Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chesapeakeman Iron Distance 2011: Swim, bike, swim, bike, swim, bike run to 140.6!

Settle down, kids, I'm on it.  Time for the long awaited race report!  Ironman #2-DONE!  This is gonna be a two parter at least, I warn you....I am full of emotions from the day, and I really needed them to settle down before I wrote a report.  My intention is to do MY RACE report today, then a comparison tomorrow of Ironman M-Dot versus Independent Ironman.  I will try very hard to keep any judgement or opinions out of today's report.  Okey dokey? :-)  Here goes!


Pre-Race bike prep!
The alarm went off at 3:45.  Jumped out of bed (ok, kinda-the people on the floor above us got up at 3, so I had been laying in bed just watching the numbers turn :-P), took a quick shower, and made my pre-race breakfast #1 (Pb toast and coffee).  Drove to T2, where I dropped off my special needs bags and my Bike to Run bag, then headed over to T1.  I pumped up my tires (ok, the hubster did :-P), got my nutrition settled onto my bike, pit stop one and two, then ate a zone bar 45 minutes pre swim.  Wriggled into my wetsuit, applied some Vaseline to discourage the jellyfish, and headed out to the swim start.  Listened to a few last minute directions (There was some confusion as to the buoys for the course) and then the National Anthem.  The mic cut out halfway through the anthem, and as the singer got soft, hundreds of voices of triathletes joined in to honor the stars and stripes.  Shivers.  It was beautiful.
At 6:55, they let us into the water, and we lined up at the start.  And we were off!!

The Swim
The swim was a clockwise, two loop swim in the Choptank river.  The river lived up to it's name, there was a decent chop to the water, and also jellyfish.  I felt pretty steady the whole swim (there is certainly a difference to a mass swim start of 400 people versus 3000!).  got my goggles kicked off 10 minutes in, no biggie, stopped to re-adjust.  I swam the first loop conservatively, the second loop was a bit wide, as the kayaks began to drift out further than the buoys.  Sighting was rough-it was pretty gray out and there were only 7 buoys for the whole course.  I did swallow a healthy amount of salt water (just making sure I got enough sodium, obviously :-P) and got stung twice by jellyfish (it wasn't too bad, I just poured vinegar on the stings in T2).  Exiting the water was a challenge-there was a boat ramp that was filled with algae and slime that a bunch of people wiped out on (I was lucky not too).  Hit the timing mat for T1 in 1:26:xx....7 minutes slower than Placid, but with the chop, I'll take it.
T1: 4:44
Ripped of my wetsuit, slid into my bike gear, downed a gel, applied sunscreen and bug spray, and was off!
Swim Predator!
The Bike (and swim and bike and swim and bike)
The bike course was a 2 looper as well-65 miles for the first loop, 47 for the second.  It lollipopped out for 10 miles, then came back in to do the two loop sections.  The entire course was pretty flat, max grade of 3-4%.  The first 20 miles were pretty windy, as it was through open fields.  I stayed pretty conservative, averaging about 18-19.  Turning onto loop 1, we pulled onto a highway with a decent shoulder and I was able to just spin out at a decent clip.  The first few hours it rained off and on, nothing crazy, just enough to notice.  At mile 35, we turned into the Blackwater Refuge.  Yup, a swamp.  It was ridiculously humid with headwinds, but nothing to gripe about.  I settled into a decent routine of eating every 45 minutes (half of a powerbar/gel/etc) and tried to drink consistently.  At mile 50, we turned into the "flooding area" of the refuge...we had been told that high tide was at noon, and I was averaging about 18, and hit at 11:30, so I thought I would be safe....no such luck.  For about a mile, there was off and on water on the road, about 1-2 inches deep.  Super fun.  I sprayed through, and got my kit and shoes soaked with swamp water.  As I passed a half Iron competitor, he laughed at me and said "Don't wanna be you guys when high tide hits next loop!".  Awww crap :-P .  Check out the hubster's clip:

