The Year After Ironman

November 18th marks one year since I completed my first Ironman (140.6mi) distance race. My husband (Ryan) and I took on the challenge together which proved to be hard at times, just getting the everyday house chores done was a challenge. Some people will tell couples to not race the same Ironman or Ultra distance race together because it wears on the relationship too much. I have to say that even though it was hard at times, it was also nice to have someone to train with especially on those very long training days.

Last year on this day, Ryan and I woke up at 3:30 in Tempe, AZ.  We knew the day was going to be a test of mental strength to get through the unknown of a race of this distance. We’ve trained for the race day for an entire year and I still remember feeling excited and nervous that morning.

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Race report to my coach, Jeff Devlin (www.devlincoaching.com):

I’m soooo HAPPY!!!  I could not stop smiling from ~ mile 24 until the finish.  Swim was rough for me.  We started toward the front (middle I think)… I think I got tackled. At least once. Well someone (most likely a man) pushed me under as I was taking a breath which left me inhaling a ton of water.  So I had to stop gag/hack up water and start again. First turn buoy came up, I was met with a wall of men stopped as I made the turn.  I gave them a nice push and yelled GO at them.  Had to start all over again… this time my goggles got knocked loose.  First time ever that I had to grab a kayak to hang on too so I could fix my goggles.  The water was 62 degrees and the seal wasn’t working too great.  At least I was able to fix them better out of the wake zone.  I stayed in line with buoys but some I went to the left instead of the right… Every time I went left of the buoys I got caught up with stopped men!  Needless to say I was a bit annoyed by this. Getting out of the water was interesting.  My hands and feet were numb so grabbing the railing wasn’t working, I tried, thankfully a volunteer grab bed my arm and lifted me out.

Transition 1 (Swim to Bike) – I don’t know why this was soooo slow… I do remember taking the time to get my arm warmers on completely and then chatting with another girl who sat next to me.  She commented that the swim was really rough for her too; glad it wasn’t just me.

I was very excited to get on with the bike. Head wind on the way out, faster on the way back into town for the first lap. Second lap the winds were changing. Some head wind on the way out but now there was also wind on the way back to town. Yes, there was A LOT of drafting going but I’m very pleased to say that I stayed true to myself and I’m happy to know that I didn’t cheat.  By the third lap the wind was strong and unfortunately not at my back for the way back into town for the last time. I stayed conservative on the the bike but I was a little concerned that I went a little too hard though no one would think that by my avg speed.

Transition 2 (Bike to Run) – much better then T1 but I really wish I would’ve packed a change of socks. I had a lot of grit in my socks the first loop of the run.

So the run was a little rough.  I know my first mile was too fast… I was trying to get a grip and slow it down.  By about mile five or six my right foot (outer edge) was killing me.  Not really sure what was wrong, maybe it was the difference in the terrain (some of the run was on a gravel trail).  I stopped and removed my sneaker, gave it a little massage and got back on the road. Walked a few steps to let it claim down. Pain never returned after that so not sure what  was wrong. Soon after my foot issue l started to have some tummy issues. Stopped at a port o potty… after that I dumped my bottle of EFS mix and refilled it with water. From that point on I just took GUs from aid stations. It only took a little while and I started to feel better. I stopped at my special needs bag on the second loop, body glided my feet and put on fresh socks. What a difference some new socks make, I HATE stopping but this was really worth it.  I really felt my focus come together once I had my new fresh feeling socks on. I love how once I’m in a groove I can just go. It’s almost like I have blinders on; I just block everything out (crowd, pain I’m feeling). I know the run was slow for me but I kept telling myself to keep it there because I didn’t want to blow up. I figured that if I could maintain that pace then I’d be ok to keep running. Around mile 15/18 (it’s all a blur) I really started talking to myself, singing to myself whatever I could get in my head was good as gold to me to keep me going.  At about mile 24 I started to smile and let go a little bit. I couldn’t get rid of my smile because at that point I knew I was almost done and I was feeling ok.  That smile stayed on my face until I crossed the finish line and even then I still couldn’t stop smiling.

I’m still extremely happy with my race. Not going to lie though, my first thought starting the run was “Ironman is stupid!”  And yes I did enjoy every moment even this one; like you said to do. I watched the sun come up in the swim, enjoyed the warmth of the sun on my back for the bike and watched the sun set on the run. Could not have done it without you!

I still remember the feeling I had when I reached the finish line and saw Ryan again. That feeling of accomplishment lasted a long time; I still feel it now a year later.

This year hasn’t been a great year for me. I’ve done a few races but only two triathlons (IM Syracuse and a sprint). Syracuse was not a good race for me at all. The sprint was good; came in second female overall. Also planned a late season half (70.3mi) race but decided against it the week leading into the race. I completed two mountain bike (MTB) races this past year which was something new for me and did a road time trial race; had to remind myself that it was just a bike ride; I had visions of me getting off and running after I finished the race. Now, I’ve returned to the world of cyclocross (CX) racing. The truth is that I think it’s hard racing after Ironman because nothing seems to be as hard anymore. In some cases I feel like why sign up for a half marathon when I can just go out and run 13.1 miles on my own. Last weekend I did a 5k, haven’t done one of them for a few years. The 5k races are nice because most support a good cause. Sometimes I feel as though Ironman ruined me… because I feel like nothing is as hard as that race. One new challenge I do see in my future is beating my Ironman time. Looking back at this year one thing that hurt me was not having a race schedule planned out. Most of the races I did were planned two or three weeks out so training never felt as important and wasn’t a top priority. Looking ahead to next year, I’m registered for the Challenge Family Atlantic City race in June. I still need to pick out a “tune up” race for May but I plan to have a definite schedule by January.

It was fun to follow this year’s Ironman AZ race and watching how it all played out for the pros; reliving my emotions from last year. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how I felt on that day. Wish I could have been in AZ for this years race not to compete but to spectate.

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