Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ironman Recap Part 5: Post-Race Thoughts, and Farewell.

Well, it's official.  I'm an Ironman (over a year ago, haha).  The title of this blog has been accomplished.

Now, where to go from here?

At first, I thought would almost certainly do another one.  I had such a great day, and just kept thinking "what if I hadn't gotten injured?".  I wanted to do another one to see what I could do healthy, and able to actually stick to the training plan.  However, it is an Ironman....who is to say I wouldn't get injured next time too?  It's kind of a lot of repetitive training.   Also, I had a really good day.   A lot of my friends who have done Ironmans have had a lot worse days than me, despite really good training, and being way better athletes than me.  I think I got really freaking lucky.  Maybe the rest leading up to the race paid off (extra taper from the race being delayed two weeks, missed run and bike training due to my achilles).  Maybe it went well because I have a strong stomach and can eat a lot prior to and during an event without getting sick; that seems important for such a long endurance event, in order to maintain energy without bonking.  I don't know.  I probably just got lucky.

Since then though, most of my races have been painful, unenjoyable, disappointing.  I don't want to train for "goal races" anymore.  But I still love training.  It's kind of like when I was a kid on the softball team: I loved the practices and hated the games.  Too much pressure.  Maybe that's really what saved me at my Ironman.  I had less than zero expectations.  I wasn't at all confident that I would finish.  I wasn't at all confident that I would even make it to the start of the run.  I had nothing to lose.  Nowhere to go but up from there.  And I had the thrill of waiting to hear "You are an Ironman" to keep me going.  I think that might only work once though.  Would it be as meaningful the second, third, or fourth time around?  Probably not.  And I really don't enjoy suffering.  The 70.3 I did in Ohio was hot and awful.  And I was a big baby about it.  I quit.  I walked.  A lot.  When I really didn't "have" to.

I still love swimming and running, and now, actually I love biking too, thanks to riding for fun and actual transportation instead of "training".  I'm not training for anything, but over the past month or two it isn't at all unusual to see a 10 or 11 hour training week in my Strava log (not counting strength training; add an hour for that).  I've done all the triathlon distances now.  Sprint, Ironman, Olympic, Half-Ironman, Mini-sprint.  (In that order!)  Nothing would be new and exciting and unknown again.  Same with running.  I've done something like 25 half-marathons.  My best was under an 8 min/mile average, which I once thought was impossible for me for a 5K, let alone a half marathon.  I've done 5 marathons, squeaking in just under 4 hours on the last one.  I couldn't even count the number of 5Ks and 10Ks I've done.  My medal rack is out of space, and I'm not sure the drywall screws could hold much more weight anyway.

So what's the next goal?  Ultra-marathons sound interesting.  I like the vibe of the trail running community.  There's always the ever-appealing Boston qualification that I've never actually tried for, or been even remotely close to achieving.  And of course there is the prospect of more Ironmans (Ironmen?).

Or, I could free myself from the safety of revolving my life around my training plans, and my next athletic goal.  I could try being social.  I could try to be a better person.  I could volunteer.  I could learn (about me, about everyone else, about everything else).  I could read.  I could cook.  (Ha, who am I kidding, I hate cooking).  I could write.  Maybe even about something other than recapping my last event.

But yes, I think I will do an Ironman.  My feeling right now is that I would loosely train for it, and then register race weekend for one that doesn't sell out.  Kind of "wing-it".   That's always exciting.  I feel like the Ironman distance triathlon might be my strong suit.  I'm fairly equal and swimming/biking/running (okay, maybe a little behind the curve on biking), and I enjoy the duration, for the most part.  I had a more enjoyable time at my Ironman than I did at my mini-sprint.  I am an endurance athlete through and through.  If it weren't for my heat intolerance I think I could be pretty bad-ass.

Regardless, I think this blog has run it's course.  I think it's fitting to end "TyRunMan" with the final Ironman race report.  I'm toying with the idea of starting a new blog, anonymously, and writing on deeper, more meaningful and personal topics.  This is not the place for that though.  I need the anonymity, at least at first.  Thank you all for following along, and I wish you the best in all your athletic and non-athletic endeavors.

I plan to update my race list page for my own records, and then let this blog R.I.P.



P.S.  I'll still be following a few of you!
At least I'll always have the hat.  ;)  

I just bought this bike (3" tires!) and put it together and fine-tuned it myself,  so I had to include this pic.  I have yet to try mountain biking, but that's what this is for!  I took it for a few spins for the first time today and it is so fun to ride!!  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ironman Recap Part 4: The RUN

Catch up on pre-race, swim, and bike recaps first if you missed them.  

