Let me just start with...it's an absolute HONOR to have been given the opportunity to race my 4th Ironman 70.3 World Championship! I know that there are thousands of athletes who race this sport every year who would love this opportunity and I do not take it for granted. However, I entered this race with a serious lack of enthusiasm this year. I was (and still am) disappointed in my performance from Ironman Canada (and this year in general) and I am in serious need of a break from all things swimming, biking and running. I am EXTREMELY grateful for a two things that kept the fire lit up to this point: 1. this is the first time that my parents were going to get to see me race a World Championship, and 2. I was racing with 4 friends and very well respected athletes who would be racing their first ever World Championship and they were EXCITED! Their excitement (both the athletes and my parents) were helpful in getting me to start line without throwing in the towel in early August.
Despite my desire to do anything but swim, bike or run from early August-early September, I ticked all the training boxes I knew I needed to tick to get ready for this race. I also kept true to prioritizing my sleep and recovery. I did, however, more or less give up in regards to nutrition (which, mind you, I am a nutritionist, so me 'giving up' on nutrition looks 1,000 times better than most folks best week). I started a re-introduction of foods that have, in that past, caused known inflammation (with the goal of doing some food sensitivity retesting as soon as I return home from Tennessee). I don't think this had anything to do with my race, other than, I did feel a bit sluggish leading into the race. Hard to say if that is from the food I'm eating, or being mentally ready to take a short break.
Travel from Sacramento to Tennessee was smooth. With 5 of us traveling together, I knew it was likely that at least 1 bag was bound to get lost/delayed (just the nature of travel). After loading the airplane in Atlanta to catch our final flight to Chattanooga, the pilot announced that their was not enough room on-board to load all the bikes and that some would be left behind for a future flight. I sat in the window seat above the wing and watched 1 of our frame bags (we had 4 bike bags in total) get loaded onto a luggage truck to be taken away for a future flight (along with 20+ other bike bags). I LOVE my Ruster bag, but this is the downside to having to break down your bike into 2 separate bags. If one is lost, the other bag is useless...especially when it's your frame bag that is missing. Luckily, 3 of the 4 bags arrived on that flight and Delta Airlines was extremely responsive in getting the final bag to us ASAP. It arrived to the door step of our Air BnB the following morning (Thursday) at 7:30am and we were not set back a bit. We were able to get bikes rebuilt with plenty of time to test them out before turning them in pre-race.
In the days leading into the race, we did ALL the pre-race events that Ironman had to offer, including: the organized swims (both Thursday and Friday), the expo, the parade of nations, the welcome banquet and the athlete briefing. They were all great. Even the food at the welcome banquet was half-way decent! 3 of our 4 support crew arrived on Thursday evening, just in time to join us for the welcome banquet and the remaining weekend festivities.
Up until my pre-race dinner, my daily nutrition stayed the same as it always does. Real foods which are high amounts of vegetables, high amounts of healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein and minimal starchy carbs and fruits.
Pre-race Dinner- at The Keg Steakhouse in Tempe.
8oz Top Sirloin Steak with steamed vegetables and a potato with butter (lots of butter). And a glass of red wine.
@4:00am- 12oz bone broth (which I brought from home) with 1/2 cup white rice and pink salt.
@4:30am- a smoothie, (blended in my NutriBullet, which I brought from home) which had unsweetened coconut water, small handful of soaked cashews, 1 packet mushroom coffee, 1 small banana, 1T MCT oil, 2T Great Lakes Collagen, 1 scoop Vital Proteins unflavored whey protein powder, 2T raw cacao, water and ice.
@5:50am (1 hour prior to race start)- VESPA CV25 and 6oz water.
@6:40am (10 minutes prior to race start)- VESPA junior.
In T1- VESPA Junior
Bike- 2 1/2 Go Macro Bars, 1 Huma gel and 2 packets of Honey Stinger gummies. I had an alert set on my watch to alert every 15 minutes. I took 1/6th of a Go Macro bar (40 calories), 1 Honey Stinger gummy (16 calories) and 1 salt stick (200mg sodium + other electrolytes). At the top of every hour, I took 2 Honey Stinger gummies, 1 BCAA tablet, and 1 Salt Stick. At the final turn around, I stopped eating Go Macro Bars and took a Huma Gel instead at the top of the hour. I felt GREAT with this fueling strategy!
In T2- VESPA Junior
Run- the plan was to aim for 100-150 calories per hour with Huma Gels and Honey Stinger gummies. It's hard to say what I actually ate. I think (if I'm being generous), I got about 2 cups of coke, 1/3 Huma Gel, 3-4 Honey Stinger gummies and 4 pretzels. I managed to get approximately 400-600mg of sodium down per hour and approximately 2g of BCAA's over the course of the run. It wasn't enough. I have to learn to eat, even when I really don't want to.
@ the finish line- 2 scoops First Endurance Ultragen
@ 1 1/2-2 hours post race- brick oven pizza on vegan gluten free crust. I slow sipped water all night until bed.
I stopped eating food at 10pm as I had a complete blood draw the following morning, so a 10 hour fast was in order. Check back for the results, which I'll share in a future blog post.
In the end...
