Monday, September 1, 2014

Escape from the Judge Race Recap

Even though Ironman Louisville was only a week ago, Mike and I raced yesterday!

Two years ago, Mike and I raced in the SkinnyMan sprint triathlon (our second triathlon ever) and we later noticed that they had an entire race weekend. In addition to the triathlon, they put on a swim event, bike event (discontinued this year) and run event. 

This was the 10th year of the race weekend, and it was the last. After 10 great years they decided to discontinue the races.

I had a yearly goal of participating in a swim-only event and I knew that this race might be our only chance, but with race date only a week after our Ironman I didn't know if it would be a good idea. Finding out that it was the last year to participate solidified that we were going to try, and worst case we would just float in our wetsuits and use our arms!

Mike and I picked up our race packets on Friday on the way to Mike's parents' house. We spent Saturday at Saratoga Race Track and then drove to our hotel (about a 3 hour drive).

 The three of us before the race (I pulled a Mike, and tried to put my wetsuit on with my shorts still on)

The swim event started at 8am, but we woke up at 6am so that we could park and get to Clift Park in time to pick up our timing chips. Our friend, Greg, was also racing and we found him a little while after we had arrived.

On Friday when we picked up our stuff we found out that we were not going to be on the Judge. A unique part of this race is boarding the "Judge Ben Wiles", a boat, and arriving to the deep water swim start that way. Only 100 participants can board the boat, for safety reasons, and the rest of the participants board buses to a local country club in Skaneateles.

We weren't really happy that we weren't going to get to board the boat, but we knew it would still be a fun race. Luckily, on race morning the announcer said that if there was room left after all the original participants with a "JB" (Judge Ben) on their wristband had boarded, other participants could board the boat to capacity on a first come, first served basis.

 We're on there somewhere

Greg went over to the sidelines near the boat and Mike and I joined him, we figured why not try! After only 65ish people got on, we moved to the front and all three of us got on! You don't get to start from the boat, but it was still a fun ride out to the start location.

Once we got to the start location, everyone on the boat jumped off. The water temperature was good and we were able to wear wetsuits. Mike and I swam to the start and positioned ourselves in the front. We chatted with another guy before the start and then it was time to swim!

Since it was only a 1-mile swim, we knew it was going to be a bit of a sprint. I had a goal of placing, I wanted overall but would have been happy with in my age group, so if I felt good I was going to push it. This was only our second workout after our Ironman (we rode 15 miles on Thursday), so I wasn't sure how it was going to go.

 Waiting to start

After the horn sounded from the Judge, we were off! It was raining and windy, but luckily the current was with us for most of the race. The start, for about 2-3 minutes, was a bit congested. It took me a little while to find a position but then I had clear water. I just kept the buoys to my right and tried to get as close to them as possible (but the wind kept pushing me away from them!)

I knew I wasn't in the front but I could tell that not many people were around me. One guy was swimming near me almost the entire race but because of the waves and buoys to the right, I kept breathing mostly to the right. Half way came, indicated by a yellow buoy, and then I just tried to get to the 3/4 mark indicated by a turn in the course.

It felt like it took forever to get to that point, but then I went by it. There was a boat blocking people from cutting the corner and then the conditions got worse. The chop was stronger in this section and at one point I said out loud (probably underwater), "alright already". I knew there wasn't much left, I hadn't looked at my watch at all, and eventually I could see the stairs with volunteers.

You can tell we're triathletes, caps off!

Happy about a successful swim

I got to the end of the water and grabbed the railing at the stairs. Everything was really slippery so I was careful not to slip on my way out (some people fell) and then I ran toward the finish line. I saw Mike on the sidelines and I crossed the finish line!

I could see some women had already finished and Mike told me he thought he was in the top 25 and that I was in the top 40. We cheered our friend, Greg, on as he crushed his swim and then we went to look for the results.

I had finished in 26:21 and Mike had finished in 24:23, not bad considering the conditions! Mike was 13th overall, 9th male and 1st in his age group and I was 34th overall, 13th female and 1st in my age group!

 Cheese-face, as Mike calls it

Sweeping the top of the 25-29 age group!

We watched the final participant cross the finish line and then waited for the awards ceremony. We finished race morning with some breakfast and then went home.

Overall, it was a great experience and I'm sad that they are discontinuing race weekend in Skaneateles!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ironman Louisville Race Recap - Run Leg

Did you miss the swim and bike legs? Check them out, here and here.

After blowing my expectations for the bike out of the water (I was thinking it would take me around 7.5 hours), I started the marathon at 3:27pm. As I ran out of the transition area I told a guy next to me, "I'm ready to run a marathon".

It was pretty hot out at this point, and a lot of the nice cloud cover that we had on the bike had disappeared. I knew I had to run as far as possible before starting to walk. My pace started out a bit quick, but because of a small incline the first mile I was able to bring it down to right around 9:45 pace. I grabbed water at the first aid station (water only) at .25 miles.

