Work Hard, Race Hard, Play Hard

Work Hard, Race Hard, Play Hard

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ironman Whistler - "Mind Over Matter"

Ironman Whistler – “Mind over Matter”

I promised myself I would get this race report written before I took off for my next and last race of the season.  I was sooo close J  But at least its done before my next race!

First of all, before I get into the details of race day, I wanted to mention that Ironman Canada was an amazing race.  Whistler was a great venue for Ironman, and I loved everything about it! I highly recommend this race!

Secondly, I believe I executed the best possible race I could on the day and was extremely happy with my result. I hate excuses, so I don’t want anything I say in this report to be misinterpreted as an excuse.  Ironman is a long day and so many things can and will go wrong for everyone and its how you deal with those obstacles that will determine your race. “Mind over matter” as they say! This is why I love Ironman! You don’t always have to be the fastest, you just need to the toughest to have a good day.  For this reason, I believe my strengths prevail in Ironman. It’s no secret I am not a “fast” swimmer, or have the strongest bike, however I am confident in my ability to run a strong marathon. I also know that I am able to stay “mentally” strong and really dig deep when I need to.  As much as I love running….running 26.2 miles after biking 112 is never easy, and it hurts a lot….but I am able to just focus and “embrace the pain.”  I had quite a few things go wrong during the race and I will talk about them not as an excuse, but as an example of the things that will go wrong, and how I dealt with those issues.

As beautiful as Whistler is and as much as I loved the course and the experience, this course was definitely not a course that suits my strengths. I knew this going into the race and it was drastically different than my other Ironmans to date.  I typically love races with hot, humid, flat, windy conditions and non wetsuit swims.   Whistler was a wetsuit swim, HILLY, and not very hot or humid.   But, sometimes its fun to challenge yourself and see how you will fare on a different course/conditions, and how you will do on a course that is the exact opposite of what you “like to race.”

My Mom and I flew to Vancouver Wednesday before the race. We stayed in Vancouver Wed. night and spent Thursday morning exploring Vancouver. Neither of us had ever been so it was fun to check it out. We ran in Stanley Park, checked out the Lululemon stores (I am lulu obsessed) and then we drove up to Whistler later that day.  We checked into our hotel, The Fairmont, in the Upper Village, which was a great hotel and very convenient for walking to/from everything.   Friday was spent doing all the typical pre-Ironman activities.  I went for a ride with the Tribike transport crew, checked-in,  drove part of the bike course and attended the pre-race meeting.  Friday night Sissy arrived from San Diego. Yay! Having my mom and sissy at my races makes me so happy.
Views from Stanley Park

Silly in front of the Hollow Tree in Stanley Park
Clearly Mom and Sissy are the cheerleaders in the family!

As always, the day before the race is over before you know it and it always ends up being busier than you think! I went to bed super nervous and excited to race. I knew I had put in the work and I was ready to just get out there and do my best!
Green Lake in Whistler.. run course scenery!
Checking out Whistler..

Onto the race details!

The Swim: (1:11,  25th AG)
I typically do not like wetsuit swims. This may seem strange since swimming isn’t my strength, so you would think I would want all the help I could get, but in reality, wetsuits make me claustrophobic! I literally feel as if I’m going to hyperventilate and the sleeves make my arms feel tired!  Well, for Whistler, I was lucky enough to be trying out the TYR Freak wetsuit (Thanks TYR!) and I can honestly say it was the best wetsuit I have ever worn. It was comfy, I didn’t feel as if I would hyperventilate, and the comfort in the shoulders/arms didn’t make my arms feel as tired.   As for the swim itself, it was my typical Ironman swim, where I feel as if I am getting beat up by the men.  Oh how I wish there was a separate Mens/Womens  start for amateurs in Ironman.  Unfortunately, when I exited the swim, a male athlete knocked into me, I went flying and landed on my right shoulder…the same shoulder that I had surgery on for a broken clavicle and torn ligaments 8 weeks before Kona in 2010.  And it hurt, it hurt a lot!  But I continued on…time to bike!  As for the 1:11, I was satisfied with that. Since I shared with you my training schedule in my last blog, and my lack of swim training, I can’t expect a much faster time at this point J
Beautiful swim start backdrop!

Thanks TYR and MB for letting me try out this awesome wetsuit!

