I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do the race after I injured my knee back in June on a long bike ride. I wasn’t able to run or ride for more than about 20 minutes at a time, I did get to work on my swim yuck! I guess things happen for a reason.
I freaked out to my coach Joby Gutierrez, because for the previous 6 months I had done several centuries, hill riding, running mileage was up to a strong 17 mile long run and I had finally gotten comfortable with the upcoming distances and hills. I was afraid I was going to lose my great base of training with this injury and not be able to do the race after putting in all this time and effort. There are no words to express the frustration and fear in knowing that after all this hard work it may be over so quickly. Joby assured me I wouldn’t lose my base, but to concentrate on getting better (I prayed he was right).
My doctors at at Ouch Medical Clinic and my physical therapist Michelle were amazing and were detrimental to my recovery. My very 1st bike ride outside (trainer gets old) was at the Team FC Mammoth cycling camp with Coach Joby and my team mates. I was only allowed to ride flats and down hills. No hills, because of the pain it caused. I was bummed and excited at the same time. I was finally allowed to try some bike mileage, but no hills. I had a blast riding down the hills fast and coach drove me up the hills and would drop me off at the top to stay up with the others. It was great seeing the strength in my friends/team mates climbing it was very motivating.
I slowly started to run and ride more, but couldn’t do hills at the beginning. The last month prior to the race I finally got back up to a 17 mile long run, but had to walk part of it (so happy to do it, but not ideal for me for a marathon). Thanks Adrienne for doing this run with me, even though I had to walk and go for a coke at mile 14, yum yum. My longest bike ride ever (112 miles) wasn’t until a month prior to the race at the Vineman aqua bike race and the ride took me forever and it wasn’t that hilly.
I didn’t get my confidence back for the bike (which I was freaking about the most about) until Joby had us ride Glendale Mountain Road up to Mt Baldy Village a couple of weeks before the race. I had done this before, while training for the Breathless Agony ride, so many months before. I am slow and not very fast, especially on hills and I was terrified my knee wouldn’t hold up. I was ecstatic that I made it up and enjoyed the down hill more than you know (got up to 50 mph on the down hill WEEEEEE). The 4 mile run after was a bit challenging and I felt soreness in knees. Since, it was both I somehow felt ok with it.
Most of you didn’t see me living in my running shoes all day every day, limping around these past few months. My customers loved the suit and running shoe look, as well as, the big wigs at my company. (Yaa not so much, but I didn’t miss any work HA).
Sorry, for the lengthiness of this, but thought I’d give you a snapshot of some of the challenges and fear leading up to doing an IRONMAN race.
August 28th, 2011 Race Day
The Morning of the race, 4 of us from Team FC, Katie McEwen, Jillian Chaney, Adrienne Miller and myself were lucky enough to have great support teams with us.
Our coach Joby Gutierrez and his wife, Mia flew in Saturday night just to come support us on Sunday.
Our friends Yen and Yasmine flew in on Friday to be our Sherpas and carry our bags. Boy did they have their work cut out for them.
Katie’s husband, 3 kids and her parents were also there.
It was great to hear them all cheering for us in various locations. THANK YOU!!!!!!
This was an amazing and beautiful course. I am so glad I had the opportunity to do this race.
My race report is below for those of you who like to read the details of the race.
Actual Race Report – Ironman Canada – August 28th, 2011
PreRace: Tortured Adrienne and Jillian with my pre-race music on the way to the race. We had I’m Alright from the movie Caddyshack song by Kenny Loggins, Life is a Highway by Rascal Flats, I Like It, by Enrique Iglesias featuring Pitbull, Don’t Fight It by Kenny Loggins and The Climb by Miley Cyrus. Don’t laugh, these were important theme songs to help get us through 140.6 miles in one piece you can do the training, but if your heads not in it, you are done before you start.
I’m Alright and The Climb were very personal to me, they got me through my physical therapy and helped me stay positive, besides how can you not smile imaging that dancing gopher in the movie Caddyshack (ok some of you are to young to remember the movie- go rent it).
