Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hawaii Ironman World Championships: the run and post-race pics

Maybe you thought I had forgotten about the run?

I hit T2 feeling pretty fresh, though the balls of my feet felt rather hot and swollen... but not to the debilitating extent that prompted the 35 minute T2 at this race in 2009! However, I did take a leisurely 6 minutes in T2 as I was anxious to apply even more sunscreen as well as find Vaseline for some chafing that my swimskin had caused and which was by now irritated by sweat! Those things should take seconds not minutes... where did the time go?

When I last raced in Hawaii in 2010, I suffered a sidestitch in the first mile that would not subside until I hit the Ali'i turnaround. I'm not sure why I had the stitch but my strategy to avoid it this time was to run the first mile slowly and not take anything to eat or drink off the bike until the second aid station. My legs felt great and I was hitting my target ~8:30 min/mi pace for the entire stretch out to the turnaround and thankfully no sidestitch! On the return trip, the legs continued to feel good and with the exception of a bathroom break at mile 7, all the mile splits were in the 8:30-40 range.
Pick your eyes up, Jordan!
As I was running up Palani, I was excited to see Mirinda Carfrae flying downhill and it dawned on me that I would be able to see the top women during their last few miles and give them my cheers, especially Meredith Kessler, Linsey Corbin, Leanda Cave and Kim Schwabenbauer.

I felt good running up Palani but my stomach was starting to rebel on me big-time. It was a repeat of Cozumel where after 10-11 miles, my stomach was just in knots. The legs continued to feel good so when I was running the pace was in the 8:30-45 range, but with visits to the porta-pottie, my mile splits started to slide above 9min/mi. I had stopped eating at this point and I started to drink coke for energy but that seemed to make my stomach feel worse. I really should learn my lesson that coke never has a positive effect on my races, even if at the time ice-cold coke seems to be a refreshing and magical elixir as I saunter through the aid stations.

By mile 18 (end of the energy lab), I had started to walk aid stations and the legs were beginning to feel rather heavy. Miles splits were now hovering either side of 10min/mi. I knew that I was still on track for a sub-11 hour finish but I was now realistic that the sub-4hr marathon had gone down the porta-pottie! Just after mile 23, my Garmin 901xt died... so I had no data for the last 3 miles but I knew that I had just had to suffer through with 10min/mi pace and I'd make sub-11. It was about this point that Kerrie Wlad came skipping by and chastised me for walking an aid station!

Just get me across the finish line...
I hit the finish line right after 10hrs and 58 minutes and Blanco was there to high five me in the finishing shoot... looking all fresh and clean as if he had not been racing for 9.5hrs! However, I did figure out that I kept him waiting for less time than any previous Ironman race as I finally got the gap between us under 90mins! A small, family victory :)
  Hawaii 2010 Hawaii 2013
  Rich Jordan Rich Jordan 
Swim 1:05:16 1:18:21 1:02:51 1:11:12
T1 0:03:19 0:05:05 0:03:11 0:05:27
Bike 5:02:54 5:35:21 4:47:03 5:28:19
T2 0:03:15 0:05:01 0:04:01 0:05:57
Run 3:29:58 4:15:51 3:34:54 4:07:24
Total 9:44:42 11:19:39 9:32:00 10:58:19
I was happy with my race and even happier when Rich broke the news that Luke McKenzie had taken 2nd place overall. Good day all around!
There's not much more to say about my race performance except that I will be working much more closely on my nutrition plan for my next Ironman race. Ultimately I may have taken in a few too many calories on the bike and drank too much Perform, which I am not used to drinking. I am not signed up for any more Ironman races in the near future (I decided against Chattanooga) but we are considering a late season Ironman in 2014 where we would target a KQ for 2015... possibly Cozumel.
Post-race, Rich and I spent another 5 days on the island, eating drinking, lazing, cycling, participating in a photo shoot, spa'ing, swimming and hanging out with friends.
Los Blancos + Eric at the Zoot party
Brent + Sam + Los Blancos + Eric
We never missed a cocktail hour post-race.
A smashing ride out to Kawaihae & back... no headwind!

