As I sit here deciding to wrap up the week & decide whether its worth the risk of getting hit by a snow plow or resorting to the treadmill for my run, I thought it might be fun to think about sunshine & motivation as my legs begin to feel like bricks in my second block of training.  Max lift phase  coupled with snow makes me long for multiple hours running somewhere like Tucson or sweating it out in Hawaii or some fancy camp!   Several friends & family members asked me why I didnt write a race report for Kona & I kept skating around it with the wedding excuse!   In reality, I just didnt want to.  I was exhausted after the season, was cramming to do a years worth of wedding stuff in 3 months & moved out of the city all while trying to help QT2 solidify its 2011 sponsors and do my 2011 planning for Minted Living, my gifting & event company.   All good stuff but I was pretty spent & needed a break which is exactly what I got for my wedding!!   When everyone else went for swims in sunny St Thomas during wedding week, I floated endlessly on a raft with drink in hand.  It was worth it!  Now, settled into suburbia life & seeing the Kona broadcast its easy to think back & reflect just a bit!   Its pretty cool to see the broadcast but partly with mixed emotion as the NBC coverage is so stylized yet the stories of other athetes are so incredible that its tough to write about yourself.  My own day was frought with excitement, fear, mental exhaustion and a sheer joy to be towing that start line with athletes that Ive looked up to for years.  Ive watched the broadcast since I was 17-18 years old every year and never dreamed Id get there until last year.  Kona is everything they say on TV- hot, windy, mentally draining, life changing & intimidating.  Its an addicting place to train & race and you never know what is going to be thrown at you.  I was thankful I got to go out there in 2009 to spectate, train & take some mental notes which I needed the entire week since I was having trouble finding my competitive fire!  While I didnt have my own PR, I learned alot about not quitting &  having fun.  I learned more about not quitting that day than ever before & my eyes were wide open to take in everything around me (thank you QT2 Nutrition Plan for allowing that!).  Crossing the finish line and the final mile on All’ii Drive was magic.   While the journey back to the big island may be harder the next time around, Im excited about the work to be done,  the improvements to be made & having took the ample time to reflect and set new goals.  I do want to thank so much Ron, my awesome hubby, for his endless support through all of this as well as my Dad who has travelled with us to every race this year having completed his own 70.3 Eagleman race!  And, of course, Coach Tim, who doesnt make it easy but got me to Kona & Im so grateful to be working together again.  Safe training to everyone in 2011!  Gotta go run!

Welcome & IMKY Race Report

September 8, 2010

Welcome to the blog for Mint Living, llc! While I dont always follow of alot of personal blogs, I am an advocate of following trends, product & sports blogs that I am interested in so I finally jumped on the bandwagon.  The Minted Living blog serves as an outpost to Mint Living, llc- a company I started last year dedicated to building lifestyle brands from a marketing, events & sponsorship perspective.  Most of this blog will be dedicated to trends & reviews in the areas that Mint Living resonates.  A few personal posts will be sprinkled in!   

This particular post is dedicated to sharing my long race report from Ironman Louisville, which took place on August 29th in beautiful Louisville, KY.  A couple of folks asked me to write one so why not!  I havent written a race report in about 2 years & thought it could be fun. Its long though so I apologize.

Pre Race:  For those that know me, I signed up for Louisville a year ago thinking this race would compliment by triathlon strengths- running, some rollers on the bike course and possibly learning to deal with hot weather better.  My coach from QT2 Systems & I have been working diligently all year to peak for this race & aim to stay healthy.  The notion of Kona was always on my bucket list & I was hungry for it after spectating last year, but had to be tucked into the back of my head knowing how unpredictable triathlon can be & how many great athletes there are out there.   My lead up to IMKY was pretty solid-  a few Sprint, Olympic and Half Ironman races that went pretty well and taught me a great deal this year coupled with dedicated training.  After ending last year in the hospital with an abdominal cyst & a few other health scares, I was grateful to be able to return this year. 