1. Finish <11:00:00
2. Set a new Ironman PR (which was previously 11:37:29 (set at IMAZ in 2014)
3. Finish top 10
All in all, I got 2 out of 3 of my race goals completed. I raced my race, learned more lessons and crossed the finish line looking forward to doing it again. I couldn't ask for much more than that. I also was using this race as a "test" to see just how much I've been able to grow as an athlete with TS Life and Kristian. I've been so happy with the direction I've been going the last 2 years, but it's always nice to see the growth on paper. And that is exactly what I see. A 41 minute PR is nothing to look over. It's just another confirmation that Kristian is the right coach for me. I look forward to many more years of work together...and hopefully another 41 minute PR in the future! But, if not, I know I'm growing with TS Life...I've become healthier, happier and, for now, faster.
1 week later...
It's always amazing to me how quickly I get onto an emotional roller coaster after these big races. For the first 2 days post race, I was on cloud 9. I was thrilled with my results and just felt an overall feeling of accomplishment and happiness. On day 3, I started analyzing my race (or, as Kristian likes to say, over thinking things). I got a little frustrated that I wasn't able to do more. Mostly on the run. Why did I let myself slow down in the middle of the marathon? I obviously had more to give, because I gave it at the end! I was frustrated with myself. It's been a week, and now I have mixed emotions. Mostly feeling sad and doubtful about the future. I love full Ironman, but I'm still experiencing physical pain from race day (my right calf still feels like I got hit by a baseball bat from the cramp in the swim) and I know that recovery from a race like this (and a long season that included 2 full Ironman races) is a long road. I know that I'm capable of so much more and I really do look forward to working on those things. But there are times when I feel like I'm dragging Sean and my family around (and myself) trying to reach a goal (Kona) that might never happen. Back in 2015, I promised myself 5 years to try to get to Kona. I'll keep pushing and challenging myself to grow more, both as an athlete and as a human. I'll continue to stick with my goal until I make it to Kona or I loose my love for the sport. Or, in 2020, I'll have decisions to make. Hopefully the decision is what hotel to stay at in Kona...
For now, I look forward to some rest. In the off season, I'll be back at CrossFit Gold Rush working with Cameron and the other coaches there to help build more power and strength specific to this sport. It's very obvious to me that I have A LOT of mental work that still needs to be done to make the advances that I want to make with Ironman. Although I'm sad that Sean will be taking the 2017 season of triathlon off, I'm SOOOOOOO looking forward to gaining a training partner who can help me with the mental aspect of this sport that I need so much. I look forward to a solid training phase into Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa in May 2017 and then back at the full distance racing at Ironman Canada in July 2017. Onward and upward...
This year, I made the decision to change my focus to Iron distance racing. I want to get to Kona. That means that most of my training has been endurance focused. After Ironman Canada in July, I tried to keep up on the endurance training (for Ironman Arizona coming up in November) while adding in some shorter speed work to get ready for this race. After just 1 week, I knew it wasn't going to work. Mentally, it was too much. In May, I received a Hashimoto's diagnosis (which I am still trying to figure out) and in June, I lost my business partner. Between those 2 changes and trying to keep up on training, I was feeling overtaxed. Rather than adding in more stress and trying to burn the candle from both ends with training, I gave up any focus I thought I should have for this race and just kept my focus on Ironman Arizona in November. Looking back now, this is the absolute best thing I could've ever done for this race! Instead of a having a primary focus on a result, I entered this race with a strong focus on form, power, cadence, and most of all, attitude. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want a better finish result than Austria World Champs last year, but I knew in my heart that if I could achieve my other goals, that result would come. And it did.
Fast forward to race week. Sean and I left from SFO on a direct flight to Sydney on the evening of Friday, August 26th. That landed us in Australia on Sunday, August 28th...exactly 1 week prior to the race. If anything went wrong during travel or one (or both) of us didn't acclimate well to the time change, we felt that 7 days would be plenty of time to adjust. Luckily, everything went perfectly. Bikes arrived without any damage. We both traveled extremely well and adjusted to the time change immediately. I have an international flight protocol that I give to my private clients who travel internationally and we both followed that protocol pretty strictly for this trip. It landed us feeling rested and very fresh! Having the Marc Pro on the flight REALLY helped as well!
Since travel went so well, the seven days leading into the race were long. By the third day in Noosa, we were both getting antsy to race. We tried to find tourist things to do to fill our time, but many of them involved activity (hiking, surfing, etc), and we both wanted to have a proper taper. If I had this to do over, I would have cut a few days off of the early part of our trip. Some people can sit on the gorgeous sandy beach and relax for days. Sean and I are not those people. We managed about 45 minutes on the sand on any given day and then got bored and had to move.
On Friday, we checked out of our hotel in Noosa and moved down to Mooloolaba where the race was being held. This gave us an opportunity to see the race venue. We swam in the ocean where the race swim was being held, we drove the bike course, and we rode the run course. The weather on the days leading into the race were less than ideal for confidence building (windy and a little rainy). I know I'm a blonde haired, blue eyed girl from California, but this girl did NOT spend time in the ocean as a kid. This led to a bit of trepidation about dealing with the surf on race day. Luckily, Saturday was rough on the ocean. I got a fair amount of practice dealing with waves and rough seas. I drank my fair share of that extremely salty ocean water. All this so I could tell myself "it won't be this bad on race day." And it wasn't.