Awesome pic of Blanco
Posing on the lava fields

Me and my bestie #selfie

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hawaii Ironman World Championships:heat acclimation and the bike

Before I start talking about the bike and run in Hawaii, I should back up about two weeks prior to race day when I started what I will call "the sauna protocol". Living in San Francisco where it's 65f all year long, give or take 5 degrees, is not ideal preparation for a race in temperatures of 85f+ with high humidity. To prepare my body to acclimate to the heat as quickly as possible on arrival in Hawaii, 12 days prior to departure, I spent ~25-30mins in the sauna each day after workouts for an entire week. I found it mentally and physically challenging to sit in the sauna (without hydrating) for that long... the first 15 minutes would be fine, but as soon as I started sweating profusely, and my body was challenged to dissipate heat, it was uncomfortable to the point of unbearable. However, I do think it helped me from both a mental and physical perspective to prepare for the sticky climate of Hawaii. Prior to race day, I felt very comfortable riding and running around. More comfortable than I have ever felt in the past... to the point that I am now a little less fearful of the Hawaiian conditions.

The couple that sweats together...
 Getting out of the swim, my immediate concern in T1 was getting a solid application of sunscreen. Blanco had awful burns after Los Cabos and it pained me to see his skin so raw. For me, no race is worth the price of my health and skin, even if it did mean that T1 was a lazy looking 5 minutes.

Once on the bike, my goal was to ride easy through town and most of the way towards Kawaihae. In contrast to other Ironman races, I did not attack the bike with my usual gusto, maintaining watts on the very conservative side. In hindsight, I wish I had pushed things a little harder since I do have the bike fitness, but at the time, I was concerned mostly with the heat and about having a good overall race. I was hitting time checks that felt familiar to prior races (1:45 out to Kawaihae, several miles into the Hawi climb before I saw the pros descending). I was a little astonished when I hit 56 miles in 2hrs 29mins and I thought to myself that we would be *paying* for that later in the race. We had a tailwind all the way up to Hawi which made for a speedy trip to the turnaround.

Somewhere in the lava fields
As I climbed up, I was able to take note of a few friends in the pro race. Luke McKenzie was right up there in the men's race, as was Meredith Kessler in the women's race. Their green Saucony kits are instantly recognizable. Aside from the pro race, the other thing myself and other athletes commented on was the huge number of amateurs packs making the descent from Hawi. There were many familiar faces in those packs. I could rant about it and call out names but given the tailwind up the Hawi climb, I can see how it was difficult to separate the huge number of high caliber athletes. The race is getting bigger (almost 2100 athletes), amateurs are getting stronger, the competition is intense and no one seems willing to give an inch in this environment.

I struggled with the water bottle and my rear cage!
The descent from Hawi was fun and without any gusting sidewinds, there was zero reason to be out of the aero bars. This was probably my strongest part of the course as I seemed to pass a lot of athletes that descended more tentatively and did not ride the rollers before Kawaihae very well. At this point of the race, my legs felt great although I had switched to drinking Perform and was not enjoying the taste. Given the earlier tailwinds, I was expecting the headwinds to show up around Waikoloa and I was not wrong. The day had also started to heat up quite nicely and at this point my feet had begun to swell and were painful to push down on the pedals. I tried to cool them off with ice cold water at each aid station but if offered only temporary relief. I had faced a similar problem in 2009 and I thought I had solved the problem with different shoes... apparently not. I was frustrated since I had trained to really push the watts in the last 30 miles of the race but the discomfort in the balls of my feet was distracting. I was also a little uncomfortable with my saddle/shorts combo after 90 miles... "feet and butt" are two issues to fix before my next Ironman!

Getting out of my shoes was a relief.
Thankfully, it was a fast day out there, so even with my conservative ride (160w average is low for me), I was back in T2 after 5hrs 28mins... relieved to get out of my bike shoes and excited to finally be on the final leg of the race.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hawaii Ironman World Championships: pre-race and swim

Blanco and I arrived in Hawaii a week prior to race day and were staying at a friends house within the grounds of the Four Seasons resort. It's a fantastic place to stay, away from the bustle of Ali'i Drive... though the driving back and forth to town did start to weigh on me a little in the few days pre-race.
Four Seasons resort at Hualalai
Blanco and I registered at the earliest opportunity and reminded ourselves that we are very fortunate to be able to participate and race in this sport together at a high level. As an AGer, it takes ability, dedication and a fair amount of luck to qualify for Ironman Hawaii, so we take nothing for granted.

Hand in hand with my honey

A few weeks earlier, Kristin Mayer of Betty Designs had invited Blanco and I to be on Team Betty for the famous Kona Underpants Run (UPR) which takes place in town two days prior to the race. I was a little horrified at the idea of jaunting around town in a skimpy string bikini but it did add a little extra motivation for me to stick with the pre-race nutrition plan! I've been pretty conscientious about my diet this summer and managed to lose ~5lbs so that race weight was 126-127lbs, rather than the usual 131-132lbs. I know that weight is just a number but I was hoping that a leaner body would help me in the heat.

