Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A week of ironmans, Italy, Sept 2013

First, it need to start off with thank you's.

  •  Thank you to Melinda, my bestest high school friend who agreed to come and crew for me as part of our 28 year reunion... 
  •  Thank you to Georgio, Riccardo, and the rest of the race team who made lemons from lemonade and pulled together a race that was more challenging (cold water, hills on the bike, and a partial grass run), a mishmash of accommodations, and everything else to give us athletes a revenue to race. 
  • Thank you to the tripleDeca racers who were a crazy inspiration 
  •  Thank you to Heather and Tony for sharing the experience with us, and a big congratulations to Tony on a splendid finish. 
  •  Thank you to Gu, and Salty, for magic fuel. 
  •  To Debi for the challenge of being my coach and to Dina for training me to eat. 
  •  And, finally to Drew for continuing to be my staunchest supporter. 
 Whew... An academy award list of thanks, but it was a race that needs it. The goal was a DecaIronman, but the conditions smacked me down and instead I finished 7 Ironman races in 7 days, and a wicked cold 8th swim, to set a new US women's record.

Melinda and I got there weds night before the race, but Bixby (my bike) decided to take a detour. Two stressful days waiting for Bix (who did get there Friday night), and getting ready, and before I knew it, it was race morning.

The swim was is a 25m pool, on the roof of a building. Day 1 the water was chilly, but the swim went by pretty easily. Change over to the bike, and then time to do laps and laps of the bike. The bike course was super fun on Day 1, 5 hills per lap, only 1 that wanted standing up. Wind exposure was interesting... But on Day 1 no issues. I was so stoked to be there and be racing, and couldn't stop smiling the whole day. On the run I took it real easy, planning for the days ahead. The run course was about a mile loop, half on cobbles, half on grass and lent itself well to run/walk/jog strategies. Felt pretty good after the first day ended. Pumped an energized and ready to take the week on. Loving hanging with the racers, Melinda was rocking the crew world, and all was on track.

Day 2... Still quite good. Seems the bike was windy, and the run was harder, but nothing unexpected.

Day 3... Interesting getting out of bed. I could barely walk to the bathroom, and couldn't quite understand how I was going to race. But, somehow I did, and the aches and pains receded through the day.

The middle days are a blur. Painful, but doable. Full of doubts in the morning when everything hurt, but hours later counting laps down on the run. Staying steady pace, not fast, but focused. Eating constantly, whatever Melinda and Heather hand me to eat. Drinking Gu recovery, protein, and glutamine shakes each night.

Day 6 was when we realized that the pool was not heated. Each day the temps got colder, but on Day 6 the pool became a mad scene. People stopping every 10 laps or so to try to warm up. Ghislain walking through the water unable to put his head in. I stayed with it, and came out of the water third, blue, and shaking. Took the start of the bike easy, but struggled to get my head into it.

Day 7 there was fear getting into the water. Georgio said go, and folks slowly got wet. It was cold. After 20 laps or so Georgio asked me to stop and poured hot water into my wetsuit. It helped for a lap or so, then the cold set in again. Tried to stay head down and moving forward but couldn't help watching the scene as people stopped, warmed up a mite, and started again. Eventually it was done and I got out and Melinda hustled me to a shower wetsuit on. 5 minutes in the shower, wrap up in a blanket, drink tea, get warm. The pool facility was unheated, which added to the challenge of the warm up. Eventually out on the bike. An odd thing happened on the run that day... For about 2 hours I felt awesome, could not hold back to my usual jog/walk. My body was getting used to the stress. I could see how the triple deca folks adapted to the stresses.

Day 8 and back to the pool, with overcast skies and rain threatening. Again the pool was an insane cold suffer fest, which they cut to 3000m, and then the hour transition to the bike struggling to stop shaking from the cold. It was raining and cold on the bike, and I could not get warm. I called it a race. I am confident that I had the training in, both physically and mentally, and the nutrition game solid and had the conditions not been so brutal I would have been able to finish the full deca. Just having a place it get warm would have been a help.

So, I finish this season content. I still have not completed a deca, and I may go back I and give it another shot in a few years, but I am secure in the knowledge that I can. I finish the season 18 lbs lighter than I started, one with Bixby, and coming around with the run.

A new personal, and US record... Not too shabby.

After the race, I had a intense 3 week work stint in South Africa which have me time to recover physically, and now I'm easing back into the game. Next season I have 3 double Ironman races on schedule, and am setting goals base do on finish time and competing. Then, to finish the season I plan to tackle a straight quintuple... A new format for me and a solid challenge to finish. I can't wait to push the limits of what this body can do... And see who I am at the end!

Tri long! Leslie

Day 1: 15:58
Day 2: 17:02
Day 3: 17:34
Day 4: 17:12
Day 5: 17:39
Day 6: 17:38
Day 7: 17:20
Day 8: 1:02 (shortened swim)

Day 9: