” – “

03/29/2013

No, the title of this post is not a typo.  🙂  I went to yoga today and left with some much needed perspective.   The teacher briefly discussed a book she is reading about how you would live if you found out you were dying in 30 days.  The book references a tombstone where on a tombstone is the date of your birth and the date of your death.  These dates are separated by a ” “.

If you sit and think long and hard about that little tiny symbol, you realize how magnificent that “ ” really is.  It encompasses your entire life!  Everything you do from the day you are born until the day you die are summed up by one single  “ “.

I spent a some time in the final moments of class thinking about my “ ” and what it currently encompasses vs. what I’d like it to encompass.  I thought quickly of everything from the person I am and who I’d like to be, the things I’ve accomplished and what I still have left to accomplish, the places I’ve traveled and still want to go, the people I’ve met and, perhaps, haven’t met, and my life in general.  It was just “one of those moments” in life when things just become a little bit more clear.

This has been a trying week for me on many levels.  Sometimes all it takes is a little unexpected perspective from a yoga class to help remind us to not sweat the small stuff.  We only get one tiny, little ” ” in our lives so we might as well make it the best damn ” ” we can.


What’s Next?

03/28/2013

Well, the question of the hour seems to be “what’s next?”

At this point, my only priority is resting and healing my foot and staying active doing fun workouts that include as little swimming, biking or running as possible. It’s 12 days post race, I haven’t run since race day and my foot still hurts. I had an MRI today and should get the results to that very soon…the moment of truth!

Given I had a hard time running in Cabo for various reasons, my body recovered quickly post race. I took 5 full days off of nothing but laying around soaking up the sun and have spent the rest of the time since I’ve been back doing 30-45 min of elliptical, Stairmaster, athletic conditioning classes and a ton of glute/core/total body strength. I normally get most of my strength work from intense yoga ~2-3 times a week but that has been so limited because of my foot that I’ve turned into a big, blog of endurance. Perhaps this injury is a blessing in disguise to get back into the gym and tighten up! I am really enjoying the downtime, maybe the first downtime I’ve had in ~3 years, and doing different types of workouts. I plan to attend some classes at the Hilliard Studio, continue to practice yoga (so long as my foot will tolerate) and may even finally take some much needed time to focus on my swimming. We’ll see.

Race wise for 2013 is a complete question mark at this point. Much is contingent on my foot, but also contingent on my desire to race and some pretty exciting outside factors. The only thing I know for sure I will be doing is Blood, Sweat and Gears Century – a pretty “epic” (for lack of a better term) mountain ride in June – and racing my bike here and there. The only other race I have registered for is Raleigh 70.3, but again, that will be dependent on the diagnosis of my foot.

For now, you can find me at gym getting ripped. 🙂


The Aftermath…

03/22/2013

Here we are…almost a week post IM Cabo.  I’m back in Charlotte, which means COLD temps, stark reality and plenty of time over the past week to digest my thoughts on the race.  I’ll start and end with my positive thoughts.  🙂

Most importantly, I am proud of myself.  I’m proud that I pushed through months and months of pain and trained my ass off for this race in shitty conditions.  I’m proud that I had the guts to start the race knowing the pain I would later be in with my foot (and the race in general as Ironman hurts for everyone!)  And most of all, I’m proud that I finished.  It was the toughest day of my life, hands down (blows any other Ironman I’ve done out of the water), and I didn’t quit.  In fact, despite how tough the course and race were at times, I never had one single thought of quitting.  And for that I have to hold my head high.

But…there’s always a “but”.

