Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ironman Chattanooga 2014 Race Report Part 1/4

Last things first.

On Sunday, September 28th 2014 I completed Ironman Chattanooga in 13 hours and 5 minutes and 18 seconds. Yay Me!

Now down to the details. I know that many people won't care about the details but some actually will. And also more importantly it's part of my pre-race decompression to put it all down. To remember, to decypher, to share with those who might be planning to do this race themselves.

I've decided to break it down in to four parts.
  • Logistics/Goals, 
  • Start / Swim, 
  • Bike, 
  • Run/Finish. 
Today is part one: logistics/goals.
Gratuitous photo of me at the Riverfront after packet pickup.

This was the first year for Ironman Chattanooga so the logistics part of this event will hopefully improve for next year and thereafter.

I registered online. I was one of the very lucky folks who had no issue registering when it opened. Many others ended up either registering through a charity slot, foundation or through Endurance Sports Travel.

This event has not sold out yet for next year. I think it will sell out. I predict that it and all the other South-Eastern events will sell out the week after Ironman Florida. Basically those who can't get into Florida will overflow into Maryland, Louisville, Chattanooga and fill them up.
random photo of the swim buoys before they went into the river.

I also booked my hotel at first through the Ironman travel partner and that was a disaster. I was waitlisted for one night and could not get information about whether I would ever actually have a room. It was very stressful. I really hope that works better in the future.

I ended up booking my hotel through Endurance Sports Travel which was great because I had a room to sleep in and also just really expensive.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express a little over a mile from transition and the Expo. It's a great option for sold out events but be prepared to pay a premium. I would use Endurance Sports Travel again but for a domestic event only if I really needed to. For an international event I would definitely use them because some of the services they offer are more helpful for international travel. The Holiday Inn Express was a perfectly fine hotel. My kids love the pancake machine. The staff was very helpful.
EST had shuttles for us to and from the Expo which was handy. It was walkable but best to save our legs. They took us to the store and to the race start the morning of. It's a good service but pricey.

If I was to make my first choice for best hotel for this race it would be the Marriott Residence Inn downtown. You are right next to the Expo/Finish Line and you get a kitchen. I've decided that I prefer to cook my own pre-race dinner so a house rental or a hotel with a kitchen is my first choice going forward.

I sent my bike to the race with TriBike Transport. I don't have it back yet but everything with them was fine. I did not ship a bag or use the valet service they offer but I will do both of those things next time. Having traveled with my bike in a bike box this is much easier especially after the race. In fact my husband took my bike from transition to TBT while I was running. I recommend TriBike Transport. Book early and look for a discount. I booked in November for this race and paid $150 for the service which is less than it would have cost me to take the bike on the plane. Closer to the race the rate was $380.

 I flew to Chattanooga from Miami. Most other people coming from Miami made the drive. Driving was not really an option for us with my family and I personally cannot imagine driving home after the race. The tickets were reasonable and I had no travel issues.
You connect from Atlanta to Chattanooga on this little plane. Teeny tiny little overhead bins and my kids loved that the door became the stairs.

The Expo and Registration were at Ross's Landing in Downtown Chattanooga. We went Friday morning and everything was quick and easy. The expo was all outside and luckily the weather was good. We ate at a restaurant right next to the Expo - The Blue Plate. Everything was good.  We hit the gear tent and I was early enough to get a size small tri top.
Little Debbie is the title sponsor and they had free snacks all over. Yum. And handy too when you're hungry at the expo. It's a local company to Chattanooga and I hope they stick with it. Sponsors are important for good events.

We ran into crazy lady and fellow Floridian Susan at the expo. She's wonderful. This was her 76th Iron distance event. 75 was one week before at Ironman Maryland. The expo was great but if weather was bad it would be a drag to be outside.

Chattanooga Stuff
We found the people of Chattanooga to be amazingly nice the entire trip.We were just stunned over and over at the kindness of the people in the city. We were coming from Miami but still I want to say that this town is very nice.

This was our favorite restaurant. City Cafe I think it's called. It's a 24-hour diner. The staff is amazingly nice. The menu is huge, the portions are enormous and the prices are reasonable. We ate there I think 4 times including after the race.
This is the first year for this event but it's clear that they were happy to have us there. There are plenty of local and chain restaurants nearby  to eat. We at at a 24-hour diner, Lupis Pizza, Cupcake Kitchen, A restaurant at the Choo Choo hotel (which I don't recommend), Alleia and River City Brewery. Other than the restaurant at the Choo Choo Hotel they were all terrific.

