Monday, August 31, 2009

The Adventure of a Lifetime!

Coles notes version - just call me Ms IRONMAN!!! 16:21 and some change.

For those ready for a long and hopefully good read - grab a wobbly pop (I know I have) a comfy cushion and settle in - story time is about to begin boys and girls.

There is sooo much to talk about but I will just cover day of the rest will be in another post with some pics.

The alarm went off at 4:30 am and I was up like a shot - another great sleep - thankfully I am pretty much naracaleptic (?spelling?). Kettle on, bagel buttered, OJ poured and yogurt opened. Tylenol 8 hour taken breakfast eaten. Bottles out of fridge in appropriate bags and clothes on - 5:20 out the door. I felt ridicuously calm - on the drive in as we made the last turn Joe cranked IRONMAN by Ozzy Osbourne on the car stereo - it made me smile. I hopped out of the car gave him a kiss grabbed my bags and headed off to the special needs trucks. The energy was amazing - wow I was at Ironman. After I dropped my special needs bags I headed to body marking, added some final things to my bike to run bag and went to stand in the potty line. Then the nerves finally started to kick in - Joe called at this time to say he was by the Peach on the beach and would be watching. I sipped my Gleukos bottle and held my banana realizing I was not going to eat the banana. My turn came for the facilities, I used them and went to drop my dry bag and then realized I needed to do another bathroom run - my nerves were screaming it dawned on me - dear god - I am going to do an Ironman - holy crap....

I suddenly became absolutely terrified and started to tear up - I took a deep breath and walked towards the arch to the beach and realized I still had my thongs on - a volunteer - they were so great - took them for me and I walked under the archway onto the beach amongst volunteers and officials clapping yelling have a great race. I walked on to the beach and looked at the crowd it was a sea of people along the entire stretch of Lakeshore there were thousands of people and then I turned and close to 2650 people were on the beach with me - I was really starting to panic now - I thought look for Joe find him but I could not see him and then I truly started to panic - this lovely lady on the beach could see my distress and said they are looking for you just as much as you are looking for them - you will be fine. I kept trying not to cry and then I did one final scan of the crowd as the national anthem started and I saw him and ran across the beach to the fence - I had to talk to him one last time. He could see my distress and was starting to tear up - he grabbed my hands and said it's okay you are going to be okay you can do this. I looked at him and said I love you, wiped my tears and ran back - okay I can do this. Breathe.

The gun went off and I started out at the back walking till it was about at my waist and then I started to swim and it was okay - I felt calm and I just focused on the swim - the very LOONNNG swim all 3.89 km. It was fun to see the divers below and I did wave and I did not get clobbered or anything - mind you I did swim the first 500 metres off course but once I sorted out the right buoys to follow it was great. Swim time :1:52 and change. Swim - checkmark now for a lovely bike ride through the country....

Transition went quickly - so quickly that everyone missed me coming out - I had decided to swim in my shorts and sports bra - I had trained that way with no issues. So all I had to do was have my volunteer - talk about feeling catered to - help me put on my jersey , wipe my feet, pull on socks, shoes and helmet and such. I hugged my volunteer and headed out of the change tent. I would have been faster but I needed to use the bathroom again.

Bike - I was hoping to get off the bike in 7-7.5 hours. Coach Barb and I had chatted and both felt this was a reasonable expectation. I had set a plan to get to the special needs around 4 - 4.5 hours top end 5 hours - 120 km marker. The ride out to Osoyoos was nice but not a cloud in the sky so I knew it was going to be a warm one - ah it is the Okanagan - big shock (final temp 36). Barb had said to keep my heart rate around 73 - 78 to Macleans - the first major hill - and then spin up and take it to Steady State - 78-83 for the majority of the rest of ride. I got to Macleans and spun up the hill easily after I settled into the arrow bars for the ride to the base of Richter's - I was looking forward to it. It was pretty uneventful and I got to the base of Richters about 3 hours into the ride - right on schedule. Richter's/Cypress one in the same to me - and up up we go - easy peasy - one guy I passed was like don't you know you are riding Richter's - I was like Cypress once a week for the last 6 months. The next guy (yes I was passing boys like they were standing still) said someone who knows how to gear - the whole time I was watching my heartrate - careful - careful. Next up the rollers - WEEEEEEE! The best part of any uphill is downhill and again thanks to Coach Barb for showing me how to tuck and fly. Legs were feeling great and then the out and back from hell - literally - this was a bleak moment for me - I cursed under my breath and questioned the accuracy of measurements - I still question it - 20 km my ass - and then I was at special needs. Thanks to the amazing volunteers - they were so sweet and helpul. I grabbed my cold bottles of Electrolytes, fresh gels, my chips and a V8 juice. Drank my juice ate a handful of chips and we were off - time at Special needs 5 hours - darn it. Still lots of time - next up Yellow Lake.

