Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The weekend in pictures

After spending some time thinking about a more serious blog I was about to post, I decided my brain was not ready to put it into words. It's really not as intense as that makes it sound, but I am pondering a lot of new things that are important to me. Life changing decisions. Exciting prospects. And at the same time, a tad scary.
Instead, I decided to post a few pictures from our weekend. I have not been training. At all. Not even a little. I did go for a few super short and ridiculously easy runs. Or actually jogs. Trots? You get the point. I get up no earlier than 6:00. I shower in the morning. Sometimes, gasp, as soon as I get out of bed! I did that today and it was weird. For those of you on the crazy triathlete training plan, I know you understand. Some days I shower2 or maybe 3 times when I'm training. But Never upon waking. Never ever. Amazing how this simple thing can result in an entire paragraph. Saturday was cold, dark, and rainy. We planned ahead and reschuduled the soccer game. (benefit of being the coach) I saved all the Halloween 'tasks' for Saturday. I captured most of them in the shots below. What got left out? Well, while cleaning up the mess from project #1,the faucet handle pulled off the sink? I was standign there with the faucet in my hand calling (ok, hollering) for my husband to HELP! About 2 minutes after that lovely event, the power went out. Three boys, cold / rainy day, many projects ahead that had to be done 'or else' and suddenly no lights. Grrr. I tried to smile. I admit it was hard at first. Luckily, all of these problems were fixed before anything was too serious. close one. I also forgot to record my costume making efforts. Half the day was spent making a Robot costume for Tommy. We'll be sure to get pictures of that on Saturday.
Elizabeth (http://www.elizabethfedofskyblogspot.com/) posted some pictures on facebook last week of some ghost cookies she made. I told her I was going to copy them. And I did. YUM!!! Nutter butters...indulgence #78 I've managed to enjoy during this 'break' from training.

A nice easy Halloween treat for the kids to make.

We didn't have mini M&Ms. The boy's uncle mistook them for frogs. oh well. They tasted really good.

our new kittens are good friends and apparently these boys tire them out! Harley is gray and Fireball is yellow.

Pumpkin carving is serious business in our house. It causes little boys to strip their shirts and get serious. Nick is proud of his "scary pumpkin." Mommy was just relieved she did it right!

The final results. Pretty creative bunch huh. :0)

Tommy's last soccer game. Mark coached his team this year. That's him jumping in the air with the red 'pinny' and below looking into the sun. It's tough to get good action shots on the soccer field when the kids are all 6 & 7 years old. They travel just travel in one big pack.

That's that. I'll organize my brain for the next post soon....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I'll start with a few random pictures from our trip.
We left the boy's names in the lava with coral from our beach...

At the expo getting my legs loosened up with a compex machine...not sure what it was called. It's supposed to remove the lactic acid from your legs. It felt good at the time..who knows..

The beach Mark and I relaxed on the day before we left.

Ange and Nat cooling off with iced coffee from Lava Java.

Mark collecting coral for the boys

My poolside post race indulgence. Yummy! And oh- so bad.

Life post Ironman.....

Things have really changed for me in the past week. Eleven days ago...I crossed the Finish line in Kona. I donned that Lei and that beautiful medal and smiled a very satisified smile. I walked through transition to pick up my bags, my bike, and at last, the post-race pizza. I sat on the ground and just smiled. I did it.
The truth of that day--it was tough. So tough. Gruelling really. But I put my head down and got to that finish line.
Was the day perfect? No. Did I reach my full potential? Probably not. I can pick apart the race piece by piece and find places that I could have executed differently. Of course, I have done this. But the Truth is...I did the best I could do that day. I trained for two Ironmans this past year. Only one was planned. The second was only 10 weeks after the first. When I walked down those famed green steps into the waters of Kailua-Kona bay...I forced myself to remember this. I travelled around the world from Maine to Hawaii and prepped for an Ironman in 4 days. The honest truth is that that is not easy to do. I am proud of myself for holding it together and performing as best I could that day.
And that is my truth.

Mark and I drove back to the hotel that night for a shower and some food before heading back to the finish line. Throughout the week I had thought I was fighting a cold. I had a slight sore throat but convinced myself it was irritated by the salt water during my morning swims. My body let down all it's defenses during the 11 hrs of work on the lava fields and I was instantly sick. My tongue was swollen with cankers so badly that I coudln't eat. Within the next few hours I had a massive sore throat and cough. I had held on just long enough.
We drove back to town Just in time to see my friend MLou heading towards the finish line. I hopped out and ha...ran...to Ali'i drive.
What a party scene that was!!! I had so much fun standing at the finish watching more and more tough athletes make their way to the glorious end. Chrissie Wellington was dancing around wiht the volunteers placing leis on age groupers heads. I give her credit for this. She was there for 2+ hours enjoying the scene with all of us. Great music was blasting, the crowd was unbelievably energized and the athletes were all incredibly pumped to cross that line! I had a blast. One of the best parts of the day. I had perched myself on a wall overlooking the spot just after they went under the clock. Perfect...until some woman in front of me climbed up on the wall and Stomped on my foot!! I almost passed out the pain was so bad. My feet were already aching beyond description. The toe she hit is now a gorgeous shade of black and purple-the whole toe.
The next few days were spent relaxing, drinking coffee and eating pancakes at Lava Java, lounging on a deserted beach, watching manta rays in the moonlight, and then travelling hours and hours back to our children.
It was an amazing trip. I am so lucky that I had the support of my husband, my kids, my parents and my in-laws so we could make this trip happen. I have the greatest coach-Jen Harrison-who trained me so thoroughly so I was able to have the race of my life in New York and earn my spot in Hawaii. And then she miraculously took my beaten up body and retrained me for Hawaii just a short 2 months later. Amazing work Jen!! You kept me in line and made me believe when I thought I wanted to crawl into a pile of sand. My friends were so supportive as I travelled and hit the lava fields. I can't thank you all enough for the encouraging words and nice words after I crossed the line. And a giant thank you to you guys who stayed up Half the night to watch me cross. I tried to get before midnight...oh man did I try.

