Thursday, June 30, 2011

Part 4: A nice night for a run...or walk

T2 was quick - 4:33. I changed shirts, shorts, socks, and shoes. The volunteer who helped me was great. She made sure I had everything I needed and sent me on my way quickly. I headed out of transition running. I was wearing my Garmin and was happy to see I was holding a 9:33 pace. I saw Jarrett and smiled and waved. The first aid station was about a mile into the run, I grabbed water and ate some Honestingers. My stomach immediately started to bother me. I had to walk for fear of puking again. I knew that I was probably going to end up walking the marathon. My left knee had been bothering me for about two weeks and my left hamstring had been bothering me the entire year. I was being held together with Kineso tape (Spidertech is the shit. I highly recommend it.). I also had an odd pain on the top of my right foot. At this point I just came to terms with the fact I was going to enjoy a long walk with friends.

The run course was lovely. I watched the sunset over Lake Coeur d'Alene. I met a ton of interesting people. I enjoyed all of the aid stations along the course and danced with the drunk guys who were partying by the lake. I knew that I was going to finish but it was going to be 30 minutes slower then I wanted. About 6 miles in to the race I decided to try and eat something. I managed to keep downs chips and a cookie. After that, I was able to rotate between cookies and chips the rest of the race. Just a bite or two each mile. It was enough to keep me going. Starting the second lap of the run, I saw Jarrett. He walked with me for a few blocks and I told him about the bike and let him know that I was fine but the marathon was going to be walked and it was going to be slow. I also told him to get me macaroni and cheese for after the race. He was heading out to pick-up my bike and bags and would be waiting at the finish line. Jarrett was also keeping my family and friends back home updated on my progress via Facebook. At Mile 20 I thought about Sarah, a fellow triathlon blogger who attempted CdA last year. She dropped out at Mile 20. The last 6 miles were slow and sometimes lonely but I just kept smiling.

When I got to mile 25 the excitement started to build. You could hear the music from Sherman Avenue and Mike Riley announcing finishers names. A volunteer came up to me and said "One more turn and you are an Ironman!" I cried. I started to run and could hear the crowd screaming. The lights on Sherman came into view and the crowd was buzzing. I high fived my way down the finishers chute. Jarrett was there and I told him I loved him. I saw that I was going to finish in under 16 hours and just smiled as I crossed the finish line. Meaghan Meyer from Indianapolis Indiana - You are an Ironman!

Run: 6:39:11

Total Time: 15:57:24

My finish line catchers were great. I felt fine so I didn't really need any help. I just had them hold my stuff so I could get my finish line picture taken. I got my medal, finishers shirt and hat and headed out to find Jarrett. He met me at the fence and gave me a huge hug and kiss. I was hungry so I went and grabbed two pieces of cheese pizza and some water. We headed back to the hotel so I could get clean. I could not WAIT to take a shower. My feet were in pretty bad shape and my legs were sore, but overall I felt pretty good. Jarrett managed to convince the hotel to make me macaroni and cheese even though it was not a standard item on their room service menu. They brought me a huge hot plate of the best macaroni and cheese I've ever eaten. I had about half a plate and then I just crashed. Sleep was instant and deep. I woke up the next morning around 7:30 am and although a little stiff, overall I felt okay.

We stayed in Coeur d'Alene until Tuesday morning. Monday was just a nice relaxing day to enjoy the area and nap. The trip back on Tuesday was uneventful.

Overall I LOVED this race. The area, the atmosphere, the people - everything about it was a little magical. I can now officially call myself an Ironman. Jarrett asked me if I wanted to sign-up for next year. I'm still on the fence. I loved the race. It was hard but I had a great time. I am just not sure I want to commit...yet.

I want to thank all of my family and friends who put up with me over the last 28 weeks of training...especially Jarrett. He is my loudest cheerleader and biggest supporter. When I didn't think I could do it - he knew I could. Not only did he haul me all over the country to race this year, he also did all of my long training bike rides with me. Now that is commitment! I am looking forward to taking a few weeks off from serious training before I figure out what's next.