The other chatter happening around town was around the bike course. Traditionally, the 70.3 race here is a 2x out-and-back on the highway that parallels the sea. It doesn't get any flatter than this road. For this race, they changed the course. They removed the second out-and-back and added in a 2 loop area in the Hinterland. This course change added about 2,200' of elevation gain in about 20 miles of the course. The first real hill you hit was a 20% grade that was obviously adding a tremendous amount of fear to many of the athletes who saw it pre race. I thought, "it can't be that bad," until I saw it myself. I'm use to the hills, but even this hill looked intimidating. We drove it (twice) before race day, but never actually rode it on our bikes. I knew it was going to be a tough hill, but I also knew I could do it. I'm a firm believer that body follows mind, so I just kept telling myself that coming from the Sierra Foothills in California, this was the part of the bike course where I could smash my competition, even if it was just for a short period of time.
NUTRITION (PRE-SWIM): Broth, white rice and chicken breast for breakfast at 4:15am. Regular coffee, Great Lakes Collagen, 1 scoop Ultragen, and a banana (blended with ice) at 6:15am. VESPA junior at 7:05am and again at 7:50am (15 minutes before my wave start).
The first 2 miles of the ride is getting out of town. Once we left town, we were immediately onto the flat highway heading towards Mount Coolum and bike turn around. This area was horrible. The crowds were thick and it was so challenging to find 7 bike lengths ahead of you. Groups were forming and all I could do for the first 20 miles was focus on keeping my space. I wanted a legal race. It seemed like those first 20 miles were spent either dropping back, or surging ahead. Just another time in a race when I'm ever so thankful for my Tuesday power interval session on my KICKR. The deep focus on having a clean ride left me unable to focus on my bike goals for the day (cadence, smooth and complete pedal strokes and equal power from left to right). I won't lie, there were MANY moments in the first 20 miles where I was ULTRA frustrated. Mad at Ironman for creating a course that made it extremely challenging to get into a groove but REALLY mad at athletes for choosing NOT to care about the rules. Everywhere you looked there was drafting and blocking. Thankfully, I did see penalties being handed out, but not nearly as many as they could've handed out. At the end of the day, I feel really good about my race. I raced clean and I'm proud of that.
Once we got off the highway and into the Hinterland, we hit hills. At mile 30, a gal rode up next to me and said, "you wouldn't happened to be Tiana, would you?" It was Vicki Hill from TriSpecific (also coached by Kristian). She gave me a few encouraging words which I quickly exchanged back to her and before we knew it, we were at the base of the dreaded hill. I hit the hill slightly before Vicki, but she was close (legally close) behind. We made quick progress of the hill, passing athletes (some of whom were walking their bikes) the entire way. We crested the hill together and she said, "thank god for power intervals!" Damn right. A few miles up the road, I came up on Ross Oakley (coached by Pete), another TriSpecfic athlete and friend from Austria World Champs in 2015. I gave him a pat on back, and just like with Vicki, we encouraged each other before we split up. The rest of the Hinterland was manageable. I felt comfortable on the ups and the downs and I felt like I was finally in my own race. The last 10 miles back into town we were faced by headwinds. Oh how I hate wind. Thankfully, nothing will ever be as bad as Ironman Cozumel and I just kept reminding myself that it could be SO MUCH WORSE. I kept with nutrition, hydration and salt all the way to T2. I got myself out of my bike shoes on the bike so I wouldn't have to deal with them once I dismounted.
NUTRITION: 1 VESPA junior (immediately outside of T1), 3 Huma gels, 1/2 Go Macro Bar, 6 Honey Stinger Chews and 8-10 salt stick caps (all taken in small "bites" spread out throughout the ride). Approximately 595 calories and 1,720-2,150mg sodium + trace electrolytes.
BIKE GOAL- <2:40
ACTUAL BIKE RESULT- 2:50:58
AGE GROUP RESULT- 49/141 (34.75%)
1. Keep a VERY INTENSE focus on my stride rate. Think of NOTHING ELSE. Just my stride rate. 1 hour and 50 minutes of focus on nothing but that.
2. Smile and have a good time.
4. Negative split.
I knew if I could complete #1 and #2, #3 would happen, even though my last 1/2 marathon PR was back in 2014. I had my watch set up to alert me with my pace every mile. Rather than looking at my watch every few minutes the entire run, I only glanced at it 13 times, when it alerted me with my 1 mile run splits.
When you exit T2, you immediately hit a climb. With adrenaline leaving T2, I make quick use of that hill without much effort. I also knew that the TS Life crew was posted up somewhere on that hill and I wasn't about to be caught struggling. Through the HUGE crowds, I spotted them as I started to decent down the back side of the hill. Although Sean wasn't there, Pete gave me confirmation that he has already finished! GO SEAN! Another hit of adrenaline in the tank! As soon as I hit the flats, my watch went off with my first mile split...7:45/mile. WHOA. I knew damn well that a 7:45/mile was not a sustainable pace to me for 13.1 miles so I backed off a bit and got right back to my main focus, stride rate. I felt fairly good (comfortably uncomfortable) heading out to the turn around. As soon as I made the turn, BAM, wind in the face. Ugh. It's amazing how a tailwind can go unnoticed until it's a headwind. Immediately, focus back on stride rate...don't think about the wind. Before I knew it, I was back to the hill and the TriSpecific Crew. This time, Sean was there to give me a high five along with Jared (another TriSpecific athlete coached by Pete Lever) who had also finished. It was great to see them finished and smiling! My goal was to complete the first lap in :55 minutes. At the turn around, I was at :52 and change. For one second I thought: "ugh...this is going to be nasty second loop," but immediately, focus back on what matters- stride rate. Kristian said to me before race, "be ready to show grit." HA- it was about to get gritty. I made the turn around, back up and over the hill. Ironically, I don't really remember the hill ever hurting. I didn't notice a huge drop in my pace either. It was just another part of the race that was completely lined with cheering crowds and was over with fairly quickly. To be honest, on my final lap back towards the finish line, the hill couldn't come soon enough. I knew "my people" were there and as soon as I hit the hill, I knew the race was almost over. The finish line was RIGHT THERE. I just wanted to see that hill again!!! At mile 11, I did the math and knew that I was on track for a PR. I also knew I had enough in the tank to keep up the pace...even up that hill. I was thrilled. And smiling. And enjoying every last step of those 2.1 miles. Pete met me at the top of the hill to hand off the American flag to me. As soon as I hit the finish shoot, I opened it up and let it flap on my back the entire way through the finish line. Just like in Austria, USA fans cheered and I tried to soak up every moment of that finish shoot. I finished the run with my 70.3 1/2 marathon PR time, but most importantly...feeling amazing. What a great feeling!