Now I am home and on break. I have had the question, "now what?" or "what are you doing next?"
Am I anxious to train again? Yes. I miss my workouts. Am I secretly thinking about triathlon? yes...It's hard to let it go. It's on my mind. Am I planning 2010 and making goals? Of course. I am.
The truth is...this is who I am. It drives me. It make me feel good.It gives me something just for me.
I love this sport and I can't wait to go at it again. Next season will read much differently. I will race shorter and faster and more frequently. I can't wait....
I made a promise to myself to be smart now. To savor this break. It is important. It is what will make 2010 successful. I wll continue to sleep in past 4:30, I will take showers when I get up, and I wont' schedule family events around my 5 hour bike rides for a long time.
The truth is...I need this break.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hawaii Ironman World Championships Race Report-The Run

The Run.

The Ironman run is where you can make it or break it. I spent the entire day thinking about and setting myself up for the run. I always look forward to the run leg--in any triathlon. As much as I love swimming, the run is my favorite part of triathlons. After all...you're "almost" done. You have total control of your environment. It is where you show yourself and others what you are really made of. You must put it all together and remain strong. You can't fake it....you must go te distance or nothing else you did that day matters.

I was a bit worried before I got to the tent off the bike. As I said in the last part, I had been suffering. My body hurt in every way possible.

That said, my heart was intact. I wanted that finish run down Ali'i drive. I wanted it bad.

So I grabbed all my nutrition and ran out of that tent smiling. I fed off the enthusiasm of the volunteers standing in the doorway. I smiled and said something like, "here I go!" and they cheered for me wildly. I just love the volunteers at Ironman. They deserve their own medals I must say.

I don't remember too much about the first few miles. I took a gel. I know that. It had caffeine and before I knew it my headache was gone. We ran threw the town for a while. My legs were a bit sluggish but not too bad. I was counting down. Within 15 minutes I was thinking about the fact that I no longer had an entire marathon to run. Ok, 24 miles is no small jog but still, I had less than a marathon. It's all in your head folks. It's all in your attitude.

My pace was just fine at first---8:07, 8:21, 8:04, 8:28, 8:02.

I have no idea why they went up and down like that. I was happy with anything around the 8 minute mark. I don't know if I need to say it was hot. Seems like maybe that's clear by this point. I had no idea how hot. I have since read that it was over 95 out in Hawi but who known in Kona. I actually felt cooler than I had on the bike. My head was free from the helmet and I was able to get my hands on some ice and sponges. You can not imagine how incredibly heavenly those cold sponges and cups of ice are on those Hawaiin roads. Just trust me. I swam with dolphins, I saw vibrant fishies every day, I was standing by Chrissie Wellington's side---but almost as good? The ice cups I dropped down my top at every single aid station. I did not miss one. Trust me. I stuck to my nutrition/cooling plan like clockwork. Every 5 miles I had a gel. My stomach was tolerating this just fine. I had my salt, my endurance aminos and my anti fatigue pills. I poured ice in my shirt ( and left it there---gorgeous look I'm sure), I dumped water all over myself, and I stuck sponges anywhere I could. Unfortunately, the volunteers were a bit too helpful with the sponges and actually came at me from behind multiple times. Their intentions were perfect. However, the water dripped into my shoes from mile 2. My shoes were saturated. The squished and made wet sounds with every step of the marathon. I tried to jump out of the way of randomly flying sponges from that point on but it was too late. I just worried about blisters...time would tell.

I ran and ran. And you know, I felt Great!!! Really strong in fact. What do ya know! I am going to make this!! And then I remembered feeling Just the same way in Lake Placid. A bit overzealous. I hadn't hit the Queek K yet and when I thought about it....I had unpleasant flashbacks from the bike leg. That's ok. Hang on.

Next few miles: 8:17, 8:22, 8:43, 8:26 Mile 9 now. Still feeling great and still running through the town of Kailua-Kona. The crowd was amazing. They really push you along. I turned to run up Palani drive towards the turn to the Queek K. EVERYONE in front of me was walking. Ha! I might not do heat but I can do Hills! I trotted up that baby like it was nothing. I passed loads of people. In fact, I had been passing a lot of people through town. The run is good for that....I deal with it on the bike and take it back on the run.

9:06 up the hill.

Out on to the dreaded lava fields of the Queek K again. The temps rose. You can see the heat pouring off the roads. You can see for miles and miles ahead of you.

Head down Ange. Just run.

I still felt good.

8:24, 8:40, 8:44.
I stopped at every single station. I mean, I stopped. I took ice, I took water, I took gatorade. I opened my pill containers if it was time. I really made sure to get it all in. My body was allowing this so I did it. I knew I would need the fluids and the calories. There were many tough miles ahead. And you know....I admit I was beginning to feel it....just a bit. My garmin wasn't right on with the miles but I believe I was around mile 13 at this point.

