Monday, November 17, 2008
With all of our sponsors returning for another stellar season, and with brand new sponsor, Headsweats joining the team, we're looking forward to giving back to the community in an even bigger way. In addition to our current grassroots endeavors - Simply Stu's World Wide Triathlon, Trisaratops's Youth Initiative, along with RobbyB and Iron Wil's Wisconsin Brick Adventure - just to name a few - we're now planning to reach across borders and oceans in order to do our part to change the world, and we want you to be part of the movement.
Do you have what it takes to fulfill the Evotri Iron Challenge?
This winter, we challenge you to complete an Iron distance race every month. 140.6 miles of swimming, cycling and running at 2.4 miles, 112 miles, and 26.2 miles respectively. You have 30 days, and countless ways to break it down to fit your schedules. Feeling especially elite? Why not try two, even three Iron distances per month? Not only will the top performers receive sweet swag and high honors, they'll also be raising money and awareness for charity JUST by logging miles! Also, complete at least one Iron distance each month and be entered in our grand prize drawing.
Here's how to get involved:
Start by joining the Plus3 Network at http://www.plus3network.com, it's free for you, and priceless for so many more. Log your miles over the next several months and watch them turn to dollars for charities all over the world. Team Evotri sponosr SRAM, among other industry leading companies like Pedros have partnered with Plus3 and pledged to donate cash to the charity of your choice for every swim, ride, and run you do - charities like World Bicycle Relief, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Safe Routes (ensuring kids' safe passage to school), and The Environmental Defense Fund, among many more.
Once you've created your account at www.plus3network.com, follow the next three steps to not only keep yourself motivated over the coming months, win cool prizes and meet awesome people, but also to have your mileage make a difference all over the world. After you've created your free account:
1: Select a sponsor and a charity of your choice
2: Under PEOPLE, search for "Evotri" and do a "friend request"
3: You will then receive a request to join the Challenge
And that's it. Let the base training begin!
In addition to our Evotri Iron Challenge, we're preparing for top performance in 2009 in other ways. Join the team as one of our honored Ambassadors and be eligible for exclusive opportunities throughout the year, as well as receive periodic training advice from top pros and industry insiders like the unstoppable up and comer, Cycleops's Will Smith, and the legendary Robbie Ventura! Visit Evotri.com and click the "Become an Ambassador" tab at the top of the page to get started.
Also, stay tuned to Evotri.com for the official 2009 press release, featuring more details on how you can even become a fully-sponsored member of the team. That's right, we're adding TWO to the crew near the start of the year, so get involved early and stay ahead of the pack!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
In reflecting on my experience, I think I gained so many things a lot of others always gain during the Ironman journey. Spending so much time outdoors, I gained more appreciation for Nature, both the beauty and awesomeness. Water lillies, sun, wind, fields, bayous, wildlife, heat, snakes, waves, sunrises, cold, lightening, rain, beaches, sharks, sunsets, fog, flowers, currents, dogs, trees, hurricanes, birds, leaves, hills, driftwood - I have stories from my training about everything on this list.
I was also reminded over and over how good people can be. The triathlon community in general is so incredible, from volunteers to race supporters to fellow triathletes. It's also great to feel the support from your family, your friends, and your community. I could not have completed my Ironman without the support of my family and friends, and it became so much more meaningful, knowing I had the support of so many in my community.
I was amazed at what the human body can do. With training, nutrition, rest, and a little determination, there's no limit to what it can accomplish. I have seen over and again that people can do way more than they think they can, including me. Anyone can do triathlon.
But I think the most important thing that I gained from my Ironman experience was some peace of mind. Peace about turning 40 this year. Peace about having rheumatic arthritis. I'm realizing that aging and disease is part of life - we're all subject to it sooner or later. It's not external to you - it is you and your body. It is not some evil force to be overcome, but a natural force to be accepted and accommodated. My satisfaction in life will come from my ability to accept what comes my way, adjust my goals/plans accordingly, and happily move forward on the new course. Doing a full Ironman this year with this 40 year old arthritic body helped show me that my new course is not as far off the old one as I thought.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
KA - BOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!
The canon goes off and my race has started. I run into the cold water with 2200 other people, off to swim a 1.2 mile rectangular loop out in the Gulf of Mexico - twice. We run out the first 30 yards or so in knee deep water, then lunge forward to try to start swimming. After swimming a few minutes with cold water seeping in through the seams of my wetsuit, I hit another shallow area and walk through chest deep water. Then the water really deepens and warms up.
