Saturday, November 24, 2012

2012 Wrap-Up, The Off Season & Igniting That Fire For 2013

"Season Wrap-Up" 

This season was definitely a roller coaster of both performance and emotion.  I had some of my best races and some of my worst.  I overcame several obstacles, checked off a few boxes and learned a lot more about what I need to do in order to accomplish what I would like in this sport.

The season started out with a great new coach (Cliff English) and race after only about 4 weeks of training. If I could run a 1:13 half at this point, I was very optimistic about what the rest of the season had in store.

However, things didn't go as planned. I struggled with balance, fatigue and motivation...I had a number of terrible races, even though I visited some great parts of the country.

After IMCDA, a switch flipped and I found myself in a familiar part of the year that I lived for... my IMWI build. I nailed a few local races, put out a few 280w 5hr efforts, as well as a 270w effort for 6hrs. I was running 75min sets at 5:00-5:20 per mile and felt as though I was ready for a win at IMWI.

When race day rolled around, I didn't have the IMWI I was capable of, but did run under 3hrs for the first time and felt as though I had my first "good" race in 2years.

I ended the season down at IMFL and would have probably finished with the 824-828, had I made a better shoe choice on the day. But that's racing.  A few weeks later, I tried again at IMAZ, but it wasn't meant to be.  No energy on race day left me with the sour taste of a DNF to end the season.  Sickness showed up on Monday, which explained my lack of energy. 

It was clear, that I now needed a big break.

"The Off-Season & Igniting That Fire"

Well, it's finally here and I am fully embracing it. I have done nothing in the last week and don't intend to for a while longer than I had first planned, the body is still asking for it, so I will give it more.

I am going about things the right way this next month.  Starting with time off, followed by a bike fit and doing a good bit of strength work to even out my leg length discrepancy and muscle imbalances, this should pay huge dividends down the road.

Then the planning begins.

In the past, when it has come to choosing races and a direction, it's been a lot about what others thought I should be doing and less about what I am passionate about. While it's always important to please sponsors, if we're not doing what we are MOST excited to be doing, we won't perform at our best.  So 2013 is going to be a year of big changes.  I haven't solidified a race schedule yet, but you can expect a few things.

- I will only be doing what really ignites a fire inside of me.

- There is a possibility of only 1 Ironman (Wisconsin)

- I will be doing a LOT more racing at the shorter distances.

- There will be a focus on quality over quantity. A much less total volume approach.

So that's where things sit right now. Next year will be my 12th year in the sport and will be a new chapter for me. I am excited and motivated, but right now I need to put that on hold to make sure that I get rid of every ounce of fatigue that I incurred over the last 11 months.

Happy Holiday's!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Ironman Florida Race Report

22nd Professional
Swim - 57:50  Bike - 4:27:11  Run - 4:03:24
Finish - 9:33:15

This race would be my 26th Ironman start and an opportunity to build on some momentum that I had coming out of this past season.  Consistency with my race results had come back, as well as balance in with my training, coaching and the rest of my life. Needless to say, I was excited.  

Leading into the race I felt strong, confident and was clear minded as to what I would do.  My swimming was going extremely well and though I wan't hitting life best numbers on the bike and run, I was routinely clicking off days that could yield a very strong finish and perhaps a shot at the podium.

Travel went off without a hitch on Wednesday and I had a great place to stay away from all the excitement with defending women's champion, Jessica Jacobs. Thursday went smoothly with the press conference, catching up with friends and the athlete meeting. Before I knew it, Friday was here and I was racking my bike.

I awoke on race day to the sound of crashing waves on the beach and lots of fog.  WTF!?!?! This wasn't in the forecast and I found it especially odd, because there was very little wind, but I guess that's the ocean. I tried to put it out of my mind and went about my business.  This year our start was bumped up 5 minutes. This doesn't sound like a lot, but let me tell you; when it's already dark, 5 minutes means it's even darker. I stood on the beach, 15minutes before the start and knew immediately I needed my other, lighter pair goggles. I sprinted back inside transition, grabbed them out of morning clothes and made my way back to the beach with about 10minutes to spare... what followed was a lame attempt at a warm-up. It involved getting knocked over 3x by 4-5' breaking waves and losing my goggles got to me and I was rattled....60seconds to go and I had lost sight of my plan. Now, just making it through the swim sounded appealing.