My son's name is Jack. So we loved this. We're on our way here to Lupis Pizza for dinner.
My family had no trouble finding family friendly things for them to do before and during the race. While I'm busy getting all the "stuff" done they are tourists with my husband. It works out well. They went to Lookout Mountain, Rock City and Ruby Falls, they did a corn maze, the Ducks tour car/boat, we visited the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, they did the IronKids race, while I was racing they went to the Aquarium, saw an Imax movie and went rock climbing. 
The Ironkids race was a little disorganized but it all worked out fine. Jack was 5th in the half-mile which was pretty awesome. Dylan did great in the mile. She got knocked down part way but finished strong in 8:20 which is pretty great I think.

Last logistics tidbits. My family rented a car for the weekend and they were able to find parking downtown in a garage by transition race day. They came to see me finish the swim which is only important so that you know they didn't get that spot by getting there at 5 am. My inlaws also came to town and stayed out by the airport and were able to get into downtown without issue race day.

I didn't publish my goals before the race. But they were a 1:20 swim, 6:45 bike, 4:46 run and 2 7 minute transitions. Which totals 13:05 
In case you don't believe me that these were actually my goals. This is my email to my coach earlier in the week.

My results 13:05. Cool, right?

It didn't quite happen the way I thought it would but I did meet my goal spot on the nose.  I'm pretty happy.  I also just tried to start chewing a piece of gum with the foil wrapper still on it so I'm still pretty tired too. Let the recovery begin. Next up a detailed report of race morning.
Me racked and ready the night before the race. This was my shivvy's first full Ironman distance.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ironman Chattanooga Race Week

I sat down yesterday and wrote a god awful boring post about goals and tapering and I think even packing. It was so boring I'm surprised I stayed awake to write it.

Thankfully I realized before I published it how boring it was. You are welcome.

So - it's race week.
Sunday morning my stomach did a flip-flop when I realized that. I'm a ball of nerves. My bedroom is covered with things that need to either go in my transition bag or into my suitcase. I'm excited. I'm nervous. But most of all I'm very very lucky.

I've done the workouts. I'm healthy and unless something wacko happens I'll be on the starting line. I'm thankful for that. If things go my way I'll make my way all the way to the finish line under my own power approximately 144.6 miles later.

Oh so trite but true ... I'm thankful
My family will be there with me. My husband who supports this absolutely ridiculous hobby and only occasionally laughs at how seriously I sometimes take it. My kids who are 10 and 8 will be there. I hope they aren't too bored and I hope they actually come cheer for me a bit too. My mother-in-law and father-in-law are also both flying up to see it. My father-in-law will be 80 next month so I'm super thankful for that.

I even made everyone matching t-shirts that they can wear that say Team Amy Stone. I know, I'm a geek.

I'm not going to win, place or show
For Ironman France I was very concerned I would not be able to finish. When I made the bike cutoff I felt elated because I knew I was most likely going to finish.

This time I'm not as nervous about that. It's been very strange to acknowledge that I now have a bit of confidence that I can cover this distance. It will take something going wrong for me to not finish but that does happen all the time. I mean just last week they cancelled an entire race because of weather. A flat tire would be a problem. A bike crash is always really bad. I still have 4 days to avoid getting sick. I could oversleep. So, I'll try to avoid those things. But I proceed knowing that a finish in this race is not guaranteed.

Of course I have goals. I would like to finish faster than I finished in France which was 15:40. I hope to have a strong swim. I've put a lot of time in on my swim this year. I'd like to run a faster marathon but mostly I want to smile across the finish line - again.

So, I'm going to go out there and do my best. My best isn't super fast by anybody's standards - not even my own. But if you'd like to track me I'm bib 1149.

So thanks for reading. Good luck to anybody else racing this weekend. My friend Nancy is doing her first tri here  in Miami. I bet she's more nervous than I am. My friend Katie is doing her first Olympic distance also here in Miami. There are oodles of folks racing in Chattanooga with me and Augusta Georgia so good luck to all of them as well.

Wish me luck!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Holy crapola - 2 weeks from yesterday.

The word of the day is "anxiety" or "anxious".
I know, it's hilarious, right? Chihuahua's are pretty funny.

Two weeks from yesterday is the race.

In my mind I know I'm as ready as I'm going to get.