I had something to look forward to here. I knew Mark and Nat were out ahead somewhere. I knew they had to be so hot too. I thought about grabbing a cup of ice for them but the stations weren't too well stocked anymore. In fact, at one mile I had to reach into a trash can, grab a big block of ice and break it on the road for a piece to fit into my shirt. I picked up a few pieces and shared with some guys near me.

9:14, 9:02....ok. Slowing. But still hanging on.

And then I saw the guys! I waved and waved. They took pictures, jumped around, assured me I was ok because my skin was 'wet'. I wondered inside about that. I was dumping water on myself every 8 minutes. I got a kiss from Mark. He told me he had been texting with Mike all day and they were psyched about my splits. I told him, "yeah!! I feel great. Well, I felt great. Life is starting to suck a bit now. But I am ok!!" I really was ok and having some fun too. These days are so so long and so so hard. But they are fun. I know that must seem crazy to people who don't do this. But it is so amazing out there.

People talk about the highs and lows of Ironman. I have only done two now. I am not an experienced Ironman in any way. However, I have had experiences of my own. And this Ironman was tough. So tough. Much tougher than Lake Placid was for me. And trust me, Lake Placid almost brought me down.

But out there in Hawaii, the highs were over the top and the lows were rock bottom.

This is what I was about to experience. Another brush with the bottom of the pit.

Or...let's just call it the Natural Energy lab. If you ever watch the Hawaiian Ironman on TV..you'll hear them talk about it. It sounds like nice place. Energy Lab. Ha! Ridiculous. It sucks all remaining energy from your soul. You are alone and you are going the wrong way. And did I mention the heat? The insane temperatures radiating from the black lava that surrounds you on all sides?

Here goes. Left hand turn into the infamous Energy lab. I yelled to someone, "how far? a few miles in and out? "


Six? Six miles? good lord.

My stomach started to hurt. I had a stich in my side that forced me to bend over. I tried to lower my arms and open my diaphragm. No help. I just kept going.

9:01 (downhill here .... ahem) , 9:46 (flat) , 9:35, 9;51 You might get a little image of how I must have been feeling. I walked a bit. Not too much. But I walked. In fact, I think I might have stopped. Yeah, I did. I got to an aid station and asked the guy if I had to keep going. He just smiled at me. It's not funny, I thought. I kept going. I was having trouble getting a breath. The air was so thick. I thougth I might just have to lay down out there and rest. Not an option.

The special need bags were ahead. I yelled my # and waited. Not sure what I wanted in there. I had my inhaler though and you know, I just might need that thing. I waited and waited. Geez...come one! I was desperate. I waited way too long and they finally told me to go ahead and they'd bring it to me. I assured them it wouldn't take them too long to catch up. Sure enough, a mile ahead theybrought me the bag and I grabbed the inhaler. I didn't dare use it...but it comforted me. Back up the long long gradual but steep in my mind hill out of that dreadfully hot and barren place. I asked an aid station guy for roller blades. something to help move these seizing legs back to town.

9:26 and I was out of there.

It was remarkable. As soon as I was out of the energy lab, my mood lifted. I knew I was counting down now. I had a 10K left. I was suffering but I was going to do it. My stomach pain had eased and I was still clear headed. I must say, I am thrilled with how well my nutrition plan worked all day long. I was suffering on those roads during the middle miles of the marathon...but I didn't bonk. I could think straight and I was not dehydrated. I think I stayed in control of that part fairly well. I had times that day when I had to ride with my eyes closed (not too safe but my head really hurt and the road just went on straight for 87 miles anyway) and when I felt myself sway to one side or the other but I rallied and avoided bonking. I am proud of this.

Ok, back to the final miles. I was excited. I was loving life because I was doing this. I was about to don a medal from the Ironman World Championships. I had to keep saying this to myself. I had to continuously rremind myself that this was a big day. Thesee elements were huge for a little Maine girl. It was not about the time any more. I began to see my Lake Placid time come and go. Out of reach. And, I was ok with it. I watched the sunset over the ocean as I ran along. I passed many many many men walking along. They had crushed the bike I am sure. But remember, this race has 3 parts. It requires patience and control. I was still feeling fairly strong and I was still smiling. I tried to encourage others who were hurting. I came upon one very tall man. He was limping but moving forward. "Hang in there! We're so close!!" (maybe 4 miles to go)

"We're not that close. And you know it. " Well....that's not the right kind of attitude! I tell ya...

"Well we're closer than we were!" And then I quietly added, "and we're closer than they are" and pointed to the folks heading the into the energy lab. He wasn't amused. Oh well...good luck buddy. I noticed all sorts of attitudes out there. Some amazing and inspiring and some grumpy and negative. I wonder how they did. If they had any fun on this huge day.

9:31, 9:29, 9:35 still moving forward.

I realized that 4 hour mark was uncomfortably close. I thought I had that one without much trouble. Now I realized I was pushing it.

And then, Mark and Nat appeared. They were awesome out there. I was climbing a bit hill back into town .I whined about the hill. It felt like Streaked Mountain here at home. Mary Lou ran by me going the other way. She looked good but had had some trouble with cramping. She was still smiling though!

mark jogged with me as I shuffled up that hill. " I am going to miss 4 hours by 1 or 2 minutes you know. " He just said, "yeah...I know. it's ok hun."

