Maggie vs Dog

Maggie vs Dog: Part 1

As the title of my article implies, I have been involved in a collision with a dog: me on a bike, and a dog chasing after me. I lost the fight, without even a chance for a rematch. As I am lying there, in the hospital bed, several questions and concerns popped in my head.

You see, I have been a very active triathlete for the past 12 years. I stumbled upon this sport as a way of rehabbing a bummed knee. It was the last time I ever was slowed down for an injury. Knock on wood, the most I suffered was perhaps some bad chaffing, and the usual lost of toenails. No tendonitis, no stress fracture. Just me and my sport: day in and day out.

Of course, this changed a couple of months ago. The “invincible” triathlete now had a hard time breathing, let alone just moving around. I was then immediately taken into the roller coaster of emotions: Will I get better? How long will it take? Will I ever PR again?

And then something clicked: I am indeed a triathlete. For every race, and almost every workout, I have learned to push myself to the limit, learning how to deal with difficulties, learn from my victories, learn how to focus on myself and letting go of my competitors. I know very well how to deal with pain, how to make peace with it. I know just how to push my body, how it reacts and how it moves. I know how to pick myself up, brush myself off and go on after a bad race. I know how to look at adversity in the eye but also look at the glory and the amazement of how wonderful a body can function.

And that, my friend, is what helped me the most.

I vividly remember, again, lying down in the hospital bed, that I would be ok. That I had, just now, signed up for a very long race. Unfortunately, I did not know how long this race was going to be and where the finish line was. But I knew I had toed the line just like every other race: with my will to do my very best. I needed to concentrate on what I could do, versus what I could no longer do. I had my race bib on for this new race to recovery and I was ready. Bring it own.

I sincerely think this attitude is what kept me from falling into a very dark hole…The things I had learned as a triathlete was now being useful in my daily life. It was difficult, but I was now “racing” to get my health back. I have also been celebrating any new improvement just like we celebrate a new PR. All the same

As the title implies, there will be a Part II. Maybe a Part III. But some time down the road. After I have cross the Finish Line.

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Pam’s Ironman Wisconsin 2011 Race Report

Lining up for the swim start as the sun rises.

The day started at 4:00am after a surprisingly GREAT night’s sleep! I was in bed by about 8:30pm and slept soundly until 4am. After some last minute packing of special needs bags and nutrition, Maggie and I met my brother in the lobby and we were off to Monona Terrace. The morning went pretty smoothly. We droped off my special needs bags, added nutrition to my bike, got my body marking and had a few potty stops. About 6:15am, Maggie and I headed to the swim start to sit and watch the sunrise over Lake Monona. It was a beautiful morning and all was good until that sunrise…. then my emotions kicked in. After some tears, hugs and lots of encouragement, I put on my wetsuit, turned in my dry clothes bag and headed into the water to find my spot and wait for the cannon. I had decided to start to the right of the ski jump and about middle of the crowd. I had heard lots of different advice about the start but since I used to be a member of the water ski team at Baylor and did a little jumping in college, I felt drawn to the ski jump – a sense of comfort I guess! Well that ended up being another great omen – my swim went GREAT!!!

Swim Start of just under 2500 athletes

I loved the swim start!!! Jockeying for position in the water, I think helped me swim with determination and focus. At the start of the second loop, I glanced at my watch and saw 38 minutes!!! Wow my goal was to start the second loop at 45 minutes. The second loop was much calmer, not as much bumping or contact with the other swimmers and I think that slowed me down. I had a comfortable but rather boring second loop. I came out of the water at 1:23 (1 hour and 23 minutes) WOW! 7 minutes ahead of my prediction!

Getting my bike in T1 from Alex

I found Maggie in the transition changing room and she helped me get all my  bike stuff on and sent me out the door. So nice to have a few words of encouragement from Maggie as I started my least favorite leg of the race. Yes, biking is not my strength. As I approached my bike rack, I saw yet another friendly welcoming face, Alex! Alex handed me my bike and I was off to coast down the helix and out onto the course.