NUTRITION- VESPA Junior (immediately after leaving T2), 3 Huma gels, 2 small cups of cola and approximately 6 salt stick caps (all spread out by 2-3 miles on the course).
Approximately 400 calories and 1,290mg sodium + trace electrolytes.
RUN GOAL- <1:50 and negative split (<:56 first loop and <:54 second loop)
ACTUAL RUN RESULT- 1:48:29 (not a negative split...but close)
AGE GROUP RESULT- 75/141 (53.19%)
1. Smile often
2. Keep mentally focused on form
3. <5:17.18 (current 70.3 PR from Vineman 70.3 from 2013)
4. Finish in top 40% of AG
FINAL RESULT- 5:22:53
AG RESULT- 53/141, 37.58% of AG
There is nothing like racing an Ironman 70.3 World Championship. Surrounding yourself with elite age group athletes and the best pros in the world is something that I hope will never get old. Although my future focus is to get to Kona (which I hear is off the charts amazing!), I still have hopes to race in the 70.3 World Championships in 2017 in my home country in Chatanooga, TN.
I am FOREVER grateful to all the support I have received for this race, both in Australia and across the pond. The TS Life crew was and always is beyond inspiring. I absolutely LOVE every opportunity I get to surround myself with these amazing, hard working, elite level athletes. My GCTC family at home who inspire me everyday to be the best athlete I can be. My parents who believe in me beyond measure. Coach Kristian who pushes me out of my comfort zone to help me be the best athlete/human I can possibly be while helping me reach my silly little goals. And, Sean, who never says "no" and encourages me to always chase my dreams.
Another adventure in the books that will NEVER be forgotten.
My family (parents and husband) arrived on Wednesday evening. Once they arrived, I felt like time flew by. Before I knew it, race day was here.
My pre-race dinner was at our hotel (BBQ meats, salad, roasted potatoes, gluten-free beer and ice cream). It was not a traditional pre-race dinner for me, but it seemed to work out just fine. I was able to get a full 6 hours sleep the night before the race. My alarm went off at 3:15am race morning. By 3:45am I had down 2 pieces of gluten free (and egg free) toast with apple sauce and had warmed 1 cup of rice and bone broth for the road. Again, not a traditional pre-race breakfast (the toast part), but I had no blender in my hotel room for my traditional pre-race morning smoothie. We headed out the door at 3:45am to walk to T2 where I dropped all my run nutrition in my run bag. I said goodbye to my parents and Sean (who were body marking athletes before they left T2) and jumped onto the 1st shuttle to head over to Lake Alta. I was the first one on the first bus. I put in my headphones and started to wrap my brain around my goals for the day. On the way over to the lake, I ate the broth and rice (most of it). All my morning nutrition was down 1 hour and 45 minutes before race start.
Once I arrived at Lake Alta, I headed straight into T1 to load nutrition on my bike, pump tires, etc. With so much time to spare, I had time to walk to waters edge and visualize my swim and T1. The lake was beautiful. There was a slight fog hovering over the water which let me know that the water would be warm. And it was. 18.2C/64.76F which felt like the perfect temperature for racing!
As soon as I got out on the bike course, I immediately took the VESPA Junior. I had my watch set up to alert with a vibration every 15 minutes so I would be reminded to eat, drink and take salt. My nutrition plan for this course was to eat often and start early. This course is harder than any other Ironman bike course I've done and I didn't want to get behind on anything. I packed 1,400 calories of food on my body and had extra bars in my special needs bag just in case I dropped something. My nutrition goal was 200cal/hour and 800mg sodium/hour. All 3 of my bike bottles were full of clean water and I wanted to get as much water down as I could. My race goal was to finish the bike as close to 6 hours as possible. I wanted to get up the climb to Callahan and back into town in 2 hours, then through the Pemberton meadows and back onto the highway in 4 hours and 30 minutes. I had my watch set up on average mph pace and I knew I wanted to leave the Pemberton meadows with an average of 20mph. I knew it would only drop (and drop fast) from then on as I climbed back up into Whistler.