That was it. I was on a mission. I ran by the aid station controlled by the Bike Works guys. There was great music out on the course and they tried to dance with me again. High fives would have to do.

The energy inside me was building. It was almost uncontrollable.
I had cruised over that hill at a blazing 10:24. Good one Ange.

But...then it was over. I was off the Queen K. I turned Right and ran Down Palani. I could SEE the finish line and hear everyone but I still had a few more roads to conquer.

"ouch ouch ouch ouch!!!" I yelled this right out loud as I sprinted down that hill. My quads were on fire. And that is not an exaggeration.

I turned left on ...Kuakini hwy. Not sure what that road is. I should know. But I did know I was nearing Ali'i. I was running hard hard hard. I turned right. This was it.

I couldn't breath again. I was surrounded by people screaming and high diving me. I had to hold my chest with both hands so I could get a deep breath. The emotion was stifling.

I ran hard and passed some more people. (final mile sub 8 minutes.... final run time: 3:58.50 got it)

Over the ramp and under the time clock.

Angela Bancroft, Paris Maine YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark was there with a big hug and a gorgeous lei was placed around my neck.

11:26 ....but it's not about the time. Trust me.

Success. Happiness. Pride. Relief.

Dad called from Maine...12:26 their time. Thanks Mom and Dad. That was a perfect ending.

Post race stories coming next....

The crowds at the finish line

The video screen that our images were on as we finished... post race pizza

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ironman World Championships--RR part 2

I'm back in beautiful cold Maine now. And I must say, it feels great. The leaves are still colorful and orange pumpkins are everywhere but the the best part is hugging my boys. All five us are pretty happy to be back under the same roof.

When I went to bed last night, the temperature was 29 and we had the heat turned on. As I sit here with my sweatshirt on, I will try to relive those stiffling hot hours in the Lava fields of the Queen K.

Back to the race.

I took my time rinsing off in the hoses and then headed to the changing tent. The women volunteering were wonderful. I had two ladies helping me and they were super sweet and ready to get me all set. They put sunblock on my back and legs while I dried my feet and got the bike shoes on. All the normal prep...I headed off to find my bike.
(there she is above in the fancy Kona racks...the one without the helmet in the middle)

I was feeling fine at this point. Ready to see what all the wind hoopla was all about. The first few miles were fine. We weaved around the downtown roads. People were screaming for us. I had to maneuver around two men who had crashed. Already? Crazy. Before I knew it we were heading back up Palani and off to the QueenK. The roads were packed with people here..in fact they were In the road and only left a small aisle for us to ride out on. I found out later that Mark and Nat were there. None of us saw each other though.