Part 3: Time to Fly

I got on my bike and settled in for a long ride. I immediately started getting some fluids and food into my system. The plan was to eat and drink every 15 minutes. My bento box had Honeystinger chews, Oreo Cakesters, and Honey Stinger Waffles. I also had Salt Stick caps to supplement electrolytes. The bike was set-up with my aero bottle filled with water, the bottle on my stem filled with Ironman Evil...I mean Perform and an extra bottle of water and Perform on the back. Aid stations were every 10 miles on the ride. The bike started out through town and then headed out to a scenic ride along the lake. The first hill greeted us at mile 6 and it was about 2 miles long. After that hill the course is flat until about mile 24. I was doing well eating and drinking and decided to make a pit stop at mile 30 to use the bathroom and refill my water. The volunteers were great about holding bikes and getting whatever you needed in terms of nutrition or hydration.

The hills started once we got to Hayden. There were some pretty tough sections of the course but I never once had to get out of the saddle and I was able to take a lot of the hills in aero. I finished the first 56 miles in 3:56:10. I saw Jarret on my way back into town to start the second loop. I was feeling good and I knew that I had paced well on the first lap. Ironman is all about having a plan and sticking to it. At this point my plan was working. I knew I needed to stop at special needs and get something new to eat. Honeystringers are my favorite energy chew but after eating them for 4 hours, I wanted something else. I grabbed my bag and stood and ate a handful of Fritos before stuffing them in my jersey and hitting the road again. I also put my extra Honeystinger waffle in my bento. I had eaten the two I stared with during the first half.

Everything was pretty uneventful until mile 70. I was heading down a rather steep hill at around 30 mph and a deer ran out in front of me. It was huge and close. So close I could hear him grunt and smell him. I locked up my rear break and felt my bike wobble. Luckily, he kept running and didn't stop. I got my bike under control and kept going. The surge of adrenaline spiked my heart rate sky high. I felt dizzy and sick. I stopped at the next aid station at Mile 80 to refill bottles and puke. I felt much better but the thought of food was terribly unappealing. I knew that the next 20 miles would be the hardest so I just got back on and started moving. By Mile 100 I was so ready for the bike to be done.

I rolled into transition with a bike time of 7:35:29. It was about 20 minutes faster then I had planned so I was feeling pretty happy. I was glad to hand my bike off to a volunteer and grab my run transition bag. The legs were feeling decent but my stomach was not.

Part 4: A nice night for a run....or walk

Part 2: Race Day! Finally!

Saturday started with an awesome breakfast at the Garnet Cafe. The stuffed French toast with a side of duck sausage was amazing. We got back to the hotel and I headed out on a short bike ride to shake out the legs and make sure that everything on my bike was in working order. I decided to ride part of the run course just to get a feel for what to expect. It was about a 10 mile ride and everything seemed to be in good working order.

We took my bike and bag over to transition and dropped it off and headed back downtown to explore a little more. The antique and art stores were unbelievable. We kept the walking to a minimum and headed out to a quick pasta dinner in Hayden. I kept it simple and went with cheese ravioli. We got back to the hotel and I double checked my run and bike special needs bags.

I had been debating what to eat for breakfast before the race. My traditional meal of Poptarts was not going to be sufficient. At the last minute, I decided to go ahead and order room service. The hotel was offering 24-hour room service to the athletes all weekend. I went with the Ironman Stack breakfast: 4-huckleberry pancakes, 2 scrambled eggs, and a bowl of oatmeal. I knew there was NO WAY I would come close to eating all that food but I had Jarrett to help. We had stopped by the grocery store on Thursday to buy supplies for my special needs bags so I had my mandatory Diet Coke already chilling in the fridge. I fell asleep almost immediately and slept until the alarm(s) went off at 4:15 am.

I took a quick shower and dug into my tasty breakfast. I ate a little of the eggs and about a quarter of the pancakes. If I had to estimate it was probably 600 calories of food. Ideally I would have gotten closer to 1000 but I also didn't want to feel bloated and sick going into the swim.