Okay, after the bike I once again took my time in transition.  I did a full change of clothes (I see no need to run with butt pad in an Ironman!), and geared up.  I had opted to carry a running hydration pack, sans bladder, to use as a mini-backpack to carry everything I could possibly need.  Included:  headlamp, reflective tape, athletic tape for my achilles, a variety of food selections (a few Gu's/chews, but mostly candy: M&M's, paydays), chapstick, bandaids, a long-sleeved shirt etc!  There is a run special needs bag, but you can only access it once during the run, so I didn't want to be needing things from it at the wrong time.  I actually can't remember what I had in my run special needs.  I know I stopped and used it, toward the end, but I can't for the life of me remember.  That's what happens when you wait more than a year before writing a recap.  Actually, maybe the long-sleeved shirt was in special needs?  I don't know.  :P 

I was really nervous for the run, because of the lack of run training in the two months leading up to the race, but I felt surprisingly good out of the gate.  My initial pace was "too fast" for sure, but it was a good confidence builder.  I started out around 9 minutes a mile, and quickly dropped to 10 minutes per mile, which I hung on to for quite a while.  My plan started out as just walking through aid stations only, but it quickly became walking briefly at each mile marker, and at each aid station.  Mentally it was very easy to only run for one mile at a time.  I stuck to the rule religiously, because I knew if I started walking extra, it would be harder and harder to start running again.  

Still feeling fresh, running by Justin and my dad. 
After mile 10 was when my legs started to feel very fatigued, but mentally and overall I still felt really good.  Because it was a pancake flat run course, I was able to keep running with very little effort.  A high cadence and short stride with a good body position on a flat course makes maintaining an easy paced run almost negligible on my leg muscles.  I would have been screwed if there were hills, or if I had had to maintain a fast pace, but as it was, it was just a matter of continuing to pick up my feet and let gravity take care of the rest.    After mile 10 was when my pace dropped to 11 and 12 minutes per mile, but I was still running and still felt strong.   I was eating basically whatever sounded good at each of the aid stations.  At the beginning it was mostly peanut M&M's and paydays and water; toward the end it was more soda and fruit.  

The run course was in a way was like a double out & back, that you did 2.5 times through.  On the other hand it, it was nice, because your spectators could stand in one spot and see you 6 times out on the course.  You also got to run through the booming downtown area, and run by the finish line, several times.  Running near the finish line and not actually finishing was kind of a bummer, but it also helped with motivation to hear other people getting the "You are an IRONMAN!!" line and hearing the cheers and knowing that your time was coming soon.  

By some miracle, my achilles didn't bother me at all during the run, at least not any more than niggle.  Nothing that got progressively worse, or every tempted me to stop because of it.  Also, the weather was downright chilly, and windy.  I think I would have had a much more difficult time, and enjoyed myself much less, and probably had a drastically slower run if it had been hot.  

At some point when it got dark, I put on my headlight and got out my reflective tape.  I had cut it into strips to put on my shirt, and when I started putting them on I had the awesome (in my opinion) idea to spell my name on my shirt with reflective tape.  ("T-Y" is one name that is easy to write with a few straight lines, haha!)  I did it while I was running, so it isn't perfect, and it's not like I could really see what it looked like, but I thought it was a funny touch.  I figured it might help Justin and my Dad see me too.  

I was able to give them a pretty good estimate with about an hour to go, of what time I would be at the finish line.  When I finally got to come down the chute, I gave a whole lot of high fives, and got to see my dad and Justin in the spectators.  I love the video my dad took, you can hear how excited he was!!! 


The only bad part was that they said my name wrong (both first and last), which was a bit of a bummer.  I had even discussed with the announcer how to properly say my name the day prior, but I think there were two people sharing the duty, and the one I spoke to wasn't the one announcing when I came through.  

The time on the clock that you see in the pictures is the time of day, not the "race time".  We had a late start to the race so I think that messed everything up for them.  My final race time was 13:02, with the shortened swim.  If I had gotten to do the full 2.4 mile swim, I would expect my time to have been 13:17.  

The swim pace is not accurate.  I think it was 1:41 per 100 yds, or 1:50 per 100 m or something like that, given that the actual distance we swam was short by about 800m.  

And here is the official video one more time!!

After the race at the house I got really sick.  I was puking and had diarrhea and spent some time lying on the bathroom floor.  I was miserable.  But also thankful that all this diarrhea and vomiting was kind enough to wait until I finished to show up.  

The day after the race, I could hardly walk at all, my muscles were shot and my achilles was very angry.  But again, at least it all waited until I was finished.  