 Still looking good

From that point on, it was a "get to the next aid station" game. I didn't know if Mike had made it out on to the run course (he started his run around 2:46pm), but I wasn't worried about him at this point. I was able to take two energy chews around mile 2 (at the second aid station), though it did take me a long time to get them down.

Even though it was hot, I was keeping cool by dumping water on myself and putting ice in my top. I was worried that my feet were going to be destroyed after the race, but luckily I only had one blood blister on my right foot.

I was able to run without walking through mile 3.5 or so.

Our families and Rob had positioned themselves near Churchill Downs because they could see us multiple times in the same spot. The run course was a 2-loop out and back, with a small out and back within it (near Churchill Downs).

The first people from our group that I saw were Mike's mom and Rob. Rob was holding a sign and I could read that it said "Jamie" and used my name to make sentences, but I couldn't read what it said. I even told him, "I can't read it!" I was able to get the gist and he told me, "it basically says enjoy your experience!" (He also made Mike a sign that said, "I wanna be like Mike").

 I said on my Facebook, "I was touching myself all day, but I didn't think when I was near our people"

I saw Justin and Hanna next, and Hanna said, "Mike is just up there!" My mom wasn't much further away and she was taking photos and cheering me on.

The last person I saw was my dad, the song "Don't Stop Believing" was playing and he told me that Mike wasn't very far away. I was running and walking a little bit at this point and I ran until I could see Mike!

We high-fived, I told him I had dropped a chain on the bike and we continued on our way.

At this point I was having a hard time eating, but I was able to take in some Perform at most of the aid stations. All while still dumping water on myself and putting ice in my top.

 Still looking strong around mile 9 of the run

The turn around for the first loop was at mile 7.5 or so. It was so hot outside, but I knew that I just had to keep moving. I never walked a full mile, and while my slowest mile was 13:40 something, I never let it get to me.

While out on the course I was able to see Gabi and Pablo! We all high-fived and seeing them gave me a boost that I needed at that point. Pretty soon I saw my dad, while I was walking, and he walked with me for a bit. He told me that I could finish even if I walked the rest of the way. At that point, I knew I had to start running again and I said, "well I'm not going to".

 Smiling through the pain

I ran for as long as I could and then I saw my mom, brother and Hanna. I got to the out and back, where Mike's parents and Rob were and ran to the turn around point and then walked through the aid station. As I got to Rob again I told him that I couldn't eat anything anymore (I had taken one of the Shot Bloks margarita chews since my first two energy chews). He told me to try and then I was back on the main course. Mike's mom said something about how Mike was in the same boat as me, and I assumed that meant he was doing well and running/walking.

At this point in the race, I knew I had to get as many calories as I could in me through liquids. I started taking either Coke or Perform at each aid station. I was also able to eat a few grapes. Aid Station 6 was one of the most amazing aid stations. All of the volunteers were so friendly and the girl announcing that it was "aid station 6" was full of energy!

At one point I passed by two guys walking, and they were talking about how long it would take them to finish if they stayed at the pace they were, and I said, "you will get there faster if you run". They told me that they were waiting until the humidity and temperature went down.

When I saw Mike the second time, I believe I was walking and he was running. He ran over to me and we kissed this time. I told him, "this is hard" and he said that he knew. I begrudgingly left him. 

The worst part of the race, in my opinion, was approaching the turn around to start the second loop of the run course. You literally pass right by the finish line, and for a second I thought I had missed a turn until I could see the two signs. One pointed straight ahead and said "Ironman" and the other pointed to the right and said "second loop". So mean.

I turned to the right and this is where the special needs bags were. I told the volunteer holding mine out that I didn't need it and continued on my way. Right as I was running past one of first aid stations on the course, I saw Pablo and cheered him on! I didn't know it at the time but he was approaching the finish! I had also seen our banquet table friend and we high-fived and another guy from Rochester that I had met at our bike shop. Seeing so many people that I knew, in some form or another, really helped me get through the race.

A little while later I saw Gabi and we high-fived, I didn't see her again but I am so glad that she finished!

 Who knows?

When I approached our people again, Rob told me that he would see me at the finish. At this point I had just hit single digits and I almost said something to him (because I love to hit single digits), but I thought about it in my head. Mike's mom was talking to me about how I was one step closer to my goal, and at that point all I could do was nod. I couldn't use energy to talk very often.

 Looking like a drowned rat

I saw my mom, Justin and Hanna one more time before leaving them to continue on my way. My dad was the final person from our support crew that I saw and he told me that I was in 15th place in my age group (I think I was really in 18th at this point) but hearing that gave me the boost that I needed to try to pick it up. He told me that they were all going to the finish line and to tell Mike so that he knew when he went by their spot on his way to the finish line.

I loved the volunteers and the music that some of them were playing at the aid stations. The sun was starting to go down and as I passed by the mile 22 sign (on the other side of the road) I knew that I would get to Mike pretty soon. At one point, I had said to myself (but outloud), "alright let's get this thing done".

I saw Mike, we kissed one more time, I told him about how everyone would be at the finish line and then said, "now go become an Ironman!" He told me I was on my way to becoming one too.

