Monday, October 6, 2014

Final Installment - Race Report Ironman Chattanooga the run and finish

This has been the longest and most boring Ironman Chattanooga race report ever. Yes, I know. But it's almost over.

Probably nobody is reading it and that's okay with me. Probably not even my most dedicated reader (my sister-in-law) But I can't help myself I 've just got to finish this thing.

The run.
I knew that I was going into this run underprepared for the course. I felt that while I was trained to run a marathon that my run volume was very low and about 2 months before the race I discovered that the run was about twice as hilly as was posted on the website.
Coming from the flat lands of Miami this is a nightmare. What I should have done was just do all my long runs as bridge repeats. Oh well hindsight is always 20/20.

Unfortunately that's not enough time to change my training to be hill oriented. So I knew this was going to be tough. My only goal was to have a better marathon than I ran in France. In France I ran 5:30 which I was happy about at the time because I had heard that you take your marathon time and add an hour and that's your Ironman marathon time. But since then I've known several people who are just folks like me who have run solid marathons in their Ironman events so I am working on trying to run a solid marathon as the last leg of an Ironman Race. But that goal had to be modified when I learned that the course was not what I was trained for.

The course.
This was the hardest marathon course I've ever run.  It's 2 loops and it feels like every inch is either up hill or downhill. There is a big chunk of the course that was along the river which while pretty is isolated. There is a terrible stretch along a highway which is horrible. And there are 2 steep hills that you have to do twice up and down. There are also a few wooden bridges which are tricky when wet and when you're legs are as tired as they are.
This is the start of the run. See smiling. I certainly think I feel better at this point than the guy behind me. This 20 meter section is flat and then there is immediately a hill. Embrace the suck.

The crowd support in parts (including the 2 steep hills) was great. You have to love a town that basically throws tailgating parties to cheer on the runners. Also the volunteers were fantastic. Several stops had people dressed up and it was really great.

We got rain on the run which wasn't bad but I was happy when it stopped.

Oh my stomach
Other than being undertrained for the hills of this run I had nutrition/digestion issues. I put tums in my transition bag and my special needs bag. I'm not sure if it's drinking from a straw or just the Infinit but I get gassy after 6 hours of slurping on my sugary mix.  Since I had a stomach ache that I figured was from a giant gas ball in my belly during the bike I immediatley started chomping on tums in transition.

I would like to appologize to all those jogging near me on the run in the first lap because I was a burping fool. Not very lady like but I felt much better with each belch.

I had a fuel belt with infinit powder in each of the bottles. I stopped at the first rest stop and filled up my first bottle. My timer beeps every 6 minutes and I take 2 sips of infinit. This worked very well in training. However, it didn't work well in the race unfortunately. I'm not quite sure how it ran off course but it did.
This is how I run when I'm not exhausted. Notice I'm on my toes and my knees are bent. Not at all like the shuffle fest later in the event.

I don't drink or eat for the first mile letting my stomach settle from the bike and figure out how I feel. Then by about 45 minutes I had already finished my first bottle. So I was way ahead of schedule even though I didn't have anything for the first 10 minutes. So I backed off. But because my head wasn't working right I ate a few chomps during this time. I say my head wasn't working right because I probably could have skipped those and may have felt better if I did. I was afraid to go very long without calories.

Then at about an hour my stomach was super sloshy. Sloshier than it has ever been before. I figured that this was related to me drinking too fast and also maybe the tums but I wasn't sure. So I filled my next bottle but wasn't drinking it. I was afraid to go too long without calories but the sloshy stomach was impossible.

There's Hills in them thar places!
I made my way running up the first set of hills and had the glorious company of my training partner Doug. That makes such a difference to run together. Then at the start of the second loop I had to go potty so I stopped and did my thing feeling much better after. This was about 2:20 into the run. I picked up my special needs - more tums and wipes and headed out to the second loop solo. I was still very sloshy in my stomach and fairly nauseated and my pace slowed to show it. I walked the hills up this time around but ran down the hills which by this point was extremely painful.
This photo is out of sequence but I think I look pretty great here. This is on the second loop (I can tell because of which bottles are on the back) and I'm still happily in aero flying along.

