Ironman Cozumel – The Swim

16 12 2014

So without further ado…

 

Race day was finally here! My alarm was set for 4:35, but I woke a few minutes before the alarm sounded. I walked out into the living room and saw Jess making coffee in the kitchen and started to get teary. I told myself I couldn’t cry yet, so I pulled myself together and started to make myself breakfast.

I made my standard breakfast- oatmeal with banana and peanut butter, and I sipped on some coffee to get things moving (TMI note: I did not need any help in that department. Nerves took care of that for me!) Bill came out of the room few minutes later and gave me a hug, and the tears just started rolling. I was scared. What was I about to do?  (As I look back, I’m surprised that fear was something I was feeling. I was very well prepared, I had nothing to be afraid of!)

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I pulled myself together, laughing as my friends made jokes to help shake the nerves. Jess was super positive, and her confidence and excitement for the day was contagious. We were doing this thing, ladies!

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We got the last of our special needs bags together and walked to T1 as dawn was breaking. We didn’t have a TON of time, as transition was only open for an hour before we all needed to catch a bus to the swim start. Bike shoes on bike, nutrition on bike, bladder and bottles filled, tires pumped (thanks Tommy!). Check, check, check check. I added the last bit of nutrition to my bike bag and then hit the port-o-potty. Courtney, Jess, and I did one final check of our bikes before dropping off our special needs bags and making our way to the buses.

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We made friends with a woman while waiting and met a Canadian guy on the bus that made us think of our friend Heather. (By the way, Heather is amazing and got us these spectacular margarita glasses! Thank you Heather!) On the drive over I finished up my Osmo preload and took the Immodium I had placed in my morning bag (so glad I had it!). We had decided to give our morning clothes bags to Felipe rather than drop them with everyone else’s things, so while we waited, we put on our swim skins (I had borrowed one from my SOAS teammate- THANK YOU Milette!!) and vaselined up.  Time was ticking, and it was getting closer and closer to our start time. I was starting to think of a back up plan for my bag, when there was the Brazilian in his red shirt and fedora. I think we all breathed a huge sigh of relief and then walked towards the start.

10811_10106082069395991_5532982306136817619_n So this picture wasn’t from race morning, but you get the picture

This was the first year Cozumel was a point to point race, and we started at the Intercontinental hotel. It was also a wave start, and my wave was scheduled to go off at 6:58am. I think one of the reasons it was a wave start was because the starting area was pretty narrow. We all filed down a ramp and then into the water for an in-water start. It would not have been possible to get all 2800 people down that ramp to start at the same time. Sure, it would have been an exhilarating experience to be a part of the “traditional” ironman mass start, but I actually didn’t mind starting with a smaller group. The only problem I had with this way of starting was that we were so spread out, so I couldn’t find any feet!

10690252_1026033430745312_5049473637903175874_nCan you find me?

Anyhow, we watched the pros take off and then Felipe took a few photos of us. Again, the waterworks started. Pull yourself together Steph!

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Finally, it was our turn to get into the water. I wished Jess and Courtney luck, and then got in. I didn’t want to be close to Courtney because I knew my competitive nature would probably make me race her and exert too much energy (spoiler alert, Courtney had a killer swim, 2 minutes faster than me, with a time faster than the male pro who won the whole thing!) so I swam off by myself behind some girls I didn’t know.

Soon it was go time! The horn sounded and we were off! You’re probably tired of hearing this, but my goodness this was the most beautiful swim I’ve ever done. The water was crystal clear and there were fish everywhere. It was hard not to get distracted!

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10620460_886136701410795_7169393283992480178_oI really wish I had an underwater photo of me!

Some girls took off and I reminded myself that I have a long day ahead of me. Smooth stroke, just keep it steady. Right before we started some of the guards on paddle boards told us to swim closer to shore, not out by the buoys. So, I stayed pretty far to the left of all the buoys for most of the swim. I really wanted to find someone’s feet and just sit on them, but with the wave start, this just wasn’t happening for me. Soon, I caught up to the wave in front of me. As I was swimming, I was a little too close to the inside, and there were some smaller buoys that I think marked a hotel’s designated swimming area. I swam directly into them, and a few other swimmers from the wave in front of me. I don’t think they liked getting trampled, because one of them grabbed my ankle! I kicked hard and got out of there as quick as I could.

The swim was pretty peaceful actually, not the hectic swim I was expecting, but I was okay with that. I don’t have a watch for the swim, so I had no idea how long I had been swimming, but I remember looking up at one point thinking, man, this is a long swim. Where are those final buoys? Rumor has it that we were actually swimming against the current for the first part of the swim. I don’t really know, for sure, but it wasn’t strong enough to make a ton of difference for me, I don’t think.