Finished out loop one with no problems, stopped to reload fuel and liquids at mile 60.  As I hit the special needs area at mile 65, the full and half split off and we headed out for loop 2.  There was some confusion as to where to go to get back out on the road, but after a minute of "where the heck do I go" I was off again.  Loop two was pretty uneventful, passed alot of people who went out too hard and still kept up a decent clip.  About 4 hours in, food lost its appeal, but I tried to keep up, as I knew I would need it during the marathon.  The swamp portion was more humid, the air sticky, but I tried to joke with fellow cyclists as I passed them.  Even though this ride had no comparison to Placid with elevation, it was mentally draining to ride with little change, and my back cramped up alot due to the fact that you could never coast or stop pedaling.  At mile 100, we hit the famed tidal road again....this time it was a good 4 inches underwater.  Ridiculous.  This time the water sprayed up into my aqua cell and I got thoroughly soaked.  Thank goodness I was almost done!  I tried to stretch it out the last 10 miles....my legs were a bit sore, but nothing crazy.  My feet were the worst...after being soaked at mile 50 and again at mile 100, they were pruny and felt just wrong.  I turned into the school at mile 112, and searched for a volunteer to hand my bike off to.  After a few minutes, one grabbed it and I was off to T2 with my run gear.  Total Bike time:  6:24:xx (official time 6:26:xx after my bike was taken away and I crossed the mat). 

T2:  6:30
When I entered the women's tent, there was not a single other person there.  No volunteers or athletes.  I wriggled out of my wet bike gear and into my run gear, wiped off my face with a wet towel, and tried to get my socks and sneakers on over my wet feet.  Fun fun :-P  After throwing on my race belt and visor, I exited T2 ready ready ready to run! (as evidence when the hubster filmed me coming out of T2.  I thought he was just taking a picture :-P)