Coming through Mt Horeb on the second loop

The first loop of the bike course was great. I resisted the temptation to check my pace but felt pretty good, things were going according to plan. I was taking on nutrition and fluids at my desired rate and my stomach was doing great. I saw my sister-in-law, Stacey, in Mt Horeb but missed the rest of the family there. I was surprised by the crowds on the hills between Cross Plains and Verona. It reminded me of climbing the Alpe d’Huez in France before the Tour de France! People on both sides of the roadway, cheering and holding signs, dressed in costumes and running along side of you! I was even more surprised to see my friends, Sally, Beth and Jacinda, at the top of one of those hills!

A few of the people along the way who brought a smile to everyone's face no matter how bad you were feeling!

The second loop proved to be a little tough. I started feeling a little less energetic and just not right. I stopped in Mt Horeb at the aid station to make some changes – dump one bottle of sports drink and switch to water. I then decided to increase my fluid consumption to every 15 minutes instead of every half hour as I didn’t feel hydrated. The temperature was hotter than I had expected and I needed to keep my body cool and hydrated. I started out only to see my family a few blocks down from the aid station so I stopped to chat and get a little extra break and encouragement. This was probably my worst point in the whole day, so I was glad I had a lot of fan support there! After chatting for a minute or two I pedaled away.

Climbing a hill with a few of my Ironman friends

By the time I reached Cross Plains, I needed more water, food and a potty. While I was in the potty, two boys held and restocked my bike. I came out to full bottles, a few smiles and a banana! Love Ironman volunteers. I pedaled on knowing the hills were next and praying the crowds were still there! Not only were the crowds there but my 3 IronFans (Beth, Jacinda and Sally) with a BIG poster of me from the first loop!!! Talk about a pick-me-up!!! I knew I would get up that last hill and back to Madison!!! I did experience two entire leg cramps on the final miles of the bike and really was concerned how I was going to do on the run. I consumed all the food, salt and fluids on my bike before I got back to Madison hoping I would be as ready as possible for the run.

Pedaling up the helix was not bad at all and I was thrilled to not only turn over my bike to the volunteer at T2 and also to see my friend Kelly and give her a hug. I did tell the bike handler he could keep my bike! I ran into transition, grabbed my bag and found another great volunteer to help me put on my fresh running clothes. I also took a minute to drink two cups of water and take 2 salt tablets. Once I was dressed and had all my nutrition stowed in the proper places (side pockets and in my favorite cleavage alley of my SkirtSports top!!!!!), I ran out of transition for some more sunscreen and a little jog around Madison.

Approaching the end of the first loop about 12.5 miles into the run

The first few miles of the run were okay and I consumed a lot of pretzels and sports drink to make sure I had enough salt/electrolytes on board. I continued consuming bananas at every aid station, water and grabbing sponges and ice to cool my body. At Mile 4, things started clicking and my body started feeling good. My plan was to run from aid station to aid station and that is pretty much what I was able to do! I did walk for 1 minute between a few aid stations that were or seemed more than a mile apart. The run was going really well and as I had been told “If you can run most of the marathon, you will pass hundreds of people.” I have no clue how many people I passed but I do know a number of people passed me as I grazed in each aid station. I  tended to be faster in between the aid stations but I took my time once I was in an aid station, eating and drinking as much as I could hold or stow in my top! I am sure I was quite the image shoving food here and there! I must have looked like I was starving!

Heading out for the 2nd loop of the run course

Although my stomach was feeling pretty bloated, I didn’t feel too bad and knew my run would be good. It got a little dark on sections of the path and I could not see where I was putting my foot down, so I worried a bit about tripping. My right knee started hurting, so I knew the slope of the road was getting to me. I tried to run on the crest or opposite side so I would have an opposite slope. That seemed to help so I just kept moving forward as fast as I could. I did have to make a few potty stops but knew I was still ahead of my goal so it was okay. Some where along the 2nd loop, I switched my watch to time of day since that is what I had written my race day plan using and I was tired of translating! Silly me, I don’t know why I didn’t switch my watch earlier! As I began to approach State Street the crowds got larger again and the run got even easier!