1.  I am better than my performance

2.  I know I have a ~3:40 marathon off my bike in me

And I’m dying to unleash it!  I am so beyond ready to have a good race, it’s killing me!  Being who I am, I am not satisfied with just completing the race.  Proud, yes…satisfied, no.  A fellow athlete on the course said to me as he set out for his first lap of the run and I was coming around on my third “oh you have nothing to worry about, we have almost 5 hours to finish this race”.  On one hand, I respected his willingness to get out there with the goal to finish before the cutoff.  I give the 17 hour Ironman a LOT more credit than the 9 hour Ironman in all honestly.  17 hours takes a lot of mental fortitude and takes guts in itself to get out there with the risk you might miss the required time.  On the other hand, I had a strong urge to punch him in the face.  Didn’t this guy know I don’t race to make the cutoff!  I am not wired that way!  Like anything in life, I race to do the best I can do, be the best I can be and this race was no different.  There is no possible way for me to train day in and day out, for 5-6 months, with one race in mind, not do what you set out to do, and not feel disappointed not achieving your goals.  It’s human nature and it’s absolutely Kim – nature.

On the flip side, there was a lot of race chatter after the race as there always is.  Here are some comments I heard that have helped with my overall feelings of disappointment since crossing the finish line over 90 minutes hours slower than I hoped (key word, helped):

1.  Nearly 40% of participants did not finish

2.  “This race was as hard or harder than Kona”

3.   I didn’t meet or talk to one single person after than race that finished in their goal time (I’m certain there were some, but no one I spoke to).

4.  One girl took 8:30…to complete the bike course alone.  She rode +/- 6 hours in her previous 4 IM’s.

5.  “The race was more brutal than ___ (5, 7, 13) other Ironman’s I’ve done”

6.  “The bike course was the hardest course I’ve ever ridden”

7.  “What happened to ‘flat run course’?”

8.  “I thought it was supposed to be 70-75 degrees?”

9.  “Where did those waves come from?”

Fact is, I had a really, really bad “run” and still finished pretty darn well in my age group and actually, overall.  But when it’s all said and done, completing the race is what matters.  I still have my Ironman fire and goals, but for now I have memories of 140.6 miles that I carried myself in some of the toughest conditions I’ve been in to date without quitting.  I balled my eyes out hanging my medal on my rack today – a similar feeling I had while crossing the finish line.  This one took all I had, but I earned it!

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Ironman Cabo

03/18/2013

Ironman is quite a journey. The more of them I do, the more I respect just how much of a challenge that the distance is. I am amazed, envious and in awe of those who do them over and over and do them FAST time and time again.

I chose Ironman Cabo for these 5 reasons:
1. It’s Cabo!
2. Wetsuit swim in the Sea of Cortez (more calm than the ocean)
3. Rolling bike course on pristine pavement
4. Flat run course
5. Average temp this time of year ~72 degrees

Keep those in mind.

Yesterday started calm and collected. I had a great dinner, was in bed early and slept ok the night before. When you are physically prepared, there is only those situations that are out of your control to stress about and I think after racing as much as I have for the last 5 years, I’ve quit stressing about the uncontrollable. I arrived in plenty of time, pumped tires, water bottles, sunscreen, and ready to go. Side note: if you ever want to make friends on the morning of an Ironman in a remote location, bring a bike pump into transition with you. I felt very loved. 🙂

Swim: 1:18 or so.

By the time I made it down to the water, there was about 1 min till the gun went off which was fine because I’d prefer less time to think about the mayhem that will shortly ensue. I was unsure where to line up as I always am. I’m not fast enough to suituate on the front line, however lining up anywhere past the first 2/3 rows of people is always tricky. It was a mass beach start with 2,000 other athletes. Use your imagination if you’ve never done one of these. C. H. A. O. S. I got up as far as I could and hoped for the best.

The gun went off and we were rolling. The waves were 3x’s as big as they were during all the practice swims getting into the water. The undertow was in full effect pulling you back towards shore. I felt my chip float away no less than 30 seconds after I dove in. I think the first 500 to the turn buoy took me (and most others) no less than 15 min. It was a boxing match, as it always is. I stayed amazingly calm throughout said boxing match. My only frustration came with my goggles which kept filling up with water. Salt water in the eyeball stings! I am certain the sunscreen I slathered on had something to do with that. Note to self, sunscreen on face in T1, not before the race. I got that situation remedied about 500/600 meters in and all was ok thereafter.