I was still taking in Coke, Perform and water whenever I could. One volunteer at an aid station asked me if I was on my final loop and I said yes. I loved that they tried to be as personal as possible! One sign that really hit home for me was "one day you won't be able to finish an Ironman, today is not that day".

I made it to the final turn around of the main loop and when I hit 20 miles, I broke the final 6.2 miles into 2 mile chunks. I kept thinking just get to 4 miles. At one point I thought "mind over matter" and then I thought of what one of my best friends Crystal said to herself during her first marathon, "you don't mind, it don't matter" over and over again. I didn't know it at the time but Crystal, Isaac, Sarah, Janell and so many of our other friends were cheering us on online (there was a thread that had over 370 comments on it).

I got to the last out and back near Churchill Downs and as I did I could see downtown in the distance. You made a small turn to the right and then there it was again! I had also seen our table friend from the banquet again, we high-fived and he wished me well.

At this point, I was so close. I got excited when I only had a 5K left, I could do a 5K. Then I only had 2 miles left! Then 1 mile! I just kept trying to run as much as possible and apparently I passed 155 people during the marathon!

When I got to the final aid station before the finish, I skipped it, and a guy asked if I was going toward the finish. When I said, yes, he said, "only .6 miles to go!"

I walked one last time and then kept running. I turned the corner and there on the sidelines was Rob. He cheered me on and ran withe me as I made the final turn onto Fourth Street Live. He yelled at me, "you are an Ironman!" and I said, "not yet!"

There were so many people cheering, it wasn't quite dark out (it was dusk since it was 8:44pm), and there was a guy right ahead of me. I wanted the finish line to myself so I chicked him, ha. I could hear people cheering for me, I heard my name, and then I saw him. I saw Mike, he had a medal around his neck, he was an Ironman! We tried to high-five but I missed him.

I was almost there, I smiled, I put my arms up and then put my hands on my head in shock that it was over. My 140.6 mile victory lap was over.

13 hours, 20 minutes and 28 seconds after I had jumped into the Ohio River, I crossed the finish line. And I heard the sweetest thing that I have ever heard in my life, "Jamie, from Rochester, New York - you are an IRONMAN!"

My volunteer put my medal around my neck, got me my finisher's shirt and hat and then I told her I had to sit down. She had me sit in a wheelchair, I'm not sure why since there were chairs, and I told her that I wasn't going to pass out. She asked me if I had stopped my watch, and I said that I had. Another guy came over to make sure I was alright, and I said I just had to sit for a second. When I felt alright to get up, I had my finisher's photo taken (my volunteer made sure to tell the photographer it was my first Ironman) and then she brought me to the end so I could get to my family and Mike.

 Iron Couple!

Mike and I kissed and hugged, we were Ironmen!! I hugged my family, we took a photo and then I had to sit down again. After I felt better I was able to hug Rob and Mike and I figured out that we could take the shuttle to the transition to get our stuff.

We ended the night sitting in the hallway of the hotel with my parents and Rob (after taking showers) and then eating a pizza with Rob close to midnight. 

I still can't believe that it is over. This dream that we have been working toward for a long time. Officially for 6 months and in reality since we started the Couch-to-5K program back in April 2011. I am so proud of us. We just wanted to finish and, I think, we had amazing first Ironman finishing times (Mike is amazing and had a sub-13 hour Ironman!)

The support that we had on the course, online and everything in between can't be beat. I am still emotional when I find some new comment that I missed initially. The number of people rooting us on was phenomenal, I couldn't ask for anything better!

Ironman Louisville, you were good to us!

Run Leg (26.2 miles) - Jamie: 5:16:50 (12:05 pace), Mike: 5:30:02 (12:35 pace)
Finishing Times - Jamie: 13:20:28, Mike: 12:52:57

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ironman Louisville Race Recap - Bike Leg

Did you miss the swim leg? Check it out, here!

After I started to run out of transition, I went under the "bike out" arch and started the bike leg on my watch. I realized, as I was doing it, that I wasn't running over any timing mats/lines so I started my watch a bit early on the bike. It didn't end up being a problem, luckily!

 Mike running out of the transition area

I got to the mount line, and struggled to get clipped in for a few seconds and then I was on my way! I knew that Mike was going to pass by me, since I had gotten out of transition ahead of him, and within the first mile he passed me and said, "I guess you were faster out of transition, huh?!" (This fact caused my family to miss me leaving transition because I was so speedy and they expected me after Mike, ha).

Mike and I knew that the first 10-15 miles of the course (and as a result, the last 10-15 miles) were flat. Since the rest of the course had some hills, some major and the rest rolling, I made sure to not go out too fast. I also focused on not drafting, because the officials were out in full force!

The bike on River Road had no issues, the temperature was still around 75-80 at that point, but we had cloud cover. Our friend, Beth, had told us before the race to break it up into small chunks. So I just focused on every 2.5 miles, when I definitely took in water/sports drink/nutrition. I was also drinking in between those miles as well.