Transition was setup the day before, so all we had to bring race morning was our swim gear and special needs bags for the bike and run.
Swim: WOW! Beautiful course, 71 degree water temperature and we can wear wetsuits. Is there any better circumstances. Oh ya, there was 3199 additional swimmers with me. Adrienne, Jillian and myself tested the water (acclimated) and got into our swim start positions, aka stood in the water (shallow water first 100 yards or so). The flag line was raised and the gun went off. You’d think everyone would hightail it out into the water. Nope! It was announced that there were 1100 1st time Ironman racers and it looked like most of them were walking out of the shallow areas. Forget that, us FC girls started to swim. Walking is not for swimming. It was crowded, I won’t lie. I tried ton stay to the outside, but no matter where I was there were bodies, arms and legs trying to hit me, swim over me, through me. Ugh! I knew it was going to be challenging, but really the whole time. The lake was so clear you could see the bottom most of the time. I used the visibility to my advantage and watched my sides. If I started to get squeezed between two or more swimmers I stuck my head out of the water and went around when possible. Surprisingly, when women grab your feet, by accident they move around you. Not the men, they would swim over you, pull your legs or knock you about. I got hit in the head, arms and hands pushed back and trampled on. I kept telling myself to relax and enjoy this part. My plan was to have a relaxed swim and not push to hard. Stuck to the plan, but did get more defensive as the swim continued. I gave back was I was getting. Women seem to be more cordial, except when they are swimming crooked. It was very entertaining seeing people swim back and forth instead of straight ahead. Remember, the water was very clear and after awhile, I could recognize some of these swimmers. I stood up as I was getting out of through water and left Calf cramped up immediately. A nice women (not man) asked if I needed assistance, told her I was ok and decided to swim a little further to work it out. It worked and I was fine. Great swim, came in close to goal time.
T1: Wetsuit strippers are the best things in a race. They stripped off my wetsuit so fast and all I had to do was sit when they told me and they pulled me back to my feet. Got bike gear bag and was a bit dizzy, kind of funny staggering around like a drunk person. Got into changing tent and dried myself a bit and got into bike gear.
Bike: Garmin wasn’t working correctly and started my transition time as part of my bike time only it wasn’t showing bike information. Finally, got it switched and just had to keep reminding myself that I was going to be off a bit on the mileage. No worries, I was more concerned with keeping with my Heart Rate pace that Joby established. If in didn’t follow the plan it would be a very long day and night. Saw Joby out on his 20 mile run (he is training for Ironman Arizona) early on the bike. Ooh, he is running our run course. Bike ride is absolutely beautiful. I had to work my plan and finish the bike in 8 hours. I knew the faster I could do the bike course the more time I would have for the run, in case of any issues, like the 90+ degree weather :-0. The first hill was steep, but not bad. Coming around the back side of the hill there were a lot of people with flats, craziness. Then, I heard why. Someone had put tacks on the side of the road where we were riding and someone had figured it out so they told us to ride in the middle of the road. “Who would be so mean?”. The down hill was amazing (love the down hills). Mile 31 the road felt weird to me and the reason I knew this, was because we road it the day before. It was my turn for a flat in the front. I thought ok, don’t panic, just because these are race wheels you rented and have never changed a tire on (next time practice changing tires like Jillian). I started to change my flat and had issues getting the tube out. Luckily for me their were race supporter vehicles during the bike portion and these 2 great gentlemen changed my tired and had me on the road in no time. I was only off the bike for a total of 12 minutes from the time I pulled off the road. AMAZING! So grateful, to the 2 men. I thanked them and told them I hoped I wouldn’t see them again (no more flats). They adjusted my helmet for me (didn’t know it was crooked) and off I went. The first 40 miles or so were mostly downhills. I still averaged about 20 to 21 mph, which is great for me. I didn’t push it, just stuck to the plan. It was going to be a beautiful bike ride. By Mile 40 I needed to get some water before Richter pass, long climb