The next 1500 meters to the next turn buoy continued to be eventful. Yes. The opposite of uneventful, which would be more ideal during a swim. 🙂 I’d like to notify the men in this world that physically trying to swim over another human is nearly impossible, dangerous, and extremely unnecessary in a 9/10/11/12…hour day ahead! Please go around me. Or hey, since we’re swimming the same pace, maybe we could work together and draft a little? Men. I almost had to punch one over the head, but I refrained…barely.

The water was extremely choppy and I was thankful to have a longer, slower stroke cadence for once because the rhythm of my stroke seemed to coincide with the up and down of the waves. I felt very calm and relaxed despite all going on. I knew I wasn’t breaking any speed records but exiting the water feeling good was my goal. After the 2nd turn there was a nice little current to bring us 300 meters to the last turn buoy for the final 1500 meters in. This was very choppy and the undertow was pulling hard. There were people stopping, breast stroking, even back stroking all around me. I continued to swim the best I could and even drafted a bit till the finish. I saw 1:18 when I stood up which is oddly enough the same time as my first Ironman in much calmer, more friendly conditions. There’s no comparing swim courses, even at the same race because you never know exactly how far the course is so I’m going to say that yesterday’s 1:18 was an improvement given the conditions. And leave it at that.

Reality: Sea of Cortez = not really more calm than the ocean.

T1 – ~4 min.

Not much to report here. The run to the changing tent was long and sandy. Running in sand is hard. Running in sand post kick-your-ass swim is more hard. That is all I remember. 🙂

Bike – 5:48 – 178 NP / 148 HR / 95 rpms

The say I felt anything but awesome during the ride would be a lie. I felt very strong the whole time, stuck to my nutrition plan to a tee, nailed my power plan of 175-180 watts and never going above ~250 on the climbs.

That said, this course was an absolute bitch. I certainly fair better on hillier courses and this one did not disappoint. The course was a two loop which included one advertised climb and the rest rolling. To say this was rolling is a lie. I might need to discuss the definition of rolling with the course descriptors. 🙂 It was downright hilly. And hot. And incredibly windy. I had ridden some of the course everyday leading up to the race and there was minimal wind. Ironman power for those rides was getting me about 22 mph. I noticed the day before the race later in the afternoon while sitting at the pool the wind was kicking up. I hoped it was just for that day.

Coming up off the water and out of transition was about a mile long climb that included some cobblestones. The first turn left onto the highway (the only road in Cabo really) was dead into the wind. The stretch was about 10 miles long and was difficult to say the least. I averaged about 13 miles an hour at slightly above my goal watts during this stretch. Between the wind and the climbs, all I could think was how long a day this would be if my speed was like 15 mph. Thankfully as we turned back for the next 15 or so miles we had a decent tailwind. With no shortage of climbs.

The pavement was generally very nice. However, there were several patches along the course with “reflectors” bunched up to make cars slow down for turns ahead or coming into town. They are placed in an alternating pattern making wedging your bike tires between then very interesting. One section of said reflectors came during one of the faster descents with a tailwind making it a booby trap for water bottles, cages, and unfortunately, even a few people. These were scattered along the road that we rode up and down twice meaning we rode over 4 times. They were also in several places. I opted for caution while crossing vs dukes of hazard style like many chose. I think I made the right choice. 🙂

The “best” part of the course was the tollroad that leads to the airport. This was where the “one climb” was. And yes, it was a climb. It was about 2 miles long but not super steep for the most part. Going so slow for 15 or so minutes on black pavement with no shade, no clouds and 80+ degrees made for quite a hot stretch of the race. It was stifling. I was patient on the climb sticking to about 200 watts and being sure to pour water on myself and my head to keep cool. After cresting the top of the hill, there was a nice downhill followed by several other larger rollers. On the first time down the decent, the gusts of wind were so strong from the side that air must have seeped into my disc cover and literally ripped in half! I pulled over and tore the rest of it off (while getting a huge gushing bloody gash in my finger) and was on the road shortly after. I was curious how riding with one half of my wheel covered and the other opened would be. It didn’t feel any different riding, though my second loop was a bit slower than the first, which may be part due to stronger winds. Something I’ll never know.