I arrived in Louisville the Wednesday prior to the race- a simple plane trip from NYC & had my bike shipped through Tri Bike Transport.  I opted last minute to stay at a Residence Inn about 10 miles outside of the city in a really nice area called Westport.  My coach was staying there and it seemed like a perfect place for quiet & relaxation.  I was pleasantly surprised and giddy to find it to be a suburbia fantasy with every superstore , restaurant & coffee place possible.  To have a car & shop in Target all in one day was a dream come true for this city girl!  The grocery stores have their own gas stations.. so cool! Not there 5 minutes and I already knew where my post race pizza & ice cream (Hello DQ!) was going to come from- pathetic I know… Weather wasnt bad- at mid 80′s and fairly humidity free, it was a perfect day to relax and get in a workout.  Thursday & Friday were similar days- workout, get some race prep stuff done, hydrate like crazy and relax.   Thanks to Coach Tim & Cait, I also had a few great swims at a local Y & just loved the area.  Thursday I also ventured into Louisville and found it to be a really cool city & easy race registration.  My fiance , Ron, & my Dad came into town on Thursday & Friday nights and stayed in the suite with me which was great.  I was able to get in some good training rides on the course and just enjoy my race lead up with no hoopla or drama.  Saturday served as checking bikes & race gear into transition and trying to stay off feet and hydrate/eat.  Had the usual pre race butterflies but I was also eager to race & armed with a plan.  For months leading up I could not wait to inhale my BIG breakfast  and being that we were in suburbia, Bob Evans did us proud. A  carb fantasy come true!   That, coupled with the some good eating the day prior made me wonder whatever happened to my previous years of wanting to eat at every trendy place in NYC!  Saturday, Louisville also decided to get hot! Humidity and high temps were in full force and we were all a bit concerned about Sunday and changed up a few race tactics last minute.  I trained in heat and tried to just stay confident.

Alarm went off at 3:30am Sunday and after shoving down my lovely pre race concoction we were off.  At IMKY you have to walk about .75 miles from transition to swim start & the line for swim is first come. Unlike most Ironman, this race is a time trial swim with athletes starting 1 second apart- first come. You want to get there early to get in water early. Once in transition, the first girl I ask to borrow a bike pump right next to me tells me I cant borrow hers. Seriously, she said NO!!!… Karma can be brutal (esp on race day!) so I borrowed someone else’s and we laughed about it walking up to swim.  At swim start there was already a gigantic line..oh well..I’ll be swimming around some folks I guess.  I think we were about 15% back so it wasnt that bad but it seemed bad at the time.  After trying not to stress too much about the line we just sat down and began the wait which was approx 90 minutes before the start of race.  It was odd as miles of people and their supporters just got on this massive line in the pitch black.  I felt like I was waiting to get tickets to a concert vs waiting for a race to start. Time flew by and before we knew it the pro gun went off at 6:50 and we said a cheer for Tim & Cait.  

Swim:  I ended up in the water at 7:17 am & the most dangerous part of the day was the volunteers telling us to jog down this slippery wet metal ramp before jumping off  a dock into the water.   Jumped in and immediately the water felt warm. It was 84 degrees and although we dont wear a wetsuit in this race, it was still warm in my speedsuit. My goal was to swim as steadily as possible and try to deal with the people.  Couldnt rely on drafting with the TT start.  At first the murkiness of the water was hard to get used to as you just run into people b/c you cant see anything!  I got used to it and just swam without trying to get aggravated when  kicked or tugged at.  I think I must have zig zagged alot as I could not find a straight line to any of the buoys for the first mile or so and tried to not worry about swim times. I actually enjoyed the swim throughout as I am not a fan of cold water and ended up exiting the Ohio River with approx a 1:11 swim time. Same as Lake Placid last year but without a wetsuit or draft.  I worked hard in the water this year & was right on goal and alittle ahead.   I need to learn how to swim in a straight line.  Moving onto bike.  T1 was uneventful- found my bag, grabbed a drink and made sure volunteer slathered me with sunscreen. Im already going to have major tan lines for my wedding and need no more!  Approx time= 3:44…didnt mess around. 

Bike: Goal was to hydrate & pace myself.  It was already heating up and humid.  The course is all rollers with a fair amount of everything from false flats to descends to climbs to fast flats. Nothing lasts really long so you have to shift the entire time.  My goal was to follow my race plan and use my powermeter to advantage and really pay attention to nutrition.  I was somewhat shocked by the lack of bike handling skills as noone wanted to stay to the right but I did smile alot at the beginning when alot of folks started passing me and my plan was to pull them back later in the day.  Road conditions and scenary are some of the best Ive ridden.  Once at the out and back section 10 miles in I already saw people pushing some climbs & let them passme.  I felt good heading into the  first 25ish mile loop to LaGrange. Dad & Ron took a shuttle from Louisville to LaGrange which was awesome as I got to see them at mile 30ish and 60ish. First loop I felt a bit of what I thought was cramping but I think I just tightened up a bit trying to hold my watts and eased up. Diligently kept drinking as planned and started feeling better.  I was excited to see Loop 1  not as bad as it looked when we drove it.  I actually enjoyed it & rode it conservative.  Loop 2 came to more a surprise as I started seeing more people on side of road seemingly cramping & alot of struggle. I just put my head down and tried to only pay attention to me-selfish but needed to.  Around mile 90 I began to feel stronger and mentally knew I could make under 6 hours if I rode my watts.  Last 20 miles or so I felt decent- wanted off my bike but nothing drastic.  As planned, many of the speed demons from the morning started coming back.  Was a new experience for me since Im not the strongest cyclist out there so gained a bit more confidence heading into T2.  I actually felt OK coming off the bike for once.  Wasnt sure if I pushed hard enough but I was ready to run and got a sub 6hr bike time by the skin of my teeth having pushed harder the last 20 miles.  Time: Approx 5:57. Approx 10 or so minutes behind goal time with watts about 12 less than planned but winds, weather and descends were factors. Proudly took in 8 bottles of sports drink and peed 2x which made me happy.

 T2: Someone took my bike right away and since the run to my T2 bag was long I opted to take my shoes off vs running with them on. That hurt the most all day in barefeet.  Anyhow, found bag & again volunteers awesome. They gave me some sports drink and slathered me with more sunscreen.  I remembered my banana and off I went.  T2- approx 3:15

Run: While I had practiced taking a banana out of T2 and was inspired by my QT2 teammates in Lake Placid, my banana was a rough one to take in the heat. I immediately felt the hot and got nervous but also took a gel since my stomach was good.  First mile was an incline over a bridge suspended over the Ohio River.  I didnt pay much attention to scenary as needed to settle in.  I knew my plan and I awaited to see where my HR was netting out. It was about 5-7 beats high and I pulled back.  I was actually pleasantly surprised to need to pee again - a big deal in Ironman.   I was psyched that I was hydrated.  Another 2 miles later same thing.  Apparently I learned how to pee and run at same time. A small accomplishment & noone seemed to notice as everyone was already wet!    I started executing my run plan and was scared to stray from it due to the heat.  The aid stations were every mile and well equipped with everything from ice to cold sponges. I was a great customer & drank sports drink at every one.  Saw Cait’s smiling face at Mile 3 and got a boost of run confidence-who better to give it!   About mile 7 or so, a girl runs up on me and its the crazy girl who wouldnt let me use her pump! She decided it was a good time to ask me about Kona, where I thought I was in the race etc.  Clearly SHE knew where SHE was and I told her I wasnt paying attention to anything other than finishing!   I basically ignored her and much to her delight she smiled heavily when she saw me stop for my 30 second walk break at mile 8.  She thought I had bonked and called it quits.  I passed her about 2 minutes later and never saw her again.  About mile 13 I knew what I needed to do for sub 11 hours but stuck to my plan and didnt worry about overall time goals.   There were some very lonely miles and my head was just focused ahead vs anything around me.  Thats how I race and it works for me. Some people laugh at me for my focus but thats just me.  Great to see Tim out there and he gave me a much needed boost as well.    Same with Ron, Dad & Stacy. Seeing Casey out there racing after having 101 fever the day before was inspiring as well!  On this course, the end of the first loop comes dangerously close to the finish line and to know you have to go back out to no man’s land and run another full 13 mile loop  is devastating and it was still hot!  It was 96 or so degrees and although I didnt know that, it felt warm! Mile 16 I started to feel like I might  fall apart.  I just didnt want to run anymore.  I just wanted pizza & my pillow.  Starting up running after my mini walk breaks wasnt fun thereafter. Id go 2 miles and feel tired and then feel great & confident.  Mile 18 cliff blox were my enemy and then at Mile 20 Powerbar perform was the enemy.  At Mile 22, cliff blox were tossed and I tried to choke down a gel & spit it out.  Miraculously at Mile 21-22 I also started feeling good again and thinking positive.  I knew what I needed to do to be at sub 11 hours & focused through any pain. Wasnt going to let anything slip away.   Like the bike, I knew Id be at the skin of my teeth if executed properly. I didnt notice any of the other athletes suffering from the heat except for one older man who looked awful and I told a volunteer.   Most of the pros I saw looked pretty good so focused on my form & their energy.  I just ran & put in a very fast last 2 miles to get me in where I needed.  I started crying crossing the finish after so much work that went into training.  Noone talks about those long & lonely hours.  I couldnt speak at end and was choked up seeing Ron, Dad and Tim!  Run time: approx 3:41. 1 minute off goal  before adding last minute walk breaks .  Finish Time: 10:57:12. Approx 10 min off goal but psyched given the conditions!

I was a bit dizzy and a bit dehydrated so stood at the finish for awhile before walking with Ron & Dad to get food.  My legs locked up about 5 min post race and very painful!!  We walked slowly to food and massage and I gobbled up anything I could. My body was craving the salt.  Im not one to brag about having Endurox post Ironman so I went straight for the cookies.  I had been thinking about cookies for 13 miles..and about 3 months! I had no idea where I finished in my age group but knew I gave everything I could and to me, that ended up being the real prize. Sounds dorky but true & I said that to Ron.  I started seeing and hearing tales of the carnage from the heat and the toll it took on alot of athletes. The medical area was already crowded and it was early. That surprised me & as I entered the massage area one of the female pros who I adore told me she already had 2 IV’s and it was her first race in 43 Ironmans to ever get IV’s! We also finished 5 minutes apart and I was shocked. Had no idea. Post massage was able to walk back to finish line to take it all in. Still had no idea where Id finished & I didnt care at that point- no internet & cell down. Some lady told me I was 2nd & had the fastest run split in my AG but I was afraid to believe her!   Once in the car about an hour or so later I began getting texts and i was shocked and elated to come in 2nd in AG and 18th overall women!   I was told I was allowed to think about Kona & that was awesome. In true fashion and despite the leg pains, we celebrated with pizza and a visit from coach Tim! He is amazing coming to see me after his own race!  Next day we got the slot and went to awards and it was really cool.  Turns out the pump girl was 3rd place.  lol. 

A massive thanks to Ron (its been a team effort big time!) and my Dad for making the trip and inspiring me at Eagleman with his finish! And QT2 Systems- esp Coach Tim for everything!  They are the best!   All in all IMO,  IMKY is a great race- despite the heat  ( it is KY in August after all!)  the venue & course are awesome, the volunteers amazing and the finish is really cool.

See you in Kona.. in 4.5 weeks!! 

Will post some more pics this week.

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