Nutritionally, I had packed Go Macro Bars, Endurance Bites, Honey Stinger gummies and 2 Huma Gels on my bike. I ate the Go Macro Bars and the Endurance Bites on flats and descents (I made sure I chewed them well...but they still required more digestion) and saved the Honey Stinger gummies and Huma Gels for the climbs when I needed the sugar to hit my blood stream fast. I also took 5g BCAA at mile 56 of the bike course. I stayed true to my nutrition plan. I think I only missed one salt tab during the ride when I was climbing a steep section of the course and didn't feel my watch go off. I never felt hungry. I never felt thirsty. I didn't run out of food or water. I felt like I nailed my nutrition plan. Timing was more or less spot on as well. I was able to keep my goal pace up to Callahan and back into Whistler. I told my family to expect me at the top of Blueberry Hill at the 2 hour mark of my ride. I passed them at 2:00:57. Ok, 57 seconds off my goal. Pretty damn close!!! I continued to ride at my goal pace down to Pemberton and through the meadows. During this time of the ride I was passed by both Brad and Ian (both TS Life athletes). Brad was focused and in the zone, but Ian and I chatted for a moment about the swim before he headed on with his race. My goal to get out of the meadows at 4:30 on the clock was SPOT ON. I turned the corner out of the meadows to head back to Whistler and my watch read 4:30.22. BAM! But, now for the hard part. I remember at the 3 hour mark of the bike ride thinking, "I'M 1/2 WAY DONE!" only to realize that the last 3 hours were going to be ALL work. No coasting. Just constant pedal pressure the whole time. Deep breath...you got this!
Like always, I was happy to finally see the finish chute. I found Kristian, Dane, Mack and Charlotte and was able to give them high fives and then found my parents and Sean closer to the finish line. This is when I REALLY wish for a mass start. I was the only female in the chute, but because of the way they start the race now, you don't actually know where you stand in your age group. I would have loved to have stopped and given hugs and kisses, but instead, it was high fives all the way across the line. In the end, I was off the podium by 38 seconds. 38 SECONDS! ARGGGGGG...it's really hard not be upset over that, but that is how the cards fell on that day. And I can honestly say that, besides my loss of composure in the swim, there is nothing I would have done differently. I'm sure that by pushing on the bike I outdid myself for the run, but I don't regret it. I feel like that was what I needed to do to feel confident on my bike again. I ended with the 5th fastest bike split in my age group on the day and I am proud of that. Despite being 30 minutes off my run goal time, I still had the 10th fastest run split in my age group on the day, which might show how hard it was for all of us.
Although I hate this picture of me in the finish chute (I was happy, I promise), I love that Kristian, Dane and Charlotte are all in the background smiling. (Dane is probably smiling because he knows he can finally hit the bar for a beer.) I was the last TS Lifer to finish, but I don't think I gave anyone enough time to go home and shower first (or maybe I did, I don't really know if that's true).
I can't say enough about my parents and my husband who bust their buns to be everywhere they can be on race day. The support they provide during all the training day and on race day are invaluable to me. Especially to Sean. I don't EVER take for granted how damn lucky I am to have the best husband in the world. I feel so lucky to have a best friend/husband who supports everything I do. He is the reason I stay sane, can get through these long days mentally and believe that I CAN. Thank you, Sean. You mean the world to me.
We left the Sacramento area on Thanksgiving morning (Thursday) and had a full day of travel. Sacramento to Dallas. Dallas to Cancun. Cancun to Playa del Carmen. Playa del Carmen to Cozumel via the roughest ferry ride I've ever been on! When we arrived in Playa, the winds were fierce! When they docked the ferry to load us, the boat was rocking away from the dock and then crashing into the dock. Rising up, and then crashing down. I knew it was going to be a rough ride. The workers from the ferry company were taking our luggage and throwing the pieces from the dock onto the ship. They set all the race bikes off to the side (there were probably a good 20-30 bikes on that ferry) and afterward walked them up a ramp to the top of the ship. Unfortunately, while loading, they lost someones suitcase over the edge of the boat and it immediately sunk straight to the bottom of the ocean. It was your typical, black zippered suitcase and no one was there at that moment to claim it. So after a very rough 40 minute ferry ride (lets just say they handed out plastic bags about 20 minutes into the ride and lots of people were using them), when the boat docked in Cozumel, we would discover who's bag it was by the last man standing on the dock. Unfortunately, that man was our friend Jason. It was actually his girlfriend and fellow racers bag. Luckily, she is a smart athlete and carried ALL of here race gear on her back in a backpack. So, although she lost everything else (training clothes, casual clothes, cosmetics, etc), she had everything she needed for her race on Sunday (except her nutrition, which she was able to get at the expo).
4:30am- Race Day Smoothie (coconut milk, raw cocoa, chia seeds, 1/2 banana, coffee, Great Lakes collagen, and ice) and 1 package of Beet Elite
6:30am- Vespa CV 25
7:15am- Vespa Junior and 3 salt stick caps
T1- Vespa Junior
Bike Course- Slow drip in 525 calories of Freedom Fuel (3T Brown Rice Syrup, 2x Skratch Hyper Hydration mix, 2x Skratch Hydration mix, squeeze of an orange and a handful of strawberries- blended), 1 Endurance Bite an hour (sprouted rice cereal, no corn syrup marshmellow, raisins, unsweetened coconut flakes, sprouted watermelon seeds and butter), 1 VESPA Junior at 56 miles, 1x The Right Stuff on lap 3, and 1 BCAA tablet per hour.
T2- Vespa Junior
Run Course- Slow drip 300 calories of Freedom Fuel, 1x Honey Stinger gummies, 9x salt stick caps (every 3rd mile or so), Vespa Junior at mile 13, and 6x BCAA caps.