I left Jarrett to get dressed and headed over to drop off my special needs bags and put my bottles and nutrition on my bike. Bag drop was quick but when I got to transition, I could not find anyone to lend me a bike pump. At that point I didn't see the line of mechanics on the other side of transition. I rushed back to the hotel to get my wetsuit and claim Jarrett and ran back to transition to deal with the tire issue. I found a nice person to loan me a pump and of course managed to completely deflate my back tire. I could not get air in the darn tube and I was freaking out. One of the volunteers noticed me panicking and told me there were mechanics on the fence line that would be able to help. I rolled Lola over and they got me taken care of. I racked the bike and headed out to find Jarrett.

It was about 20 minutes until the pro start so we just hung out in the grass and waited. We watched the pros go and then started to get suited up. I made my way down to the beach and scouted for a position. I decided to go against the recommendation to line up far right of the buoys and go wide. There was hardly anyone lined up directly in front of the buoys so that's were I stood. I was back against the sea wall and had a nice chat with another first timer. Before I knew it, the cannon went off and we were off. I started my purple watch and waited about 10 seconds before running in and starting to swim. The course was a counter-clockwise rectangle and you swam it twice. The water was cold ~55 F but bearable. I just started swimming and didn't let the physical violence of the whole thing get to me. People were EVERYWHERE. Swimming on you, kicking you, pulling your feet. It was wild. I got to the first turn buoy and the real fun started. It was so congested that people were literally crammed against each other treading water. I was starting to get a little irritated at the lack of forward progress when finally the pack broke free and we were moving again. Swimming into the sun made it a bit difficult to sight but in reality you had 2000 friends to follow so sighting was not THAT critical. Before I knew it, I was back on shore. I looked at my watch and was happy to see 44 minutes for the first lap. That was exactly what I predicted. The big surprise was the run back into the water for the second lap. I did not realize how cold my feet were while I was swimming but once on land I could literally not feel them. It was like running on dead stumps. I managed to make it back into the water without falling on my face but it stuck in my mind that running to transition would prove to be interesting. The second lap of the swim proved to be more choppy then the first. I'm not sure if it was the boats or the wind but there were definitely some waves. The cool thing was that it gave you a great advantage on the way back to shore.

Total Swim Time: 1:25:16 - Rank 1359 - I was actually in the top half on the swim! I trained for the swim the least and it's not my strong point so I was very happy.

When I saw the my time when I got out of the water I couldn't believe it. I knew right then that I was destine to finish the race. The volunteers at the swim exit guided me to the wetsuit strippers and made sure that I had my feet under me. They were also evaluating everyone for signs of hypothermia. A lot of racers had to drop out because of hypothermia. Other then my feet being frozen, I was feeling fine. I vaguely remember hearing Jarrett shouting at me after the swim. I had a huge smile on my face running to transition.

I picked-up my bag and headed into the changing tents. There were plenty of chairs so I grabbed a spot and started getting ready. I talked myself through making sure I had everything on and a volunteer kindly double checked me before I left the tent. I was SO happy that at the last minute I decided to pack Smartwool socks in my bike bag. I never bike with socks but I had this nagging feeling that it might be too cold and threw them in. I knew it was going to be a long day on the bike so I did a full change of clothes. My favorite Twin 6 Masher bike jersey, DeSoto 400 mile shorts, arm warmers, socks, gloves, helmet, shoes - ready to ride! I let the volunteers give me some sunscreen and grabbed my bike.

Part 3: Time to Fly

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ironman Coeur d'Alene Race Report: Part 1

I'm going to have to break this race report into a few posts. Let's start with after Knoxville. I was worried. The bike course killed me. I decided that Jarrett and I would head down to Morgan Monroe State Park in Southern Indiana and ride some of the hills on the Hilly Hundred route. We headed down on a Saturday and met another Team T3 member who was new to the area. She is a Kona qualifier and has completed several IM's over the years. We rode about 30 miles together and then it became very obvious that we were WAY too slow for her so we split-up. Jarrett and I rode another 23 miles together. Our route brought us to a hill called Bean Blossom on 3 separate occasions. It is one of the very few rated hills in Indiana. The first two times I managed to climb the entire hill (it's about 2.5 miles long). The third time, I couldn't make it to the top. I freaked out and had a panic attack in the middle of the hill. Luckily Jarrett got me to calm down and I got back on and finished the stupid thing.