So I came out of the out and back from hell and back on to the highway by the Bear at Kereomeos and saw the Shaunettes - boo ya! Just in the nick of time - what a pick me up! At this time the chips and V8 were trying to make a come back - oh no no no. Some deep breathing and plain water seemed to settle everyone down. The crew was doing rotating drive bys and it was awesome intermixed with the other crowd support- spectators are amazing. And then I was at Yellow Lake - right it is just a smaller version of Cypress - bring it - and away we go - I was at the top in no time - Joe was like you were looking super strong - he actually had a guy who had dropped out in the car that he was taking to the next aid station to meet an ambulance and even that fellow said that he had not seen anyone look that strong going up Yellow Lake and this was his 8th Ironman. Again Coach Barb's magic at work. Plus at the top it was all downhill home - WEEEEE! But surprise - at the top when I was SUPPOSED to have a fast easy ride back to town - finally I hit headwinds - and not a little headwind - I actually had to work - grrrrr - no fair - but this is Ironman and nothing is a given. So my easy coast into town was now a hot headwind battle to transition. Thankfully there were so many supportive spectators in cars. They were like look at her great smile - I had a smile/grimace for 16 hours+ - the entire time.

A quick check of my watch told me I would get in before cut off but the 7.5 hour was unlikely - shoot. As I got to the main drag I had had enough - my neck had been siezing for the last 30 km, my toes felt like they were on fire literally and I would have seriouly considered selling the bike for a case of beer and pitcher of margarita's plus there were these 2 guys who would pass me and then just sit there - it had been going on for the last 5 km or and was annoying me - so I thought screw this I am so over the bike ride and just yelled at them on your left, sucked up the pain got into the arrow bars and flew by then and down to transition. TOtal bike time 7:48:54 - not 7.5 but not 8 hours and in before cutoff - I'll take it.

Transition 2 was a treat because June Bug - one of the Shaunettes - was working and as I came in all I heard was this scream and June running to me for the biggest best hug ever. I will not lie at that moment I grabbed her and looked in the face and with my toes on fire and my neck throbbing said to her quite seriously - June this has to be the stupidest thing I have done - don't ever do this - promise me - she was like no worries - but you are so awesome. So a quick change of shorts, socks, shoes, running cap and fuel belt another hug and off for a wee run.

So I set out at a brisk walk because I was hurting but determined - after I made the first 2 turns I started to run - okay not so bad - I can handle this - as I am running down Lakeshore I suddenly can hear the Karen and my Guardian Angel - Judith yelling form their hotel balcony - just a short run now Shaun - you got it in the bag. You're right - I have got this. Then I got to the first aid station and thought Pepsi - I NEED PEPSI and grabbed a glass and started to walk uh oh calves started to sieze - okay walk for a bit. Then I see the Shaunettes - Yes - awesome - pick me up but not enough and all of the sudden Cindy - my other riding pal/guardian angel is beside me. She is officiating the race and says give me a hug you are doing great! We chat for a bit and she says don't worry your legs will ease up - just the words I need to hear - as she rides off I decide time to implement my 10 and 1's. So I do this and it is going great - at around 7 miles I come across Lana - one of Judith's friends and we walk/jog together until about 9 miles and then I hit another bleak moment where my legs are just too tight so Lana continues and I change to a brisk walk. I continue this until about 11 miles where I look at my watch and quickly realize that for the first time ever I will be taking over 5 hours to run a marathon - yeesh I am getting my money's worth for this race - that is for sure.