The cannon sounded and I carefully picked my way through the waves and somehow made it out the first buoy a bit easier than I did in warm-up.  Thanks to a far less than aggressive start, I found myself rolling up and down in the swells somewhere between where I wanted to be (1st pack) and where I didn't want to be (the 2nd pack).  I decided to just swim on my own and soon I found myself back with the 2nd pack.  The remainder of the swim was largely uneventful; I swam solo, I didn't get knocked over by the waves and came out with a number of others who didn't have good swims either.

After a quick transition, I was essentially first onto the bike behind the pack that was about 2:30 up the road.  The watts were coming very easy today, but I stuck to my plan and soon found myself towing about 10 guys at the 15mile point.  By mile 20 we had picked up a few more and by mile 30, a few more still. Packs are not something that I seem to care for and for a number of reasons, I followed a few of the stronger veteran cyclists to the front of the pack, to get away from the mid pack antics.  The watts were reasonable and the legs felt fantastic.  Mile 40 clicked by and then 50 and then there was Starky; riding solo with a moto and car and he had at least 10 minutes on our group.  We all expected that he would put time on us, but 10minutes in 50miles?!?! Not only that, but we made the 90km mark(half way) in 2:04.  WOW.

We rolled through mile 60 and eventually bridged up to the first chase back. The good news was that I was rolling at 27mph+ through a lot of the ride, the bad news was that so were the 25 other guys with us.  

At mile 85 and within a few miles, I had familiar issues with the pistons and had to let the group go.  I thought that it was an ok time for this to happen because we no longer had a headwind and I thought that the group would maybe have 5-6minutes on me by T2.  With a gap like that, I knew that with a solid run, I could get back into the top 5.  One problem, at the turn at mile 95, the group already had that 5 minutes on 10 miles... power of the pack I guess!!! I tuned the split out and just did my thing back to T2. The gap to 2nd, a whopping 12minutes....and I rode a 4:27.

Onto the run, I knew (or maybe hoped) that the guys would implode in the heat and I just took care of myself and stuck to my game plan of 6:25's.  I rolled through 7miles and found that I had taken 5:30 out of 10th and knew that if I could just run like I did in Wisconsin, I would end up top 8.  The next 6 miles were uneventful; my gap to 10th was down to 3:40 and the gap to 6th was about 5:15. Perfect!

The second loop started with a port-a-john stop which skewed the tracker splits a bit (about 70 seconds), and I kept rolling 6:40-45's, which I knew (relative) to still be taking big chunks of time out of the rest of the field.  At mile 17 I slipped down to about 7' pace, but it was warm and thought I could hold that until the en. This would give me a 2:55 or so... I just took care of myself, or so I thought, until about mile 19.25.  My pace went from about 6:45 to 8:45 in a matter of about 400m.  This posed a few problems:

1) I was over a mile from the next aid station and I needed COKE, NOW!

2) I run in tiny run flats and when my mechanics go south, the knees and feet get VERY painful.

"S#*! I am in a bit of a predicament here," I thought. I got to the turn around on the far side of the course and the gap to 10th was under 2minutes and 8th only about 4:00. The guys were running very slowly, but my charge had stalled and now, so was I.  The pace had slipped to 9+ and still had over a km to go.  By the time I made my way to the aid station I took 2 full cups of coke, perform and salt, but I couldn't get the pain (not the good, pushing hard pain) to subside or the pace to come back. I_ was_walking...

The reality then hit me about a half mile later at mile 21,  my day was done. I am not going to lie, I had thoughts of walking off the course.  I was tired, the body didn't respond how I wanted it to, how I had trained it to, or how it had 7 weeks prior.  But about that time I remembered what it felt like to quit, even when walking for 90+ minutes was the last thing that I wanted to do. In addition, I wanted to stick to my new rule, which is that if I start, I will finish, even if it means I walk it in.


So that's all she wrote for Ironman Florida, 2012.  I did not accomplish what I had set out to on the day, but enjoyed racing and another attempt at the Ironman Podium.

A huge thank you to my Team of BBMC athletes and family for you support. A big thank you to Trek Bicycles and the Trek Stores of Madison, as well as Powerbar, Peak Performance Massage and K-Swiss for their support.

It has been a great year thus far and I am looking forward to seeing what the future brings!