Coming down finishing shoot towards the finish line

It is uphill to the Capital and I knew this so I was very prepared, but the adrenaline from the crowds yelling “Way to Go, Pam”, “You’re about to be an Ironman”, “Congrats, Pam” must have had me running faster than I had planned. So when I got directly across the square from the finish, I needed to walk so I could catch my breath. The crowd immediately started yelling “Don’t walk now you are almost there!!!” I almost screamed “Sc–w you, I have been running for hours!!!” but I didn’t I just smiled and tried to catch my breath. I walked about 1/2 a block and then started running again! The crowd seems to get louder at each turn (you run three sides around the capital before you turn away from the Capital and run down the finishing shoot with the Capital building at your back). That last turn is AMAZING! The crowd is SOOO LOUD I couldn’t hear anything and all I could see was the finish line.

About to cross the finish line

It seemed that everyone was yelling my name and I didn’t know where to look so I just stared at the finish line and concentrated on getting there as quickly as possible! During the run, I had decided I was going to try and do a little victory jump when I crossed the finish line. Well, I have never had much of vertical jump, so after 14 hours and 32 minutes I had a smig less! I probably got about 2 inches off the ground and had it not been for all of the upper body movement and swinging arms, no one would have even known I had tried to jump. Well except that my landing wasn’t very graceful and I scared the volunteers as they thought I was going to fall! I did not fall and amazingly I did not cry or get emotional! I think the big smile that I had apparently been wearing all day just got a whole lot bigger! I had not only finished Ironman Wisconsin and was now an Ironman, but I also did it 13 minutes faster than my best prediction. My overall goal had been to stay under 15 hours, a goal I beat by 28 minutes! What a day!!!!

Link to video of my finish, I am not sure how long this site will be active as it is the professional photographer trying to sell me photos!

Celebrating with my parents, brother, Jeff and sister-in-law, Stacey.

Ironman Wisconsin Official Times

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Pam’s Race Day Plan

Best laid plans don’t always work out, but this is my plan/hope for tomorrow.

7:00am  Swim     Try and find clear water, swim easy, control butterflies “You’re Long, You’re Lean and you are in control” Maintain steady comfortable pace, stay relaxed and don’t worry about the congestion. Should start 2nd loop at about 45 minutes

8:30am                Out of swim

8:45am  Bike       Start out easy and Move into a comfortable pace (maintain at least 15mph avg with 80+ cadence) and start nutrition/hydration plan

Top of hour (:00)     Gu
Qtr Past (:15)          Fluids & Salt
Half Past (:30)         Mojo
¾ Past (:45)             Fluids & Salt

12:30                   Should start second loop. Second loop if feeling okay and want to try and pick up pace otherwise just maintain at least 15mph avg with 80+cadence

4:25pm                Finish Bike

4:45pm  Run       Run from aid station to aid station and walk through aid stations. Take on water, sports drink and cookie or fruit at every aid station

7:15pm                Start Second loop

9:45pm                FINISH

Well folks I will let you know how it goes or you can see how it goes. Here’s to working the plan!

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Less than 24 hours….

Yep, tomorrow at this time I should be on my second loop of the swim! Hopefully the butterflies will be gone and I will be “Long, Lean and In Control” (Thanks Tod Ondell, mantra from 2000 that has been with me on every tri swim for 11 years).

Yesterday was a serious of queues!!! We started the morning with a swim. Unfortunately the swim buoys were not yet in place but we know the course pretty well and were able to get an approximate swim of one loop. Water was a little choppy on the back side of the rectangle but not too bad. Just a few snout-fills! (not sure if that is a word but describes how it felt!).

RacenumbersWe then got in line to sign our lives away, gain our new identity (#736) and receive all of our ID tags (numbers). We then had to step on the scale for our Official Weigh In. I guess that is in case we “go down” they know how much weight we have lost over the course of the day. In my experience, my weight will be EXACTLY the same!!! Either I am good are re-hydrating during a race or my body holds every ounce it can and refuses to let it leave!!