The first major hill came around 15 miles. I kept playing tag with this one guy, he had one of those muscle/bones jerseys on, and I said to him, "I guess we're going to play tag". He laughed and said he guessed so. I felt good going up the hills but I knew I had to take it easy and tried not to tax my legs.

The Louisville bike course is an out and back, with another out and back that you do only once, and then two loops before you head back to transition.

I was banking on seeing Mike on the one time out and back, which had the worst downhills and uphills, and as I was heading "out", I saw him heading "back". I yelled to him and we waved at each other! I definitely took it easy on the downhills, I didn't want to crash especially with two way traffic, and at the top of one hill there was a spectator dressed as "death" and another dressed as a devil.

I am timid about making left-hand turnarounds so as I approached the turn, I unclipped my right foot and took it slowly. I guess I was going too slowly (but I made it without falling!) because I guy behind me was yelling, "turn! turn!". I didn't let that rattle me and continued on my way.

I saw Gabi as she was making her way "out" and I was making my way "back". I think she heard me but it registered after we were already by each other.

As I was going up one of the last major hills in this section (around 25 miles), I put my bike into the little ring and then boom! I couldn't move. I had dropped a chain (and it was a bit stuck). I unclipped and pulled over. Panic took over for a second (ok more than a few seconds) and I tried to fix it. I got chain grease all over me, and I couldn't figure out how to get it back in place.

Luckily, or not so luckily for him, another guy dropped a chain in the same place I did! I didn't want to stop anyone who didn't have to stop (though they kept asking if we were alright, as they kept going). But as he got going again, I said, "could you help me?" He was so nice and he stopped and fixed my chain! Right when he fixed mine another woman came down and said, "I dropped a chain too and I don't know what to do or how I didn't it!" I asked if she had put it in the little ring, which she said yes, and I said that was it. I took my bike, and the guy started to work on her bike. As I took off I said to him, "I will mention you in my blog!" I don't know his name or bib number but THANK YOU! You saved my race!

 Mike around mile 40

After that I just wanted out of the out and back section. I also didn't put my bike into the little ring until well into the first loop of the bike course (dumb or not, I didn't want to drop a chain again).

As I made the turn toward La Grange, I saw the guy I was playing tag with (as well as another woman I played tag with a lot). I said, "I haven't seen you in awhile!" After that, I didn't see him again.

I knew our supporters would be in La Grange at around 40 miles, so I just focused on getting to them. I had tossed one of my water bottles at an aid station at this point and I still felt really good.

When I got through one of the cheering sections near La Grange, I approached the rest of the cheering section. On the sidelines, my brother, Justin, and Hanna were sitting waiting for me. Luckily they saw me because I might not have noticed them! They cheered loudly for me and I continued on my way.

 Waving at my parents

I went through where the announcer was saying some people's names (he didn't say mine, but he did say Mike's when he went through). I was scanning looking for the rest of our people and then I saw my mom and dad! I told them I had dropped a chain but that I was good, and continued on my way.

I never saw Mike's parents and Rob during the first loop, so in true Jamie fashion I started to panic about Mike. I tried to not think about it and just focused on getting around the loop and back to our people.

The rolling hills weren't bad at all! We put in such good training that it wasn't even hard. I passed so many people on the uphills (yet they caught me on the downhills most of the time). One guy told me, "you are crushing this course!" I laughed when he said that.

When I turned down Ballard School Road the first time, I took it easier here because it was so narrow with some downhills and uphills. There was a bump that was marked and then a second bump and I heard "skiiiiiid" and my aero bottle had fallen off my bike! For one second I thought about stopping, but I just kept going. From then on I had to take two water bottles at the aid stations (one for drinking and one for pouring on myself to keep cool).

I only peed on the bike, yes ON the bike, 1.75 times. I wasn't concerned since I had peed twice during the swim.

As I approached the second loop, a guy next to me said, "isn't that the sweetest sight?!" I agreed but thought, going toward transition would be even sweeter! I had picked up the pace, especially because of stopping for 2-3 minutes due to the dropped chain, and I pushed the downhills and even the uphills a bit.

 Thumbs up for 70 miles done!

When I got to the special needs section, I skipped taking my bag and said goodbye to my CO2 cartridge and spare tube. I knew my brother and Hanna would be coming up soon (around mile 70) and when they saw me Hanna yelled, "easy peazy lemon squeezy!" That made me laugh.

Asking about Mike

When I got to my parents, Mike's parents were there this time! I said, "is Mike alright?!" and they told me he was and I said, "I didn't see you guys the first time!" Rob was up the road a bit and I also told him that he had made me nervous because I didn't see him the first loop.

During training miles 70-90 were always tough for me mentally, I was bracing for that during the race but it never happened! I just kept getting faster on the bike!

I went down the road again where I lost my aero bottle, and I saw it on the ground, and someone had crashed. An official was helping her out on the sidelines.