Everyone is swimming toward the same series of buoys set out to mark the course. It is very crowded, with little room to try to swim normally. I have a very chaotic, anxious, claustrophic kind of feeling, with so many people packed in together in water. The only thing I see is snapshot views to my left side as I take breaths. I see blurs of wetsuits, swim caps, elbows, feet, and splashing. Occasionally I actually see someone else's goggled face as they take a breath to the right. I try to keep an arm in front of me all the time to avoid being kicked or elbowed in the face. The sun is just starting to peek up over the horizon over the beach resorts in the distance.
I reach the buoy farthest out and make a left turn. There is major traffic at these turn buoys, as everyone cuts in close to swim the shortest distance. Everyone switches to a breast stroke to maneuver the turn, then back to freestyle to the next turn buoy, where we turn left back toward the beach. By this time, I've really had enough of the crowd, so I try to shift to the left where the water's more open. I'm finally able to actually swim with a normal stroke without hitting anyone else. Unfortunately, I swim off course into the center of the rectangle. A kayaker catches me and redirects me back on course. Crap - lost time. I aim for the last buoy where everyone is getting out of the water.
The swim is a two loop course, so we get out of the water, run across the beach over a timing mat, and get back in the water for lap 2. By now the water is a lot less crowded, and it's much easier to swim. Lap 2 is much less eventful and actually very enjoyable. I was careful to spot more closely on the return leg so I didn't end up in BFE again.
Swim split 1:24.
I run through transition from swim to bike gear. My family members have volunteered to be wet suit peelers, and all 7 of them grab my wetsuit and pull it off of me in no time. I go into the transition tent and put on my biking gear. I have a sore backside from a training injury, so I wear 2XU tri shorts with 2XU bike shorts on top for extra padding. Out of the tent to the volunteers with sunblock for some coverage on my face, neck and legs, then to my bike.
The bike is a 112 mile, single loop course. I start out going west along the beach past all of the resorts, then cut north. The wind is from the northeast, so the first few hours of the bike has the wind in my face. At this point, I'm trying to settle in to a rhythm and get comfortable. I know that I'm going to be on the bike for a while, and that I have a full marathon to run when the bike's over. It's very tempting to get caught in all the excitement and bike hard, but knowing all that I have ahead, I constantly have to pull back. My CycleOps power meter is great for pacing myself, and I try to maintain a relatively constant power output level, regardless of the wind, the incline, or what other bikers are doing.
I'm trying to eat a lot while I'm on the bike. I've packed PB&J sandwiches, some Clif bars, and some gels. I drink water to stay hydrated - there are aid stations every 10 miles or so that offer water, gator aid, gels, and fruit. My family meets me at mile 45 and cheers me on - it's so great to have supporters along the way.
Drafting behind another biker is illegal, so I have to stay at least 4 bike lengths behind the person in front of me, which gets a little tricky when the course gets congested. I end up playing leap frog with other riders, passing each other back and forth. No one talks much on the bike because you're not allowed to ride side by side. The only exchanges are occasional words of encouragement as you're passing.
Miles 60-75 are especially difficult because the course turns back into the wind. By mile 80 or so, I'm really tired of being on the bike - my feet hurt in my bike shoes, my backside hurts on the seat, and my neck hurts from riding crouched down in aero position. At mile 80 I still have 32 miles to go - another 2 hours !!
There's one bridge on the course that I have to go over twice - once on the way out, and once on the way in. As hard as it is to pedal up that bridge, I'm so happy to see it - I'm back into familiar territory, and I know what I have left ahead of me. I try not to spend too much getting back in - other riders are really gunning for the bike finish. But I follow Coach Dan's advice and spin back in, stretching my legs and trying to let them replenish somewhat for the run start. I have never been so happy to get off my bike.
Bike split 6:34.
Next, I transition to the run. The run is a two loop course totalling 26.2 miles. Before I start, I eat a big hunk of peanut butter rice krispie treats - a really good start. It is somewhat overwhelming to think about running an entire marathon at this point, so I think instead about just getting to the turn-around at mile 6.5. I start slowly, just trying to find a pace/rhythm that I can maintain.
There are crowds of people lining the streets, all cheering us on. Some are playing great music, some are grilling and drinking beer, and some are just sitting and cheering us on. The course takes us east along the beach through neighborhoods to a state park, where we turn around and head back in along the same route. I make it through the first half of the marathon and have to turn around just shy of the finish line to make another loop. My family is there to cheer me on as I head back out.