After receiving all numbers, instructions and necessary gear. We ventured into the Ironman Store, where I located my second “Good Omen”. Being a cheapo I wasn’t planning on buying much IM gear, but I found the Deal of the Day. Last years Ironman Wisconsin running jacket for $29.99 ($120 regular price)!!! Score!!! Then I had to weight in the check-out line! OMG 45 minutes later I paid for the jacket! I did notice the group of guys in front of me in line started off with one or two items each. By the time we reached the cash register, they each had shopping baskets OVERFLOWING with Ironman gear!!! It was really quite entertaining watching them “talk” each other into new items. Actually one would say “Look at this!” and they would all go get one! The frustrating part was that everyone was waiting for me so we could go ride our bikes around the run course.

We rode our bikes around one loop of the run, lots of construction on the course and we are running on lots of bike paths. Couple of good climbs and potentially could be hot as there isn’t a ton of shade out there. Oh well with the heat we have trained in all summer, it should be okay, especially when I plan on being out there after 4pm.

Every thing I need for tomorrow! I hope!!!!

Came back to the hotel and woofed down a yummy Chipotle burrito and started sorting my gear into the appropriate bags. Kind of reminds me of a Christmas list. Checking it twice, three times and then again this morning with Maggie! Today I have to turn in my T1 (Swim to Bike) Bag and my T2 (Bike to Run) and my trusty bike. Tomorrow morning I will turn in the last 3 bags Special Needs for Bike and Run that will be located at the halfway point on each point and then my dry clothes bag so I have warm dry clothes both at the start line and finish.

Finally last night, we attended the Pre Race Dinner Banquet. Food was pretty good considering they served over 3,000 people. Speakers were good but the highlight was the Cold Stone Creamery ice cream after!!! When I got back to the hotel, my family had all arrived so we sat in Maggie’s and my room had a few glasses of wine and chatted. So happy that my parents are here as well as my brother, Jeff and his wife, Stacey. They drove from North Carolina just to be here for the race!!! Thanks Jeff and Stacey!

Well as I sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and typing I am getting nervous AGAIN. I have been pretty good most of the time but the waves of nausea and tears are coming more frequently as the start time gets closer. I have done many triathlons, running and bike races of various lengths and always have nerves but never this early or this intense. I am not sure if it is the amount of prep that has gone into this particular race, the amount of hype around this race or just the cumulative fatigue and emotional stress of the journey. I can’t even imagine how emotional I will be tomorrow. As my friend and experienced Ironman, Kristina Friesem said in her message to me on Facebook this morning:

Enjoy everything about the day. You will visit some of the darkest places in your mind and just remember all of the hard training days that are behind you and you came out stronger. Stay in the moment as much as you can because the day will pass much faster than you can imagine. and don’t forget….DANCE ACROSS THAT FINISH LINE!!!!!

I think that probably sums it up best!! Thanks Kristina!

Card from Pam S.

I also have to share a card I received from my friend Pam Starcher. This is a copy of an email I sent her 7 years ago before her first triathlon. Thanks to all of my friends for all the motivating and encouraging emails, posts on Facebook and phone messages you have sent me in the last week. You will never know how appreciated they are. It has definitely been a tough journey for me and one that many of you know I have not always enjoyed and almost quit a few times. The past year has been stressful and full of changes for me with my work and starting a new/second job in the midst of Ironman training has been tough but I have not only received a ton of support from my family and friends but also from my clients and my new colleagues and even my students! Thanks everyone!!! You will all get me to that finish line tomorrow. This has not been a solo journey at all!

Thanks everyone for being part of my journey!!!! I will post my Race Plan later today! Don’t hold me to it tho…..

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And so it begins….

the final leg of the Ironman journey…..

It is Thursday night and I am sitting in a hotel room in Middleton, WI. This will be Home for the next 4 days. I took about two hours this afternoon packing, adding to the piles I had started earlier in the week and hoping I remembered everything I will need for Sunday. I do believe the last thing I put in the car tonight was my kitchen sink! Yikes I have a lot of stuff along. I think I have

  • The MOST Important Things (wetsuit, goggles, bike, helmet, bike shoes, Oakley sunglasses and running shoes)
  • The NEXT Most Important Things (swimsuit, biking clothes of choice and running clothes of choice)
  • The Necessary Items that can be replaced if forgotten (nutrition, water bottles, body glide, bike tubes, CO2 cartridges…)
  • The nice things in life – clothes from SkirtSports to wear before and after the race as well as some warmer clothes, compression socks and knickers, comfy shoes, some Abita Amber Beer and a bottle of 14 Hands! Hey I need to calm the butterflies with something!!!!
  • Deal of the Day! I got a free Abita Beer Pint glass when I purchased a 6-pack of Abita Beer!!!! How can you go wrong there? That has to be a good omen for the Girl from Louisiana!!! Come to Madison, find Abita AMBER and get a free pint glass!!!! :) Happy Girl!!!