As I approached the loop turn, this time I got to keep going! I had been playing tag with a new guy but not for as long as the other people. When I went by the out and back, that we didn't have to go down this time, I told a woman passing me, "I'm glad we don't have to go down there again!"

There had been a few spectators in other spots on the course and I liked two signs in particular that I saw: "Crotch on fire" and "Smile if you aren't wearing underwear". I smiled.

As I approached 100 miles, a guy went by me and said something about how it was almost over. I said, "I'm ready to run a marathon". He said, "I'm ready to be off the bike!" (Side note: Mike helped a guy at mile 96 with some CO2, he gave him two cartridges, so our race day karma evened out).

The last 15 miles were downhill/flat and I tried to spin easy to get my legs ready to run. I took a gel with 10 miles to go so I wasn't taking in any solid food right before running.

As I made the final turn, I heard volunteers saying the dismount line was just up ahead. I dismounted, and walked my bike toward the volunteers who were ready to take it. After handing off my bike, I took my bike shoes off and ran into transition to get my bag.

This time a volunteer did help me, and I asked her to open an antibacterial wipe (so I could get the grease off of my hands) and started to put my stuff on. I put one shoe on and had to put my calf sleeve on over it! Then I got my other sleeve on, shoe on, and bib. I had my chews and I was ready to go.

I ran out, got more sunscreen on and started the jog toward the run out.

Only a marathon left to go!

Bike Leg (112 Miles) - Jamie: 6:55:48 (16.16mph), Mike: 6:12:22 (18.05mph)
Transition 2 - Jamie: 6:27, Mike: 8:39

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ironman Louisville Race Recap - Swim Leg

After all of our pre-race activities, race morning's wake up came early at 4:30am. I had actually slept relatively well, better than I did on Friday night, and we got up quickly so that we could be ready to go by 4:55am.

Mike and I met everyone in the lobby of the hotel and my parents came with us in our car and Mike's parents and Rob went in another car. My brother and his girlfriend were going to get to the race after we had started our swim.

Our hotel was 15 minutes away from the transition area and we pulled into a parking garage and got out of the car. My mom and dad parked our car for us and we walked to the transition area with our special needs bags, breakfast, morning clothes bags (that we would give to our families), bike pump, nutrition and water.

Transition was bustling and we put air in our tires (I also let two people use our pump), filled our water bottles (after I dumped water out of my bento box on my bike, since it had rained over night), put our nutrition in our bento boxes and dropped off our bike and run special needs bags.

We met back up with our families and Rob outside of transition and made the slow walk to the swim start about a mile away at Tumbleweed Restaurant. As we walked, I continued to drink water and eat my bagel. I knew it was going to be a hot day so I had been hydrating all week leading up to the race.

 Body marked and ready to go

Body marking was at the swim start, which went quickly, and then Mike and I started walking to the back of the swim line. Ironman Louisville is unique in that it has a first come, first served time trial start. The people in the front of the line got there right at 5am! Mike and I kept walking and walking and walking and walking and walking, and then we FINALLY made it to the back of the line. I'll admit that it made me nervous since we would not have the full 17 hours to finish the race (you only have until midnight, no matter when you jump in the water). We did see our table friend from the banquet walk by us, he had to get in line even further back!

 The four of us from the day before

I had to go to the bathroom while waiting in line, and of course there were no port-a-potties near where we had lined up. So I walked all the way back to the last port-a-potties, while stopping to say hi to Gabi and Pablo who were ahead of us in line. Right when I got in line, a woman said, "the line is going to start moving up!" I panicked and got out of line, without going to the bathroom, and walked back to my spot in line (I probably could have gone to the bathroom, but I worried that Mike wouldn't be in line either and then our spots would be skipped over by other people).

 Almost time to go

We chatted with our families while we waited and slowly moved up, and Mike and I got our speed suits halfway on and our watches ready. At 6:50 we heard the start of the pro men's race and then a few minutes later the start of the pro women's race. We could even see a few of the pro men swimming by while we waited in line.

 Ready for our 140.6 mile victory lap!

Then at 7am, the cannon for the age group start went off and we knew it wouldn't be too long before we jumped into the Ohio River. We kept walking, while getting our caps on and our speed suits fully on, and I was ready to get the race started!

As we got closer we could see the line going down the hill toward the docks. Mike and I gave each other a kiss, wished each other luck, and then made our way down the ramp toward the docks. We saw our families one last time and made the final turn.

Athletes could either go left or right, Mike told me to go right and he went left (which meant we jumped off of different docks at almost the exact same time). At 7:24am as I walked on to the dock, I started my watch, and jumped.

I couldn't see anything (the river is really dirty) and then popped up and started swimming. The beginning of the swim is a little bit congested because you swim in between the shore and an island. I tried to start out at an easy pace, but swimming strong against the current, and tried not to weave around other people too much. I moved all the way over to the left and just tried to pass as many people as I could. And remember that I didn't go to the bathroom right before the start? Yea, I took care of that, twice, in the water. I never said triathlon was glamorous!

At one point, I touched someone's feet and the guy turned around and it was Mike! (I asked later if he realized it was me, and he said he thought so). After that I could see him for a little bit, but then I lost him in the masses.

