Monday, November 18, 2013

Ironman Florida 2013 - My Journey

I started doing triathlons last year. In fact, I learned to ride a bike and swim last year. Technically, I had a few swim lessons when I was little. I can float on my back for hours and I could doggy paddle and I had picked up the breaststroke while swimming with friends, but that was the extent. Basic survival. My idea of a good time in the water was the hot tub. I learned to ride a bike when I was 5. We lived in Texas at the time and it was flat. I rode a pink huffy. When I was 7, we moved to Utah. We lived on a mountain and we sold my pink huffy because there was nowhere to ride. I never rode again. I wanted to do a triathlon for awhile but it was expensive and how do you sell your husband on bikes, wetsuits, etc. if he isn't in to it. My husband told me he hated running. I made him do a 5k with me and he liked it. I made him train for a half marathon and he really liked it. Then I got pregnant again and he decided to train and run a full marathon. He liked it. He told me he would never do a triathlon because he couldn't swim, and he hated cyclists. I encouraged him to try one with Team in Training. My father has leukemia and I was pregnant so I couldn't do it. He tried it- he loved it. He then went on to complete his first Ironman a year after. After watching the World Championships in Kona and seeing my husband finish his first IM, I wondered if it would ever be possible for me. I have 5 kids. My body is so different then it used to be. I didn't know if I could ever possibly complete that distance. Last year, my husband won an entry into the Salem Sprint Tri. He didn't want to race since he was racing the Boise Half IM the week after, so he signed me up. I got fit for a road bike that week and learned to ride it right before the race. It was terrifying as I still didn't know how the gears even worked. I struggled all season. I wasn't fast but I was determined. I continued to work on improving. In July, Ironman changed St. George from a full distance to a half. My husband signed us up. At first I was excited, then I was terrified. Then in October, my husband started talking about doing a full IM together. I thought it would be cool someday. He wanted to do Florida. We only race on Saturdays and this was one of 3 in the U.S. that is on a Saturday. It sells out in minutes so the day that it came up, we were both on seperate ipads, constantly refreshing and monitoring the computer. I got caught up in the hype. We both got in. It sold out in less than 2 minutes. I was elated. I felt like I won the lottery. Then I realized what the lottery was. What did I just do? Are you kidding me? How did this happen? I have never run a marathon. The half marathon was hard enough. I barely know how to ride my bike let alone swim. I have 5 kids. Seriously, what did I just do? I started freaking out. Michael said, "you have a year to train - you will be fine." I talked to my coach - Coach Keena. She said," you have a year to train, you will be fine." Yes but I have 5 kids. I don't know if I can do that much training and still be a good mom. My kids were 9,7,6,4, and barely 2 when I signed up. Coach Keena told me it would be fine and that I would really only be putting in about 8-10 hours of training in a week. So that was the goal. The least amount of training possible to still be able to complete a full ironman. I didn't need to qualify for Kona this year, just complete it. The training really wasn't overwhelming. I did the St. George half IM in May to see how I was doing. My legs started cramping at mile 9 of the run and I knew I had work to do. I bought a new Kestrel Tri bike in July. LOVE my bike!! Thank you Kestrel!! I did another half IM distance at the end of the July. I took off 30 minutes on my bike and was thrilled. I cramped at mile 9 of the run again. The truth is.. If I skipped a workout, it was always the run. I was worried about riding a bike and swimming and figured I already knew how to walk if needed but... after cramping again, I started to take my run workouts seriously. I didn't not want hurt for 15+ miles. Keena had me do a lot of trail running for time. Trail running was a lot easier on the body and you recover quicker. My longest run was 2 1/2 hours. I threw in an 18 mile run on pavement once so that mentally I knew I could do the distance. Again, completing not competing. I did 1 century bike ride (Wonder Woman - awesome ride) and one 5 hour sitting on my bike ride followed by a 20 minute run. I did ULTOT this year (30 min. swim, 20ish mile bike up AF Canyon, 11 (for me) mile trail run up to the saddle, bike down) Those were my longest workouts. All my other workouts were usually around 2 hours. IRONMAN FLORIDA - what a crazy week! When we arrived in Florida it was beautiful! We got in on Tuesday. We stayed at Treasure Island resorts in a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, huge kitchen, on the beach condo. It was amazing! It cost us around $70 a night and was perfect! On Wednesday, we checked in to the race. The line wasn't too long and we walked around the venue. It was lovely. We picked up our bikes from Tri Bike Transport. They were awesome. I dropped my bike off to get race wheels put on. 90% of athletes racing this event had race wheels. Everyone's bike looked beautiful! While waiting for my bike, we decided to go for a swim in the ocean. I had never been swimming in the ocean. Wave jumping, yes, playing in the ocean, yes, but not swimming. It was pretty windy that day with moderate waves. We only swam for about 20 minutes. It was definitely different than the lakes I am used to swimming in. There is nothing to sight off of on the way out so I couldn't tell if I was going anywhere. The water was really warm - around 74 degrees. I was trying out my new HEAD wetsuit (thank you HEAD) and trying to get used to the water. Apparently it is manna ray season right now so, drag your feet along the bottom so you don't step on one. Be careful of jellyfish,and sharks. After our swim, we drove