I’m baaaaaaackkkk….

Just like Jack Nicholson peeking out from behind the shower curtain.  I am back. And moving forward.

It has been a very strange year.  I look back on my last post and I can’t believe I haven’t written in so long.  I can’t believe I completed the TTT.  I did the Irongirl relay with my awesome daughter.  I also can’t believe I just swam and biked this past week for the first time in 7 months.  Yes, you read that right. MONTHS.  It has been a very strange year.

Triple T was an incredible race.  I look back now on that race with fondness.  I would recommend that race to any triathlete.  But the months leading up to it, and the months following it, I would not.

You might have read about my lack of motivation focus after Ironman in this post.  This year seems to be the same.  Coupled with a lot of eating (weight gain) and crappy weather all spring, there was not much going on in the motivation department.  Finally one of my training partners, and a fellow TTTer, knocked some sense into me and took me on a death march, aka, bike ride.  The first bike ride outside since Ironman, in the wind, 56 miles.

Feeling great

I was feeling pretty badass at the start of this ride.  I am an Ironman!  But by the end I was in complete meltdown mode.  I had never experienced a bonk. I stopped and took out my phone to call for a ride.  I never want to experience that again.  I was literally talked through riding the last 10 miles by my two buds.

The rest of training really wasn’t any better.  The three of us laughed a lot about how we were in the worst shape to do this race, and even though I was sort of joking, I started to believe it!

I will give a race report in another post, but suffice it to say that I was going to quit triathlon after that race.  The course itself was hard as I outlined here, but the mental game was even harder.

Of course I couldn’t stay away from triathlon. Silly girl!  Moving forward, I signed up for what would turn out to be my favorite race ever.

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A 70 mile race in my backyard and training grounds to benefit young adults with cancer. So inspiring.  Loved it.  And a PR for me.

And then I went into a backslide again.  Twins going into middle school. Twins involved in a lot of activities.  Hormonal twins.  And my own job in education going through a time of radical change with curriculum and teacher evaluation. This all led me to believe that now would be a good time to take a break from tri.

So I did.  I loved sleeping in. I had so much time to pay attention to my family, talk with my husband, go grocery shopping, do the laundry, read! I went to dinner with friends. I actually answered emails in a timely manner!  I had all of the Christmas presents wrapped before Christmas Eve!  I was able to spend time with Zachary, who had come home with hospice.  It was wonderful!

But of course I was missing the training, as you know, I love more than actual racing.  Still, I wasn’t ready to commit to training for three sports when I was loving all of this extra time to be the devoted mother and wife I was always meant to be (insert heavy sarcasm here).

What’s a girl to do?  What else? Sign up for a marathon! Running doesn’t take a lot of time right? You just throw on your shoes and out the door you go! Long runs? ‘If I get up early enough I’ll be back before the kids get up’ I told myself.  And this marathon I was doing with my racing BFF Nancy!  And look at the elevation profile! EASY.  Maybe I can qualify for Boston!  Oh yes!

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Those lines that look like the Batman mask are just 110 feet rise in elevation.  I got a training plan from Runner’s World that put my race time at 3:30.

Little did I know that Maryland would have the snowiest winter on record.  Many, many, many days on the dreadmill.  Many, many, many days running outside jumping over ice puddles and snow drifts.  Many, many, many cold, cold, cold, runs.

I’ll have to do a race report on that race too.  Or maybe you just know that I did not qualify for Boston. Shocker, I know.  That I did the first 18 miles in under 3 hours, and the last 8 miles in 2 hours.  Oh, and I effed up my knee.  Yeah, that’s awesome (again with the sarcasm).

Is that the finish line?  YES!

Is that the finish line? YES!

Four days before the race, as I was running on the treadmill once again, my knee swelled after my run. It wasn’t painful, and  I stayed off of it for the rest of the week.  On race day it was still swollen, but not painful, and I did the marathon anyway.  By the end it was really swollen but still no pain.  