I kept swimming, I kicked some people who were getting really close to trying to pull on me/swim over me, and made it past buoy 1, buoy 2, buoy 3, buoy 4. After buoy 4, the water opened up because we were making our way past the island (I touched bottom at one point since I was so close to the island). We had to keep swimming against the current for awhile, and then finally I saw the red "turn" buoy. I had looked at my watch and I was averaging 1:45/100 yards.

I didn't let that bother me because I knew that I was going to start swimming with the current as soon as I rounded the red buoy. I really liked this part of the swim because I had a lot more room to breathe and I got in a groove. I checked my watch at one point and I was down to 1:34/100 yards. I was moving!

The water got a little chilly in some spots, because we were in open water, but nothing I couldn't handle. Eventually, I passed the final yellow buoy and moved on to the orange buoys. This meant that the first half of the swim was behind me! I could see the three bridges in the distance and pushed to get to them. As we got closer to the first bridge, I could smell some gasoline but that didn't last very long luckily.

I looked at my watch one more time and I was down into the 1:2x/100 yards. I got by the second bridge and I knew that I had only a few more minutes of the swim left.

 On to the bike!

I was shocked at my swim time!

As I got closer to the exit, I swam as fast as I could, and got to the stairs. A volunteer helped me out and I ran up the stairs and took my cap and goggles off. I ran through the swim exit and struggled to get my speed suit unzipped, but finally got it. I kind of heard my family yelling for me, and I heard Rob yell my name as I made it in to transition.

A volunteer yelled my number and as I ran down the row where my bike gear bag was, a volunteer was ready and handed it to me. I ran into the women's changing tent and got my speed suit off, put on my helmet, bike shoes, sunglasses and shoved my two clif bars into my jersey pockets. I grabbed some water on my way out and got sunscreened up by a volunteer and ran to my bike. I noticed Mike's bike was still racked as I ran to get my bike (I had no idea if that meant I had a faster swim time than him or what).

I got my bike down and ran toward the bike out. I was ready for a 112 mile ride!

Swim Leg (2.4 Miles) - Jamie: 56:15, Mike: 54:35
Transition 1 - Jamie: 5:08, Mike: 7:19

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday - Ironman Louisville Pre-Race Recap

Ironwoman Wednesday is a weekly linkup on a variety of triathlon-related topics. It is similar to Tri Talk Tuesday that a few other bloggers started, but the more people talking about triathlon the better!

Gabi at Lean Green Island Girl, Michelle at Ironwoman Strong and I are all officially Ironwomen! (And Mike is an Ironman!) I am so proud of the two of them, I was able to meet and see Gabi out on the course multiple times and knowing we were all out there working toward the same goal was so helpful. Unfortunately, we never got to meet Michelle (but I was looking for her) but I'm sure that will change in the future!

At the banquet they announced that women were 24% of the field, the rest were men. Knowing that three of us did in fact become "Ironwomen" makes me even more proud of what I accomplished. Anything is truly possible if you put your mind to it, and don't mind some hard work and dedication.

If you know me and my long-distance tri recaps, this is going to be broken up into multiple parts, the swim, the bike and the run. Sorry, but it was a long day and I have a lot to say about it!

That should now say, Ironman Finishers!

Really, I am going to start this one off before the start of the swim leg of Ironman Louisville.

 Beautiful place to run!

Mike and I left Rochester on Thursday in the afternoon and drove to Columbus, Ohio to break up our trip. It is about a 10 hour drive to Louisville from our house. We had done a 15 mile ride at our house before leaving and when we got to our hotel we got ready for a short 2-mile shakeout run. I'm pretty proud of the place that I picked for us to run at, the Olentangy Trail starting at Antrim Park. We ran around Antrim Lake and it was really pretty!

 Mike was excited about this

We also hit up THE Ohio State University and ate at an amazing Mexican Restaurant.

 A new state! Kentucky!

The next morning we finished our drive to Louisville and went to our hotel that we were all staying at, where Mike's parents already were. We got there before we could check-in, so we went to take care of all of the race stuff that we had to do.

The Athlete Village was at the Galt House in downtown Louisville. Mike's parents drove us there and we got checked in relatively quickly. It was pretty amazing to see all the volunteers and athletes! We decided that day that we were going to go to the Athlete Banquet later in the evening with Mike's parents and our friend, Rob, who came to support us all weekend as well.

 Ready to do this thing!

After going to the mandatory athlete briefing and buying a few things at the expo, we went to drive the bike course. I think doing so helped ease our minds a bit, yes there were some hills but nothing we couldn't handle!

At the athlete banquet, the food was not what was important, the stories that we heard almost made me cry and I was getting even more excited for the race on Sunday! I met Gabi and her husband, Pablo, at the banquet too. Our table friend (as I called him) was funny and told us that we could get through the race.

The rest of the night was spent packing up our bike gear, run gear, bike special needs and run special needs bags. It looked like triathlon threw up all over our room!

