Well, another season has come and gone, and now it is time to reflect a little on the season in general and of course the last couple of races. Going into Ironman Hawaii this year, I knew that I was in good shape and that if I could manage to bring it all together on race day, I could have a solid day. I was feeling good the week before the race – my taper was going well and I was excited to race.
All week in Kona, the weather had been mild for Kona standards. The heat and humidity were probably where they normally are but the usual trade winds were absent. I wasn’t going to get my hopes up for race day though. Waking up on the morning of the race – it appeared that the weather was going to hold.
It was time for the usual pre-race routine, breakfast, head off to the transition and then wait for the start. This year with the transition in a different spot we headed over a little earlier than in the past to make sure that everything went smoothly. I got my bike all ready, bottles and food organized and then it was time to hang out for the start. We headed into the water a little early as well this year as everyone had to go through one entrance into the water. Lori and I decided to line up on the far left this year to avoid some of the crowds. This worked out wonderfully. We had a great start and clear sailing for much of the outbound leg. It was so nice to be able to swim without being pummeled by other swimmers. I was feeling good in the swim, and by looking around at the other swimmers; I appeared to be in good company. The swim went by quickly which is very different than in past years. Once I was out of the water, I was very excited to see that I was near so many women. In past years, everyone has been gone when I came out so it was going to be nice to have some other competitors around to actually race with.
I always say that I can tell how my bike ride is going to go within a couple of pedal strokes. Things were looking good for the ride, as my legs were feeling pretty fresh and ready to go. Throughout the ride, I just tried to keep thing rolling, keeping the pressure on the pedals at all times. I figured if I could just go that half a mile per hour faster, that would translate into some good timesavings. So whenever I started to lose it mentally, I just tried to push that little bit extra. I was feeling good and with the exception of Lori and Natascha going by like freight trains, I appeared to be holding my own. Paula came up on the climb to Hawi and this helped to have someone around to ride with. Since I had ridden a fair bit with Paula over the past year, I knew that if I could keep her in sight I would have a good ride. I must say that I never had any really bad sections on the bike. A lot of this might be due to the fact that the horrible winds were not there to contend with. It is a lot harder to keep things together when you are fighting to stay on your bike!!! So coming into the bike to run transition, I was very excited, not only had I held my own on the bike; I actually passed a few people.
Usually in an Ironman, I am so happy to be getting off my bike and start running. Once I am running, it is just me and the elements; there is no chance of mechanical failure etc. So off I went, the only problem was, I felt like I was in someone else’s body. I began the run feeling pretty bad. I knew it was a bad sign when running up the first hill out of transition; I was starting to see stars!!! OK, time to re-group; obviously I needed to get in some calories and some sodium. Over the first few miles, I just made sure that I got in what I needed. A marathon is a long way to go so I needed to get myself back into a position nutritionally where I could start to use my running strength. Needless to say, all of the time that I lost on the run to the lead people was within the first 5 miles. I was not making any time on the girls in front and I had lost one spot with Lisa Bentley flying by. Having a good runner like Lisa come by was helpful in getting me to try and find a good pace. Lisa and I went back and forth, she was faster on the uphills and I seemed to be able to bridge the gap on the downhills. Each time we would pass one another we would try and encourage the other – if we worked together, maybe we could catch the girls in front. In theory, this seemed possible; the only problem was the girls in front were waging their own battles so their pace was not waning one bit. Finally coming out of the energy lab, I decided that it was now or never, if I was going to try and bridge the gap up to Natascha and Nina I had to go. I stayed strong and got within 1 minute of the duo with about 2 miles to go. OK, this was possible; again the only problem was when the two of them got together, the started to pick up the pace significantly. Once again, I had run out of real estate. The what if’s start – what if I didn’t have to make the pit stop at the toilet, what if I could have run a more decent pace at the beginning. Then I came to the realization that this is all part of racing. I gave everything that I had and was very pleased to be in the top 5 again. It was nice to be running down Alii drive and be so close to the front. I think that everyone would say that the women’s race this year was one of the most exciting races ever. I am not sure the last time you had 5 people within 10 mins.
So, the season was over. Looking back, I am very pleased with the entire season. I had achieved all the goals that I had set for myself- I had won Lake Placid IM for a 4th time, I had a great race in Hawaii, and I had improved both my swim and bike. What more could a person ask for!!!
Ok, so now it was off-season. Well there was one small problem, I had somehow been conned into doing the XTERRA race the weekend after Ironman. How this happened, I am not sure. First of all I don’t ride a mountain bike, second of all, it was a week after the IM. It was a conspiracy, Paula went ahead and registered me and sent my mountain bike over to Maui. I don’t know that I ever really agreed to it, but the peer pressure got to me and I never declined the offer either. SO we arrived in Maui, my brand new MTB in its case – ready for it’s maiden voyage. Since the last time I was on a MTB was probably 9 months ago, it was probably a good idea that I check out the practice course. So for three days in a row, Roch took me on the practice course so I could get used to my MTB. I think that my HR was 20-30 beats higher the entire time as I was so nervous. For anyone that has done the Maui Xterra, you know that it is not a course for the faint of heart. What had I got myself into???? The only saving grace was that in the DOUBLE competition (combined times for both IM Hawaii and Xterra) I had a nice 2.5 hour cushion on the next person. I figured, even if I was 2 hours slower on the MTB, I would probably be OK. This took the pressure off (not that there was any anyway) so that I could stick to my motto of SAFETY FIRST!!!! It was really quite hilarious getting through the bike ride. I thoroughly enjoyed the uphills and dreaded the downhills. Luckily my new MTB is dual suspension – this definitely made going down a little easier. I really feel sorry for the all the people that had to go around me as I was dragging my feet on some of the downhills. Well I survived the bike ride – no flat tires and no crashes (only a couple of close calls). I started the run and to my surprise, my legs felt great. This happens sometimes after an Ironman – I was nice and tapered leading into IM, and then took the week between VERY, VERY easy so I was actually pretty rested. SO anyway, I felt strong to the finish and I think Roch was pleasantly surprised to see me come across the line without any scrapes or bruises and with a smile on my face. OK, so now it is OFF SEASON!!!! YIPEE!!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my sponsors and those people that support me throughout the year.
First, to all my sponsors – without your support I could not do what I do, so thanks so much for helping me to live the life that I love!!!
Saucony – I have been with Saucony over 10 years now and they are always supportive in whatever I do
Oakley – the greatest glasses in the world
Quintana Roo – Bikes and wetsuits. Giving me the bikes and wetsuits to get me riding and swimming better than I ever have.
Roger Freeman MD – Roger is a great guy and someone who has a passion for our support. It is nice to know that if I ever need any injuries taken care of I have the best guy in the business at my disposal.
Seal Mask – Keeping me seeing straight in the water and protecting my eyes in those nasty mass starts.
Reynolds Wheels – the best wheels around
SpeedPlay Pedals – Keeping my knees healthy so I can put in the bike miles I need
Profile – handlebars – giving me that aero advantage.
Time – cycling shoes – the most comfortable cycling shoes I have ever worn
To my support crew – you all know who you are. Thanks for always being there for me and for your unconditional support. There is no way I could continue doing what I do without all of your help!!!!