I laid off the knee for a week, and still it was swollen.  Now, I have NEVER been injured, so this was all new to me.  I figured if I stop doing what made the knee swell, the swelling would go away.  That’s why I am a teacher and not a doctor.  The swelling didn’t go away.  I won’t recount for you all of the money and time I spent wonderful appointments and procedures to figure out what was going on, but nothing says O-L-D like getting your knee drained and a cortisone shot.

Those procedures worked on my knee, but not on my motivation.  I had no races on the books, and it had been 6 months that I had not swam or biked.  What was going to snap me out of this?  Another race! Another running race!  I became a part of a relay team for the American Odyssey Relay Team “We Call this a Vacation?”

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I was glad I had the opportunity to experience a relay race.  I’ll have to do a race report on this one too.

Still, no moto.  I thought maybe I would try something different.  My friend Michelle and I started meeting for Body Pump and yoga 3 days a week.  I loved the stretching, but something was still missing.

So I sought council from a few tri friends, started to set my alarm earlier, looked up a training plan, and got back to business.  These past two weeks have been fantastic- back outside on a bike (Maryland FINALLY is having spring), and to the pool 3 times now.  I am signed up for a short sprint tri next weekend with my tribuddy Nancy and her husband Ron.  I have zero expectations except to finish.  I am trying not to get down about the fitness l have lost, thank God for muscle memory.

What I have learned through this past year is this: I am MUCH happier when I am swimming, biking, and running.  Suck it up sister, you are a TRIATHLETE!

(I just finished reading some earlier posts from the start and end of my race seasons they read exactly like this one.  At least I am consistent. So sad I can’t break the cycle LOL!)

 

If it were easy it wouldn’t be worth doing.

Love that quote from Troy Jacobson.  Spinervals 13.0 Tough Love

This has been the longest time I have gone without writing.  This is the start of a post from January 16:

Six weeks, without working out give or take.  During the bike portion of the Ironman, at mile 103, my right shifter gave out.  It had been giving me trouble throughout the ride, but it was manageable because I didn’t have to shift that much.  At mile 103 my right shifter would not shift at all.  As mentioned in this post, once I got to PCB I was rolling.  I just wanted to get to transition.  So I shifted into my big ring instead and off I went.  When I got back to Maryland I took my bike to my awesome bike shop.  There I was to learn that the gears inside the shifter were worn away. Like gears on a clock is how they work, and they had been chewed away from wear and tear.  Damn hills!  Matt also broke the news that Shimano shifters cannot be rebuilt.  He told me I could have them replaced but it was unlikely I could only replace one.

And then the drama only continued…moles taken off of my back that required stitches (no swimming), followed by a new found mole taken off on my sitzplatz (no swimming, biking OR running), and then a cyst taken off of my foot (no swimming, biking or running again).  Unfortunately none of these minor surgeries were concurrent.  Fortunately, all moles and cysts were benign.  I got my shifters replaced and put the bike back on the trainer.

And since January 16 I have been training for the next big thing:

TTT.49.47 AM

The first line says it all:

3-days, 4-triathlons, 140+ miles, 1-epic event.

Friday night Sprint triathlon, Saturday 2 Olympics and Sunday is a Half Ironman distance.

It’s very hilly (yeah) and the water tends to be 60 degrees (boo).  The great part is that you get to be part of a team, and for the two races on Saturday you can draft off your teammate.  Gina and I are signed up together as Team Pretty Rough.

Which really describes the training I am doing.  It has been very rough getting back into training after Ironman Florida.  I can do the work, it’s my head that is not in it.  I feel like I will be able to do the event but only when I am not training!  When I sit on the trainer, or go for a swim, or my long run I think, “Ugh! Why did I sign up for this?”  I can only dream of May 22 when I no longer have to be on a regimen.

And that, my friends, is burnout.  I am burnt out on training plans and 4:30 alarms.  On Perpetuem and getting water bottles ready the night before.  On planning around work and kids’ sports schedules.

And for some damn reason I wouldn’t want it any other way.

If it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing.

 

Hindsight is 20/20

Happy New Year! 

