Ironman 70.3 World Championships – Pre Race

18 09 2017

Back in July, I received an unexpected email from Women For Tri inviting me to participate in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Without another race on my schedule until October, my response was HECK YES! Still feeling a little bummed from my less than stellar performance in June and lacking motivation to train since my next race wasn’t for a few more months, this was exactly what I needed.

IMG_1146

I knew going into this race that this course was not suited to my strengths (exception: swim). The course for the World Championships was planned to be different than the “regular” Ironman 70.3 they hold in Chattanooga in the spring. The swim was a loop (rather than point to point), with the majority of the swim being upstream. If you’ve heard anything about the swim in the Tennessee river, it’s likely that you’ve heard about the speedy current. Swimming with this current is what many athletes find appealing about the full IM in Chattanooga. Well, Race Directors thought it would be “fun” to have athletes swim against that current for the World Championships.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 1.09.55 PM

The bike would have 3,408 feet of climbing (as compared to 2,218) with the first part taking you straight up Lookout Mountain.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 1.15.26 PM

The run was most similar to the spring race, a two loop course and almost 1000 feet of climbing.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 1.16.13 PM

This Florida girl would be way out of her comfort zone at this race, but I did what I could in my training, completing some run workouts on bridges and some longer rides out in San Antonio (FL) where there are some hills.

The two weeks leading up to this race were less than ideal. I was out for a run one evening, and less than a quarter mile into my run, I rolled my ankle. Thankfully, it ended up being a minor sprain and I was back running in a week, but the Type A athlete in me was freaking out from the minute it happened. A weekend COMPLETELY off two weeks before a race? The horror! I think it actually ended up being really good for me to rest up!

IMG_1896

Once I was finally able to get back at it, we now had our eyes on Irma. She was days out still, but it was pretty stressful tracking her and trying to figure out our plan for heading out to Chattanooga/securing the house/bring the kitties? etc. (We decided to bring them.)

IMG_2071

We left for Chatty on Wednesday night around 10:30pm for the Saturday race (women were Saturday, men were Sunday). Our original plan before Irma was a thing was to drive for several hours and then grab a hotel wherever we decided to stop. Well, thanks to evacuation orders, at 1am the roads were like rush hour, and there were ZERO hotels anywhere with vacancies. We drove (well, mostly Bill drove) until 4:30am before stopping at an overflowing rest area for a two hour nap before hitting the road again. The kitties were not pleased with this whole situation so they were meowing for most of these two hours. Not ideal 3 nights out from a race.

We FINALLY arrived in Chattanooga mid-afternoon on Thursday. Exhausted, we dropped our things at the hotel, grabbed some food, and then immediately took a nap. I didn’t want to sleep too long, for fear of not being able to get back to bed that night (and Thursday night was the night before the night before- the most important night to get sleep!) but man, did it feel good to lay down on a bed. After about a hour and a half/two hours, we slowly got out of bed to head down to the race site so I could get checked in and then go to the welcome banquet and pre-race meeting.

From the minute we got close to the race site you could feel the excitement. There were signs of Ironman everywhere- Billboards, the M-dot on top of the aquarium, and lots of very, very fit people walking around. Bill dropped me at Ironman Village so I could check in- I wandered through the maze of vendors and loved hearing different languages spoken all around. It finally hit me- I was at the World Freaking Championships. Holy cow.

IMG_2112

Check in was a breeze and IM does not skimp on swag for World Championships events. I took some photos and held off on merch (for now) before finding Bill and making our way to the convention center at the Marriott for the welcome banquet.

IMG_2106The spread at the welcome banquet was decent- salad, fruit, mac n cheese, potato salad, cornbread, bbq pork, chicken, pecan pie and brownies. Not the best for vegetarians, but I made it work. After the welcome banquet, they had the pre-race meeting, where we received the welcome news that they were going to do something to the dam up the river so that the current would be MUCH weaker than it currently was. They also said they’d be monitoring the water temperature closely, and would make a final call on Saturday at 5am, but water was currently not wetsuit legal. I learned that we couldn’t access our bike or run gear bags on race morning, so they needed everything in them when I dropped them off tomorrow. After the meeting, we immediately went back to our hotel (which was close to the airport, about 20 minutes from the race venue) and went to bed!