The crowds had thinned out now and we were handed our glow sticks. Then I come to the downhill to the turnaround at mile 13 and special needs - I thought it is now or never, time to dig - so I just started running - there was potato chips at the turnaround - if that can't make a girl run I don't what can. I passed Lana and a few other folks and just motored right to special needs. I got to my chips and the Tylenol - popped the tylenol and opened my chips and went to my happy place - ketchup chips YUM. I ate about half the bag and tossed the rest - right lets get this thing done.

By now it was dark and then as I came around the corner cowbells and the Ironman song greeted me - the SHAUNETTES were in the house! "Ironman, Ironman Shaun is going to be an Ironman - she will swim, she will ride, she run day and night LOOK OUT Shaun's going to Ironman (sung to the Spiderman song)." It was awesome - so I started running, new strategy I would run from mile marker to next aid station and then walk aid staion to next mile marker which was about 100 - 200 meters after the aid station. The Shaunettes would drive past yelling, cowbells and cheering for everyone and then park up the road and crank the tunes- they were loved by all - plus I totally appreciated the updates on phone calls they were receiving from family and virtual shaunettes.

It was not easy the calves were seizing something fierce but I just kept saying in my head - Pain is Temporary - Pride is forever over and over. Joe was like you kept getting faster and it was pretty much uphill most of the way back - they don't call me the hill nazi for nothing. I just wanted to finish this thing and I thought shoot for under 16 hours. The plan was working until around 23 miles - then my legs really started to get upset with me - Pain is Temporary - Pride is Forever. Mile 24 came up and my left leg did a nifty little mini buckle thingy. WHOAA - right okay speed walk it is - I can not go down now. So then I started power walking as fast as I could - 2 miles - only 2 miles. And then I went wait in 2 miles my adventure will be over - the thing that has defined me for the last year will be over - but wait that means I can go on a new adventure - MOVE IT! I came around the corner to Lakeshore and went run - this is your moment - time to suck it up princess - (legs please hold up) - and I saw the Shaunettes - boo ya - ok lets rock it.

Around the corner and oh it is my Guardian Angel Judith - yeah! and down to the end and there are Karen and Cindy - awesome! and what is that in the background YMCA - one of FAVORITE SONGS - WEEEEEEEE! So I picked up the pace - only 1/2 a km now and then there was Judith and it was poetically the best time to see her because she has been my guardian angel from the moment I met her on my first bike ride with Coach Barb and total believer that I could do this. I could not think of a better person to run the last 300 metres to the bright lights with than her. And then it was my time - Shaunettes were there, the lights were bright and stands were full and cheering - OMG - Amazing!!! I crossed the finish line arms raised and had one last surprise JOE was there to hand me my medal and hug - the perfect ending to my amazing adventure. 16:21:33 I am an Ironman. I will do another post with the rest of my thoughts - but suffice it to say - it was everything I hoped for and was promised and now that the pain has subsided it was not the "stupidest" thing I have done and YES I will be doing another - because really "HOW BAD CAN IT BE!" I need to do sub-15 hours.

Peace out

Shaun

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

not much left to say

this will be my last post before the race and in the end there is not much left to say.

I have been a little paniced because yesterday I woke up and my neck was siezed and I could not turn it at all. It it is still pretty sore but I went to the doctor and had some xrays done and he says it is just a stiff neck so I am on some anti-inflammatories and no exercise for the next few days. In the end it is probably god's way of ensuring I am rested up.

Today I was walking the dog and we were in the trails by my house and there was a bench and a really beautiful song on my IPOD and I decided to stop and sit down and just think about next Sunday and it was surreal I just felt this inner peace and calm and I just knew I am going to be okay - that I was being watched over and to not worry I would be okay.

Coach Barb also called and we talked and she said it is stress and I need to remember that this is just really another day - that it is nothing new for me that I have been doing this for the last 6 months and she is right. It is what I tell my runners - listen it is just another Sunday run with a whole bunch more people - so just treat it that way. What a great coach - no wonder I like and trust her so much.