Other than being tossed by a massive gust of wind to the right while passing a guy going downhill and rubbing wheels nearly causing him to wreck, the remainder of the ride was the same. Hot, windy and hilly. My 5:48 bike split was one of the top female splits! I think I passed almost 500 people on the course which always feels good. But there’s still a long race ahead, so not as good as it could. 🙂 I stood up a bunch on the ride and my legs felt awesome every time. I was ready to run!

Reality: Rolling bike course on pristine pavement = hilly as hell with some much less than stellar pavement in parts and massive wind. Doh.

Run. 5:something Goal: finish

Well feeling ready to run didn’t last long. I expected my foot to hurt and it didn’t let me down. I expected my legs to be sore and stiff for the first few miles, but my glutes were not firing. At all. I’ve ridden hundreds of miles training on this bike, in aero position at these exact watts so I’m not sure why my glutes failed me, but they sure did. As I continued to run, given how slow the pace was, my foot revolted. The sole of my foot began to hurt tremendously from trying to avoid pressure on my heal. I was getting hot spots all over my foot. Pain in my ankle ensued from trying to land on weird parts of my foot. My left hip started hurting from all the crap going on in the right foot.

By 4 miles in I changed my mindset to finishing. I knew it wouldn’t be fast or the race that I trained so hard for but it would be the best race for me on this day. And that is what Ironman is all about. The run was also scorching hot. It reminded me of Louisville with pretty much no shade. I stared feeling dizzy about 15 miles in and crammed whatever I could down my throat to avoid it. I have never done well in the heat but I didn’t better today than I ever have. And it only took 41 endurolytes!

Reality: Flat run course = a bridge than you go up and over 3 times, several long gradual hills and zero shade. And like 85 degrees.

Finish: 12:33

So I crossed the line in 12:33 cause I know everyone is wondering how bad it really was 🙂 It goes down as my slowest Ironman by over an hour and 20 min, but this one goes down as one of my proudest. Setting out for 26 miles in pain and putting one foot in front of the next for over 5 hours is nothing short of mentally challenging. There was no way I wasn’t crossing the finish line yesterday after what I’ve put myself through with this foot for the last 5 months. I remained relentlessly positive the whole time and reminded myself that the finish was all that mattered. Yes I would have loved to earn by sub 11 hour race, my slot at Kona and all the bells and whistles with racing the race I’m capable of, but there will be another day for that (maybe). Accepting the good and bad is part of this sport, any sport, and I’ve made huge gains in that department.

Reality: I never expected this race course to be “easy” cause that word doesn’t belong in the same sentence as Ironman, but I did expect it to be a little friendlier. That also comes with doing an inaugural event, I suppose.

I’ll end with what I always end with. Huge thank you’s to everyone who followed (or tried to follow), supported, cheered and reached out to me. Leigh-Ann you are awesome. My cousin and Ashley are awesome. My mom and dad are awesome. And my sister, there are no words. I am so lucky.


I Have a Plan

03/15/2013

Greetings from Los Cabos!! I’ve been here since Tuesday getting the lay of the land, relaxing, focusing and getting my mind right for what I hope will be a great race for me. This place is beautiful; the weather is absolutely perfect, the food has been great, the resort is wonderful and I’m an all-around happy camper. 🙂

I realize I just took a very long vacation not that long ago (October) but this is a different kind of vacation. My trip to NZ and AUS was nothing short of amazing, but there was little to no relaxing since there was so much we wanted to do and see. Despite my inability to relax indoors and watch TV or lay around, I have a surprising ability to sit in a lawn chair by a pool for endless hours doing nothing. This vacation was much needed!!