The Run
The run was a 3 loop course that was out and back for each loop.  It was 90% flat with slight slight elevations, on a desolate road, with hay bales for scenery.  There was an aid station each mile and also one at the turnaround and....nothing else.  I started the first loop with optimism, clocking an 8:34 for the first mile-a bit fast, but nothing crazy.  Then I needed a porta potty stop :-P  Miles 2 and 3 were uneventful...I stopped at each water stop, grabbed a cup, ate something (a bite of cookie or a cracker) and was off.  I averaged about 9:30's with the potty stop for the first out, which was about where I wanted to be.  My feet hurt from being wet for so long, and my stomach wasn't sure about life.  I definitely didn't want to be eating, but knew i had to.  After I hit the turnaround, something just shut off.  There was no mile 5.  Or 6.  I began to lose it.  I saw the hubster about mile 6.5 (I'm guessing) and whined about life for a minute.  I told him I didn't want to do this.  There were no effing mile markers.  That my feet hurt.  And my stomach.  (Playing a small violin.)  What the EFF was this??  Pull it together, Rae!!  I don't think he knew what to say, but tried gamely to encourage me on.  (I later found out he was really concerned, as the run is typically my favorite :-P)  I hit the end of the first loop (mile 8.7ish) pissed about life and not wanting to go back out there.  So I stopped at special needs.  It took a few minutes to get my bag (there weren't alot of volunteers) but I grabbed notes that my Uncle and Hubster wrote me in case I needed a pick me up (I did this for IM #1-just a little something to make me laugh to get me through a rough patch, and it really worked.)  I also grabbed a 5 hour energy.....even though I'd never had one (spare me the lecture, I was friggin desperate).  Round the turn to loop 2 at 1:32, over a 10 minute mile average.  I saw my dreams of a 4:30 marathon start to fade away.  Taking a deep breath, I read my note from the hubster, laughed my ass off (he knew exactly what to say) and zoned back in.  And I was off. 
Run course "Scenery"
Loop 2 was so so much better.  I resorted to a 5:1 run walk strategy, averaging 10-10:30 miles.  I stopped at every aid station, hydrated, sprayed on bug spray at one, and peed again.  I finally found someone to piggy back with, and chatted with him every so often when we would pass each other.  When I saw the hubster again at mile 14?  (I'm guessing....still no mile markers) I was a different woman.  I joked with him about his note, and was off again.  Rounding the corner to loop 3, I stopped at special needs again, read another note, grabbed some dried fruit (one can only eat so many cookies and saltines) and headed out for my final loop.  Loop #2:  1:35.  Doing some quick math, I realized I could hit my goal of a sub 13 if I managed this last loop in 1:50 or less.  I had a goal.  I was on a mission.  Heading out, I was able to keep the same run walk strategy, and had renewed purpose.  Even though I was physically hurting, I had a much better outlook for this last loop, and did a high 5 with the aid station volunteers at the turnaround (who were freakin' awesome, by the way. They set up a tropical theme with torches!)  On the way back in, it started to get dark, quickly.  Even though it was only 7pm. it was cloudy and muggy all day, and it got dark super fast. As I hit mile 25, there was a kart motoring down the road handing out glow sticks.  You couldn't see a foot in front of you.  Only one aid station had a flood light, and a few cars drove down the road with headlights on.  It was kind of creepy.  Coming up to the last aid station, I looked at my watch and saw 12:40:47.  Could I manage a 9 minute mile for the last mile and go under 12:50?  I wanted to try!  I ran as fast as I could after 12 plus hours of racing, gauging purely on effort, as I couldn't see my watch past the aid station.  Running for all that I was worth, I crossed the line at 12:50:09, 10 seconds shy of breaking 12:50, but smashing my sub 13 goal by almost 10 minutes and taking over an hour off my last Ironman time.  Boo.  Ya.
Post Race
The hubster and my best friend from high school (who lives in VA) caught me after the finish line, where I was literally speechless for a good 5 minutes (which is pretty abnormal).  I had a hard time breathing after racing in the humidity all day, but calmed down pretty quickly.  We collected my stuff, and I went off to find the post race food, but none of it looked appetizing (more on that later) so we called and oredered a pizza to bring back to the hotel.  I showered off the lovely combo of salt water, sweat, vinager, bug spray and god knows what else, then celebrated with two of my favorite people :-)


Welcome home, Ironman #2!
Again, saving the comparison of the events for tomorrow.  But in terms of MY race, I was super happy with my time.  The swim for this event was much harder than IMLP with the choppy water, jellyfish, and course confusion. For the bike, there is no comparison between the elevation obviously, but since there were no downhills, there was no coasting. (Interestingly enough, the long rides on the computrainer in my humid basement really helped me out with this course). The volunteers on the bike tried hard, but you did need to stop for bottle handoffs, and the fact that 3 plus miles of the course was underwater also made it challenging.  You really had to know your bike ability to not blow your load on this course-I saw alot of 5:30 bike splits paired with 5:30 run splits.  As for the run, this was the hardest marathon I have ever done.  Even though Placid was hillier, the course was gorgeous and the crowd support was phenomenal.  This course was out and back x3, so you saw the same nothingness 6 times.  Also, by the time we hit the run, the half iron athletes were (mostly) done and the aquavelos didn't run, so there were only 250 of us on the course.  There was some serious mental HTFU going on to get through the run.  If you were not okay with the space between your ears, you were done (case in point for my mini melt down). 
Bottom line-I am ridiculously happy with my effort, and would change little.  I ended up coming in #119, about halfway through the pack.  A solid effort for me :-)
So what's next?  Yeah, I'm the sucker who signed up for a duathlon this Sunday.....I'm not that bright :-D  Stay tuned for tomorrow.....WTC or independent Ironman? The showdown!!


  1. great report Rae! you did SO AMAZING at this race! AND.. I am f-ing CRACKING UP that you used the phrase "blow your load" during your race report HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAH!

  2. Rae thats amazing!! Congrats!! I'm sooo inspired by you :o) Nice work!!