I have to admit I am one of those people who love to go back and review the year.  I love watching the news shows that recount all of the successes and failures of the prior year.  I love reading the Washington Post Ins and Outs or the year in review.  I love getting birthday cards that chronicle all of the events in my birth year.

I have kept journals in the past.  Most of my journals are event-driven, like with the pregnancy and birth of twins, or travel journals.  I kept a journal during my cancer treatment.   I have one journal for each of my kids where, on a rare occasion, I write to them about their lives as I see it.  For some reason, though, I don’t re-read them. But this blog is just what I need.  A year in review, short (well, not so short) and sweet.

The best part about the blog is that I can take all that I have learned about training, races and recovery and apply it to this year’s training, races and recovery. A novel idea!  Seems to work for many people, so I think I might try it.  Take the guesswork out of how my body responds to workouts.  See what worked and didn’t work.  Push myself a little more.  Now we’re talking!

Here were my two main goals for 2012:

1. Complete an IronMan distance triathlon.   CHECK!!

2. The IronMan training will not impact my family (too much). EPIC FAIL

Wuh wuh wuh.  Nope.  I don’t think this is possible to achieve.

This is why hindsight is 20/20.  There isn’t any way to know how much the training for an Ironman will impact your life, and everyone’s life around you.  I am still recovering from that in many ways.  It is almost as though I lived in another world while still living in this world.  It kind of freaks me out.  It was almost a double life.  Like an addict maybe?

I focused on myself for an entire 11 months.  Sure, I was going through the motions of cooking dinner or checking homework, driving kids to practice, listening to their stories.  I went to work, and did my job.  I made plans with my husband and we went about our relationship as normal.  But the entire time I was always thinking about my next workout, my next meal, planning for my long weekend rides or runs or races. Thinking about my achievement, how I was feeling.  I talked with Nancy everyday, EVERYDAY, sometimes twice a day, about the race and the training.  I sought out people who could understand me and what I was going through so I could talk more about me and my Ironman.

I did not realize this until I came home from Florida. Wow, what a difficult re-entry.  I couldn’t shake the fact that I was now a mom again, a wife again, a teacher again, a friend again to people who had not done an Ironman.  I wore Ironman gear everyday for a month to remind myself (and others) of my big accomplishment.

I was flapping in the wind.

Fortunately, the kids’ birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas consumed my not-training-for-an-Ironman-anymore life.  I am not proud to say that I haven’t swam since the week after the Ironman, I have not run or biked consistently since then either.  What I have worked on is becoming comfortable again in my life. 

So my resolutions goals for this year are a little different.

1. Focus more on training for my A race only.

That’s it.  I am weaning myself from race consumption.  I need to learn the balance.  So for me that means not cluttering the schedule with half marathons in March, or sprint tris in April.

It means a training schedule that is manageable not life consuming. Ok, it might be a little life consuming.

The A race:

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It is going to be crazy fun!  I am so looking forward to doing this with my best training buddy Gina Miller.  We are a team – Pretty Rough – (LOL!). It is a draft legal race so we will have a great time practicing for that!  It is also very hilly, and both of us LOVE to hammer on the hills.

Oh Yeah!

Oh Yeah!

In July the family and I are going to support Ron Morris at IMLP.  We are going to camp there and plan to volunteer during the race.  This way I can get my IM fix (I’m addict I tell ya).

My daughter and I are a relay team for the IronGirl this year!  Team One D!  Cannot wait to race with her!

Right now I plan to sign up for the Patriots Half in Williamsburg in September and the Baltimore Marathon in October.  I am not making those decisions until after Triple T.

So, that’s the real reason why hindsight is 20/20.  Take that year, review it, and make changes so that you celebrate your successes and don’t repeat your failures.

Happy New Year everyone.  May your race year exceed your expectations, and may you keep it all in perspective.

Happy girl on the bike.

Happy girl on the bike.

I’d like to thank all the little people…

I could not have completed the training or the race without the friends and family around me.  So thank you.

Family Hot Chocolate

My awesome husband and kids.