IMG_2110

Friday:

I slept in as much as I could before heading in to the race venue for my pre-race workout. It was a beautiful morning- cool but sunny. It was so nice to have cooler temps!

IMG_2117

I started with a swim in the river to get a sense of the current. I knew that they said it would be less strong on race morning, but I wanted to get in and check it out. They had buoys set up to do a short loop, about 600 yards. The water was not wetsuit legal, so I put on my speed suit and waited in line to get in. I chatted it up with some friendly Wisconsinites before getting to the entrance. The water was really refreshing when I jumped in, and at first I didn’t really feel the current. As long as I was swimming, I couldn’t quite tell how “bad” it actually was. Sure, the shoreline seemed to be moving past me in slow motion, but that’s pretty normal. However, I started to run into a slower swimmer so I stopped. OH. Hello current! Immediately, I started drifting backwards. Lesson- just keep swimming! For fun, I lapped my watch when I started swimming upstream and then again when I was swimming with the current. With a few short stops on the against the current part, my pace was 2:11/yard, but on the way back (with the current) it was 1:11. OH BOY!

IMG_2114

After the swim, I dried off, chatted with some friends, had a snack and then finally decided it was time to check out the first part of the climb up Lookout Mountain. I followed a group of people out of the downtown area up to the climb. As soon as I hit the climb I remembered driving up this road more than 10 years ago for a fall break trip and being a little scared to drive up the mountain on the windy, steep roads. Now, here I was going to BIKE up this thing. I took a deep breath and switched into my lowest gear.

The climb is steep- I’m not sure of the grade but I was definitely thankful I had switched to a climbing cassette a few weeks ago. I pedaled up the mountain, pushing watts, but I wasn’t working overly hard- I didn’t want to blow up before the race even started! Just keep going, just keep going. I looked down at my computer and it showed that I had gone a mile in about 10 minutes. OOF. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. I didn’t let it get me down- I was here at the World Championships- my bonus race!

IMG_2121

After 14 minutes, I reached a pull off in the road and figured it was a good place to turn around and head back. Oh boy. The way down was super scary. The road had cars on it and it was windy and steep. I tried hard not to ride my breaks the whole time, but when I finally reached the bottom my hands hurt from grabbing my brakes. OMG I really hope the back half of the mountain is not like this. I texted Marni and told her I was nervous about the descent, but she assured me I would be fine and the back half wasn’t as technical. That was definitely reassuring, but I was still a bit nervous about this course.

I made my way back to the car to drop my bike before heading back to the Village for the Women for Tri photo. Unfortunately, I was a little too late and missed it! Since I was in the village, merch was calling my name. Le sigh. Always gets me! Finally, I headed back to the hotel to pick up Bill and get some real lunch.

IMG_2128

After lunch, I packed up my gear bags, got my bike ready, and rested a little before heading back to the Village around 4 to drop it all off. I was a little rushed when we finally got there, because I had plans to meet up with a friend from college around 5, but I got it all dropped and didn’t let myself overthink anything.

IMG_2133

IMG_2135

At 5, I met my friend and her family for what would be a highlight of the trip- a helicopter ride over the course. It was so beautiful and such a fun way to see Chattanooga! Thank you Rock Creek Aviation!

Finally, it was time to head back, grab dinner and get to sleep. Tomorrow was race day!

 

Advertisements




A Weekend in the Mountains

15 03 2013

I’m going to attribute my lack of blog posts over the past week and a half to my spring break. That’s right, I get a spring break! It’s one of the perks of working for the school district; however, it is technically unpaid (my salary is prorated throughout the course of the year to make up for it) so that is definitely a drawback. But, having a week off of work is pretty darn nice. Especially when you can spend some time here:

IMG_9443

IMG_9438

photos courtesy of Meghann

Last week, I tacked on two extra days to my spring break to head up to northern Georgia for a long weekend with my friends. It was a needed break and a nice change of scenery from Tampa.

Me, Bill and 8 of our friends rented a log cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Man oh man was it gorgeous up there! The mornings were chilly, but when the sun came out it warmed up enough for us to head outdoors and explore.  On Friday, we drove about 30 minutes or so to a trail suggested by the guidebook in our cabin. It just so happened to take us to a section of the Appalachian Trail!