The hay is in the barn. It's a rural reference. If you don't get it you need to spend more time with farmers.

But that didn't stop the nerves from preventing my sleep last night. And today I have a whole buttload of butterflies in my belly.

Obsessing is the time consumer during taper

I know myself. I will choose random tidbits to obsess about during taper.

So this week I've chosen to obsess over my bike tires and my rear hydration cage.

I put new tires on the bike last week. Replacing Continental Attack/Force with Continental 4-season. I did not want these but the others were on back order. So the guy in the store said the difference is minimal. I'm sure on some level he's right and I rode yesterday and had a nice ride. But it is a lot more tire than I had before. Even I a girl can tell that. And the brand Continental describes the difference between them as a "significant increase in rolling resistance". And I don't really want any significant resistance that I can avoid.

So I've chosen to obsess on this and if I can find some Conti 4000s before I check the bike Friday then I'm going to change the tires again.  If not then not but this is apparently what I'm going to worry about this week. And that's all.

Regarding the rear hydration cage this is so random and silly that even though I can feel myself stressing about it - even I know it's not a big deal. But there is a chance that I have to remove my rear carbon hydration cages for transport on Tri Bike Transport. And then of course, I'll have to put it back on in Tennessee. This is not a big deal. And yet I had at least one dream about dropping the whole cage on the bike course during the race. Ahhh gotta love it. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

3 weeks - 19 days actually but who's counting until Ironman Chattanooga - The nutrition plan

Sorry for the delay ... but
I actually wrote the draft of this post over the weekend. But yesterday was a tough day. I started  Monday by going to a funeral. With the exception of my dad's super non-traditional memorial about 6 years ago this was the first funeral I've been to since I was in high school. Really, not fun. Oddly, within the last 10 days I know of 3 people who have died. 2 Were parents of people I train with. One a parent of a mommy-friend. Uber-downer to say the least. However an excellent reminder to live for the day. Life can and will change in an instant so enjoy each moment. Impossible advice and yet also perfect advice when it works.

Yesterday after the funeral I sat down to edit this post and well post it and it was just too dry and serious and just not good. So, I didn't publish it coming back to it today to make it better. If it's still crap just know it's the best crappy post it can be.

Where is the race anxiety? Where ... oh yup, there it is.
I'm three just three weeks away from my second Ironman. The focus of this post will be on what my nutrition plan is but first I want to touch on my lack of race anxiety. Why well just to make this post a little longer than it already is. Actually just because it puzzles me and writing it here helps me work that out a bit.

I was super anxious before Ironman France and I am wondering why I'm not more stressed before this race. Clearly some of the reason is that since I completed France it's not a totally unknown thing. But it's still a massive race so I should be nervous. I should be anxious. Don't get me wrong I'm not brimming with bravado - I'm just not panicked. What else could it be? My guess is actually that it's because I'm doing this with my group. So I'm not alone. It's just a thought but that's what I'm thinking for the moment.
I saw this somewhere and I love it. While I draw strength from folks cheering me on I have finally figured out it's okay that I just do this for me to enjoy the journey.

That being said - I did have some trouble sleeping last night. I'm happily drifting off to sleep and then blink - 20 days - crap! 20 days. Crap - totally awake. But I just read a little more and drifted back off to sleep.

And now back to nutrition. What follows next is long, tedious and boring. I'm not sure anybody cares. So feel free to skip it I won't be bothered.

This morning I walked into the gym and the owner offered me a doughnut. He didn't actually have one with him he just thought I should eat one. This is a sign that I'm pretty close to race-weight.

As of this morning I weigh about 115 pounds. I'm 5 feet 4 inches tall. So that makes me a full-sized adult but I don't carry around a lot of extra pounds to burn through on race day. The good news is that the weight is holding steady and I'm about 8 pounds heavier than I was when I went to France. I hope those extra pounds are solid muscle.

I absolutely need to do my best to make sure my body is topped off at the start. So, my nutrition plan starts pre-race. I start putting an extra 200 calories or so into my diet 3 days before the race. This is usually in the form of a bar of some sort. To clarify I eat normally and add an extra bar during the day. I also take some supliments (daily vitamin, magnesium/calcium). I'm also drinking lots of fluid at this point ... but that's always true. I want my muscles rested and as full of glycogen as they can be. I was told that it takes 48 hours for your body to convert fuel to glycogen stores. That's the reason that I start this so far in advance.