I took some chicken broth at aid stations - just a sip or two. The salty feels really good. And right or wrong I took a potato chip a few times because my belly was so sloshy and I really craved solid foods.

Another Couer ad
I was carrying a half-empty bag of gu chomps for about 5 miles in my hand. It was super annoying. Finally I remembered that these shorts have pockets in them. I tucked the chomps into my shorts and promptly stopped eating the chomps. That was probably step one in my feeling better to be honest.

The dark part - as close as I get anyway
I'll be honest about half way through the second loop I was firmly entertaining just spectating at Ironman Lake Placid next summer. But even in my haze I knew that wouldn't stick. 

When I walked I tried to power walk. While I can be a fairly quick runner I am one of the slowest walkers ever so I tried to go as quickly as possible when I walked. Also every time I started walking I tried to ask myself, "Can you push a little more" the answer was always yes so I would run more. I tried to run the last whole mile but I did walk some over the pedestrian bridge because the surface is uneven and it would have stunk to fall.

Goodbye Fuel Belt
About 45 minutes from the finish I filled my last bottle and gleefully tossed my entire fuel belt into the garbage :-) It was driving me nuts. It was also worn out and ready for replacement. That felt great. Then I just carried that one bottle to the finish.

Strength work
The only thing I did correctly to get ready for this run was to increase my strength work. I'm much stronger than I've ever been. On the second half of the second loop I could feel my shoulders start to slouch and I was actually able to feel it and correct it which made a huge difference.
This is me slouching. This is the riverwalk section of the second loop. I can tell because it's stopped raining and the sun is setting. Once I remembered to straighten up and engage my core I felt much better. Look how straight my legs are... shuffling but I didn't know it.

My right leg which is where I can get IT band syndrome was on fire descending the steep hills at the end. But I just pushed through it working on engaging my core and focusing on lifting my knees.  I trained with my friend Janine Failla for strength work and it really helped. So if you're in Miami and looking for a trainer I recommend her, FBB personal training is her brand.

The Finish
My result was 5:20 and I'll take it. I did improve slightly on the France time and holy cow this was 1000 times harder of a marathon.

The Ironman Finish line is amazing. Until you've run down that chute it's hard to describe. You're exhausted, your mind is super foggy and it's just loud and bright and all for you. I love it. This one did not disappoint.

Mike Riley the voice of Ironman did say my name. Amy Stone from Pinecrest, Florida and I heard it but I love the roar of the crowd more to be honest.

I was emotional but this second time around I was able to smile more than cry.

I found my coach just after the finish line. He took me to my family. It was all good. My son was super helpful finding me a chair and helping me sit and stand. But my kids did steal my water because they were thirsty (seriously, I know ... right). They had been downtown all day so as soon as I could I got my bags and we went back to the hotel.

I showered and was thrilled that I didn't have even a drop of chaffing. Somehow even though it was braided my hair was one solid knot. I ate leftovers and put the kids to bed. Then I took my friend Doug to the City Diner down the block and we ate again. It was full of racers which was fun.

And then I went to bed. The next morning I was up at 6 and ate breakfast and then went with Nicole to get finisher gear. That was fun. Then I packed up and we met my inlaws for lunch where I had my first beer in about 45 days. That was delicious. We flew home and I've been resting since.

Yesterday I volunteered at the Key Biscayne Half marathon. That was fun. These sports take a lot of volunteers so I started this tradition of mine after Ironman France. While I'm recovering and can't race I volunteer.

Today I did my first run back. 4 miles slow. The weather here is finally changing and it's run season. Next up. Space Coast Marathon.

1 comment:

  1. Of course I'm reading!! Also, in that first running picture, you have a thumbs up just like Jeremy. :)

    Awesome job!!