IMG_6333

We hiked for a short distance, maybe only 10 minutes or so, before arriving at pretty waterfall. Stopped at the waterfall were two women, one who was treating her blistered feet. I asked her how far she was planning on going and her response was “Hopefully, all 2000 miles of it!” Wow, what an undertaking! Since reading Wild, a book about a woman’s solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, I’ve had a heightened  interest in hiking, so my thoughts immediately started wondering about the trek that lies ahead. I can only imagine the things she’ll see, the people she’ll meet, the stories she’ll tell. How cool to have that experience! 

IMG_6339

After pausing by the waterfall for a few minutes, we continued to hike for about another half an hour. We paused for the obligatory group photo (sans Marcus, who took the picture for us), since we hadn’t really seen any other hikers since leaving the waterfall.

e447d01e882811e2b28822000a9f1468_7

Photo courtesy of Meghann

It was close to lunchtime (or past?) so we turned around and headed back to the cars. On the way back down, we spotted some more hikers making their trek north. Some were clearly day hikers like us, but some appeared to be in it for the long haul. What a journey! I wonder how many of them will make it the whole way?

We paused for some more photos to commemorate the day.

IMG_6349

IMG_6348

Can I just say that I was so, so, so happy that Bill was able to come on vacation with me? With his busy schedule, it’s hard to plan a trip together. I was planning on going with my friends when we started talking about the trip months ago, but Bill was always a big question mark. As the trip got closer, Bill’s schedule was clear, but I tried not to get my hopes up. Thankfully, his schedule remained clear, and he was able to come too!

Being on the Appalachian was a pretty cool way to kick off the weekend in the mountains. It was actually one of the highlights of the trip for me! I’m a big fan of getting in some exercise in ways that are fun and different, aka not running, biking, or swimming. 🙂

On our second day, our group headed out to Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia.

IMG_6373

There’s a 2.5 mile windy, steep road up to a ridge where there’s a large parking lot before you can make the last .6 mile trek up to the very top. I was feeling a little car sick from the 45 minute drive to get to the base of the mountain, so when it was suggested that we hop out and run/walk up to the top, I agreed. I figured it was better to tough it out by walking up the 2.5 miles at an 11% grade than to feel miserable while driving up the mountain and trying not to puke.

Felipe and Bill decided they were going to run the whole thing, while Courtney, Jess and I decided to play it by ear. We’d start by walking and then run if we felt up to it. The other half of the group opted to drive up to the parking lot.

Holy hill! I felt like I was walking on a treadmill at the highest incline…and then some! We definitely got our hearts pumping and started to sweat.

It was still pretty chilly in the shade, and we spotted some remnants from the snow they received a few days prior.
IMG_6368

How odd to be warm enough to be in a sports bra while holding snow!

IMG_6372

We celebrated when we spotted the 1 mile marker…but the celebration didn’t last long, since we knew we were only a third of the way to the top. We started to challenge ourselves along the way, saying Ok, we’ll run to that next big tree. Or, when there was a relatively flat section, we’d try to run for 100 yards or so.


IMG_6370

After about 5 intervals or so, we made it to the parking lot, where we caught up with Felipe and Bill. Only .6 to go! Finally, we made it to top where we spotted some friendly faces 🙂

IMG_6375

It was beautiful up there! IMG_6376

We took a few group shots before heading down to the cars and back to the cabin for our last night. This was again an awesome way to get in some exercise, and I used some muscles I don’t get to use while running in flat as a pancake Tampa.

We wrapped up our last night with some fun games of charades and catch phrase, s’mores around the fireplace, and playing a few rounds of pool. So. Relaxing.

I’m going to be super cheesy here because honestly this was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. I absolutely enjoyed the scenery and the activities, but I really enjoyed just spending time with my friends. We had meals together, played games together and just enjoyed our mountain experience together. I would happily vacation with these guys again…we’ve already begun chattering about the next trip 🙂

For more details about the trip, check out Meghann’s posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Mary’s post!

Question of the Day: Have you ever been on a group vacation? How was it?