The last few weeks have been crazy! Right after IM Louisville (more on that in a bit) my husband and I jumped a plane to Alaska. I like to do this after my last big race. When I check out, I really like to CHECK OUT. No better place to do this than Juneau, AK!
So, I drove home from Louisville on Monday, which I thought was going to be a terrible idea, (not bad, I was stiff but not sore thank goodness) packed on Tuesday and then my husband and I got up at 3am to catch our flight. We arrived in Juneau at 1:40 pm so we had some great flights and were able to enjoy what felt like an “extra” afternoon there. We were on a mission for Halibut! Yes, I’m surprised I like to fish too…..it surprises me every time I go there actually🙂
We had some awesome weather days as you can see above. I’m not even wearing a coat on the boat! However, by Tuesday, I was in full survival gear head to toe on the boat and freezing cold and wet. A marathon fishing day in 45 degrees and rain. We saw a ton of humpbacks this time, and some funny characters, sea lions, that liked to pop up next to the boat to see what we were up to.
I also had a new nephew to meet:
And check out this super cute duo:
It was the first time my husband was able to go with me and I was impressed with his single minded focus on HALIBUT. It’s a fun fish to catch actually.
So, let’s back up shall we and talk about the race. I loved it. Some background here. I have done 2 ironmans in the past. Hated them. Every.single.second. disastrous results and I just did not get what people saw in racing this distance. I also did races/locations that people just love and I did not see it. Did I say I hated every second of the entire day both times? It took me about 5 years and a different coach to convince me to give it another try. Actually, the funny thing is, he did not at any point talk me into trying it again. I came around by myself after 2.5 years of working with him (Alun Woodward of Ironguides. He rocks, amazing coach).
I remember also when Louisville was announced as a venue. My words were (and my friend Cindy can vouch for this) “wow, who in their right mind would do a race in Louisville in AUGUST. Good luck with that!” But for some reason I got it in my mind last year that this is the one I HAD to do. I signed up fairly late in the year (May) and had no expectations. You know how you say that sometimes going into a race “no expectations, just going to work hard, blah blah blah” and you know darn well you pretty much have some splits worked out to the second and have some pretty clear expectations? FOR REAL this time, I fully expected to not do well and fall apart like I did in the past. No expectations whatsoever.
What did help going into this mentally though was: a wonderful homestay with my friend Julie and her husband. Talk about knowing how to treat a guest, wow! They were 10 minutes from downtown/transition and treated me like a million bucks. Having access to a nice bedroom, kitchen, etc helped tremendously. Thank you so much again!! Her husband also showed me an amazing park to bike in right down their street. It simulated the course quite well and was packed with other bikers, runners and walkers. Beautiful!
Second thing that happened was that I recently, just that week, was offered a job that I was extremely excited about. What a relief!! I went into this with no pressure, no expectations and knowing I was taking a nice little trip right after the race.
I wanted to go alone and did. I drove down by myself on Friday and drove straight to the hotel to check in, etc. As usual it was super efficient and I got in an out. One surreal experience was being tapped on the arm while standing in line to buy some extra EFS Liquid Shot (LOVE IT) turning around and having Nina Kraft ask me about it and if she should buy it. Very odd…..
As usual I got out of the expo STAT, I do not like being around all the nervous athletes, etc and went back to Julie’s house and relaxed. Got my bike together, did a little ride and in general was feeling pretty tired. I was supposed to meet my friend Ben for a swim Saturday morning and 10 minutes before we were supposed to meet I texted him and said “I’m still in bed…..” he said “so am I…” ha! So, that did not happen. I figured it was better to relax and rest. I also really took any emotion out of this race. Not in a bad way mind you. I just stuck to the plan. I did not pay any attention to what I “wanted” I just did what I had to do without letting a lot of emotion get in the way. Don’t feel like eating? Too bad, you have an IM to do. Don’t feel like resting? Too bad.
I also ate about 10x more than I thought I should figuring that would get me to where I should be. That also worked. I was excited for the race to start just so I could stop eating….I felt fat and slow so I was about where I should have been🙂
I woke up early, had a silly huge breakfast and made my way down to transition alone making sure I double checked what parking garage I was in. I liked the quiet time to myself actually. The volunteers at Louisville were just amazing and I can’t say enough good things about them. Set my bike up with the nutrition for the day (EFS!!) stood around and then made the walk to the swim start. It was about a mile+ away and there was a huge stream of athletes making their way down there.
I took off my warm up clothes and stuffed them in my morning bag and handed that off to the volunteers and jumped in line relative to where I wanted to be. I did not go to the back of the line. No one seemed to mind and I would do this again. I thought we’d be waiting a while but man where they efficient. Once the line got rolling it was fast. You started to file down and then when you got on one dock, the line broke into 2 lines and 2 people jumped in every second. Before I knew it we were walking and I heard “goggles down now, get ready to jump”. And then of course I jumped in and got the requisite judo chop massive kick to the jaw which ended up hurting for a good 2 weeks. So much for the non mass start lack of melee. I really think I remember them saying we’d swim out about 1500 meters and then turn back towards transition, so kind of a point to point.
So, I saw a buoy after what felt like about 1500 meters and started to turn back. No one else was though! I jumped back in the crowd and I was really surprised at how much farther we had to go to make the turnaround. The way back seemed really fast, I sighted very well but I was making no time. But no one was passing me and I seemed to be around the same people. It was odd. I heard afterwards that it may very well have been measured long and some people from last year said the turnaround was quite far from where it was previously and the swim times were quite slow. I felt like I was swimming towards transition forever and could see it and hear it, it was just like I was on a treadmill at that point. But, being all business that day, I looked at my watch, said “oh well” and got on with the long day. After I got out of the water I never thought about it again.