Miles 13-20 are tough. I start getting behind on my nutrition - I can feel myself getting hungry. I start eating more at the aid stations, which are every mile. I try pretzels, cookies, gels, but nothing is as good as big, green grapes. After eating them at several consecutive aid stations, I start feeling much better.
At mile 20 I make my last turn toward the finish line. I decide that all I really need to do is make it to mile 25 - the last mile or so would take care of itself. I go mile to mile - just get me to the next aid station - 21...22...23...24.
At mile 24 I realize that I can hear the finish line announcer and the crowd. I decide to run it in without aid at mile 25. I see the finish line in the distance and family members lining the chute, cheering me on. I cross the finish line and throw my arms in the air - I've never been so happy to stop. A volunteer grabs my arm and guides/supports me to have my chip removed and receive my finisher's medal. I'm wrapped in a foil blanket to stay warm, as it has cooled considerably when the sun went down.
Run split 4:10.
Total time 12:28.
I hobble back to our condo with my family to eat supper. I rest, drink water, and eat. Later, we all get in the hot tub - pure heaven.
I've learned a lot about myself and life through my Ironman journey. I'll share some of these thoughts on my next post.
Where do I begin an Ironman race report? At the most important part - with thank you's. Seriously, without the support of these individuals, this event would have not been possible, or would have been a lot more difficult or less interesting/exciting. Thank you Lisa, Catherine, Anne Lee, Signe and Vroni for all of your tireless support of your husband/Dad, and for being so understanding of my relative absence in your life this summer/fall - I promise not to do this again any time soon. Thank you Phyllis and Judy - there's nothing like the love and support of a mother. Thank you Mel, Bob, Donald and staff of BMC - I really appreciate your understanding and patience in working with me, despite my often being absent, tired or preoccupied. Thank you Coach Dan from Vision Quest Coaching for the incredible guidance and insight you've given me this past season - you have helped me meet or exceed every goal I had set for myself. Thank you Corey and Clay for doing IM-FL with me - the training has been a blast, and I've learned a lot from you. Thank you Anne, Casey, Dylan, and Peighton for coming to Florida and cheering me on - you don't know how much it meant to me for you to be there. Thank you sponsors - BMC, CycleOps/Saris, Zipp, SRAM, 2XU, and Vision Quest Coaching - you produce the ultimate in triathlon gear and coaching, and your products have truly enabled me to maximize my potential. Thank you Evotri teammates Stu, Rob, Michelle, Tracy, J.P., Chris, and Sara - your support and encouragement were awesome. And thank you to so many other family members and friends who followed me through training and the race day and watched me finish, then called/emailed to congratulate me - your support has made this a lifelong memory for me.
I woke up at 4:00 Saturday morning. Lisa got up with me and started helping me get ready for the day. Transition opened at 5:00, so I had time to finish packing my gear bags and my special needs bags before heading over. I hurried up and made 4 half PB & J sandwiches (my endurance staple) and headed over to transition.
In case you can't tell, yes, that is an LSU jack-o-lantern, halloween candy, and a bottle of alcohol on the counter.
It was a brisk 44 degrees Saturday morning, so I was very happy to put my wetsuit on after I got my body marked. I then walked all around transition, dropping off all my bags. I remember thinking, "Boy, I'll be glad to be getting this bag during the race!" especially the special needs run bag.
Then there was the walk out to the beach. I remember straining my eyes to see the water conditions in the dark, hoping to see a calm sea. Yes! Pretty flat. I tried to zip up my own wetsuit as I walked with the crowd. The girl behind me saw me struggling and helped out - typical triathlete kindness. I walked across the beach, my bare feet passing through cold dry sand. I walked across the timing chip mat into the triathlete holding area for the swim start. I scanned the crowd that lined the holding area, looking for my family but didn't find them. I put on my swim cap and goggles and watched the pros start at 6:45. We're next. Oh shit.
I look at the buoys way out there. I see triathletes hugging each other, wishing each other well. I wonder if any of us would die on the swim - someone had died on the swim the past 2 years. Others are swinging their arms, jumping up and down, stretching their muscles, getting them ready for some work. Some are sitting in the sand, hugging their knees, deep in thought/meditation. High energy music is playing. Where are Corey and Clay? "Everyone must get out of the water for the start in 2 minutes!" Wait - did he say 2 minutes? "Good luck, Jim - tear it up!!" "I love you, honey! Have a great race!" My goggles are fogged up already - I'll have to clear them when I get in the water - I can't even see the buoys through them. I'm so lucky to be here. Maybe I should try to move over to the left some more. What does this day have in store for me?
KA - BOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!