The Bike: (5:55, 15th AG)
Once onto the bike, I tried to ignore the pain in my shoulder, and just focus on pedaling.  The bike is a continual work in progress for me. And after taking 6 months off from cycling, I definitely felt out of shape getting back at it. But I have been putting in some work and feel that I have been making strides in training. I know I still have a ways to go to get it up there with my run, but I think I have been moving in the right direction! Thanks to all the coaches and training partners at Tailwind Endurance who keep me motivated for those 5:30 am classes! It has definitely been more fun than doing those solo trainer workouts in my apartment!  Ok back to the race…even though I felt prepared for the bike, I still knew it would be a tough day given the difficulty of this bike course and the 6000+ feet of climbing! I live in NYC and do a lot of my training on the computrainer and even most of my outdoor rides didn’t include this kind of climbing! But I have been training with power for the past couple of years and was planning to just focus on my watts! Well once onto the bike I spent the first few miles fiddling with my power meter and for some reason it just didn’t want to work! My initial thought was UGH!!  But after getting over the frustration, I got it together and knew I would be fine, I am very in tune with my body and am more than capable of racing by feel! The bigger issue was my shoulder, it was SERIOUSLY hurting! It hurt to raise my arm which made it difficult to take in my nutrition.  Being aero was very painful.  But, as I said…“Mind over matter.”   After driving the bike course and getting a little freaked out by all the climbing, I really thought a 6:30 bike time was in my future, so a 5:55 on this course for was a decent time for me. I know I’m capable of better, but was happy with this result at this point in my training.

Run (3:19, 5th AG, 2nd Fast Amateur run split)
As always, I was ecstatic to be off the bike and onto the run! My legs felt good, which was a good sign I didn’t go too hard on the bike! Again, the only problem was my shoulder, still KILLING me!   The run is a two loop course through the Whistler trails with a lot of twists and turns and wasn’t quite the “fast” course I was expecting.  I was able to see my Mom & Sissy a bunch of times which helped lift my spirits and keep me plugging along!   I have been running in Newtons for almost as long as I have been doing triathlons and I absolutely love them! I also always run without socks and I never have any issues with blisters..until Whistler.  At about mile 5 I started developing blisters on both feet that pretty much encompassed the tops and bottoms of my feet. It was beyond painful to run like this for 21 miles, but  “mind over matter.”  I suppose the upside was this pain helped me no longer think about the shoulder (sort of).  It was a hard run but I just focused on holding my pace and “embracing the pain.”   I passed a bunch of girls but had no idea where I was in my AG. I wasn’t chasing a Kona slot, or focusing on my place in my AG, but I just wanted to have my best possible race.  I ended up with a 3:19 marathon, which was good enough for 2nd fastest amateur run time and moved me up to 5th in my AG. This was my 2nd fastest Ironman marathon time and I again I was pleased with the result. I do know I have a “faster” ironman marathon in me though, and I’m even more motivated to chase it!
Happy to be out on the run!
I finished in 10:33, 5th in AG!  I literally couldn’t have been happier with this result. I gave the race everything I had both mentally and physically.  Ending up on the podium and a Kona slot were icing on the cake!
Post race with Mom and Sissy... you guys are the best.  xo

Back to Kona I go!  Woohooo!

Thoughts on Kona

Now I know I said earlier in the season that I had no intention of racing Kona this year even if I qualified. But of course as the season progressed, I started to shift my attitude and thinking that if I qualified, I would race.  I wouldn’t take a rolldown, but if I legitimately qualified, I would take my slot.  I didn’t put any pressure on myself and didn’t go into Whistler focused on qualifying for Kona.

There are a couple reasons for the change in plans:

1.     While long term goals are great, as I have learned in the past, life is unpredictable and doesn’t always turn out the way you expect or plan for. I could spend the next two years training to get back to Kona to try and finish top 5 in my AG and I could end up getting injured, or have a bike crash, or a 1000 other things could go wrong.  So sometimes, when life throws you an opportunity you have to take it. And that’s what I did with Whistler. I figured if it was meant to be, it would be.  

2.     If I don’t go to Kona this year, I may not have the ability to get back to the Big Island to race for a few years.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs, balance in my life is very important to me. And triathlon is truly a hobby, so I don’t want to sacrifice everything and everyone for triathlon.  Next year my Sissy is getting married in September I don’t want to worry about training for an Ironman during this important time in her life. I want to be fully involved and enjoy every minute with her without worrying about my training for Kona.  Also, I have another big athletic goal that I would like to achieve and this could take my focus away from Ironman for a few years.  To be determined on that, so I will share when/if I fully commit to this goal J

In any event, I made the decision, I took my slot, and I was off to the Big Island on Sunday for my 3rd start at the Ironman World Championships! I’m beyond excited, a little nervous about how my body (and my shoulder) will handle two Ironmans in 7 weeks, but I’m mentally ready to get out there and give it my best!!  And I’m so excited to be back racing in a nonwetsuit, hot and humid race J
Celebratory drinks with my biggest fans!

Not an Ironman race without the Buskos (and Morgan !)!

I have so many people to thank, without the support of my family, friends, coach, sponsors and training partners I wouldn’t be on my way to another Kona start.  Mom and help me throughout this journey so much, there is too much to write ;)  Brian Hammond.. you believed in me when I had stopped believing and you work around my crazy schedule!  Dad for helping me SO much with logistics lately when I have no time to deal with dropping off/picking up my bike etc.  Earl for keeping me challenged on the bike all those early mornings.  And my sponsors/supporters: Tribike Transport, Nuun, Sparkly Soul, Health Warrior and Newton.  

Thanks for reading!