In my Special Needs bags (just in case!):
Bike- Extra bottle of 300 calories of Freedom Fuel, 6x Endurance Bites, 1x Honey Stinger gummies and 1 The Right Stuff
Run- 1x Honey Stinger gummies, and 12x Salt Stick caps
My swim felt fantastic. I had open water nearly the entire swim. I was able to jump onto some feet here and there to get a little bit of drafting (and I could definitely feel that there were athletes doing the same with me), but in general, I felt like I had the ocean to myself. It was crystal clear and there were many moments when I was able to look around at all the amazing fish, coral, scuba divers, and even a few sting rays below. If only every swim could be like this. This swim is a long (2.4 miles, LOL), point to point swim along the shore from Marina Fonatur to Chankanaab Park. The are swirling tides, but it is mostly in our favor. There were a few moments in the swim when it felt like the turn bouy would never come, but it eventually did. I felt solid and steady with my swim. I never felt like I went anaerobic and I was excited to get out and see if I had beaten my swim goal of 1 hour and 10 minutes. Once I finally reached the swim exit, I got a glance at my watch which showed 1 hour and 5 minutes. I was elated. All the increased swim volume over the last year was definitely paying off (I went from about 4-5K per week to 12-15K per week and even managed a 6K swim 3 weeks before the race)! My coach, Kristian, (and Pete) from TriSpecific has mentioned multiple times the importance of getting out of a swim feeling fresh and that was exactly how I felt. Pumped up and ready to ride! My final swim time was 1 hour 4 minutes and 14 seconds and I was out of the water 5th in my age group. I saw my parents and Sean as I ran through transition and was all smiles.
Nutritionally, I had my watch set to vibrate every 20 minutes as a reminder to sip my Freedom Fuel. I did that for the first 2 hours and started to notice 2 things. 1- I was starting to feel full, and 2- I was running out of my Freedom Fuel faster than I expected. So, I decided for laps 2 and 3 to take 2 large sips of the Freedom Fuel every hour (instead of 3), which I think now was a mistake. I ran out of Freedom Fuel around mile 65 and shortly afterward started to feel hungry. By mile 80, my stomach was growling and I was hungry. About that point, I stopped at an aid station and put my feet on the ground. I opened my packet of The Right Stuff and added it to my empty down tube bottle with ice cold water. At mile 100, I hit my special needs bag and stopped again to get more food. The Freedom Fuel was hot and sounded terrible at that point, so I grabbed 4 Endurance Bites and immediately threw all 4 of them down. I knew it would be a lot to digest all at once, but I also knew I needed the calories and I needed that food to be somewhat digested in 12 miles as I had to start the marathon.
Looking back, I feel glad that I was able to push hard on the bike for most of it. However, I highly underestimated how much energy would be needed to push through all that wind. I expected to eat less because of the heat, but ended up needing more because of this wind. Next time, I would pack more on my bike. Despite Kristian's advice to use my rear bottle cage, I took it off for this ride because I didn't want the added weight of the cage and the full bottle. Next time, I would add a single bottle cage (I only have a double...but will be purchasing a single as soon as I get home) on the rear of my seat and add an extra bottle of Freedom Fuel back there (or Skratch, or something).
In the end, I hit "a wall" at mile 90 on the bike and just watched my pace drop for the last 22 miles of the ride. Despite that, I managed to finish the bike in 6 hours, 6 minutes and 41 seconds, placing me in 7th off the bike.
I saw my family standing in front of our house on every loop of the ride and on the last and final loop, as I passed Sean, he yelled, "5th, 5th, 5th." So I knew I was doing well, despite feeling like total crap at that point, hearing I was in the top 10 gave me a boost of energy I so desperately needed to get motivate to start my marathon.
In the end, my transitions weren't horrible. I had a goal to get out of T1 in less than 5 minutes (which I did) and out of T2 in less than 3 minutes (which I did not). If I had something to change, I would change T2. I might consider not fussing with a fuel belt next time around. Instead, use dry nutrition (likely, Honey Stinger gummies), Salt Stick caps and water. It's less fussing in T2 and less to carry. It sounds easier, and it 7+ hours into a race, simple is better. Way better.
Nutritionally, I went fairly scarce on food. I was completely sick of my Freedom Fuel by mile 10 and stopped drinking it. I got about 150 calories of it down. I also managed to get down 1 1/2 packages of Honey Stinger gummies (I stopped and got a second package out of my special needs bag at mile 13.1), all 6 BCAA caps, about 8 salt caps and 1 VESPA junior at 13.1 miles. I had a headache and felt nauseous for most of the run. I knew it was dehydration, but I couldn't manage to get any more water down. I was taking cups of water every kilometer and I had done well at getting water down on the bike course. I still hadn't urinated all day. At mile 15 on the run, I finally stopped to use a port-a-potty. Not so much because I had to pee, but mostly because I just wanted to stop and sit. How sad is that. I was so tired that I chose to step into a steaming hot porta-a-potty to take a break. LOL! It's laughable now. But that was how bad I was feeling at the time. I did manage to pee a little. But it burned and was just another indication that I was well under hydrated.
I the end, the spectators and my family was what helped get from one point to the next on the run. Sean had rented a bike and in true supportive fashion, managed to show up all over the run course. Also, looking for all my friends out on the run course was helpful. There were a lot of us out there. Mike Marschik, John Rutherford, Ian Taylor, Christopher Stubbs, Karyn Hoffman, Scott Williams, Tami Ralston, Christine Avelar, Tammie Lopez (who I never managed to find until the recovery area) and Jason Curran (who I also never managed to find until the very end).