Well, time to concentrate on the task at hand – Cheering the Saints to a victory over the Packers! I think they need my help!

I will try to check in again tomorrow and let you know how things are going and maybe share my Race Plan and nightmares…..

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Okay Ironman Fans, Track Pam on Bike

I am testing another feature of my favorite biking safety tool for Ironman. I am going to try and embed a tracking map in this post and then if all works well, you will be able to track my slow but hopefully steady bike progress on Sunday. Tomorrow is GPS testing day.

The GPS beacon is set to send a signal every 5 minutes. You will need to Refresh your Browser in order to update my location on the map. It will not automatically update. Your Refresh button should be located near the address line in your browser, it is usually indicated by an arrow going in a circle or two arrows in a circle.


GPS tracking powered by InstaMapper.com

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IM WI Race Report: Part III

Well, here’s the last portion of my race report: the run. It is always a very unique time during an Ironman. You know you’ve trained hard for the run portion, but you also wonder how your body will hold up. It is also nice to have a more personal interaction with spectators and other racers, so you feel less lonely. And you just cannot beat IM WI crowd on the run. I mean…We are running on State street afterall!

I leave the transition area as quickly as I can…Man, I could stay in this cool, indoor transition all day long! It is so cozy and inviting…As soon as I make my way out, I see my good friend and great running partner Rob, who snaps a picture and he is all smiles and cheers. It gives me a boost since we have to go uphill right away, leaving transition. I don’t know what position I am in, but I know it must be up there. Not sure I want to know either. Even though no goal time was discussed with my coach, I still have a time in my mind. Quick math and I realize that a 9:30 min/mile pace will get me there. It is therefore doable. My legs are actually quite responsive, so I am grateful. It so nice to have your name on your bib, so even complete strangers call you by your name. What a boost. I concentrate though. It is too easy to get caught up in the action and cheers. I’ve got a job to do and it is to run as fast as I can to the finish line. Then we can celebrate. Not before.

By mile 11, I know something is wrong. My ebergy level is way low and my stomach feel bloated and full. It happened to me before. What to do? Keep going and bunk later? Instead, I decide to start walking. I do not panic and tell myself it is only to relieve my upset stomach. A few burps later and I am now ready to go again. Burps never felt so good!

The course is not easy. Lot’s of ups and downs, turns, etc. I just keep looking about 3 feet ahead of me. That’s it. I concentrate on the “now” since I am not sure how I will feel in 10 min. By the time I hit the turn around, at the half-marathon mark, I know I can easily run 10min/mile and and still make it by 6pm. So in my head, with every mile marker, I have 10 less minute to go. My legs burn, I feel weak and I am in pain. I know this pain, and I have mastered it before, and I am determined to do it again. With 2 miles to go, I tell myself I have 20 more minutes…My math is now way off and can barely understand my watch, where I am at and how far I need to go. I just want to finish.

Then the finishing chute…I have goose pumps just thinking about it. You turn the last corner than you see it. The energy, the people, the Finish sign…I look up, and I see 10:38. Then I start sobbing. Not even crying, but just plain sobbing. I am relieved, happy, in pain, hungry, excited to be done, happy that the training paid off.

There is nothing quite like getting to the finish line of an Ironman. Something about the atmosphere, but also something about the 1 year preparation and dedication that leads you to it.

I am so excited for Team It Ain’t Us. They’ve worked so hard, and were so dedicated. I am so very proud  of all of them. They deserve to toe the line this Sunday, and I will be so excited to see them race and do well.