My mom.  She passed away in 2002, but she is with me every step of the way. She is one of the biggest reasons I was able to do this.  Thanks, mom, for always encouraging me to believe in myself.

My training partners.

Nancy at mile 40.  Still smiling!

Nancy at mile 40. Still smiling

Sandy Point swimIMG_1599

My friend Michelle, who swam pretty much all of the 123,600 yards with me.

123,000 yards DONE!

123,000 yards DONE!

More family.

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My dad.

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My mother in law.Mother in law

My great friend Margie and her husband Josh.

margie and josh

And everyone who wrote something on my FB page before, during, and after the event.  I am so blessed to call these people friends.

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My doctors.

IMG_0368 Zaching with Donna Hamilton and Dr. Riseberg

Zachary

Zaching

My plan. Thanks Troy Jacobson.

Number of days: 111
Number of workouts: 157
Number of meals: 0

Hours: 208.17 hours
     Swim: 45.75 hours
     Bike: 58.83 hours
     Run: 52.75 hours
     Brick: 47.33 hours
     Custom: 3.50 hours

Planned Distance:
     Swim: 123696 yds
     Bike: 1111.00 mi
     Run: 366.00 mi
     Custom: 25.00 mi

And my strong faith in God.

Post race vaca

What people don’t tell you when you finish an Ironman is that it is no different than any other triathlon.  You still have to get your bike.  You still have to back up your gear.  You still have to get home.

Once through the finishers chute and the picture taking and the medalingScreen shot 2012-11-25 at 12.21.20 PM

Oh yeah!

Oh yeah!

athletes are funneled through T2 to get the morning bag, drinks and pizza if you want.  Of course I had pizza and grabbed some waters.  It was so good.  I did not think I would be able to eat, but I chowed on that warm cheesy pizza.  The next thing you have to do is get your bike out of transition.  The organizers give you a bike check ticket and anyone can get the bike if they have the ticket.  Fortunately I finished in enough time for Ray to bring the bike to TriBike Transport, which stays open until 11:30 the night of the race.  Then we walked to the car to go back to the condo.  On the way back we saw our friend Josh finishing!  It was so exciting to see someone we knew in the chute!

When we got back to the condo I peeled off my shoes, socks and clothes to assess the damage. My right foot was ON FIRE.  I thought it was from injury, but further assessment showed that I had some hellacious blisters between my toes, around my toes and on the pad of my foot.  I got in the shower, put on some fresh clothes and went to the living room where Ron, Ray, Nancy and I recapped some of the day, while Nancy and I faded in and out.

No one tells you until you are in Florida that you have to go to the Finisher’s sale the next day.  This is when Ironman sells all of its swag that says FINISHER IMFL on it.  It is only available the next day, and if anyone tells you it will be online, they are wrong.  The other small detail that is left out is that you need to go to the sale EARLY, as in get in line at          6 am.  After an Ironman.  Seriously.

And we did it, along with a lot of other people!

Waiting in line at 6 am for Finisher tent to open

Waiting in line at 6 am for Finisher tent to open

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Nancy’s face says it all.  Seriously?  Thankfully I found some chairs to sit on, Ron went and got us some righteous coffee, and we talked triathlon waiting a full hour and a half so we could get into the tent.  But it was all worth it.  I got enough gear to outfit me for a month straight.

Back at the condo we had an amazing breakfast, then did some sightseeing.  Of course the Gulf was F-L-A-T, but neither one of us wanted to get into the water.  So we didn’t.  We also googled how to recover from an Ironman, wondering what would we do without a training plan?

PCB

PCB

Calm seas.

Calm seas.

Sightseeing on the pier.

Sightseeing on the pier.

The next two days were filled with eating, shopping and talking Ironman.  We made it over to Patty and Steve’s hotel to hang out in the hot tub. Of course pretty much everyone there had finished IMFL, and some had completed many other IM races.  It was fun to recap the day.  It was also vindication when just about everyone said the swim was terrible.

It had been an amazing week.  I was ready to go home, but nostalgic at the same time.

The sign stays up year round.  They just change the date and the year!

The sign stays up year round. They just change the date and the year!

The sun sets on a wonderful trip

The sun sets on a wonderful trip

My beautiful picture

And of course I was thinking about the inevitable question:

Would you do another one?

IMFL race report-really

The swim is a 2 loop affair, with the athletes running down the beach about 25 yards to get back in to start the second loop. I had started all the way to the right, having been given the advice that the current can be so strong from that direction, it will push you inside the buoys.

I counted off about 30 seconds after the cannon and got into the water to the Van Halen song Panama.  The waves are big, but the water is refreshing.  I have a few doubtful thoughts, then refocus and begin counting my strokes.  People are everywhere.  It’s a weird sound, the breathing, the slapping of hands on water, feet kicking.  Everyone trying to get in their own zone.

I really didn’t have to sight on the buoys, just on people’s caps.  I was making good time and came up on the first turn buoy fairly quickly.  I took the turn with 500 other people, but I was careful not to hit anyone, and I only got slammed in the shoulder, which startled me more than it hurt.

Heading back to shore I experienced something I did not prepare for.  I became nauseaous. (Given that I have to take Dramamine to go out on the Bay in a 16 foot boat, I should have thought this could be a possibility.)  The rollers were pretty big.  As I went up with the wave I could see the pink and green caps go down.  Then as I went down, I got pulled back a bit, then would go up again.  Even typing this makes me queasy.

I tried doing everything to not think about my stomach. But it was so bothersome.  Then I heard people around me retching.  “Oh no,” I thought.  “Here it comes.”  But once I got sick I immediately felt better.  I pushed on, excited by the fact that the shore was coming closer.  I knew once I could get fresh water I would feel so much better.

Once I got my feet on land my queasiness disappeared.  I ran along the beach, took water from the volunteer, rinsed and swallowed some more.  There were so many people along the shore, slapping hands, and the music was pumping!  I saw on the clock that I had been swimming for 46 minutes.  Not too bad considering the way I felt.  One loop down, one to go.

But as soon as I got in the water I knew I was in for a long swim.  My stomach immediately let me know that it was not happy.  There was a lot of retching going on all around me.  I put my face in the cold water, which helped me to feel better and I swam on.  Eventually though, turning my head made me sick.  Counting my strokes made me sick too.  I had made it again to the turn buoy but I was feeling terrible.

What’s weird and crazy is that I never thought I wouldn’t finish.  I wasn’t scared.  In those big rollers, with all those other people, I knew I would get back to shore.  Once I turned toward the finish, I couldn’t help myself and I got sick again.  And again.  I decided to doggie paddle when the waves pushed me toward the shore because freestyle was making me sick.  This worked, but I got sick again.  And a few more times.

Nevertheless, the shore was getting closer.  I could do a bit of freestyle now that my stomach was empty, but my head was killing me.  I decided to make a plan for what the rest of my day might look like, given that I had just left all of my nutrition and hydration in the Gulf of Mexico.

It was all a guess as to how my stomach would hold up for the rest of the day.  I made my plan: once I got to the changing tent I would sip water while I changed.  If I could keep that down, I would get on the bike.  I had a Bonk Breaker on my bike, which I would eat to get some calories in.  If I kept that down, I would get a banana at the first aid station, and if all was well, then I would start on my nutrition.

I arrived at the shore and got through the chute, my stomach immediately settled on dry land.  I was a little out of it, and the volunteers yelled at me to sit down while they stripped off my wetsuit, folded it and stuffed it into my hands.  I looked at the clock.

1:40.

Looking back, I think I was just elated that I had completed the swim in the IronMan, but I was also a bit disappointed.  Not because it took me 15 minutes longer than what I had trained for, but that given the conditions, I really couldn’t do what I wanted to do knew I could do in the water.

Coming through transition.

On to the changing tent.  I saw Ron and Ray at transition, a welcome sight.

I finished the swim in an IronMan!!

The changing tent is a wonderful place.  The volunteers clapped for me when I came in!  A woman asked if I needed help and I told her I had gotten sick and needed water.  She got me some and said that I was not the only one who was sick, and that a lot of people had to ask for help.  Mentally, I felt so much better hearing that.I think that the mental part had taken a lot out of me too, and knowing that others were feeling bad, and had made it out on the bike course, made me realize I was going to do it.

As she helped me change the water stayed down, and before I knew it I was heading out the door to my bike.  More volunteers before T1 put sunscreen on me.  One more kiss from Ray and I was headed out.

Here I go!

Happy to be reunited with my bike.

The weather could not have been more perfect.  I remember thinking how excited I was to go for a bike ride.  A nice, long, flat bike ride.

The course starts out along Panama City Beach and heads out of town.  Riding along the coast was gorgeous.  I did not want to start out too fast, but it felt so good to pedal.  I ate my Bonk Breaker and sipped on water.  So far, so good. My stomach felt fine.  After about 15 minutes on the bike I could feel the calories working, and I felt a lot stronger.  I decided to start on my nutrition.  My plan was to drink 1/4 of my Perpetuem on the hour, and eat a Gu on the 1/2 hour.  I started with my drink.  It stayed down.

On the way out I passed some people, and some passed me.  So many people with pointy helmets. They make me smile as I cruise along on my road bike.

Everyone seemed to be in great spirits.   I soaked up the people cheering at every major intersection.

My only complaint about the course was one of the out and back sections. It was not the most pleasant paved road, ie. bumpy as hell, and I had to pee.  It was a litltle windy so I wanted to stay in the aerobars but the bumps made things a little difficult.  In the middle of this stretch was the special needs for the bike.  I got my other Bonk Breaker, mixed another bottle of Perpetuem, just in case, used the bathroom and off I went.  I had seen Nancy on this out and back and I wanted to catch up.  She was at least 5 miles ahead of me.

By mile 70, I was feeling fantastic. It just didn’t seem like there was that much farther to ride and my legs felt great. By this time we had been biking into the wind, which would come straight at us for about 40 miles.  Around this time I started passing people. I guess everyone who was going to pass me already did and now I was passing people who were fading on the bike. It was getting hot and after 5-6 hours on the bike people were wearing out.  I was charged up. It wasn’t because I was passing people, but because I was in the IronMan on my bike!

Happy girl on the bike.

And speaking of Nancy, I finally caught up with her at mile 90ish.  We were so happy to see each other!!!  I was feeling great, she was feeling great, and we finished the last 15 miles or so close together, recounting our race day, but NOT drafting.

Once I made the turn back into town, the wind was at my back and I took off.  I was ready to get off the bike, but I was also ready to not stay in my zone and pick up a little speed.  I had been a good girl on this ride, constantly reminding myself that I had been sick in the morning and I still had a marathon to run.

At T2 I slowed down and prayed I would not fall off my bike in front of all these people! The best thing is that a volunteer takes your bike and racks it for you.  Amazing how nice that was.

I immediately saw Ray, who was beaming from ear to ear.  I had done it!  Finished the bike in an IronMan, and finished strong!

I am finished that bike ride!!

7:27 15 mph.  Just like in training.  I had set myself up for a good run and a finish.

I went into the changing tent to take off my bike shorts and put on running shorts.  Oh but that felt good.  I put on my watch, looked up and there was Nancy.  Sweet!  While I waited for her to change I took some much needed sit down time and looked around, taking it all in.  Still pinching myself that I was racing in an IronMan!

Off to the marathon.

The beginning of the run was incredible.  There were tons of spectators cheering and since you have your name on your bib they could call out your name too.  It made you feel special and it was fun.

The first 5 miles went by quickly and Nancy and I were keeping a good pace.  We were using the Jack Jeff Galloway technique of a run/walk combo.  Nancy had hurt her leg about a month before IM, and she had figured out she could walk a marathon in 6 hours if she kept a 15 minute pace.  We decided to run for 10 minutes, walk for 10 minutes.  We were on track for a 5 hour marathon, well within the finish time of 17 hours.