The first 40-45 miles were great. Yes, it was hot. But not too bad. I was flying. I felt strong. My HR was fine. My legs felt nothing. I had no fatigue. I was just cruising along. In fact, I was very very conservative. My ave pace was around 20 mph wiht very little effort. I have no idea if there was any wind pushing us. I didn't notice any. The roads are not flat. There are long long climbs mixed with mild descents and some flats. My plan was to continue riding with this effort. I wanted to be strong but to save myself for what was sure to be a tough tough run. My plan was to be patient. To trust myself. I would stick with my nutrition and cooling plan and ride this thing out.
I was passed a lot. By men and quite a few women actually. Oh well. Let them go. This is a long day. I smiled knowing that I beat them in the water despite my near death experience. :) I still like being dramatic about that swim. I'm really not exaggerating though. It was bad.
I rode and rode and rode. The thing about Ironman racing and Ironman training...the biking is just too long. That's my deal. It's just too long. Around mile 50 I started to think about this even more. You see...that was where the climb to Hawi began. I had heard about this. And now it was my turn. I will start by saying this--It was beautiful. I did not overlook this while I was out there no matter how hard it got and how badly I suffered. We were up high overlooking a gorgeous sparkling sea. I had fun imagining the dolphins I swam with earlier in the week.
But mostly, I thought about getting to that turn around. The winds had kicked in. I wasn't moving. My effort had increased dramatically yet I was going no where. The temperature was rising. You could feel the heat rising off the black roads and from the black lava surrounding us on both sides. As we got closer to Hawi it did become green and lush for a bit. There is a cool wind farm on the left overlooking the ocean. I enjoyed seeing trees again. However, I was Desperate to turn back around. At mile 56 my split was 2:46. If I remember correctly. I was excited with this and knew that if I could hold on to this I was in for a very solid bike split. This was still my plan.
I had grabbed water and gatorade at every single aid station. I used water for cooling my body and took a few sips of gatorade. I did this in addition to my own nutrition bottles + gel,salt, endurance aminos and anti fatigue caps. (from Hammer...many have asked me about these..) I knew I wasn't dehydrated and yet my body wasn't acting 100%. I had some stomach pain and coudn't seem to go to the bathroom. Finally, the turn around. It isn't very dramatic. Just a little place in the road ina little town in Hawaii. There were however lots of people cheering and because I smiled so much, they cheered wildly for me.
The special need bag pick up was there too. I cant' believe I did this but I stopped. I got off my bike, a volunteer held it, and I went IN a portapotty. It was the only way for me to "go." The heat and stress was not allowing anything else. I wanted to be ready for what was ahead.
The bottles I froze and put in that bag were actually still frosting. It was Amaaaaaaazing to taste this. As Jen had warned me, my bottles were otherwise hot and disgusting. Totally gross. It's hard to get sweet nutrition in when it's hot and syrupy. I did it though. I choked it down.
And here's where the fun began. It is also where words will escape me.
I know everyone has heard about the heat. And the wind. Well....it's not normal heat or normal wind.
The wind is whacky. It gusts from all directions. It's hitting you in the face, from both sides, and sometimes the front and side all at once. At times I was going too fast and at times I wasnt' moving at all. But the thing was, you never knew what you were going to get. Just when you thought you were safe, and you could reach and grab a drink, Wham! You get blown across the road. I held on for dear life. My neck, shoulders, back, and hands got so sore from holding on so hard. By the end of the ride, my hands were bright red and raw. It hurt.
The next 45 miles or so were so hard. I forgot to mention that the magnet on my wheel came loose so at 3:13- I had no computer. I had no idea how far we'd gone or how long I had been riding. I just knew I had to get to the airport and then it was only about 10 miles or so. The thermostat was cranked. You are truly riding in the middle of black lava fields. There aren't any trees or houses to absorb the heat--its' all you. Before I left here, people told me it would feel like hairdryers blowing in your face. Perfect. that is Exactly what it felt like. I grew tired. I was sick of it. I had a splitting headache. It caused me to ride with my eyes shut at times. I knew there was nothign in front of me to hit...I took water at at all the stops and squeezed it into the tiny slots on my helmet. This was heaven. It cooled my brain and eventually my headache wasn't quite so debilitating. I continued to drink a lot, to take my salt on the hour and also got a melted hammer bar in. That bar brought me back to life I must say. I started to see straight after I ate that. My time was slow. I could see that it was almost 2:00 and that meant I wouldn't be breaking 6 hours. This was disappointing. And quite frankly, surprising. The first half of the ride had been fast. I thought I had a deep enough cushion. But you know, that wind was relentless. The entire second half was a struggle. It was a constant hard push. I put out so much effort and yet moved the bike forward so slowly. The heat was intense...the humidity thick. I was doing the best I could do and if it wasn't under 6 hours that day, well, it did not really matter. I was conquering the 112 mile ride of the Ironman World Championships. I wasn't blown over, I didn't quit, I got my nutrition in, and I was still riding strong. The elements. It became a different race because of those Hawaiin elements. Just like I knew it could.
I had a boost with about 4 miles to go. Mark and our friend Nat had hiked out onto the Queek K to cheer for us! This was a hard hot trek for them so I felt extra grateful. There they were as I headed to the end of that miserably hard final 112 miler.( ok,maybe not final....but for now) HEY GUYS!!!!! Nat was ahead of Mark and hollered to him with a big wave, "IT's ANGELA!!" Mark jumped up and down "hey babe good job go go!! how are you? are you ok?" I smiled, and simply said, "this is crazy. This is absolutely nuts." It was great to see them and share a smile. I told them I'd "be right back." I only had a 13 mile run before I saw him again. oh boy....
While riding those final miles my mind went to the run. When I was slowed to my slow pace on the bike, the heat was intense. It was like standing in front of the oven. How would I run in that? How on earth would I do a marathon right now? My arms were sunburned. They cracked when I moved them. My head felt like it had a vice on each temple. I just hurt. And I was hot. And tired. And quite frankly, seriously worried about making it to that glorious run down Ali'i drive. Could I? Could I get to that finish line?
I tried to smile as I rode slowly through the hot corner (for once, not referring to air temp here...the hot corner is an intersection we run and bike through multiple times) but I was scared for what was ahead. I soaked in the energy from the 1000s of spectators. I braked happily as they waved me to slow down for the dismount. The lovely volunteer said, "I'll take that for you." (my bike) and I happily said, "thank you! you can Have it!" I trotted in the bike shoes for about 5 steps and then stopped to take them off. The run to the tent was waaaaaaaay too long and my legs hurt so much. I hobbled along for a bit and hid into a porto potty again. I never do this. I just had to do it this way this time. When that was done was able to jog a bit to the tent. I smiled so much and told those ladies how happy I was to see them. "Ahhh it is SO good to be here finally!!!" I told someone I had a headache and regretted not putting stuff in my bag. what was I thinking?? Before I knew it, the medical person came to me with tylenol. She suggested I get caffeine somehow and more water. Espresso gel in hand--perfect. I took my time in there on purpose. I wanted to cool myself a bit and make sure I was ready to go. Turns out T2 was over 8 minutes. Ooops, didn't mean to take that much time.

And then without giving it any more thought...I ran out of the tent. This is it. The final leg. I was ready. Actually, after regrouping for those 8 minute off the bike, I was feeling excited to run. The swim had been a failure and disappoinment, the bike was ahem, hell, but the run was going to be great. I love to run. I had control here. Nobody was going to knock me around, the wind couldn't crash me to the ground and there are no mechanical issues, so I was ready. Just me and the road.
26.2 miles. Piece of cake...let's get it done.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hawaii Ironman Race Report-part 1

Kona '09
Life experience. It was an amazing life experience. I want to write this race report but I am not sure where to begin. It was unlike any race I have ever participated in. In so many ways....

Friday night arrived so quickly. I wasn't sure if I was ready for that day to end....Mark and I ate dinner at 5 a.m. after checking in my bike. The energy at Ali'i drive was palpable. The finish line was being built. The carpet was being rolled out...we finished on an Ironman carpet!