So next time I post I WILL BE an Ironman finisher and don't worry I will make sure to tell you every detail of the adventure.

Thanks for all your encouragement, thoughts and prayers they mean the world to me.

Peace out

Shaun

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

114 Miles of hope 26 miles of truth.

Marathon runners have a saying – 20 miles of hope – 6 miles of truth. The 6 miles (32 km mark) where you find out what you are made of. Where physically – if you have trained properly and hard – your body can do it – your mind will try to tell your body it can’t and thus 6 miles of truth. You find out who you are and what you are capable of.

If I extrapolate that to the Ironman I guess it will be 114 miles of hope with 26 miles of truth – aka the marathon. Am I ready – I believe so – and that is the most important part – I believe I am – Actually I know I am.

The only thing left that I can do is continue to work on my mental game – the last piece of the puzzle and likely the most important. So to that end – at the end of each day starting last week and continuing up to race day – I have been taking time to sit or lie in a quiet place and envision myself on race day from waking up and getting dressed to starting the swim. I visualize each part of the course (or imagine what it will be like for the sections I have not been on) and think about how I want to feel and what I want to do. Yep I even imagine the pain and the bleak moments that are sure to come and how I will work through them. Right up to the finish and my crossing with my arms held high! Always finish with that and I even see the clock in the background but I can’t share that with you because I always envision my whisper time. I will say this my goal is to finish upright and smiling in under 17 hours – realistically I believe 15 - 15.5 hours is likely but I will push for Whisper time because that is who I am.

I find myself getting a little emotional – 3 years ago when I off the cuff said I could do Ironman it was just a thought and not really something I meant but someone said – It would be really hard – they did not say I could not do it but that is what they meant – which again for those that know me – is the surest way to get my goat and ensure that I will do it. I hate being told I can’t do or have something – just ask my Mom. Even then I was only toying with the idea but the more I thought about it the more I thought why not – How Bad Can It Be? And more and more it became a goal and dream. I am always asked why? – I don’t really know why – I do know that since Granddad and Papa (my dad) passed away on the same day 4 years ago I have consistently reached outside my comfort zone and done stuff I never would have done before. I guess losing Grandpa in the morning – he was 94 and it was expected and then suddenly losing my dad that evening unexpectedly made me realize that life was too short so what was I waiting for?

Last October 4 – I really thought the dream had ended when I was rear-ended on my brand new bike. I remember lying in emergency waiting for a CT to see if I had broken my back and starting to cry – from the pain a bit, but mostly because I was afraid the dream was over. However I am pretty stubborn and have surrounded myself with some of the best health care professionals and coaches in BC who agreed to help me rehab and train to get to race day.

I also am super lucky to have met and made some truly great friends over the years from the Shaunettes and my family mumsy you rock it out) – who I adore and have supported and believed in me unfailingly over the last 3 years to the lovely green goddesses - my riding buddies - who have selflessly taken me under their wings this past year and shared all the ins and outs of Ironman with me. And of course the love-of-my-life Joe who has supported me and been patient through all the workouts, medical appointments, early morning races, canceled social appointments and such. Who I am sure has felt like he pretty much lives alone for the past 10 months while I have pursued my goal. To my sponsors and teammates – Nathan Team Canada – all very inspiring athletes – it still amazes me that I am a member of such a select group. Every single one of these people have helped me get to the start line.

Only 11 more sleeps till the gun goes off – Am I ready – without a doubt! Bring it! Because really HOW BAD CAN IT BE!
Peace out
Shaun

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lucky number....

Bib number #2482 - wow it is really going to happen! Gulp

Only 12 more sleeps....

S

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This better be allergies…

The past few days I have not been feeling fantabulous – a little achy, small headache and scratchy throat. I however, as I get older, have developed more and more allergies so it can be hard to tell if it is due to those or not. Plus I do take public transit a lot - always a crapshoot since there are some folks out there that never learned to cover their nose/mouth and insist on gaacking over everyone!