I was so glad to be with Nancy.  We were having so much fun and it was amazing to me to share this race with her after all of our months of training and encouragement to each other.  She is truly my sister and an awesome person.

It got dark pretty quickly and we were running in the dark for a few miles before the special needs came up at mile 13. Both of us had put our headlamps in the bags.  I also found a note Nancy had written: ‘Go Laine, you are doing it! See you soon!’ I laughed because she was so sure that I would be ahead of her, and I was so sure I would be with her.

The volunteer who helped us at special needs was so excited to find out we were elementary school friends doing an IronMan together.  She asked us a ton of questions and it was fun to connect with her.  She wished us a great finish and off we went.

For a lot of people the second loop was a dark place in more ways than one.  It helped us that Ron, Lydia and Ray were able to navigate the neighborhood and meet up with us about 9 different times.

Headlamps!

It was about 6:00 when the first chicken broth came out.  I had heard about this manna from heaven from so many people and it was everything that was promised and more.  It tasted warm, and salty, and heavenly.

I was doing a Gu every 45 minutes and grabbing chicken broth and water at all of the aid stations.  My stomach was feeling pretty good, but many around us were having a hard time. There was a lot of throwing up.  There were a lot of blank stares.  A lot of people doing the Ironman Shuffle.  People asked us on more than one occasion if we thought they would finish!

We were encouraging to many people, even working out some math with another runner who wanted to finish in under 12 hours.  We rallied the firefighter who was in full turnout gear and was worried she wouldn’t finish.  We boosted up the solo runner, who looked envious that we had each other.

One thing we would not do was say “when we get to the finish”. Even at mile 24 we were well aware of all of the things that could still go wrong. I suggested to Nancy that we should walk the next 1 1/2 miles.  We were going to finish, I knew that deep down, so why do we need to kill ourselves?

At the athlete dinner a woman we met said we should make sure the hair was in place, put some Aquafor on the lips and SMILE when we crossed that finish line.  There was only one first time photo. At mile 25 we started primping for our finisher picture. We were set.  At the turn onto the main road which led to the chute we started to run.

Talk about a boost.  There were people EVERYWHERE shouting for us.  It was incredible.  Nancy had insisted that I cross first, and when I protested she shut me down.  Ok, I would go first.  When we got in the chute I turned back and shouted, “Nancy, we are in the finisher’s chute of the IRONMAN!”

I soaked up every minute.  I high fived eveybody’s hand.  On both sides.  I looked around, taking it all in.  And then I heard it:

From Eldersburg, MD….

LAINE MALCOTTI-

YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

Amen.

IronMan Florida Race Report – morning of race

Wow, can I drag out a story or what?

8:30 pm IronMan Eve.  Bed time.  After an awesome meal of San Francisco chicken, angel hair pasta, Caesar salad, and a heaping bowl of Klondike Bar ice cream in a sugar cone, I am satiated.  I had been drinking water with Nuun all day and felt topped off with hydration and nutrition.  My personal plan did not include waking up at 2 or 3 a.m. to eat, choosing sleep instead.  However, if I do wake up, I will eat and drink something.  Off to bed to get on Facebook and check my well wishers.  I check email and find that my daughter, who is at a sleepover, had her friends send me some cool messages:

  • Hey mom! Have fun on your race! Good luck! I LOVE YOU!! -Cece
  • Good luck mrs.laine I hope you succeed your goal of completing it do your best and good luck From,Carra
  • I hope you have fun doing the iron man. I know you can do it! My family is going to try and track it down on the Internet and see your progress. I hope you succeed your goal!-Sophie
  • Mrs. Laine,  I know you are going to do great during the Iron Man! you are ALWAYS pushing to go on in life, thats just exactly what you have to with this race!  Just keep pushing harder and god will help you get through this race! He will keep pushing you to do your best! Good luck! We will be watching! -Grace

Who couldn’t be pumped up after reading this from 11 year olds?!

Sleep came easily, and I was out by 10:00.  I woke up around 2, but decided not to get up.  I tossed and turned a bit, but I managed to sleep a little more, falling back into it after visualizing the transitions. My alarm went off at 4:30.