All in all, I had a great experience and I think it really couldn't have gone any better.  Would I do it again?  No.  Maybe.  Probably.   More on that in the next post.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ironman Recap Part 3, The BIKE

Well, today is the one year anniversary of my Ironman, which mostly just reminded me that I never got around to recapping it.  Which is relatively unfortunate because I'm sure I have lost some memories by now.  But, better late than never, I hope? 

(Important note: there are several great videos in this post - if they are not showing up in your feed reader or email, you may want to go to my blog directly to read this post to see the videos:  )

Also, make sure to read part 1 and part 2 first if you missed them! 

After the chilly but otherwise uneventful swim (ok, there was that wipeout at the end), I had my first experience with wetsuit strippers, and then jogged through transition to my bike gear bag.  I saw Justin and my dad cheering for me on the way.  :) 
Because of the cold temperatures, I opted to wear my swimsuit under my wetsuit and do a complete change of clothes, rather than wearing my tri kit wet throughout the day.  
T1: Swim-to-bike00:16:59
I had put warmers in my shoes prior to the start of the race because I knew it would be freezing.  I also bundled  up pretty hardcore.  When you get cold on the bike there's no coming back from it, at least for my feet, so I figured it would be easier to strip clothes off than add them on! Shoe covers and everything! 

("I'm Overdressed!")

My plan for the bike was basically the same as my plan for the rest of the race, which was: Go by feel.  Ignore my watch.  Consume some calories every five miles.  Hope and pray that my achilles doesn't act up.  It started out fine, the bike course was perfectly flat, and the roads were in great condition, and after the first couple of miles it actually started getting warm enough to take off all my layers.  Unfortunately, by about my five my bad achilles was already starting to hurt.  I had anticipated that and packed rolls of tape (pre-cut and rolled onto straws for easy application) for both the bike and the run.  I pulled over on the side of the road, took off my left shoe and sock and applied my tape.  It helped immensely, but unfortunately wouldn't stay on very well.  I had to stop once more to put a piece of a sock over it (like a sleeve), which helped keep the adhesive from slipping off.  I'm actually kind of grateful for my achilles injury because it kept me from going too hard on the bike, which I have done at pretty much every triathlon since then.  I just kept a steady effort the rest of the way.  I took a good long break at the aid station.  My feet had gotten cold again since it was starting to get windy, but I wasn't able to get my shoe covers back on in any kind of timely fashion.  I also tried to eat the bagel I had packed but it was dry and gross so I gave up on that.  I pretty much ate half of a protein bar every 5 miles (I think).  Plus gatorade and water.  There was definitely some structure to my consumption, based on miles, but I don't really remember what it was!  
Halfway point/aid station

(aid station)

Stretch & go! 

After about mile 50 or 60 on the bike the wind got insane.  It was the windiest weather I have ever biked in for sure.  At one time I literally thought I was going to get blown off the road or have the tires swept out from under me when it blew hard from the side.  I managed to stay upright the whole time though.  The headwinds were of course bad too, but at least they weren't scary, just depressing.  Working harder than I was before and barely struggling to hit 12 miles per hour.  Ugh.  I swear the last 20 miles never ended! 
(TyLady coming in finish)

(the House)

Official video.  Bike finish at 1:09.  Don't watch the finish yet! ;) 

I was definitely glad when the bike was over, just because it took such a damn long time, and I was sick of the wind.  Otherwise, I still felt fine.  And my achilles miraculously behaved the entire rest of the ride, after that initial tape job at mile 5.  I was pretty happy with my bike speed, considering I had made so many stops (clothing drop, tape job, tape adjustment, aid station, pee break) and the headwind, and an injury that could have been a deal breaker.  Actually, I would have been happy with my speed even without all those things!

My favorite part about the bike leg was that I don't really remember it being very crowded.  At some races, I struggle to stay out of people's draft zones, and up passing when I don't really want to, just because there are people everywhere.  At this race, possibly because it was rescheduled, or possibly because it's so long that you get spread out, I felt like I had space to breathe a lot of the time.  I wasn't constantly making decisions about whether to pass a person or not.  There were definitely some moments, but not the ENTIRE race, which I find mentally exhausting when it (frequently) happens).

BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 34
Split NameDistanceSplit TimeRace TimePaceDivision RankGender RankOverall Rank
Total112 mi06:49:5408:02:5116.39 mph34215946
Originally from:

 Now for the part I was REALLY nervous about.  The run.  I hadn't run more than 2-3 miles at a time (unless you count aquajogging....I did a lot of that!) since the first week of August (more than 2 months before the race) because of my achilles, and I had NO IDEA what kind of running shape I was in, or if my achilles would handle it.  Stay tuned.....
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