I have decided it is allergies but just to be safe I am dosing up on Cold FX and drinking water with lemon. Only 17 days to go – I do not have time for a cold.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Time Trials- I really like them – Squirrels not so much

For the third time this year Coach has had me register for a Time Trial race. It is a little intimidating to show up to these races where the riders are obviously hard core roadies. From their fancy tires to their army ant space helmets. There are very few women that are there and the ones that are there you can tell they were born mounted to a bike.

For those that have never ridden a time trial it is basically an individual race – you against the clock on a set course. You ride in time trial bars or for us Triathletes our tri bars which automatically outs you as a newbie and a dreaded triathlete. Fortunately our coach(s) are 2 of the most respected road racers in BC and so we are tolerated.

This race was 40km out in Squamish and it was the first time I have started on a ramp inside a trailer. I was more than a little anxious and freaked. To start in a time trial – someone holds your back tire/seat and you clip in. They count you down and release on 0 and you pedal or fall over. My first time trial I would not let them do it. My second one coach practiced with me and I did it on a flat road and it did help. Third time in the trailer I almost bit it coming out but fortunately recovered at the last second.

Coach says the trick to time trialing is to not go out too hard too soon. There were a bunch of other tips she had on gearing, staying in the bars, and such. Me being me cut to the chase gal -said so cole’s notes version – ride hard try to catch Cindy – teammate starting in front of me and stay in front of Karen and Judith – teammates starting after me! She rolled her eyes and said that is what you got from all that?!?!

I rode hard kept allowing my heart rate to incrementally climb through out the race, cadence high, stayed in the big ring and actually stayed in my Tri bars the whole time – my main goal was to see if I could catch Cindy and to stay ahead of Karen for as long as possible.

Karen is an incredibly gifted triathlete who pretty much ALWAYS wins her age group and well rides the rest of us into the ground - she is also in her 20’s but I guess after Lance’s performance can’t pull the age card anymore. But I digress so I just kept riding and every time someone zipped by me I kept expecting it to be Karen but nope just roadies in their army ant helmets. I got to the turnaround and Cindy was still quite a bit ahead of me – she had actually started about 7 minutes ahead so to catch her I was going to have to work hard and she was going to have to have a bad day – so far it did not look like I was going to catch her but hey Karen had still not caught me. Then I saw Karen and crap she was only about 300 metres behind me. Ah well I decided if she was going to catch me she was going to have to work for it! I dug in and started working harder and again everytime someone passed me I fully expected it to be Karen – but no – just army ants and then with about 5 km or so Karen was there – I said to her about time and she said I KNOW. Here is where it got weird I fully expected her to be off but I was keeping up. She maybe got 500 metres in front at most and I would start to reel her back in and then she would pull ahead – I am not even sure she was aware of this happening and then with about a km or so to go I decided to go for it and reached down for the last bit – and passed her and thought to myself YES – and then I really dug in – I could see the shock on her face when I passed her again! And I won’t lie – I had a teensy tiny moment of gloating but then remembered I was in a race so I just kept hammering because no way in heck was she crossing before me or catching me again. She might beat me time wise but I was going to finish first and I did! No I did not catch Cindy either but it felt great when Karen rode up beside me and said nice catch – honestly what a compliment! So final time 1:08:04 for 40km. Cindy finished 1:07:04 - shoot only a minute ahead. And yes Karen did beat me time wise by 4 minutes but I did not give it to her – I made her earn it!

I am honestly hooked by the Time Trial bug and really would like to look into doing more next year. I did place 2nd in my age group – hold on though – there was only 2 of us in it – and the other lady was ex-pro! Still better than a kick in the pants!

