino from SRAM in France. He took amazing care of my bike and made some important adjustments and made sure my SRAM red was perfect.

*Thank you to Zoot for taking on the local girl and supplying the best gear & shoes out there. I'm in love with my Prophet wetsuit and I finally broke an hour in the swim!!! Cannondale- my Slice is the perfect ride decked in SRAM, & the perfect Zipp firecrest carbon clincher 404/404 pair of Race Day Wheels (& one from my Zipp pal Sonja!) . Thanks to Nytro for keeping it all in working, blinging' order and Studeo DNA for my bike fit & so much more. 
*Thank you to  Dan SelstadRehab United, & MRM for helping me build my chassis, recover quickly and stay healthy-.I use so many MRM products, but I couldn't function without my Hydration Factor & Reload. Rehab United- functional strength 2x/ week, ART with Selstad every other week...the secret sauce! 
*Many gracias also to ISM saddlesBetty Designs, & Beaker Concepts  for making sure I'm comfortable, stylish & fast. I never race without my Adamo racing 2, my betty designs wrist band or my Beaker Concepts Blaze. 
And last but very much not least, thank you to my family, my training partners, and James  for always believing in me and being there for me. I hope (& promise!) that the best is yet to come! 


Melissa Marie Head said...

Congrats! As always your times amaze me and what a neat experience.

JC said...

AWESOME! You are so inspiring - super congrats! Who decides 3 weeks before to do an IM? You SO CRAZY!

Beth said...

Congrats Beth!! Another great race (and paycheck!!) in the books! :-)

Tawnee Prazak, M.S., CSCS said...

Did you feel you were in France long enough pre-race to adjust to the time difference? Crazy to think that you basically did an all-nighter Ironman in your normal time zone!


Dolly said...

Wow this was a great race report! I can't wait to see the pictures. I've been following your blog for 2years and it has been awesome to see you grow as an athlete. Congrats on a great race.

Ana-Maria RunTriLive said...

It is amazing to me how you can go and race an IM so well with so little IM specific training (e.g., long rides and runs). You have an enviable ability to sit in the pain cave. I can only imagine what you will do once you actually IM train #smashineverylanguage

jameson said...


Kim said...

Awesome! Congrats Beth! Sounds like it was a great experience and that you enjoyed (parts of) it!! Great RR!

SixTwoThree said...

Truly amazing! Magnifique! Even without pictures, your post just gave me a pre-TDF, poor-woman's trip to France ;-) Merci!

Wassdoc said...

Incredible, 3 weeks preparation, new pro, 6th place. I'm having so much fun following your journey, it's something new every time. Keep it up and keep enjoying it!

JB said...

Congrats agaon on another pay check! I love that you did this all last minute with just 2-3 weeks of panic training... rest up and see you in Seattle!

Alison said...

Congrats on your amazing day! Is Lake Stevens still on your schedule? If so, see you there!

Charisa said...

My favorite part is the moto guy yelling at you in French. i would have been so confused :) Nice work! Sounds awesome.

Katie said...

So awesome! Congrats on another great race :)

Katie said...

3:08 after that bike course? you are a beastly rock star! wow!

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