RACE DAY.

First things first, I turned on the coffee maker.  I had pre-loaded the coffee the night before, so it was perking in no time.  I brushed my teeth and when I came out, Nancy was there pouring the coffee.  I had my hair appointment for 4:45 and Nancy got right to the IronHair.

IronHair!

I got dressed in my bathing suit, sweat pants and long sleeved T.  I wore clothes which I would be ok losing in case I never saw my morning bag again while at the same time would keep me warm at the finish. I paused and thought about that.  At the finish.  Today, I would be an IRONMAN!

For sure my stomach was a bit butterflied but I ate breakfast: a banana and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I would also do a Gu before the swim.  I had practiced this.  It was enough to get me through the swim.  The next thing I knew it was time to go.

Here we go!

We drove about 2 miles to where Ron and Ray dropped us off – right at special needs bag drop off. This was our point of good-bye to them too, although now, I really do not remember what we said.

It was so warm out!  Nancy and I dropped our bags, making sure the bike special needs went into the bike special needs box, and the run special needs made it into the run box.

We walked over to the body marking.  WOW!  Athletes EVERYWHERE!  Music pumping!  It was still dark, but amazingly light.  We found a woman ready to mark us and ended up in a conversation with her about where we were from, if the hurricane had affected us, and she and Nancy swapped stories about the trees that ended up in their homes in the last hurricane.  It was a little surreal to talk about normal things when we were about to do a 140.6 mile race, but it was also calming.

It was time to get to T1. Walking over we saw the female winner from the past two years.  We stopped and chatted with her, complimenting her on her speech at the athlete dinner.  She wished us good luck and we were on our way to our bikes.

So many people rushing around.  Some with flats already. Some needing pumps.  Lots of last minute checks. I placed my two bottles of Perpeteum in the bottle cages, having already put my Gu in the bento box the day before.  I gave my tires a squeeze to make sure they were inflated to what I like.  I pump up my tires the day before a tri, then I check my tire pressure by feel, just like when I put my lips on my kids’ foreheads to check if they have a fever.  I just know when it’s good.  It’s worked so far, and I said a quick prayer that my tires would hold up for the day.

I ran my hands over the seat, and said a quiet good-bye.

It was only 6:10, so Nancy and I decided to go to the morning bag drop off, hand in our bag and clothes and then sit inside and wait to go to the beach. We sat in the hallway, people watching.  It’s pretty cool to see how people get their “game on”.  I have to say most people seemed happy and excited.  And nervous.  Just how I felt.

I always make an effort to find a connection with people wherever I go.  I think it makes me feel safe.  While sitting in the hallway, I saw a man with a ChessieMan shirt on and said, “Hey Chessieman! We did that!” which made Nancy and I crack up because I said it in a tone that was like “Yeah, we are bad asses and we are gonna crush this IM like we crushed that race” which is  the way I wanted to feel, but I wasn’t…quite…

Then, of course, I decided I should go to the bathroom one last time.  We walked into transition as the announcer is telling everyone to get out.  The lines were short, and we were done in a jiffy.  I put on my wetsuit up to my waist and we walked over to the line to enter the swim start corral.

It seemed as though the line was taking forever.  As the sun came up I could see how many athletes were about to get into the water. Pink and green caps from fencing to fencing.

I am in there somewhere!

I could also see the size of the waves.  Uh…not knee high.  Not waist high.  Not chest high.  About head high.  But, I remember thinking, “that’s ok, we swam in that on Thursday.  I can get beyond the waves.”

See the black dots in the water? Those are the pros.

Big waves.

Nancy zipped up my suit.  The National Anthem played.  Tears sprang to my eyes.  I was so overjoyed.  The cannon went off for the male pros, then the female.  Nancy asked me if I thought it looked like the pros were swimming toward us.  Still not really worried about the waves, I said, calmly, “It’s just the waves making it look like that.”

And then, like that, it was 7:00 and the cannon went off and Nancy and I hugged, said “see you at the finish” and she was gone, into the water.