the bike course to so we knew what to expect. We drove the run course as well. It went right by our condo, then into the State Park. We were told that this year you weren't in the State park for as long because it had rained so much that they saw a lot of alligators. Nice! Note to self: you don't have to be the fastest, just not the slowest. Don't get picked off! After driving the course we decided ride our bikes. I needed to test my race wheels. It definitely was a different experience for me. It was so salty! Definitely chewing gum for the race. It was a little windy and my bike felt super light. I guess it was preparing me for the next day. Thursday was crazy. The storm was coming in and the waves were really high. We went for a swim that morning and I felt like I was getting pushed back to shore and going nowhere. I felt sea sick and it was quite nerve racking. Michael got stung by a jellyfish. I came up and he looked like he had seen a ghost. I asked if he was ok and he said yes lets just swim back to shore. He didn't want to freak me out.As we approached the shore, I stood up and a huge wave came and smacked me in the back of the head. My goggles went flying off and I never found them. Boo! They were my favorite HEAD goggles. We went and got vinegar at the grocery store for the jellyfish sting along with some spray bottles to put in our transition bags - just in case. Then we went for a short bike ride. The wind was crazy! For the first 6 miles or so, I was averaging 24 miles per hour without much work. It was work to stay on my bike though. Coming back, I averaged 13 miles per hour straight into a head wind and literally was almost blown off my bike every couple of minutes. I was so nervous about racing on Saturday. We checked our bikes in and went home. We watched the Pro Panel. It was funn to hear them talk. Normal people. Rinny Carfrae was there. She said she was taking it easy and just validating her Kona spot. That night was the athlete dinner. They had baked potatoes, pasta, saldad, fruit. Nothing fancy but decent. They had a really inspiring program with amazing athletes and regular people racing for causes. I was super emotional all night. Friday, the beach was closed - you got a ticket if you tried to swim. The storm was crazy. It made me really jittery even though we knew that it was coming and would blow over by the Saturday. We called Coach Keena who reassured me that I was going to be fine. We took it easy all day. Dropped off our transition bags, stayed off our feet, played card games, had dinner (chicken stir-fry) at 3pm, took naps, then ice cream that night. We "went to bed" at 9 but neither of us got much sleep. Excited for the race! 4:00 am - Good Morning! Michael and I both went through our "race routines" - shower, breakfast:oatmeal, egg over sweet potato. We made sure our special needs bags had what they needed, nutrition for the race, timing chip is safety pinned in place, wetsuits, extra goggles, SafeSea(supposed to help deter jellyfish) and sunscreen. We drove over, dropped our special needs bags off, and went to transition. It was so exciting to be there. 3,000 people - lots of energy. We got there at 5:30 and out of transition by 6:30. We went down to the beach and got in the water to "warm up".(HaHa) Then we watched the pros start. The Swim: The swim was nuts! They were trying something new this year. It was still a mass start but you were supposed to self seed according to how fast you believed you would finish the swim. I was hoping to finish around 1:30 so I was in the middle. Gun went off. I have never had as much physical contact in my life! I felt like I was literally riding a sea of people on the first loop of the swim. I was hit,kicked, swam over, under, on top of, pulled under, you name it. I finished the first loop of the swim in 42 min. I was on schedule. It actually went by really fast. Probably because my mind was on everything that was happening around me. I got out of the water, grabbed a drink and followed the crowd in for the second loop. The gum saved my mouth - I highly recommend it. The second loop was tougher. I ran in the water and spent a good 20 minutes fighting the current and waves to get to the first buoy. I wish I had run further down the beach before running in to start the 2nd loop. I really enjoyed the second loop after I got past the breakers. It was beautiful and it felt nice. My swim time - 1:38 - a little slower than I wanted it to be but I was still happy with it. T1- Transitions were long. You had to run up the beach, They did have strippers (YAY for strippers),shower, yell out your bag number, grab your swim to bike bag, curve around into the conference room at the hotel, the ladies changing room was past the mens, and then change into your bike gear. The volunteers were amazing. They offered to help with whatever you needed including putting your socks or shoes on or whatever. Then with bike shoes, helmet and everything else, you had to weave back out the dressing rooms and run to get your bike. Once you yelled out your bike number and got your bike, you ran out the shoot and mounted your bike and you were on your way. My plan was to stop every other aid station and make sure that my aero bottle was empty. The first 20 miles I had water and solid food.