Triathletes everywhere!

Saturday morning, Mike and I went to go get our final Ironman training workouts in! We just had a short swim, bike and run planned and we went to the practice swim in the morning.  The practice swim took place at the swim exit and they had a 600 meter (or so) course set up in between two bridges. The Ohio River has a strong current and this swim made me a bit concerned for the race! The current on the way out (the same direction we would be starting our swim the next morning) was RIDICULOUS! It took me 20 something minutes to not even get all the way to the bridge. As soon as I turned around, I was immediately back at the other bridge and the swim exit. The current was really, really strong.

 The swim exit

Mike and I tried not to worry about it, but we did feel like it was a bit of wasted effort. Regardless, we went on to bike about 5-6 miles of the beginning/end of the bike course and ran a little less than 2 miles near the Great Lawn (transition). While we were biking I saw our table friend from the banquet and we saw Gabi and Pablo! After we were done we went over to take a photo with both of them and chat some more.

 Mike got our bikes ready for race day!

My parents had arrived in Louisville while we were doing our final practice workouts, so we headed back to the hotel. We had some last minute stuff to do to our bikes and our gear bags before we went to drop them off in transition.

The volunteers at gear check walk you through the transition area and how Sunday will go. My volunteer was really nice and he brought me to my spot on the bike rack and to where my bike gear and run gear bags would be during the race. He also showed me where the women's changing tent and the sunscreen station would be, as well as where to bike out and run out.

 Rockin' the compression socks

After that, Mike and I needed to eat something so we all went to Subway for a quick bite to eat since we were planning on eating dinner at 5:30pm.

 Mike with the Louisville Slugger!

We did some sight-seeing. Nothing major since I didn't want to be walking around too much. We went to the Louisville Slugger Museum so we could see the giant bat, and while we were taking some photos I saw my brother, Justin, and his girlfriend, Hanna, walk up! It was a complete surprise (which is typical with my family) and I was really happy that they came to support us during our Ironman.

 At Churchill Downs

We ended the sight-seeing at Churchill Downs before going back to the hotel to relax for a little while.

A few weeks before the race Rob had given me a list of restaurants that someone he knows from Louisville had given to him. I decided that going across the bridge into Indiana would be a good choice since I figured that downtown would be a little bit crazy!

 Looking at transition from across the river

We had dinner at Rocky's and it was really good! We all just took the time to talk some more and get ready for the big day ahead.

Mike and I finished out the night with epsom salt baths and making sure that we had all of our swim gear that we needed for the morning ready. After watching some tv, we went to bed around 9:30pm.

And just like that, it was one more sleep until Ironman Louisville!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday - Race Plan

Ironwoman Wednesday is a weekly linkup on a variety of triathlon-related topics (that will be announced the week before). It is similar to Tri Talk Tuesday that a few other bloggers started, but the more people talking about triathlon the better!

Gabi at Lean Green Island Girl, Michelle at Ironwoman Strong and I are all training for Ironman Louisville. It is really exciting (and encouraging) to be sharing this journey with these two amazing women!

The race is now only 4 days away!!

If this was my second, or probably more likely my third, Ironman I would have a better idea of how to plan out my race. As I look back on my first marathon, and having a "time" goal, I think of how that may have messed with our heads a bit (yes, Mike's DNF really messed with me, but I went out way too fast thinking about a time).

As such, I am not going to pinpoint exactly what time I think I am going to cross the mats for the swim, bike and run. Instead, I am going to focus on how I am going to feel during the race. I do have some idea of what I am capable of, but it is our first Ironman, in a city we have never been in and with weather that we haven't seen in Rochester for awhile (or at all) this summer.

Therefore, my race plan is this:

Transitions - take my time, but not too much time, and make sure that I have everything that I need with me for the bike and the run. It is going to be a long and hot day out there! Also, breathe and thank the volunteers for doing whatever I need to get through race day.  

Swim - jump into the Ohio River at some point after 7am (remember it is a time trial start and we jump in one at a time about 5 seconds apart, we won't be first in line). Swim strong to the turn around point (about .7 miles in) and then bank on swimming with the current back to the transition area.

Bike - don't start out too fast (aka don't be a hammerhead), the first few miles are flat, and then use all that hill training we have done to get me through the out and back portion (take it easier on the downhill here as it is a bit dangerous!) Live it up while going through La Grange (lots of crowd support here!) Make sure I get to mile 60 by 2:45pm (the first bike cut-off). Stay hydrated with water and sports drink, refilling when necessary, eat my nutrition and take my special needs bag if necessary. Get through the bike course by 6:20pm (the second and final bike cut-off).

Run - don't start out too fast! Think about the two strong 20 mile runs that I put in during training. Stay hydrated and take in my nutrition, use my special needs bag if necessary. Make it to the second lap of the course by 9:45pm (the first run cut-off). As I approach 4th Street Live, before midnight, take it all in!

I also plan on doing this: breathe, take it easy when necessary, push when possible, smile, stay strong, wave at our supporters, talk to other athletes, high-five other athletes (hopefully Mike on some out and backs), be mentally strong and just keep moving forward.