In the end, I managed to make up a spot on the run. Not because my run was fabulous, but because I chose not to give up. And I didn't have any major malfunctions. All over the run course, athletes were walking, or even just sitting on the side of the road. Their bodies (and/or mind) had had enough. I managed to finish the run in 4 hours 19 minutes and 50 seconds. One of my slowest marathon times ever, but the absolutely best I had for the day. And I am proud of that. It landed me in 6th place on the day. And in the top 10% of my age group.
When I arrived in Arizona on Thursday evening, I threw on my running shoes in an attempt to shake out my legs from the long drive. I hit the same trail that I was on last year, for my very first Ironman, and I couldn't help but feel really emotional. It felt SO GOOD to be back on that trail and have those amazing feelings from IMAZ come back to me. My legs felt heavy, full of lead and tired, but it didn't matter. The weather was perfect, the sun was setting over Tempe Town Lake and it was beautiful! I felt happy.
That afternoon, I rode the bike course and made sure everything was working well. No problems there. At 5pm, Shelly, Flor and I attended the athlete meeting and picked up our packets. Water temp on Friday was 79F and it wasn't looking like it would drop below 76.1F by Sunday morning. For one second I was bummed about a non-wetsuit swim, but decided to shift my mindset to be excited for the opportunity to use this as the perfect training swim for Cozumel (which will definitely not be a wetsuit legal swim!). At 6pm, we picked up Sean and Jim from the airport, picked up their packets and grabbed a bite to eat for dinner (lettuce wrapped burger with sweet potato fries) before calling it a night.
Saturday was mellow. Breakfast at the hotel. I packed my nutribullet so I could use that to make a smoothie in the mornings (coconut milk, kefir, blueberries, Vit C powder, Great Lakes Collagen, chia seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes and ice). We all did a mini bike/run and then headed over to the venue to check our bikes. Lunch at the Original ChopShop (chicken salad wrap in a gluten free tortilla) was good, but the service was very slow. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was late afternoon. We used that free time to lay down, get into the NormaTec boots and rest. That evening we had dinner at The Keg Steakhouse and Bar. It wasn't cheap, but the food and the service were SO GOOD! I had a wedge salad with blue cheese, a 12oz New York Steak (which I couldn't eat all of), 1/2 baked potato with butter, steamed vegetables with butter and a glass of red wine. I drank a cup of CalMag back at the hotel and I was off to bed. I didn't have any trouble sleeping and woke up about 5 minutes before my alarm was due to go off...rested and ready to race.
Race morning was easy. Woke up at 4:15am. The usual morning smoothie (coconut milk, regular coffee, raw cocoa, banana, Great Lakes Collagen, chia seeds, unsweetened coconut and ice) at 4:45am (which I didn't feel like drinking, but did anyway). Left the hotel at 5am. We had a 5 minute drive to the race venue and easy (free) parking across the street from transition. I was able to get everything set up in transition and drop stuff back off at the car before they closed transition at 6:30am (including my wetsuit, as the water temp was 77F and not wetsuit legal if you wanted to be eligible for awards). I took a VESPA CV25 at 6:10am (1 hour prior to my race start). My wave start was 7:10am and they would not let anyone in the water until 4 minutes before your wave start. So I stood in the swim chute/corral talking with fellow competitors. I "made friends" with the gal who was racked next to me. She had an All World Athlete cap on and we quickly found out that we had both been in Austria for this years World Championships. She finished 52nd in our AG and I finished 61st. We obviously we're fairly close racers and I knew she would be one of the athletes to beat. 10 minutes before my wave start, I took a VESPA Junior. Once the wave before us took off, I was one of the first athletes in the water. We had a short swim (75 yards) to the swim start. It was a deep water start and I found a place in the front of the line toward the inside. When the gun went off, I was able to find clear water very quickly. About 1/2 way down the lake, the sun came out and made it VERY HARD to sight anything. Once we made the turn, the sun was behind us, but the water was starting to get pretty choppy. I felt like I was having a solid swim (I kept a great focus on form and a speedy arm turnover), but I also knew that there were a good handful of women from my AG who were well in front of me. When I got out of the water and saw my swim time, I was surprised it was as slow as it was. On another day, I would have been pissed. But today, my first thought was that "if it was slow for me, it was slow for everyone." Then the thought was gone and I was racing through transition. When I made it back to my bike in T1, I could see that the gal I had talked to before the swim start was still behind me...so that gave me a little boost of energy to get out of T1 quickly. I ended up 6th in my AG out of the water with a time of 0:37.53 (my slowest 70.3 swim EVER).
Nutrition on the bike was scarce. I took a VESPA Junior at mile 10. I packed 600 calories of fuel and 2,000mg of sodium on my bike with the intention of getting most of it down. Honestly, after the swim, I was feeling slightly nauseated and the thought of eating made it worse. So I managed to get down my Freedom Fuel (1 packet Hyper Hydration Skratch, 1 packet of Exercise Hydration Skratch, 1T organic brown rice syrup and the squeeze of an orange) and 1 Endurance Bite (a homemade glorified rice crispy treat). Over all, I got all 2,000mg of sodium down and about 350 calories in with multiple bottles of water. It felt like the right amount. I wasn't hungry, but I was still feeling strong.