The day before the race I will eat a giant carb-fest breakfast. In theory this is what I'll be burning the next day in the swim. My meals the day before will all be a little bigger and while balanced they will be more carb-based than usual. I will eat a little extra salt all day the day before the race and hydrate with a mix of water and elecrolyte drinks (gatorade - osmo - pedialyte). I usually don't also add salt-tabs. I'm not a heavy sweater and there is sodium and potassium in my bike and run formula. Too much potassium can cause an irregular heart rate so combining infinit with salt tabs should be done with caution. The night before the race I'll have pasta with meat sauce. I'll eat at 5pm and then I'll also have some sort of late night snack right before bed - possibly left over pasta from dinner, possibly a bar. I will not have any garlic rolls and probably no veggies at dinner other than the tomato sauce.

I am a little bit of a freak about controlling what I eat leading up to races. I drink bottled water. I avoid dairy products and anything out of the norm. No fish, nothing rare, nothing fried, nothing spicy, no sauces. Think grilled chicken and rice. Where normally I want to choose fun local eateries I tend toward plain simple safe foods when I'm traveling. 

Race Morning
At the butcrack of dawn I will awaken after pretending I've slept and eat as much of the following as I can choke down.

  • Small cup of coffee perhaps with a touch of cream
  • a banana
  • a hard-boiled egg
  • 2 cups of oatmeal with dried cranberries and sugar. 
This is what I eat every morning on the weekend before a long workout. I make it at home. I honestly don't know how I'll do this in the Holiday Inn in Chattanooga but I will. For France we had an apartment and I carried the ingredients in my suitcase - this is how far I will go to control the food I eat.

About 60-90 minutes before the race I'll try to eat a Luna bar. 20 minutes before the swim I'll take some chomps. This used to be a Gu gel but I've switched to chomps for everything else. However because chewing on chomps might take longer I might stick to a gel here. I'm undecided. If it's a gel it's plain and decaffeinated. During this time I'll be sipping on some sort of electrolyte fluid possibly Osmo but I'm not picky. But I stop that about an hour before. I can be nauseated when I swim so I don't want a stomach full of water.

This is sort of where I want my mind to be at the start. Calm and relatively confident that I can go the distance with courage.
What do I eat during the race
Swim - nada. There are people who eat gels during the swim. Not me I'm too busy hoping not to puke anyway.

In transition 1 - I take a few sips of water and rinse my mouth with mouthwash. I don't take in any calories until I'm on the bike.

I have an alert on my Garmin that ever 7 minutes I swallow 4-5 sips of my Infinit mix. Yes the beep is annoying. Yes, I'm sick of my infinit by the end of the ride. Oh and yes the ride has an extra 4 miles to it. Woo-hoo!

love this! Can't use it too often, right?
I also plan to take a few gu chomps every hour. I usually try to do this at the tops of climbs to make up for the extra burn of climbing. I start with 3 bottles of Infinit mixed and I will mix three more bottles somewhere on the course. .In special needs I will have more Infinit powder and water. This is because I have never actually successfully picked up water on the go on the bike. Weird but true.

My plan at water stops is to proceed all the way to the left with extreme caution avoiding all the other people who don't know how to grab a bottle either but they are trying to do it during the race. Then I will come to a full stop at special needs and mix my bottles. I will also have a snickers bar there waiting for me. Yum. I have eaten a snickers in almost every long run half-way. I also did it in France. It's my tradition. I keep it in a refrigerated bag in special needs :-)
an actual photo during an actual snickers stop on last weekend's ride. Notice my new fancy bike shades.

Special needs in this race we see twice. Mile 52-ish and also mile 99. I think the second pass will just be a fly-by. I'm not even sure if it will still be staffed honestly.

T2 - In my transition bag I have tums. Also again mouthwash to wash out the infinit taste. After 7 hours brushing your teeth would feel fantastic but that would be silly. I used tums in both France and also in Raleigh. Something in the Infinit mix creates gas in the belly. Plus I have a 16 mile run stomach. The idea is to chomp on some tums to get ahead of the giant gas bubble. In Raleigh this worked well. My stomach felt fine. Of course that's half the distance. In France I remember my stomach being very tender during the run - very tender.

On the run my alert goes off every six minutes. 2 sips of Infinit Mix and a sip or two of water.

This is my run formula. It's a little sweet for my taste but whatever. It is luckily a different flavor than I have on the bike because by the end I'm suuuuuper sick of that flavor.