I did make it known that my time "goal" is to finish under 15 hours (mostly so I can qualify to register for another race), but really my goal is to finish. More specifically, my goal is to finish happy.

Race day tracking isn't ready yet, but if you go here, and click on Ironman Louisville when it is ready in a few days you should be able to get to athlete tracking. My bib number is 417 and Mike's is 962.

Thank you to those who have trained with us, supported us and who have been there for us. Thank you to our parents and Rob for coming to the race to cheer us on!

And a really big thank you to Mike, for always being there for me no matter what and for pursuing this crazy dream with me. It is OUR turn!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday - Training Reflections

Ironwoman Wednesday is a weekly linkup on a variety of triathlon-related topics (that will be announced the week before). It is similar to Tri Talk Tuesday that a few other bloggers started, but the more people talking about triathlon the better!

Gabi at Lean Green Island Girl, Michelle at Ironwoman Strong and I are all training for Ironman Louisville. It is really exciting (and encouraging) to be sharing this journey with these two amazing women!

This week's topic is training reflections!

Over the course of a training plan, especially one that is 24 weeks long and involves three sports, a lot of things can go right. And, of course, a lot of things can go wrong.

 So long ago

When I made our training plan (yes, I made it. No, we do not have a coach.), I knew that it wasn't the hardest Ironman training plan out there, but that it also wasn't the "easiest" (is any Ironman training plan really easy?) When one of our friends, who did Ironman Coeur d'Alene, told me months ago that we were putting in almost the same amount of mileage/hours that she was (when her race was two months before ours) I knew that our training plan was hard.

I do not regret making our training plan the way that I did. In fact, when we do our next Ironman I will most likely use what we planned/actually did for this one as a guide.

As with any race, a training plan is not set in stone. You need to account for some flexibility and changes. There will be weeks when you accomplish every single workout on your schedule and then there will be weeks when it feels like everything is crumbling around you (when in fact it really isn't).

As I look back on our training, I am in awe of all that we accomplished. Thousands of miles have been covered in the water, on the road, on the trails and everywhere in between. It would be hard to narrow down the "highlights" but here are a few:

Training with friends

 Lots of friends

We had so many friends willing to train with us over the past 6 months. There weren't many weekend workouts that we didn't have at least one friend with us, and the same is true of weekday workouts. Friends joined us for open water swimming, biking, running and bricks. Mike and I met new friends and bonded with people that we likely wouldn't have if it weren't for our love of this sport.


We love to race!

Mike and I did not have many races on our training schedule, but we had a few tune-up races. We were able to race a 100 mile triathlon back in June (crazy, that seems so long ago) and a few shorter races like the Mini-Mussel Sprint Triathlon and the Boilermaker (our double race weekend). It is always good to add a few races to a training plan, to see how things are going or just to have a supported training weekend!

Going Long

 Thumbs up for going long and loving it!

When I made our training plan, I had one definite 20 mile run/100 mile ride weekend and another penciled in. I ended up doing two 20 mile run/100 mile ride weekends, and I felt GREAT. My paces for our long runs were the best that they have ever been during training. Mike rocked the first 20 mile run/100 mile ride weekend, and then due to his cold did an 18 mile run/100 mile ride weekend. If he felt the way that I did when I got the cold, he did amazing and pretty much did the equivalent of what I ended up doing!

Mike and I were also able to get in one 2.4 mile OWS (tonight we're going to do a 2 mile OWS). I like that we have gone the distance for two out of three of the sports (we have both finished multiple marathons) and it makes me that much more confident for race day.

 So many bike miles over the past 6 months

While things have gone well, some things did not go so well. We, of course, had to miss or cut some workouts short and there was one week where I was a complete ball of stress. It didn't help that it was the week that I had to say "see you later" to Crystal and Joe, but the Ironman training emotions definitely got the best of me.

In the end, I believe that (with a few exceptions) we did everything under our control to make sure that we got in all of the workouts that we needed to in order to be prepared for race day. You can't control when a pool is closed, the weather, equipment malfunctions or getting sick. With the exception of a few "freak outs", I think that we handled what training threw at us extremely well.

Sure, there were times when we were hungry, tired, hungry, grumpy, hungry, sick, hungry, sore, hungry, but we got through it. We got all of our weekend miles in (with the exception of one dropped 50 mile ride during our double race weekend) and that's what matters the most. In fact, if I went back and counted all of the workouts that we missed, I'm sure it wasn't even that many. In the moment it felt like the most detrimental thing in the world, but it wasn't.

We are ready. Or as my friend, Isaac, pointed out - we are !!R!!E!!A!!D!!Y!!

 This triathlon power couple is ready for Louisville!

Which leads me to the biggest highlight of this training cycle: not only am I the strongest that I have ever been physically, I am the strongest I have ever been mentally (and I know that the same can be said for Mike). I know the day will be tough, hot and challenging but I am ready to face whatever it throws at me.