(uncrustables, snickers, dried mangos,waffles,gu and beef jerkey - not all during the 20 miles, just what I felt like). The next 20 miles I had tropical flavored cococut water with carbo pro or zipp fizz with carbo pro and no food. I alternated these every 20 miles and it worked really well for me. The bike went well. I felt like I had a slight head wind the whole time so I didn't go as fast as I wanted to but I kept my heart rate in the 130's. When I stopped at an aid station - I stopped. I got off my bike, took my time to stretch out, and fill up my aero bottle for the next 20 miles. I saw so many crashes because people tried to slow down and didn't make it at the aid stations. I love my bike!! (thank you again Kestrel) I love my Cobb saddle!! Miles 50-60 were tough because the road was AWFUL!! At least I thought so. Not only was it super bumpy, but because of the bumps, so many people lost water bottles, cages, cartridges, tires, etc. I had to navigate around those as well as pot holes and the bumps. I was so excited to get off that road it was crazy! Then Mile65-75 you hit the rollers. They are decent sized rollers. Not a lot of speed going on the uphills! By mile 80, I was ready to be off my bike. We were on the home stretch. I was excited to see the last hill right before mile 100. I have to say though - the last 3 miles were seriously the longest miles ever!! I felt like a little kid - are we there yet? How much longer? I can hear the race going on so I know we are close but seriously, I only went a mile? I am pedaling as fast as I can - why is this taking soooo long!!!I finally got to T2 at the same time as the female winner of the race Yvonne Van Vlerken was finishing the whole race. As I got off my bike, the volunteers run up to take it from you and rack it. It was so very nice to hand it off and be done! Bike: 6:47 T2: You yell out your number, get your bag and then find your way again into the conference room dressing rooms. I was surprised at how many people change full outfits for each event. I wore my tri suit under my wetsuit, and then on my bike, and then for my run I threw on a running skirt over my tri shorts and compression sleeves. I was off on my run. I was actually super happy to be on my feet and not my bike. I broke up the run into small goals. The first goal was to run the first 3 miles without stopping - it was to show my legs who was boss. I carried a little flask with me the first 3 miles with my drink so that I didn't have to stop. I saw Michael at mile 2.5, he was finishing his first 13 mile out and back. At mile 3, I walked the aid station and then started running again. For the first 13 miles, I tried to only walk the aid stations and make sure that I was keeping the time I wanted. At mile 13, I stopped to get my special needs bag. I changed my shoes, grabbed my headlamp and long sleeve shirt and started to run again. By mile 14, I started drinking cola and ice chips. The cola tasted really good but I was not hungry or thirsty. My mouth was dry and so the ice chips were life savers. Sadly, they ran out of ice chips at certain aid stations so I carried my cup of ice chips with me the rest of the run and exchanged when I found aid stations that had them. I mentioned before that we ran by our condo 4 times on the run. It mocked me just a little! The goal for the second half of the marathon was to keep each mile under 14 minutes. I would tell myself to run for 3 minutes before I could walk for 30 sec. Most of the time I would be able to keep going after the 3 minutes was up. Other goal: don't cramp, don't get sick. There were so many athletes that couldn't get their nutrition down or were cramped up. I never cramped - SCORE!!! I didn't feel sick - thank you Ice Chips! Also, I was running the second half of the marathon in the dark. It made you run just a little bit faster through the State Park knowing there could be gators! At about 18-19, two deer came flying through the race and almost took out two runners in front of me. That was fun! I met some very interesting people on the run! It really helped to keep things going. It is always so inspiring to listen to others' stories. As I neared the finish line, I wanted to take everything in. I let those close to me or in groups close to me, go in front of me. I wanted to cross the finish line by myself. I wanted to make sure that my name would be called out as I crossed the finish line. It was my moment! As I crossed the finish line, "Cyndi Moody - YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" Yes I am!!!! Yvonne Van Vlerken, the female winner, had come back down to the finish line to hand out medals to those of crossing! I was elated! She said to me," You look way to fresh to be finishing an Ironman - maybe you could have gone harder?" I laughed and said, "I am just so elated that it is over! I finished it and I am an Ironman!" It was such an amazing experience and I was full of so much strength and energy and life, I can't even describe it - even though physically, my feet were done. Run: 5:43 Total time: 14:30 My dear sweet husband had finished 3 hours before me and took care of all our bags, bikes, gear etc. We got a picture and then went and got massages and food. I think I drank a gallon of chocolate milk. It tasted sooo good. I almost fell asleep on the massage table. After the massage I started to get cold so I wrapped my blanket around me and we walked to our car. We went and got hot,salty, french fries at Wendy's and then went home. The next day was gorgeous! I couldn't walk very well- had to fall into chairs, toilet seats, cars, etc. but the day was beautiful! We watched dolphins swim past our condo and not a wave in the ocean.
We went to church - it was really cool to see how many athletes were at the service. Then we went to the IM venue to walk around. It felt good to stretch out and walk. On Monday, we went swimming in the ocean. It was beautiful! I really wish I had had that experience before the race. It was warm and calm. We saw lots of fish and just had fun. I wasn't super sore anymore. I felt fantastic! We went miniature golfing- they have more arcade/amusement park/ miniature golfing places than anywhere I have ever seen. We picked a cute jungle themed place. We had a blast! Tuesday we hung out at the beach again, went hot tubbing, and then visited a friend who lived in Talahassee. Then we went to the airport and came home. It was such a beautiful vacation! I was super excited to see my babies at home, not so excited to come home to snow, but I felt fantastic - and I am an IRONMAN!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on being an Ironman! Great report! Out of curiosity, what are the other IM races that are Saturday? Besides Texas and Florida, what's the third? I want to do one, but also don't race on Sunday.