Blanco is on the far left. I am the white chick... next time I spray tan!
In the days leading up to the race, Rich and I tried to be as chill as possible, eating and cooking at home and trying our best to limit time on our feet. But, we also wanted to make the most of being in the land of "Everything Triathlon" where sponsors are handing out lots of schwag and demo'ing their latest products. Our favorite new products are the BOA shoe closure system, Saucony custom Kona shoes and Smith Optics sunnies.


Race day: the swim
My personal mantra for my 4th Ironman Hawaii race was: "it's not a race". I know that seems weird since it is clearly a race, but for me, I am realistic that I am not competing for top 5 in my AG so it's more a celebratory race. Thrilled to be racing on the same stage as the world's best! I knew that I wanted to feel comfortable all day, that I did not want to get sunburned and that I wanted to go under 11 hours, if the weather permitted. Race times are hard to predict in Kona but in my mind I thought a 1:15 swim, a 5:30 bike and 4:00 marathon would get me my sub 11 hour finish... a time that would have me crossing the finish line before sunset and give me a PR for the course.

Pre-race selfie with Blanco in transition
In previous years, I have lined up for the swim start near the pier (right hand side) and have been beaten up, swum over to the point of being frightened of the mass swim start. This year, having consulted with several friends, I lined up much further left. I got in the water relatively quickly after the pro women started (6:35am) and treaded water for a long time. Just before the start, a guy turned around and said to me and another woman, you ladies better be planning on swimming sub-1 hour. I laughed and then commented: "either that or we are stupid!".

When the canon fired, it was a frenzied start and I was hit, kicked, swum over, legs grabbed, goggles knocked askew, and I did think to myself that my positioning on the second row might have been a tad aggressive. Thankfully, the rough and tumble swimming calmed down after a couple of minutes and I found myself being sucked along amid a stream of white bubbles, following feet. I barely did any buoy sighting, and definitely no admiring of the underwater world. I was focused on maintaining a solid turnover, strong pull and light kick... while following feet. We seemed to make quick progress to the Body Glove turnaround boat and I allowed myself a quick peek of the watch. 30:34... I was astonished. I knew from practice swims this week that the outbound journey would be quicker but I was expecting something around 35mins at this point, especially considering my previous 3 Hawaii swims have been 1:24, 1:19 and 1:18. That little boost helped me remain focused on the return leg... though I did wonder at one point whether someone had knocked my watch and it had stopped since 30mins to the turnaround was fast for me. I continued to be surrounded by swimmers for the entire return leg as I swam right on the buoy line. For the most part, I was right on the feet of others, switching feet from time to time as folks sped up or slowed down. On exiting the water and glancing at my watch, I was overjoyed to see 1:11. This was a massive 7 minute PR for me on the Hawaii course. I hope this was not a fluke but rather testament to the hard work of the last several years. My pool swimming has improved, as have my race times, with the help of Matt Dixon of PurplePatch Fitness. The highlight of my swim training has been to swim consistently on the feet of some fantastic training partners: Monica Moreno, Ariane Buser and Danielle Hauptman, pushing each other and working very hard to survive Matt's tough swim sessions.

Bike, Run and Post-race to follow...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kona Twitter Social Plan

24 hours into my time on the Big Island and I've already had the chance to meet up for swims and rides with friends... Planned and coincidental. So fun...

This morning, Hailey and I checked out a new coffee shop in Kona, Daylight Mind, and decided it would be a great place to meet up post-swim on Tuesday AM. It's located in the same complex as Bubba Gump Shrimp company on Ali'i Drive. It's on the ocean-side about a 5-7min walk from the pier.

I have a pool swim with my swim coach at 7am on Tuesday so I'll be at Daylight Mind by 8:15am. Hailey is planning on an ocean swim at 7am so folks should feel free to meet up for a swim if it's on your schedule and then wander over for "coffee with a view".

See you there!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Kona Twitter Social

Quite often I will be having a conversation with my husband (Blanco) about someone... maybe, I am following along a race and checking splits or reading a RR or blog post... and he'll ask me: "How do you know them?" My response more recently has become "via Twitter".

As someone who eschews social media, he thinks this is kinda weird. However, I have proved him wrong in the past by becoming fast friends with folks I first got to know via the Twitterverse!

More than a few Twitter friends that have inspired me, entertained me, made me cry in the past year will be in Hawaii next week. I am panicking that I'll miss meeting up with many of them as the craziness of the week takes hold... so I am proposing a post-swim gathering for Twitter friends so I can put a face to a Twitter handle and cheer you along on race-day!

I am thinking Tuesday October 8th, 8-9am near the swim start... precise details to follow... via Twitter!