No I have not forgotten the squirrel comment – I don’t actually dislike squirrels but I am beginning to wonder if in a past life I was unkind to squirrels because seriously it feels like they are out to get me! I have rolled ankles more than a couple of times trying to avoid a bloody squirrel – usually just before races. Yesterday I was riding back from my volunteer stint at the Seymour Mountain challenge and coming back over the 2nd Narrows Bridge as I am coming off the bridge on the steep NARROW slope with Highway 1 on my Left and steep slope on my right there is a cute little black squirrel on the path up ahead. I am going a good clip and I have another rider right behind me. The squirrel is not moving – and I am getting antsy so I yell at the squirrel and the bloody thing starts to get out of the way and then stops - OMG – at the last second he darts to the left - I just about had a total coronary. The adrenaline rush was massive - at the bottom of the hill I stopped just to get my heart rate back down and stop shaking. The rider behind me was like holy crap – good thing for skinny tires because he jumped back at your rear tire – WHAT!!! Thankfully I was oblivious to THAT. He was like I thought you were going down for sure and I was looking for a way to not crash on top of you. Seriously – whatever I did to you in the past I am very sorry! Please just stop trying to maim me. Either way I figure it can’t hurt to bribe the ones in my yard with some nuts – maybe word will get out that I am okay and they will take me off the hit list.
20 days….
Shaun

Monday, August 3, 2009

Taper time....

27 days and counting - the panic attacks are starting to come and i am sure they will increase in number and intensity s ground zero approaches. Mostly I am just doing what I have been doing for the past 8 months - taking it one day - one workout at a time. It seems to have worked so far so why change it. I have officially moved into the bubble - will explain more later...

Mostly I am focusing on the positive thoughts and visualization. I honestly believe that I have done everything I can in preparation. Am I ready? I believe so. My longest ride was this past Sunday - just shy of 6 hours. I headed out from home early so I could go out to Iona and ride the headwinds before meeting coach and the group for our speed/interval workout. The interval workout was great - my legs were burning and coach pushed me harder than ever - we did 30 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 1min, 2/2, 3/3, 4,4 and back down same intervals. Brutal but necessary. As coach said to ride fast you need to ride fast - same thing I tell my clinic members - to run fast you have to practice running fast - aka SPEED WORK. We then stopped for coffee/snack and they went home and I set off for the final 2.5 hours of my workout. I decided I would ride UBC down to the base of West 4th and back along Spanish banks back up UBC hill and back to Marine and Cypress and then back home to Burnaby. The ride was hard, I tweaked my hip on Friday night and so it has been throbbing but then I thought about a talk I had heard and the speaker had said there will be dark times the trick to remember is that they will pass - it worked and then I was riding up UBC hill - I decided to visualize Yellow Lake in my mind and then about half way I realized - wow high cadence, heart rate under control, breathing good and feeling pretty good YES! Plus I passed people and I had been out just under 4 hours at this time so I was very happy.

The rest of the ride went well got home and went out for a 15 minute run. I am not going to lie I did an internal battle for the last 15 min of the ride about whether to run or not but in the end it came down to this it is IRONMAN and if you can't do 15 min how do you expect to do 5 hours!?!?! Run went well but hip was some angry with me thank god for physio.

Next weekend should be the last race before the big show - one last time trial - this one 40 km. Coach likes time trials because she says it is all about form and there is no BS it is just you and the bike nothing to hide behind kind of like Ironman. She says that it is all you and how you use your bike - don't go out too fast, accelerate throughout the ride, think about the course, remember form, form, form just like Ironman - poor form and you will hurt more than you need to - go out to fast and you will not have what you need for the end or the run and you can't hide - it is just you - no drafting, no group riding just you and form, form, form. I will shoot for an hour - 15 minutes - but that will be dependent on the weather and the course overall.

So the bubble you ask - I have some would call a history - through no fault of my own - I MIGHT ADD - of having incidents happen to me just before races - usually I still get to race day but it would just be easier to not have to go through it. There was the Squirrel/pinecone incident- where I sprained my ankle seven days out from the Kelowna half, the Intestinal virus again one week out - liquid diet up to race day, the derailer blow out incident, the faulty quick release incident, with the most serious being the bike versus car incident last fall one week before the Kelowna full. The basic rules of the bubble if you think it is a bad idea then stop and don't do it that means no crazy trail runs, white water rafting, zip treking, yada , yada. PRetty much work, workout, eat and sleep - not much different from the previous 9 months....

Oh and before I forget here is a shout-out for Special K - who not only broke 2:15 but busted through my prediction that she would do a sub-2:10 half marathon - she did 2:02 - that's right - girlfriend owned it just like I knew she would - super proud!

Peace out Shaun