The run course was a flat, 2 loop run course with 1 out and back per loop. We had a fairly strong wind, so one side of the lake was definitely harder than the other. The temperature was hot (for me...I'm not so use to the heat) and it was very humid. Good training for IM Cozumel. I took my VESPA Junior at the first aid station (around mile 1). I carried 12 Salt Stick tablets and 1 packet of Honey Stinger gummies. There were 12 aid stations on the course. My plan was to take 1 salt tablet at each aid station with 2 cups of water and slowly eat the gummies throughout the run. I was on track with water, salt and the gummies until mile 4 when I went to grab out my bag of salt and it wasn't there. It had obviously fallen out of my pocket. Plan B- Gatorade Endurance. Not my favorite option, but the only option I had as they didn't have plain salt at any of the aid stations. So I stopped eating the Honey Stingers and switched to 1 cup of Gatorade Endurance and 1 cup of water every other aid station (still 2 cups of water at alternating aid stations). It seemed to work out fine.
When I hit the first out and back, I checked my watch at the turn around. The 2 gals from my AG were running side-by-side, 2 minutes back. Motivation. Keep up my pace. At this point, I started asking myself, "Is this all you've got?" I never said no. I was pushing as hard as I could in the moment. Some aid stations I was able to plow through, but some, I had to walk a few steps and regroup. As I write this and think back on the run, I never remember worrying too much about the two girls behind me (except for when I could see them on the out-and-back). I looked for ponytails ahead of me, but could never find any. I knew that the leading women were WAY ahead of me. I started racing the men (in my head). Spectators were yelling things that made me feel like I was one of the ladies at the front of the race, and for once, it gave me more energy. And so did the guys that I passed. Many of them were VERY supportive saying that I looked strong and to keep up the good pace. When I finally hit the out-and-back on the second loop, I knew it was my opportunity to see how much time was between me and the gals behind me. I checked my watch at the turn around, and again, exactly 2 minutes. They hadn't gained any time on me. At that moment, I knew they saw me and since I didn't know what they had left in the tank, I knew this was time to leave it all our there. I had a little less than 2 miles left and just started to push as hard as I could. Funny, I felt like I was going faster, but my splits were nearly identical to my first loop. Luckily, I was able to keep my position until the finish. The run was long. 13.6 miles. So when my watch buzzed at mile 13 and I wasn't close to the finish chute, it was a LONG .6 miles. As I approached the finish line, I saw Jim and Sean who were both all smiles. And then the announcer said, "And from Grass Valley, California, one of our top 10 women, Tiana Rockwell." I think that was the first time I smiled all the day. But then I never stopped smiling.
Definitely not a PR run, but the absolute best I had for the day. 1:59.03 and the 5th fastest run in my AG on the day. And with that, I finally reached my goal of getting onto the podium at an Ironman event.
The day felt like it kept getting better and better. All the GCTC athletes had great races! Jim had finished 5th in his AG (putting him on the podium!), Sean finished 6th in his AG, Michele finished 12th in her AG and most importantly to me, Shelly felt great, finished strong and took 11th in her AG. With those results, we (Gold Country Triathlon Club) won the division 5 TriClub category.
Today is prep day. I pick up my CSA box tonight and will put all those vegetables to use as soon as I get them. But until then, I'm low on a lot. Breakfast was a variety of sauted vegetables with 1/2 avocado and a True Story chicken sausage. I also had a small bowl of fresh raspberries. after enjoying my almond milk latte yesterday i felt inspired to make some homemade almond milk so I could have another latte this morning. It was the first time I used my espresso machine in a very long time and I was surprised it still worked!
I snacked on a handful of nuts around lunchtime and had a large taco salad around 4pm for my early dinner. I did my taco meat on the side and my husband did his on top.
The evening was consumed with a lake swim at Rollins Lake. Afterward, I drank a smoothie on my way home so I could get straight to work preping the remaining meals for the week. I have a meeting every single night this week, plus I leave on Friday for...yes...another race. I figure that I won't have time to cook much of anything the rest of the week, so I preped: salads, pulled chicken (in the slow cooker all afternoon), grilled chicken drumsticks and sausages, sauted vegetables, fresh salsa and fresh basil pesto.
I also soaked nuts all mornings started those in the dehydrator tonight.
In total, it took me about 1 1/2 hours to get all of this prepped and cooked, but I won't spend much more time in the kitchen this week. And in the end, I won't be reaching for something that I know is bad for me because I have all of these good choice to pick from instead.
Happy Sunday! We're still in Petaluma and plan to take our time before heading home. There's a really nice trail behind our hotel, so after a small smoothie (coffee, coconut milk, 1/2 banana, cocoa and Great Lakes collagen) to put something in my stomach, I headed out for a long run. After the run, I had a handful of raspberries and blackberries while I got everything packed up. We stopped at a wonderful breakfast joint in downtown Petaluma before pulling out of town. I started with an unsweetened almond milk latte. It came in a bowl! Breakfast was homemade corned beef hash with a side of avocado. I forgot to ask for no toast (I forget that it comes with every breakfast item you order in the U.S.!).
My husband had a salad with scrambled eggs on top with a spicy salsa and avocado.
Since breakfast was so late, we skipped lunch and opted for an early dinner in our deck. We grilled boneless pork ribs with homemade BBQ sauce and grilled broccoli with olive oil and salt/pepper. The side salad was fresh cucumbers, onions and tomatoes tossed in olive oil, white wine vinegar and mustard.
Tiana Rockwell is a certified nutritional therapist, avid endurance athlete and dark chocolate lover. She believes that by eating REAL food, we can balance our body and reach optimal health and wellness!