I got stung a few times by tiny jelly fish, but the pain was fleeting. I passed more and more people from the waves in front of me, but saw few of my fellow purple caps. At one point, I saw a guy from a wave behind me, and my silly self thought, Ooh feet! These will be speedy! But they were definitely too speedy for me, and I got no help there. Finally, with about 300 meters to go, I caught site of a girl in a purple cap. Let’s get on her feet! I swam over to her and there was actually another girl on her feet. So, I swam up next to them both, and was stroke for stroke for the entire way home. That is, until the last 5 meters when I got stuck behind two people from the wave in front of me. Doh!

I got out of the water with a huge smile on my face! I was doing an Ironman! in Cozumel! How amazing is this??

I ran across the dock, rinsed with a hose briefly, grabbed my bag (after noticing that Courtney’s bag was already gone!) and ran in to the changing tent. I quickly looked for Courtney (didn’t see her-as I said before she had a killer swim!) and then focused on getting myself ready for the bike.

The changing tent was a little chaotic, but thankfully there weren’t a ton of people in there. I think I was a little overwhelmed by all the crap I had to shove in my pockets (a tube, 3 rice cakes, 2 bags of salty balls, and 1 Power bar gel bursts, extra Osmo powder, salt tabs, chapstick), put on (helmet, sunglasses, race number, sunscreen), and then put my swim stuff back into the bag. The volunteers were great (most of them were kids and teenagers!) but it took us both a second to coordinate the dance that is the athlete-volunteer changing room tango. A volunteer slathered on sunscreen while I put the last of my nutrition into my pockets and into my cleavage, and put on my helmet. I distinctly remember looking down at my feet and seeing several ants crawling on top of my feet and saying “OW!” when I felt their sting. Clearly I was not moving fast enough if ants were biting me! Finally, I stood up, a volunteer clipped my race belt and I was headed towards my bike. Let’s go!

Swim: 52:51, 5th AG

T1: 5:43 (This is why I got bit by ants)

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 8.20.46 PMCheck out this nifty visual of the swim/transition. I’m the green dot. The pink ones are the other females, while the orange dots are the other women in my age group. The orange dot in front of me was the girl who finished 5th in my AG. I heard her fans yelling “GO STEPH!” and was wondering how the heck people knew my name. Duh. The girl right  behind me actually finished 3rd in our age group! Speedsters!

 

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Last Week’s Workouts {4/21-4/27}

29 04 2014

I’m back with weekly workout recaps! After Gator, I took a good week off and I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things. Last week was pretty low intensity- no need to kill myself when my next big race is a good 7 months away! Here’s how my week went down:

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Monday: Yoga + Run/Swim

I was still on vacay with Bill, and Monday was a sea day, so we headed up to the gym and did a little yoga. He’s got a yoga app on his iPad which has some decent workouts. We did an hour-long “Advanced Flexibility” practice. After, Bill kept practicing some of his even more advanced moves, while I ran on the treadmill for 20 minutes. I felt pretty darn good (must have been that yoga warmup!) and stopped while I was still enjoying the ‘mill. Makes it a little easier to go back to:-) Then, I hopped in the pool and swam for a short bit in the infinity pool, which was like a swimming treadmill. Once I finally got the current adjusted properly, it was pretty fun!  I felt like I was in open water (especially since the ship was moving!) and could see myself doing this again if I had an opportunity. Oh, and just because I like to show off my boyfriend, check out this photo, courtesy of Cheri Root Photography:

Rootberry Yoga

Tuesday: Swim, 2500 yards

Back in Tampa, I planned to meet the team for a swim. Unfortunately, it ended up being a solo swim, as work called for my friends. I putzed around for 45 minutes but still managed to get in 2500 yards.

Wednesday: Bike, 30km, Run, 2km

I was itching to get back on my bike, so Courtney and I met up for a nice 30km ride around Davis island, followed by a short 10 minute run. We kept the pace nice and comfortable, chatting the whole time.

Thursday: Swim, 200 yards

I was running late, so I went to the pool closer to my house (Bobby Hicks!) and got in 40 minutes of swimming before the pool closed. I did a bunch of 200s, nothing too crazy as I was battling a headache. I’m super excited that Bobby Hicks is open (with limited hours) and I can’t wait until it’s open more regularly with long course!

Bobby Hicks Pool

Friday: Run, 4km

I had plans to get up early and run with Courtney, but I still had a touch of a headache in the morning, so I decided to sleep in to kick it. It was gone when I woke up for work, so at lunchtime I went for a RUNch:-) I did my usual loop and thought it was hot and only my second short run since Gator, it was surprisingly speedy, averaging 5:05/km.

Saturday: Ride, 47.75 km

Chris and I went up to the Suncoast for an early morning ride. We took the first half relatively easy. Well, at least our speed would indicate we were going easy. I think we were averaging about 18mph on the way out (I think even a little slower) and it felt like my watch should have been reading a quicker pace for the amount of effort I was putting in. (I guess I would really know for sure if I had a power meter…wish those things weren’t so dang expensive!) Anyhow, we picked it up a little on the way back, and then REALLY kicked it into high gear for the last 15km. We took turns pulling for 2 minutes each and averaged 37km/hour for those last 25 minutes! My legs were TOAST and I actually was dropped for the last km, but still maintained a decent clip!