8:00 Lights out. And I actually went to sleep! I was awake at 3 a.m. and ready to go at 3:30. The nerves were there....but under control. I ate my breakfast and headed to Kailua-Kona pier. Mark dropped me off and we planned to meet once he walked down after parking. I strolled around looking for other racers. Volunteers were everywhere but not many racers. It was 4:20 a.m. I waited and waited. Finally I realized that body marking took place on the other side of the hotel. Grrr.... I walked and walked and then waited in line. This is where it hit me. I started to well...panic is too strong of a word but that's close! Major nerves--major nerves. I was escorted to my bike so I could pump my tires. It made me nervous and anxious to have my escort standing there watching me go through my final preparations. I wanted to be alone...desperately. But rules are rules. I packed my bento box: 2 bars, 4 gels, salt tabs, amino endurance pills, anti fatigue pills, blistex...I think that's it. I know-- a lot. Bottles on bike. Tires pumped.
On to the run and bike bags. Again, I wanted to be alone. But she stood there watching me. I added a couple things and took a few things out and that was that.
From there I walked over to a quiet grassy area and sat under a tent. I couldn't find Mark. By mistake, my cell phone was in my pre-swim bag. I would have to check it for the day. I called Mark and he was willing to ready to run over to find me but he also had a good spot on the wall to watch the swim. I didn't want him to lose that spot so I insisted he stay put. I was ok. I thought at least.
I started to really really worry about the heat. My nerves were skyrocketing. Out of the blue....I started the doubt myself very much. I called Jen. Voicemail. I called Marni..she picked up! Phew! I really needed her calm voice and knowledge at that moment. She reassured me about my fluid intake/nutrition plan. Marni has raced here before too so I knew she knew how to calm me down. Success. I felt better.

I checked in my bag and went into thehotel lobby. I found a quiet spot, donned my Speedskin and stretched. This was it. I was about the race the Hawaii Ironman. The World Championships. Breath Ange Breath. Just Breath. Again, deep breath. I repeated this Many times that day. Later, for different reasons than before the race.

I walked calmly back to the start area. I saw Craig Alexander tending to his bike. Natasha Badman walked in too. She is adorable. She is tiny and was all smiles.
I was now standing at the end of the chute..about to enter the water. Chrissie Wellington strolled by my and sat down in a chair. SERIOUS Game face. Woah. The all smiles-woman was all business. She read a piece of paper with 3 massive cameras in her face. I was standing next to her. Pretty cool. It was time to get in...I kept my eyes open for sea urchins. The energy was building around me. Kate Major was standing on the beach with me taking deep breaths and looking out to the course. The Navy planes flew overhead and the parachuters jumped out. The pros swam out to the start line. It was really about to happen.

I swam out slowly. My arms felt super. I was so excited to swim hard. At least I know I can tackle the first leg without much ado. No worries. Sure, it would be hard at the start but I'd go hard and get my water.

We were out at the line and ready. The pros had started. I bobbed up and down so I didn't have to tread the whole time. Saving energy. There were lots of women around me and several from New England! We agreed not to crush each other at the start. I was about 5-6 rows back. I knew I didn't belong at the front in this race. I was in the middle of the pack. I thought it seemed smart. But what did I know. Apparently nothing....

BAM! The cannon fired. I was off......

The theme for this race report is basically this: words will fail me.I am going to have trouble putting into words some of the feelings of that day.
Here's my word for the swim: Fear. Yes, fear.
I have been swimming since I was 8. I love the water. I need the water. I am at home there. The Kona swim start is a whole different story. Let me tell you folks, I have never EVER experienced anything so frightening in my entire life. I was truly scared to death. This sounds dramatic but when I truly go back to that moment ( so much happened after that it's easy to forget) I was absolutely scared. I can tell you how people swam on top of me, how there was no clear water, how I got my goggles ripped off, and how chaotic it was but that doesn't really allow you to feel what I felt. I grabbed the surf boards twice and mumbled, "I can't do this...." We were not even going fast! I totally messed up my starting spot. I was barely moving forward. When I was able to take a few strokes, they were warm down pace. That seems hard to believe but I was surrounded by big men with messy strokes...they just thrashed their arms a lot and had no regard for the human lives around them. At least that's how it felt. I got so mad and emotional at one point I think I might have yelled right out loud, "I'M A MOTHER! DON'T KILL ME!" Ha...I know. Crazy but it was that chaotic. Sorry Mom and Dad. I know you hate to hear that stuff. I am not sure how people Don't drown out there.... Ugh. You get the point. I hated the swim. And trust me folks, you will not hear me say that often. Or really, ever. I love swimming. But I hated that swim. The first mile was useless. There goes my sub 1 hr. Out the window. It was vicious enough that I stopped caring about the time. (theme # 2 of that day..) About 2-3 minutes before the turn around, I found water. Alleluia.
I have no idea how long that first mile took me. I didn't dare look. But I do dare say the 2nd mile was a solid 10 minutes faster. I swam as hard as I could back to the pier. I was disapointed with what had just happened. But I was also very relieved that I survived and could now move on to the bike.