During the ride, I determined that I did not have the appropriate hill climbing gearing on my bike. I was trying very hard to love the 12x25 cassette that came on my bike but I just didn't have enough gears to spin up those hills. I almost always ended up out of the saddle mashing my way to the top. After we left, I did some research and determined that I needed to change to a 11x27 or 11x28. Luckily, the guys at T3 Multisport had an 11x28 in stock and got me all hooked up. I also decided to ditch my aero wheels and go with my lighter weight but less aero original wheelset. We headed back to Morgan Monroe the next weekend and I killed Bean Blossom and some of it's hilly friends. I was feeling much more confident about surviving Coeur d'Alene.

Training for CdA was tough. I traveled a ton leading up to the race and did not get as much training time in as I would have liked. After the Indianapolis Mini Marathon I started to battle some nagging issues with my feet, shins, knees, and hamstrings. My biking and swimming were on track but running was starting to feel like torture. I tapered back to avoid potentially not being able to start at CdA. I do not regret that decision at all.

I dropped my bike off at T3 Multisport on June 19 so TriBike Transport could pick her and my pretty pink Speedo gear bag up and haul them 2900 miles across the country. That was the first time the race felt "real" to me. I spent almost a week getting my bag ready and I can confidently say I thought of everything - except for hand warmers.

Jarrett and I flew from Indy to Denver and then Spokane on the Thursday before the race. When we landed in Spokane we were surrounded by beautiful mountains. The weather was cool and sunny. We rented a car and decided to grab lunch in Spokane before we drove the 30 miles east to Coeur d'Alene. I picked a fantastic little pub called Elk Public House. I enjoyed a tasty lamb sandwich and some chips. We rolled into CdA about 11 am. We were staying at the host hotel - The Coeur d'Alene Resort and Spa. It was amazing. The lake was beautiful and the entire town was adorable.

We headed over to TriBike transport to get my gear bag. I had packed my USAT card in my bag and I needed it to be able to check-in. Athlete check-in went very quickly. The Ironman event planners are super organized and the volunteers running the tables were efficient. They banded me and gave me all my bags and stuff and we headed back to the hotel. On our way we stopped to check out the lake. There was a pretty stiff wind and it was super choppy. All of the athletes getting out of the water were complaining about the rough conditions and the cold temps. Lake temps were about 51-53 degrees.

Jarrett and I explored the town a little while we waited for our rooms to be ready. There is a lot of art galleries and very cool bronzes and statues on the street corners. Once we got our rooms we picked-up my bike and spent the evening relaxing.

Friday morning I got up and went for my first swim in Lake Coeur d'Alene. It was choppy and cold but I survived. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it. Except for the frozen feet. I made fun of the people at Knoxville wearing neoprene booties with their I wish I had them. We did some shopping a the Expo and then went out to drive the bike course. Unlike, Rev3, WTC had the bike course clearly marked DAYS before the race.

The course was interesting. There was a pretty significant hill in the first 8 miles and then it was flat until mile 20ish. That's where the fun started. I would describe the hills as rolling with two significant climbs all crammed between miles 20-48. Then it was flat/down-hill coming back into town. The bike course was 56 miles and you had to do it twice. Everything at CdA was two loops - swim, bike, and run. After driving the bike, I felt a lot better. The ride was going to be challenging but you were actually rewarded with some flats and downhill sections, unlike Knoxville.

The rest of Friday was spent relaxing and packing my transition bags. My bike along with my T1 and T2 bags had to be dropped off Saturday. We headed to the movies and saw Bridesmaids before going to bed extra early.

Part 2: Race Day! Finally!