up. There was no water at this aid station, started to panic, but still had enough nutrition in my other bottle to get me to mile 56. Next aid station, same thing, no water, what in the world!! Kept playing tag with a couple of riders, they would pass me going up and I would pass them going down the hills. Made it to the top, finally got some water and went flying down the other side, WEEEEEE. There was a loopy area we couldn’t find when we drove the course and it was a bit rough, but at the end was our special needs bag with my extra bottle of nutrition. This was around mile 78 or so (I thought the special needs station was going to be about mid-way through the bike course, mile 60). Oh well, the volunteers were amazing. I decided to switch my nutrition from the bottle in my bag to the bottle I was using and the volunteer did it for me. Another volunteer put sunscreen on my shoulders, because they were starting to burn. They booth saved me then. One more climb was coming up mile 80 to 98 by Yellow Lakes. Wow it wasn’t bad at all (love my compact crank I invested in). According to my plan, I could fly the remaining miles and most of them were down hill. Pulled to the side of the road to loosen my shoes before going down hill. My feet were killing me, they had swelled up in my bike shoes, because of the heat. WEEEEEEE. Oh my, I think I hit 60 mph on the long down hill. Have to wait till I get home to pull up my garmin data, but talk about fun and fast. I was trying to stay close to the guy in front of me and pass all the others. I have the need for speed and this down hill definitely made up for all the climbs. The ride in to Penticton was basically flat, but very windy. Saw and heard Yen and Yasmin cheer for me as I was coming in. About a mile away from the dismount line this guy decided to jet out in front of me from the crowd with his bike. I swerved into the other lane to miss him and everyone yelled and pulled him back quick. Yeah! No crashes on the bike. I would have been bummed to crash after completing 111 miles to fall at the end.
T2: You have to love this distance, I dismounted my bike and the volunteers took it away. Nice, one less thing to deal with. Grabbed my run bag and ran for the changing tent. I didn’t change clothes, but you had to go into these tents to change your gear. While putting on clean, dry socks I mentioned to my handler (they assign a person to you in these tents to help you out, Amazing) that my feet were killing me. Without even asking her, she preceded to rub my feet as I got the rest of my run gear on. WOW!! She also offered to walk me to the massage tent if I needed a massage (really thought about it, but I came here to finish with a decent time). Quick restroom break and off I went. Transition time was long, but well worth it.
Run: Ok stick with the plan. Saw Joby and Mia cheer me on as I headed out of town for the run. Joby had this huge chocolate ice cream (no fair, I told him I wanted his ice cream, I didn’t get it. BOOHOO). Little challenging at first to slow my pace down, but had to. I made great time on the bike, which pleased me to no end. This gave me more time on the run. After a couple of miles I knew the pacing guidelines Joby gave me weren’t going to work. It was still in the 90’s and I don’t do well in the heat. Took nutrition and enduralytes, but couldn’t move an faster. If anything, I started to slow down. I started walking through water stations, putting ice down my shirt, in my water bottles and grabbing ice cold sponges at every aid station (these were set at every mile). Started talking to walkers and doing math in my head to see how long it was going to take me at the pace or walk I was at. I’d finish, but not close to what I wanted or predicted. Waved to Brianna Littrell, she was moving and looked strong. Wow, she is almost done and it’s not even close to dark yet. Couple miles down the road I saw Adrienne, she was moving at a pretty good clip and looked to be finished around the time she figured. I yelled at her that I would probably closer to an 11pm finish time, because the heat was really getting to me. Adrienne let me know that Jillian wasn’t too far behind, so I started looking for her as I ran. Saw Jillian and asked how she was and she just shook her head. Asked her if Katie was behind her and she just shook her head yes. Started to walk all the up hills and run the down hills. All the volunteers and local townspeople cheered every runner that went by. Finally, saw Katie and she seemed to be walking a fast clip. Figured her foot was giving her trouble, which it was. Knew Katie would still be hours ahead of me. When I realized the turn around point and run special needs bag was getting