All the fishies were missing that morning! I guess they decided to get otu of the way for all those crazy athletes! I did see one little blue guy as I headed back into the pier.
Ok, finally, the famous steps. Those green steps I've watched Ironman atletes climb out of each year on TV. Now I was climbing them. It was a thrill. The walls were loaded with supporters screaming for us. I was fired up. And here's the best part. I was half way around the world and as I excited the water I hear, "GO ANGE!!!!" My friend Matt Geary and the daughter of another Maine woman racing (Kim Cole) were On the steps looking me in the eye as I climbed out. Awesome. Matt worked the race as part of a medical conference and Rachel (Kim's daughter) had a VIP pass and was helping too. I smiled and headed for the hoses.

time: 1:03 I am happy with this since I was stuck in the deathly washing machine for a mile. 6 min off my Lake Placid swim....but that's ok. At least I'm trying to be ok with it. It's frustrating. I know I could have been significantly faster...I just got trapped. But that's part of the game in Ironman. And, It wasn't able the time that day...

I took my time and rinsed my face and all my clothes thoroughly. Salt water can chafe badly if you're not careful. I put water in my mouth to get the salty taste out and headed into the T1 tent with my blue bike bag. Here we go.....

Part 2 coming soon...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Kona pictures....

Leaving home....we miss you boys!!!!
walking to my morning swim

Nat and Mark - our support crew

gorgeous view from Mary Lou and Nat's condo

I took this picture while chatting with coach Jen.

I got to sit and chat with Pro Bree Wee....I hope she has a Great day on Saturday! Thanks for hanging with me Bree!!

15 miles from Hawi...getting ready to test drive the Queek K

Full rainbow last night...good luck moment #2 The Maine ladies: Mary Lou Lowrie (her daughter on her left) , Kim Cole (her daughter in picture too) and me

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kona week!!!!

This post is way overdue. I apologize. My week has been full speed ahead and I really haven't had time to sit down.

I have to keep pinching myself because the fact that an Ironman is now only days away...keeps slipping my mind! The scene is just wild. It's gorgeous here...and we're having a blast.

I'll start with Monday morning. I left home in tears. It was very hard to drive away from the 3 little ones in the driveway. Deep breath.
And then, once at airport, I was told my suitcase was too heavy. Not just too heavy and you must pay more...too heavy and you must TAKE STUFF OUT!!?? Oh no...that was fun. I'm skipping ahead from that though because things here are much more interesting than my suitcase ordeal. The plane ride (we had 3 but one was the looooong) was 11 hrs long. I was like a caged animale. I started with a movie. My Sister's keeper. I had to shut it off after 12 minute because it involved a sick child and was way way too sad as I flew west 6000 miles away from my own kids. After hour 5 I almost lost it. In fact, in a way, I did. I was sick. I don't know what caused me to be sick. I just felt totally trapped and sick of the whole thing. However, I survived and by 8 p.m., we touched down in Kona. 2 a.m. Maine time. Two hours later we were in bed. Phew.

Tuesday was strange. I was up at 3:00. It was 9:00 in Maine. My body was messed up. By 4 I realized I was not really ready to be up and tried unsuccessfully to go back to bed. It just didn't work. I started the day exhausted. And yet, excited! I was ready to see what was happening.

Our dear friends Nat and Mary-Lou were so nice and invited us to stay with them in their condo for 2 nights. Mary-Lou is a rock star. She is a 57 year old buff fast woman. I admire her and hope to be like here when I am her age. She is racing Kona for her 2nd time. They were ready to show us the ropes.
We headed to the swim area for our first 'workout.' Ali'i drive was rockin' at that early hour. Amazingly hot fit scary-fast looking bodies everywhere. I tried to stand up straight and look like I belonged. Yikes. At least we were hopping in the water and I feel very much at home there. I just don't know how to describe things. YOu have most likely seen the swim start at Kona from watching it on tv. It was like that but seemed like a smaller area. We walked down some small stone steps into the sandy water. I had my eyes open for sea urchins. The water wasn't too warm at that spot. People said there are springs that cool it off in spots. I was excited. There was a buzz in the air. Ok...let's go. An hour swim. Sounds good.
I almost hollered right out loud when I started!!!!!!!!!!! I did stop and looked for someone to talk to. Eveyrone was just swimming along. HEY!!
DID YOU SEE THOSE FISH????????? I was smiling and laughing and well, NOT swimming!!! I had my hands abovemy head and I was just kicking. I stuck my head deeper and deeper. I rarely breathed. It was amazing!!! we are truly swimming through a tropical aquarium. It's stunning. shocking. Gorgeous. THe water got bluer adn bluer. A Deep aqua color. I can't say enough about the swim. If I didn't do anything else all week I would be happy. Fantastic.
Besides the fish...it is warm. It is Salty. And, it rolls. Big slow rolling swells. That day, my hands swelled. I think it might have been from the flight. It hasn't happened again.
I am writing this and realizing I can't possibly put everyhting I've done down on paper. I'll be up all night. And I must not do that. I have an Ironman in 2 days!!!! Oh that's right. I'm hear to race! It's paradise. I keep forgetting.
The rest of that day was spent: picking up my bike from Kona bike works...great people and so organized. that was smooth.
SHopping for food with Mark and Nat.
Seeing my little boys on webcam....made my day too.
I registered...saw Chrissie Wellington.
I rode on the Queen K and felt some of the heat and wind.
That was yesterday...I can't remember what else. Oh yes...the expo. I hit up some shops there...
Today was another swim. I met Marit!!! I recognized her at the swim start and that was great. We hope to connect more soon with Michelle too.
I scored myself a free, yes FREE TYR Speedsuit!! ha! Can you believe it? So did Mary Lou and our friend CArol!! FREE!! It's all about shwag here....free tshirts all over the place. COol stuff.
I had a swim lesson from Karlyn Pipes-Neilen in an Endless pool. That was great. She tweaked my stroke a bit. Alina...she remembers you and said she Loved working with you in Camden.
I met Paul Regensburg from Lifesport...Bree Wee's coach. He gave me some great advice about riding in wind. I saw Dave Scott and Mark Allen. I saw Michelle Jones running up Palani drive.
Mark and I moved into our hotel...oh that reminds me. We saw a few Gekkos and a sea turtle at MLou's condo. Our hotel is gorgeous...all open on the coast with waves crashing. I went for a run and tried to absorb and accept the heat. I tried to convince myself how great it felt. Maine will be cold cold for months very soon...I am taking the heat in with a positive attitude.
Yes, its' hot. It's humid. I have no idea how hot or how humid because I dont' have any little gadget that tells me. But trust me, you sweat walking 200 yards.
We had a wonderful dinner tonight on an outside patio overlooking a beach on one side and rocking shore on the other. We watched the sun set over the pacific. And that reminds me of something else....while out on my swim this morning, I stopped by a catamaran anchored 700 yards from shore and had an Espresso. It's not everyday that one stops at a boat in the Pacific ocean, while doing an open water swim, and has an Espresso.
I sat under a big tree on the beach today...over the wall from the expo...and spoke to Coach Jen. While we chatted about race day stuff...I collected beautiful white coral. Yeah...I'm soaking it all in.
I must go to bed now. Tomorrow will be anotehr fun day but I hope for more down time. Time to get off the legs more and focus on the big day. Time is ticking. I made my bottles tonight and stuck them in the teensy tiny freezer in our room. I hope it works and helps a little on Saturday.