I will be carrying a fuel belt with 2 bottles one of Infinit and one of water. Each Infinite bottle lasts one hour so I'll remix as needed using water from the aid stations. So I'll start with one mixed bottle and 4 pouches of powder. Perhaps I'll have some pouches in special needs instead of carrying them the whole race. I will also have gu chomps and even caffeinated gels for extra calories. Also in special needs will be wipes and pepto bismal tablets to chew on if my stomach is upset. In France I enjoyed the crackers on the run and also cola.

So the run plan isn't as rigid as the bike plan. I have more options because I'm moving slower. Also, this is a different run nutrition strategy than I have used in the past. Staying away from gels going with chomps which hit my stomach slower and sticking with liquid calories for the most part. I remember feeling very tired in the run in France but not horrible energy-wise. So, I'm hoping that holds true in Chattanooga. As with any marathon my plan is to keep moving forward at all times.

Uninvited Pool Guests
Last but not least I leave you with my favorite photo of the week. This is from a masters class earlier this week here in Florida. Ponta Vedra - not Miami. Can you imagine? He was about 3.5 feet long which is long enough and while the swimmers waited for animal control to get there he apparently climbed onto the swim deck causing them to dash away. That's an exciting swim workout. I have not yet seen a gator in a pool and I hope to keep it that way.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Embrace the Chaos - Ironman Peak Week Training - 4 weeks to go until Ironman Chattanooga

When I was a parent of a newborn I read some advice that helped: embrace the chaos. It works for me for Ironman Training.
There was sort of a bombshell dropped this week that our bike course is 4 miles too long. I am working hard to not obsess on that point. But obsessing is much easier than it looks so I'm sort of failing sometimes.

I'm in full chaos mode right now. Here's a small snapshot of what's going on in my life:
  • The guinea pigs are probably hungry because I forget to remind the kids to feed them. Also their cage is way overdue for a clean out. 
  • The only suncreen I can find is the almost empty bottle. (acutally I did find my sunscreens when packing my bike bag this weekend ... sweet victory! Now where did I put that bag of chomps?)
  • All birthday party presents for my kid's friends are gift cards.
  • Sadly, my nieces birthday gifts are sullenly sitting in the laundry room waiting to be mailed. 
  • We are eating sort of a lot of take-out food.
  • We were out of tissue paper for so long that my husband took it upon himself to  order cases of all paper products via amazon.com. I am was actually really pretty thrilled about this when they arrived.
  • My summer vacation pictures are 2/3 put in albums and just perpetually taking up 1/2 the dining room table until I can remember to order a third album.
  • The cars need washing but the idea of taking off the bike rack is simply too overwhelming so it hasn't been done. 
  • I took my son to swim practice Thursday but there was no practice that day for his level, doh!
  • Everyone, including me needs new swim goggles.
  • I'm in bed most nights before my kids. Everyone knows it and laughs about it and it's okay. 
So, it's not horrible.  In fact sometimes it's pretty funny and luckily my family is pretty supportive. Admittedly, my nieces would have preferred their presents on time.

So bring on the TAPER!!

This "weekend" was the last of the humongous training weekends. Saturday 16 mile run, Sunday 112 mile bike, and today 2 mile ows.

I was thinking this week how a marathon taper differs from an Ironman taper. When I taper for a marathon I very quickly get antsy about the race. But with an Ironman taper I'm just so unbelievably tired that for the first 10 days or so my only thought is Oh My Goodness I'm So Glad This Workout Isn't Longer. Luckily, I remember from last time that the first week of the taper isn't very much of a cut back. I remember saying last year, perhaps coach's definition of taper is different than mine as I slogged through I think an 85 mile bike ride. This year, I think I'm more prepared.

What's on my mind? Well, staying healthy and uninjured. One of my teammates took a tumble on the bike Sunday Morning and banged his shoulder. He's okay and I hope he's back to training as early as tomorrow. Another came back from a trip to Vegas with a "Go karting injury" we're pretty sure that "go-karting" is a code word but either way he's injured which stinks. This reminded me that this race is so long that the thing to focus on now is just to stay healthy to the starting line.

Planning and Packing. It's time to make a plan for packing and transition bags and stuff. There's plenty of time but it is actually time to get started with that stuff. 

Not obsessing about the course. It is what it is and I'm about as ready as I'm going to get. So, no point in worrying, right?