Good Luck to Team It Ain’t Us!!!

Thanks for reading

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2 Weeks Out….

Well, here we are, two weeks from Ironman Wisconsin. Am I ready??? Yep I am so ready! I am finally feeling the relief from training. I must admit the training in the last few months has been beyond brutal for me. I also must admit that I have begun to not only refer to this as my 3rd job, but truly feel it is a job! Each workout is like showing up and punching a clock. I that of my jobs (yes I do know have two real jobs), this IM “job” is my LEAST Favorite – by a long shot!

In the beginning, the training was fun and exciting. The hours were long but not unmanageable and I could still have a life away from IM, work and sleep. Well, as the workouts got longer, the life away from the “Big 3″(IM, work and sleep), became non-existent. As you know, I like variety, I like fun and I must say I haven’t had much of either this summer. It hasn’t been all bad. I have had some really fun days of training when friends came out and joined me for a swim, a bike or a run. Or I when I get to see a lot of LIVE wildlife while biking up north (not the usual roadkill on the side of the road!!! Stinky)! One morning in about 40 miles I saw a deer with 3 fawn (really 3 not sure how that works), a red fox, a skunk, Sandhill cranes, and a group of turkeys.

I am sure once this event and journey is all behind me I will remember it differently but I felt it was important for me to write how I feel now. Mostly so that I can have a reminder of how I felt in the heat of the training. I honestly do not know how people train year after year for Ironman! Those of you do, Amaze Me and I have a whole new respect for your dedication and work ethic. This will be my first and my last Ironman. OK, last is harsh but definitely my last in my near future (i.e. working life).

As I mentioned earlier, I am working 2 jobs in addition to training. This is a new development and has added a lot of additional stress to the whole situation, but that is life, right? The economy has reduced business at Gathering Waters Design, so I started teaching classes at Western Technical College this spring. In May, a full time Marketing Instructor opportunity came available so I decided to pursue it and got the job!!! So I am now working full time teaching and part time at Gathering Waters Design. Needless to say there has been a lot of juggling and that juggling will continue until I get my new routine down. However, after one week of classes I can say I LOVE my new opportunity and feel very blessed that this has all worked out. Timing wasn’t the best but again “That is Life”.

Finally the important stuff:

  1. Many of you know I am trying to raise money for one of my passions – Chesapeake Retriever Rescue of WI – in conjunction with my training. So I am going to ask that you take a look at the page Ironman for Chessies and consider making a small donation to help these wonderful dogs.
  2. Ironman Wisconsin has issued our bib numbers and mine is #736. The reason I share that information is that you when you are bored that day (Sunday Sept 11th), you can track me  starting at 7am central time through Ironman Live.

Thanks again to all of you who have provided support to me along this IM journey, it has helped more than you will ever know!

Thank you for all of your support through this training. You have all been awesome and really this blog has been so helpful for me. There are a number of drafts that never got posted because I just needed to “get it out”. Those posts along with the hundreds I wrote will biking and running will probably never be seen. But who knows maybe some will….

This is not my last post – trust me, life is slowing down so hopefully I will have more time to write after this IM is done.

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IM Race Report Part II: The Bike

continued from Part I…

I am finally out of the water. For once, I felt like I was able to swim my own pace, after the initial 500 yards where everyone is trying to survive. Yeap: lot’s of elbows, kicks, scratches, but nothing I had not experienced before. Coming out of the water is always a wonderful feeling. Swim portion is now over.

I hopped on my bike, after a speedy transition. This year, my coach had a brand new race strategy for me: we did not talk about goal time or goal position. After 3 unsuccessful IM races, I knew I was able to race better. I had a series of bad luck and bad experiences which took a toll on my self-confidence. I knew I was better than that. Therefore, she had a new race strategy for me. I would race the way I had trained and worked so hard for all Summer. No time cut-off, no racing other girls, just concentrating on what my body was able to achieve. My only goal was to race smart, execute the race I had trained for, and leave it all out on the race course. Ok then! Easy to say Coach!

I therefore started the bike quite conservatively. The first few miles in town are quite chaotic anyways. It gets crowded with antsy triathletes, happy to be biking. I took my time, settled into my own rhythm, but I must admit that it took me about 15 miles before my legs started to feel snappy.