I'll post pictures soon!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

This is It

It's time.
Ironman is one week from tomorrow.
My emotions are on overdrive.
My body is trained.
My mind is churning.
The bags are packed.
My kids are prepped and packed.
Their Grandparents are taking deep breaths.
The house is clean. Ok, sort of.
The schools are notified.
Monday morning I will board a plane with my patient and supportive husband. Kona bound.
I'm living the dream.

I feel lucky in many ways. Many many ways. I have this fabulous opportunity in front of me. I am lucky that I have a husband who supports my dreams. I am lucky to have parents and in-laws who are very willing and able to take wonderful care of our children while we are away. My goodness, they all said, "we'll take the kids!" as soon as they heard I was 2nd at Ironman Lake Placid and earned a Kona spot. Seriously, That night. Before I even signed on the dotted line. Thank you Mom and Dad. Thank you Al and Mary-Alice. I am lucky that my little boys are so well behaved and well, just plain awesome. I feel fine leaving them for over a week with their Grandparents. (well...fine isn't the right word. I DONOT want to say goodbye Monday) But I trust that they will be good boys for their Grandparents. They are such good kids. I am just a lucky woman for all those reasons and many more. And I plan to savor every single moment and to remember just how lucky I am to be able to go on this trip.

But it wasn't luck that got me here in the first place. Not at all. I have been working towards this in some ways, since I was a young girl.
I am going to spare you all my athletic history. It's just what it is. That's not my point. It's not about the years of HS or College swimming. It's not about the 6 marathons.It's not about the countless hours of practice at all the sports I did. No, that's not it.

It's about desire. And determination. Consistency. Perserverence. And basically, a total refusal to quit. You must have that. You must. It's necessary to achieve Any goal. Any goal in life.
I don't care if you're trying to write a book, knit a sweater, open a new business, secure a new job, feed your baby at 2 a.m., or earn your college degree. It doesn't matter what your goal is-you must not quit. Every now and then, something will come along and work out perfectly. It might not require much blood, sweat, or tears. But if that's the case, do you appreciate it as much? Probably not. It's that tough stuff....the things that make you work harder than you thought possible, the things that make you dig deeper inside than you knew you could, the things that make you scream and fight inside just to get-it-done. Those are the things that make you who you are.

Nine weeks ago, I raced in my first Ironman. I had no idea what to expect. I only knew what people had told me, what I read about, what I imagined based on my hours of training.
As I moved through the 140.6 miles, there were moments that I wanted to stop. I Needed to stop. I Had to stop. Many forces were against me. Whether it was the headache, the stomach pain, or the legs that were completely drained of energy, I had many forces telling me to just stop.
But I didn't. I refused to quit. I had set out on a mission and I was going to do it. No Matter What.

I learned from a young age to push on. It doesn't always feel good. Sometimes you must fight all the demons inside that want you to give up. You can't.

Triathlon is just a sport. This is a long swimbikerun event. Some may see it is as a frivolous hobby. As a distraction from my real life. You know, "how can you take care of your children if you're always training?" That's my favorite.
Yes, this is a sport. And no, it is Not the most important thing in my life. Not even close.
However, there are a lot of life lessons I have learned through this and my other sports. That's another post.
I know that I will face many many hurdles next Saturday. I know in my heart and in my head that I will suffer like never before. I am not trained to race in hot Hawaii. I am trained to race in Maine. That said, I am trained to be tough. To hold on. To stay focused. To believe in myself, in my strength and in my total refusal to quit. This, after all, is how I got to Kona.