T1 went well, I took in a massive shot of calories while getting my shoes, etc and headed out. I was cramping a bit from the swim and felt kind of goofy but it passed quickly. It was scary easy to hold the pace I wanted but I was extremely patient and did not go any harder. I can’t tell you how conservative I was. I really don’t think I “raced” at any point on this day and just felt out if this was something I even wanted to do again. I was really afraid of a mile 18 run blow up. I will say the majority of people that blew past me were crawling by mile 18 so the non-emotion do what you have to do, not what you want to do plan worked well.
I was chugging along up a hill (thank goodness it was UP HILL) and I heard a horrible “pop/explosion” and then an even more horrible metal on metal grinding noise. I then knew my tire was totally shot. How badly though I never could have guessed (I will say now they later arrested people for putting tacks all over the course and whether this was part of that I will never know). I pulled off and again, calmly, took in what I was looking at: a three inch nail that impaled my tire onto my rim and the nail went totally through the metal on my rim. I could not pull it out because it was like someone shot it with a nail gun it was in so perfectly.
I could not pull my tire up to loosen it since it would rip an even bigger hole through my tire that was already there. Sure I had a tube but not another tire!! I did not freak out but it did seem like the entire raced passed me by. I decided my day was done. There was no way to pull this out.
I then noticed a guy in his car waiting in a ditch (waiting for his wife to come around). I said “I think my day is done” he took one look at my tire and said “you may be right”. But then he said “hmmm, wait” and went to his car and had a pliers. I could not believe it!! This was my lucky day!! It took some work to pull it out. I got a new tube in and he was great. He said “take a deep breath and just relax and let’s get this done”. I got out my CO2 and he said don’t waste it and pulled out a pump. Are you kidding me?? Again, this was my lucky break today big time. I really wish I knew his name. He gave me his business card and I tore a chunk off to patch the hole underneath and glanced at his name. It was Dave P something and I bet if I looked up the female results his wife’s last name would ring a bell. I wish I could thank him again.
Oddly enough sticking to the theme of the day I never got freaked out or pissed or emotional about it. Move on and ride steady. You never know what will happen or what’s happening up front. I would later see dozens of people pulled over changing tubes/tires. You could tell something was not right.
So, I just kept going and kept with the salt plan and food plan. Don’t feel like eating or drinking? Too bad, you have a run to do yet. I never felt bad and the bike seemed to fly by. I prayed my tire held and it did. I will say though that I felt “goofy” the last 12 miles. I kept asking “what do you need? what do you need?” Salt? Calories? Water? Nothing seemed to do the trick and my held felt a little “swimmy”. Turns out I just needed to get off the bike!! The bad part of this part of race is that you can SEE downtown! It’s “right there!” but it’s not. The cool thing was though at mile 90 to 100 I repassed a lot of the girls I passed before the tire incident.
I started to get slightly concerned about running because like I said, I felt “goofy”. I got into T2 and of course had the most wonderful volunteer ever. I put on my On Cloud Racers (hello best shoe IN THE WORLD) and wouldn’t you know it, my legs felt GREAT. Wohoo! Rock solid and ready to go. Now, that is in relation to just having ridden 112 miles. They felt great for just having ridden 112 miles, let’s get that in perspective.
I picked a pace and said “how long can you hold this” if the answer was “all day” I just kept it there. I kept ticking off the miles and had a huge smile on my face the whole time. I walked the aid stations and had the same routine, salt tab, liquid shot, perform. REPEAT. Don’t feel like doing it anymore? TOO BAD, it’s working.
Funny thing, I never felt hot. I felt hot on the bike when I was working on my tire with that guy, but never felt hot on the run. I also only peed once, maybe twice all day. More on that later also….
I got to mile 18 and said holy crap I am still running!!! I tried to pick it up the best I could even. Kept doing the salt tab, liquid shot, REPEAT. About mile 15 though I switched to coke and it was perfect. Salt tab, liquid shot COKE, REPEAT. Tons of people were walking on the second loop. I got to mile 20 and it’s so far you know? But you have SO FAR to go. 6.2 miles if flippin’ far at that point! Just get to the next mile and the next. I let myself walk for 5 seconds once and said get over it. Mile 25 to 26 was awesome. I felt so strong and was finally able to enjoy a finish line at an IM!! It was still light out!! I didn’t fall apart!! I enjoyed every single second of the day, amazing.
After I crossed the finish line, about 20 minutes later my body freaked out for about 90 seconds and I had to run to the bathroom ASAP. Then I felt fine. I was stiff but feeling pretty good. Total surprise.
And then…I did not pee for a very long time. Like a very very long time. I was pooped but went back to Julie’s house and ate a giant burger and shake AND fries-YUM!! and talked a while and then crawled up the stairs (literally, ha ha) and don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow. Woke up and… still have not peed people! But I remember my friend Cindy saying the same thing last time she did IM. So I was patient. Thankfully eventually it all worked out, whew! I guess I was slightly dehydrated.
So, will I do it again. Yup, and I will be back in Louisville. So, how did it turn out. 8th!!! Despite the tire issue, wow!!! I took hours off my previous times. Very thankful for the whole experience.