I got a new coach this year. First time I am coached by a woman, a “no-none-sense” type of gal who tells it the way it is. I trusted her. I did much more intensity training, less volume. I felt fit going into the race, yet my body felt so different than my previous 8 IM, I did not know what to make out of it. Again, I trusted her and trusted my body. I was about to find out today, one way or the other!!!

I managed to stay steady throughout the entire bike ride, concentrating on my nutrition plan, anticipating corners, passing people. No woman passed me. I was happy with that, even though I had absolutely no idea which position I was in. I finished the bike in a record time for me and I was happy. My friends and future team members of It Ain’t Us were there to welcome me back! Always nice to see familiar and cheering, smiling faces! I got into the changing tent…and I was basically alone! I therefore had the “luxury” of having 2 volunteers helping me change and get ready for the run.

I was doing well and did exactly what I was told to do: race smart, stay steady and be strong. Now I was about to find out if I could hold on for the run portion.

…to be continued…

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Ironman Race Day Logistics: what’s with all those bags…?

During registration, you will be issued 5 bags. That’s right: 5 of them that you will be required to fill up with your needs for race day. WTC races are extremely well organized and will make your day smooth and seamless. It still requires some of your own organizing to do and I thought I could help by giving some pointers for the IM virgins (and veterans!) out there.

Here’s the 5 bags you will be issued:

  • Dry Clothes bag
  • Transition 1
  • Transition 2
  • Special Needs Bike
  • Special needs Run

I’ll go through the list and explain what each one should contain. Some general rules: Pack only what you have been using during training. It is not the time to pack a new energy drink, or this new pair of socks you’ve been dying to try, or a new pair of running shorts. Stick to what is familiar. Another rule: don’t over pack. The less choices you have, the easier it will be. When you come through transitions, you don’t want to have to make too many decisions. You’ll already be dehydrated and tired, let alone having to choose between 3 types of energy drink to carry. I once volunteered at T2, women changing tent. One on the lady had packed a $10 bill. After I told her that I would pack it back away, to make sure she wouldn’t loose it, she insisted on carrying it with her. She did not have a clear explanation as to why? (to grab a beer mid-run? Call a cab back to the finish line…?) Maybe it was her lucky charm!

Dry Clothes Bag: It is the bag you will bring with you race morning. This is where you will leave your clothes for you to change back into after the race. You therefore need to bring in it everything you’ll need race morning: wetsuit, swim cap, goggles, etc. I also always bring an additional tubes and bike tools. The last thing I need is getting to my bike in the morning to find a flat, then using my spare to fix it. I also bring my water bottles to put on my bike as well as my food for the bike. You will have access to your bike the morning of the race, so you’ll be able to do all of that.

Transition Bag, Swim to Bike: Everything you need for your bike ride: helmet, shoes, and food (if you did not put it on your bike already). A change of clothes also if you won’t swim in your racing gear. I also always put a small towel to wipe off my face. You will drop this bag off at bike check-in, the day before the race. You will have access to that bag race morning, so you can make some additions if you forgot something (Unlike Kona, where you are actually escorted to your bag, to make sure you don’t mess with other’s bag).

Transition Bag, Bike to Run: Same thing: all of your needed running gear. Running shoes, runninghat, change of clothes, and food… Again, put a small towel in. It is amazing how great it feels to be able to wipe off your face of all the grit and sweat. Again, you will be dropping off that bag the day before, but will have access to it on race morning.

Special Needs bags: You will have 2 of them: one for the run and one for the bike. You will be able to get to them at the mid-point of each biking and running leg. Again, put in what you think you might need. Extra salt tablets in case you loose them? Food you don’t want to carry the entire time? You will be dropping those bags on race day. You don’t have to pick them up during the race if you change your mind and feel like you don’t need anything in it. You will be able to retrieve them the day after the race,…or not. Therefore, don’t put anything valuable in it.

Make a list of your needs and check it twice!

Thanks for reading. As always, I welcome questions and/or comments.

IM WI Race report Part II coming up!

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