The only thing left to do before the race is a quick swim, ride, run tomorrow, rest, drink fluids, and some last minute logistics, which can be daunting. This is a point to point swim, as well as a 2 separate transition race which always makes things interesting. Bike check in, pre race meetings, transition bag drop off, etc…a lot of “schlepping”. Such is triathlons though.

I get butterflies in my tummy as I go through my race plan in my head for the millionth time, but I think they are butterflies of excitement vs nerves. I have a plan, I’ve rehearsed my plan on every workout in some form or fashion for the last 5/6 months, and now I just need to execute that plan on one day. I feel more confident than ever going into this race. My fitness is huge. I’m 5 lbs lighter than I have been at my 3 previous IM’s. We’ve spent hours on my mental game. My nutrition is beyond basic and (hopefully) foolproof. I have a detailed plan for how I will race and even backup plans for various scenarios. The makings are there and it’s up to me to get ‘er done!!

I’m relaxing in my hotel room for the next day and a half trying to stay out of the sun and get hydrated. Takes a lot to not want to grab a chair and work on my (still very lackluster) tan. Please email or text me (iMessages only) or FB me or something before I go stir crazy! 🙂

I will check in after the race. Hopefully with a good report!!

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And That’s a Wrap

03/03/2013

I am officially tapering! Thank. God.

My race is 2 weeks from today! At this point, the money is in the bank, as they say. I’m not going to get more fit between now and the race and the only thing there is left to do is REST and let my body recover from the bloodbath I have put it through for the last 5+ months.

By signing up for an Ironman in March and training through the winter we’ve had (particularly January and February), I’ve proven to myself that I am a pretty tough cookie. I have endured some pretty ridiculous conditions on almost all of my long bike rides and runs, and I owe a HUGE thank you to Leigh-Ann and Jim, primarily, for gutting out many of these workouts with me. I’m pleased to report only one minor meltdown mid 20-mile run a few weeks ago and Melissa, thank you for handling my near-teared, physically exhausted and mentally depleted state with such grace. 🙂 The wine after made it all better.

Compared to some of these workouts I’ve endured (and everyone training for Ironman endures), I almost feel like race day should a “breeze.” I spent 5 hours and 30 minutes riding on a computrainer without going postal…I think can handle just about anything! I do realize race day can also pose its own interesting scenarios and mishaps (most glaringly are weather-related) that I now feel 100% prepared to withstand. Wind? Pft, I’m not sure I remember what it’s like to not ride in wind. Or even run. Heat? I’ve been sitting in the steam room, taking hot yoga or riding my bike indoors in full winter gear nearly every day for 2 weeks now. Cold? Well, certainly got that covered given the unusually cold temps here in Charlotte lately. Rain? Doesn’t stress me out. It is what it is. You get the point.

My heel and feet continue to be an issue but they will be fine on race day. That’s all I’m gonna say about that. I owe a gigantic thank you to Dr. Greenapple and Dr. Maul who have treated my foot 2-3 times a week for the last several months. I am not sure I’d still be walking right now without you guys, nonetheless, about to do an Ironman. It is so comforting to have caring, knowledgeable doctors taking care of me, reaching out to me on weekends and staying after hours to make sure I’m feeling good. So nice to have people like that on your side!

Next weekend includes a little fun on Saturday night and a “good luck” dinner with two awesome friends who I adore before I jet set to Cabo on Tuesday bright and early. I’ll have some time there by myself before family and friends arrive to get my mind right, get my ducks in a row and do a little R&R on the beach (while guzzling water, of course). If you’re looking for me after March 17th, I will be in a lawn chair, slightly comatose (either from the effects of the race or perhaps a bit too much tequila) until I come home. I am looking forward to the downtime just as much as I’m looking forward to putting all of my training to good use.

You can download the Iron Trac app for Apple products or go to http://www.ironmanlive.com if you want to track on race day.

Off to recover 🙂