Sunday: Run 5K, open water swimming

Chris, Heather, and I headed to St. Pete before the sun rose to volunteer for the St. Anthony’s triathlon. This is one of the biggest tris in the southeast, and it’s right in my backyard! I definitely need to do this race sometime! Anyhow, We manned the run out/sprint swim in area of the course, and got up close and personal (sort of) with some of the speedy pros.

Mirinda Carfrae

We also got to cheer on some of our friends. Great job out there Beth, Meghan, Genna, Jamie, Pete, Kari, and anyone else I’m forgetting!

After our shift was over, we headed over to the finish line for a bit before deciding it was time to get in our own workout. At this point it was close to noon and the sun was blazin! We decided to do a short 5km, nice and easy, following the back half of the run route for the race. We stayed off to the side of the course and was able to cheer on some of the runners still on the course. Afterwards, we headed down to where the swim start had been earlier that morning and swam a few laps parallel to the shore. I don’t know how long we went or for how long, but it was nice to get in and move around in the cool water, after such a hot run! It was nice to have such a laid-back Sunday workout. I know I won’t get many more of those in the next few months, so I enjoyed it while it lasted!

Welp, there you have it! That’s what a low intensity week of workouts looks like for me!





It’s Race Week!

8 11 2013

Hi All! Sorry I’ve been a little MIA! If you missed my tweets and Instagram posts from over the weekend, you know I spent Saturday up in Panama City Beach cheering on Meghann and the #IRONSIBLINGS as they competed in their first Ironman. It was an awesome weekend and Meghann ABSOLUTELY KILLED IT! 13:05!!! She was super inspiring, and it was so fun to watch. I would HIGHLY recommend spectating an Ironman. I owe you a post with some tips!

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Spectating the Ironman certainly got me jazzed about my upcoming 70.3. I can’t believe it is this weekend! The people doing the IM were doing twice the distance I’ll be covering on Sunday. If they can do 140.6 miles, I can certainly do 70.3!

We’re in full on taper mode; practices are barely an hour and I’m starting to get antsy. For most of this week I’ve had a nagging thought in the back of my head that I’m going to miss my taper. I think part of it stems from having a light training week last week, due to a random swollen knee after swim practice last Monday. I stayed off of it pretty much all last week, and ran for the first time on it Saturday afternoon during the bike leg of the Ironman. It feels fine now, thank goodness, but I definitely had a mini freak out last week!

I was still fighting those bad taper thoughts until last night, when my friend Chris sent me a picture of my bike:

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That’s right folks, those are some snazzy Zipp wheels being put on to my bike! I decided to rent a pair as we were driving back to Tampa from Panama City. Why not? I’ve never ridden race wheels, so I’m really excited to try them! This was the thing I needed to really get me pumped to race. I’ve been waiting on this race for almost two years (I registered for last year’s race but deferred because of my foot injury) and it is FINALLY here. I’ve done my training, my body is resting up, and I’ll show up on Sunday ready to dominate 70.3 miles.

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I’m going in to the race with low expectations- to be honest, after my ugly brick workout two weeks ago, I just want to get through the race on my two feet with no tummy troubles! But, if we’re being really honest, I do have some rough goals for each leg:

Swim: This is definitely my strongest leg of the race, so I want to get out there and absolutely have a fantastic swim. Unfortunately, my wave is the fourth wave, so I’ll be running down the swimmers in front of me. My goal is sub 30. How far under 30 minutes? I’ll have to find out on Sunday!

Bike: I’ve been incessantly checking the weather report for Sunday in Venice, because with such a flat course, I think the wind could definitely factor in to how I perform (how much it will factor in, I have no clue!). Right now, it says winds will be 12mph. At least the race isn’t Saturday, when winds are predicted to be 17mph! The bike has a bunch of turns and not a ton of long straightaways, so at least it will be interesting and the wind shouldn’t be in my face or pushing me along for too long of a time. That also means there’s not really a good place to just put my head down and go. That being said, I’m hoping to ride it in about 3 hours.

Run: I think the run is my biggest question mark right now. I’ve had some stellar short runs, but all of my longer runs have been much slower than what I should be going for how fast my short runs are. My knee’s feeling better now, but the fact that it was swollen and hurting two weeks before race day worries me. I would love to go 1:55, but I think a realistic goal is 2:00.

Total time: 5:30

So I know I didn’t take in to account transition times, but I’m hoping I’ll come in a little under each of my goal times to make up for the transitions. 🙂 We will certainly find out soon!!

These are certainly rough estimates, and I’m not really in this to see how fast I can go. I’ve never done a HIM before, so I really don’t know what to expect. I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m anxious. I’m ready to put myself to the test for this distance, to overcome the physical and mental challenge it will present to me. Bring it on Rev3!!