Sunday, November 30, 2014

Race Report - Ironman Arizona

Alternte titles:
  1. The year that kept on giving (or was it taking??)....
  2. OMG - I DID IT!!
  3. Happy birth YEAR to me
  4. What was I thinking??  (this one actually lasted a long time - pretty much up until post Challenge 1/2 Ironman in August)
  5. Easy ways to accumulate debt ....and lots of it!
Nov 16, 2014, in my 50th year, when I heard the words "Cindy Pittman - You Are An Ironman!!" I did it, I really did it.  (3.8 km swim, 180 km bike, 42.2 km run - my time 16:18:27). Best finish I've ever had in a race - actually ran across the finish line, smiling like crazy!!

I didn't have superstar times like my teammates, but we all crossed the same line successfully, which was my goal.  The day itself was great.  I was calm in the morning and thought as long as I keep moving it will be a good day..... and it was!!  Elmar assured me I could complete this race in the time allotted....

The swim started out well.  I started near the back of the other 2600 people in the water; as I looked at my watch at the half way point, I was on schedule.  Then the swells were coming at us head-on and I was ~10 minutes slower out of the water than I intended.  And, I swim crooked.....

The bike got very interesting very quickly.  The 3 lap course consisted of 30 km into a 40km/hr headwind out and 30 km with a tailwind back.  I thought I did well on the first lap, slacked off the 2nd lap and had to push it on the 3rd lap. There was a 5km climb coming up to the turnaround on each lap that was hard, but it was sure fun coming down that 5 km with a tailwind doing 50+ km/hr. I tried to keep the back half of each lap >30 km/hr. My nutrition plan of eat/drink every 20 min worked well.  Saw most of my teammates who shouted out hellos on the bike - so much fun.  Fast bike course with the 3 loops - you were never on your own, but you had to pay attention b/c you were never on your own.  I saw 3 ambulances picking up racers and heard about a 4th - not good....

I wasn't panicked about the run, which is kind of naive given my longest run going in was 16 km.  I felt I had enough time to walk it if I had to.  Enter the best race crew ever!! Jenn and Heather said they'd be my support crew and I thought that was extremely generous of them - expecting to see them a few times along the route as it was two, 21 km loops.  What I didn't expect was for them to complete the whole marathon with me!!  Jenn made friends with multiple other racers as she walked along beside me (I think she was walking really fast!)  Heather came and went - also walking really fast or slow jogging beside me.  I was RUNNING!!  In fact I may have repeatedly said to them - "I'm a runner" hahaha.... just like a 6 year old with a newly acquired skill.  I want to say they didn't have to prod me too much, I did keep an eye on my watch.  I started my intervals with 2 min walk / 4 min run, then thought that might not be enough.  Then I went to 7 min run / 3 min walk, again feeling good, but I kept coming to an aide station in the middle of a run interval.  I finally settled into a run between aide stations, walk the aide stations - drink/salt tab, eat a little and keep moving.  I was still peeing, so I was good with my hydration.  The other thing in my favour was that the temperature was ~21'C while the sun was out. They had mile markers on the course, but they just confused me. It was much better watching for the signs that Jenn and Heather had put up along the course.  Then suddenly I had 5 km left and decided I better see what I could do as it was approaching 11pm (race ends at midnight after a 7 am start).  

It was so amazing running down the chute to the finish - going side to side giving high fives to people.  Then I saw MY PEOPLE - Felix, Jane, Nikki, Faizel, Jenn & Heather.  I wanted to stop and hug them all I was so excited to see them!!  But then the announcer said "it" - Cindy Pittman, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!  I pumped my arms and ran across the line ecstatic and smiling.  

There's always something in retrospect:
  • Best pre-race meeting ever - Ed's race prep talk!!  I can report that the pothole around the manhole cover by the gas station has been fixed.
  • I don't often stay up 16 hours in a day, never mind being in perpetual motion.  I wondered if I could do it.
  • Best meals - La Bocca Restaurant; Poncho's Mexican Restaurant - we ate with el Presidenti, Bill Clinton, circa 1999
  • You want a disgusting swim, this could be it, minimal visibility - you'd take a stroke and your arm would land on someone's back, then it would kind of stick, wetsuit to wetsuit, and you'd have to pick it up, sight and go again.
  • Practiced in/out of the water at the swim exit 7 times (yes, I counted) 
  • Great to see everyone after the practice swim to have a group photo of Talisman Tri Club members and wish each other well.
  • Weird to have spectators calling you by name on the run course - finally turned my race bib around b/c it was weirding me out.
  • Bacon on the run course!!
  • Best sign on course - "Dig deep, like a kid picking boogers" (gross, but funny)
  • Jenn got the life story of a guy behind me she was chatting with; someone else kept admiring her coat, out loud; I think she was texting Elmar frequently too - how did she know I was supposed to be doing 7/3 intervals???
  • Heather kept it light and is an inspiration to me as she's completed a gazillion Ironman races and was such a positive influence all year!!
  • Can't say enough about handicap height toilets post race - my quads are forever grateful...
  • Umm, perhaps 9 pair of shoes was a bit of overkill - especially when 2 are the exact same runners - 1 new pair, 1 old pair => wear 1 new (left) and 1 old (right) on race day!!
  • Over the course of the year I decreased 1 clothing size; moved up 2 notches on my watch; lost 15 lbs;  had 3 pair of runners on the go at one point.
  • I never did make it to the top of Edworthy standing (I was thinking about that on my 3rd bike lap though)
  • Best race finish: 4 medals and 4 finishers!!

Felix Rooke, Jen Begg, me, Jane Wong

Huge thank you to all the people who had faith in me and wished me well throughout the year - you all made a difference and I thought of you all on race day at various points.

Ciao & happy training,

Sunday, November 2, 2014

It's Getting Close to Go Time

Officially 2 weeks out from Ironman Arizona......

I'm feeling ready and excited!!

It's been a great year of training with lots of ups and downs.  Started out with a few glitches that a change in coach took care of.  This lead to some running issues that set me back a couple of months - cue up the water running and elliptical, but then a new Sports Med Clinic at COP with no waiting list was a gift.  I proceeded to get an injection of Durolane in my arthritic knee which was very successful in managing the pain and a gradual return to running without pain.  My bike went through a pretty good overhaul with no residual issues and continues to be my faithful partner.  Swimming has been hit and miss due to some neck issues.

Wow, that paragraph doesn't make this sound fun at all!!  But it really has been a work in progress. And it's actually one of the reasons I like triathlon - if something is broken you can still train something else.  That and the fact it's all in a straight line and less stressful on my knee?

I was so looking forward to a 3 month cycling trip to India at the beginning of my 50th year, but when the stars didn't align for that one, I still felt I needed a significant physical challenge.  I may have taken on more than I bargained for, but I have been consistent in my training and I've got a great team behind me: Coach - Elmar Heger, Physio - Dave Holmes, Massage Therapist - Christine Leslie and all  my training partners - we have shared many long rides together, compared notes in the locker room and supported each other along our journey to the start line.  I may be the weakest link in this group, but I've put in my time and will do my best to complete my race and here "Cindy Pittman - you are an Ironman" before midnight on Nov 16.

I know I have lots of family and friends rooting for me and I'm looking forward to racing with my training partners and having Alan and Pauline, Jen and Heather their for support.  There will be a crew from the Talisman Tri Club on hand too, and it will be so exciting to see them on the race course - perhaps someone will have packed a cattle prod to keep me moving?!

My race number if you're interested in following on race day is 1607.