closer, really started to pick up the pace, especially on the down hills. One guy yelled at me to go for it and that I had a great stride going. I yelled back at him, that I was just trying to get to my pb&j sandwich. I was hungry. He laughed at that and made comments to others (whatever works). During all 3 sections of this race I had songs playing through my head. Thank goodness. There were some spectators that were playing some great music along the way as well. Since, we ran parallel to the lake, there was a group of partyers on a boat playing music and promising all outgoing runners that they would still be there when they headed back to town (they definitely were there the entire time). I booked it into the turn around, grabbed my bag and opened my Caddyshack golfer card and listed to it as I ate my pb and j sandwich, before tossing the bag in the trash. The last 13.1 miles were going to be long. I now had to go up all the hills I had just booked it down and there were several of them. Along the way I saw one of the guys I kept passing back and forth on the bike, Alberto. I started talking to him and he was not doing to well. We decided to chat and keep each other company and distracted from what we were doing. We decided to walk all the aid stations and the up hills and run everything else. This strategy started to work and my math calculations started recalculating my finish time. I started to feel sick to my stomach, so I ate some pretzels and used a restroom at an aid station. Glad I took the time to use the port a potty, because I started to feel a bit better. When the sun finally disappeared it got a bit cooler and I got my glow stick. Told the others I was going to finish with a glow stick and kept waiting to get one from the motorcycle official. When it was completely dark it was a bit hard to see. Thank goodness some of the runners had lights. The last 5 miles we started to pick up the pace and keep it going except for the walks through the aid stations. At mile 24, I said goodbye and congratulations to my running partner (this was his 3rd Ironman and he only did this to honor his cousin that died). We both were going to have to stop to see people before the end and didn’t want to hold each other back. Saw Joby and Mia and gave them my water belt and gu flask, so I could have a clean picture :-). Yes, we all had this planned. They both congratulated me and I went on my way. They sure don’t make this easy, looping around a bit at the end before you can see the finish line. Robin Littrell ran next to me for a minute to congratulate me and let me know I was literally almost there. Finally, saw the finishers shoot and the Ironman sign and decided I would pick up the pace. No one else was around me at the time, so I didn’t have to, but it’s what I usually do and didn’t want to change now. Finished and tried to smile for the cameras. I didn’t even look down at my watch or turn it off, so I didn’t even know my finishing time, before Yen told me. I knew it was under 16 hours, just didn’t know how close it was to 15 1/2 hours. I was very happy to see Adrienne and Jillian on the other side of the finish line. Yeah! We have all come so far and we were officially IRONMAN!!!!!!!!!
Thank you all for your support this year. It has really meant a lot to me.
I could not have done this race nor the training required without our amazing coach Joby and his sweet wife Mia. They have put up with so much from all of us over the last 8 months and never complained a bit. My friends and training partners Adrienne and Jillian, who were always willing to meet me and wait for my slowness on all are long bike rides and of course eat with me everywhere. Thank You so much. My boyfriend Scott, who had to deal with waking me up to go to bed after I would fall asleep most nights on the sofa by 7:30pm and making sure I ate a balanced meal after every long torturous workout day (usually on Sundays) Thanks for putting up with the craziness. Thank you mom, for letting me crash on the couch during our visiting time and watching Smarty. Thank you friends and family for your patience and encouragement. Thank you Jim Manton for all the last minute bike adjustments and component education. Thank you to Bob, Rick and all the guys at CycoPath bike shop in Temecula, CA for all your hard work on my last minute requests and issues over the past 8 months.
Out of 213 participants in my age group I finished 149. There was 3229 participants and I didn’t come in last. I actually placed 2261.
Total Time 15:30:56
You may now address me as Laura the Ironman, just kidding.
I still can’t believe I completed an Ironman race. It hasn’t hit me yet. The day just flew by and I enjoyed every minute of it.