Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ironman Austria: Clear eyes, Full Heart

I know this is "just triathlon" and there are so many other things in this world but that doesn't diminish the value this sport has brought to my life.  I feel sincerely blessed to be traveling around the globe and sharing biers and sauerkraut with new friends. We don't always speak the same language but we are deeply connected through our love of sport.  

I want to start this blog with a Heart Felt Thank You to my Austrian family, The Keiler's, for hosting and introducing me to their beautiful country. (And for the wiener schnitzel.)   

I could go on and on about the cool factor in Austria. The food, the mountainous terrain, the people, the language, the tiny cars, the coffee, the WIENER SCHNITZEL but I have a race report to detail here people! 

My mode of transportation: the basket bike.
The pre-race prep for race day was perfect. Hermann and I cycled on parts of the GORGEOUS bike and run course. I swam in the turquoise water of the Worthersee and felt blessed that my body and mind were healthy and ready to push hard for race day.

Here is a little insight into my typical Ironman race prep starting 2 days out.

Friday: I train for a total of 45 minutes including a light spin and either a swim on course or a very short run. I focus on sipping Infinit Nutrition throughout and finish the day with a large carbohydrate meal avoiding excessive fiber.

Saturday: I try to get up early and finish 20 minutes of spinning and 10 minutes of running before I eat a large, carbohydrate-heavy breakfast.  I spend the rest of the day reading and lounging. Gluttonous!

Sunday: Wake at 3:30am. Coffee and 2 slices of plain white toast. 1 cup apple sauce 1 banana and 8oz of Infinit Nutrition

After this I make my way to transition and jog an easy 5 minutes followed by some gentle stretching.  I try to be calm and breath and think positive during this time but it never fails that I recall that racing Ironman is crazy. Really freaking crazy!  And then the nerves hit.  

What helps me deal with the pre-race jitters and the ants in the pants is remembering that each time I toe the start line it is a GIFT.  Nothing is guarenteed in life so the first step is to feel blessed to toe the line. The second step is finding some meaningful affirmations to repeat throughout the day. 

Because it is the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen. - Muhammad Ali

Before I lose you in the actual race report I want to express sheer gratitude to my sponsors:

When the going gets tough and I want to scream at my quads to "Suck it the BLEEP up!" I remember how much support I have gotten over the years. I am grateful beyond words for my sponsors and all of my host "families" I have met around the world. 

My Austrian Family
 The Swim! (Read for super secret details, or a good laugh): I would have been swimming in the ZONE3 wetsuit but the water was too warm. Yet again. So for the pros it was a non wetsuit swim, yet again. I secretly love and hate this call which is similar to my overall feels about the swim. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I get kicked in the face and decide that my race is over and the chance of me perishing during the swim is an astonishing 100%

For the record I swam side by side with Rinny for a total of 15 minutes.  Moments later, waves, choking, and disorientation ensued and I found myself solo for the remainder of the 45 minute swim. At least I was swimming along in turquoise waters....IN AUSTRIA! The swim course was also outstanding as it funneled you into a narrow canal for the last 1K. Because I didn't have to sight much in the canal I focused on keeping the pressure on the throttle and pulling lots of water with the most perfect swim mechanics I can manage.

The Bike: I started the course in 4th and wanted to slowly build heart rate and power as the race went on. The plan was to start at the low end of my Ironman watts and begin hydrating and fueling in the first hour.  During the first hour on the bike I aim for around 400 calories and 600-700mg of sodium which enters the old gullet in the form of Infinit, bananas and sodium filled gels. After an hour I started to feel all the good feels and the name of the game was "catch 3rd place."  After 55K of riding I was happy to pass 3rd as this fast fish had bested me in the water by almost 5 minutes. I made sure I was extremely focused and robotic in my racing for the remainder of the 180K. Every 15 minutes or so I reminded myself to take an entire body inventory, eat, drink, and keep the pressure on the pedals.   

My Felt handled extremely well on the technical descents and corners - even when it started down pouring. 

I got to wave 'Hi Hi Hi' to Ry Guy and Hermman at the start of the second loop and I started to believe I could be on the verge of hitting a sub 5 hour ride. A few hours and many, many Infinit bottles later I did just that! 4:59 BABY!! And now it was time to run.

 The Run: In case you haven't heard, 26.2 miles is a really, really long way to run after 6 hours of racing. The Ironman marathon is crazy. During my 34 years of life I have never experienced anything more painful. I was thankful for the crowd support and Ryan. Per usual, Ryan was everywhere on course and giving me accurate splits. Unfortunately, I was fighting an intensely upset stomach that did NOT want to take any nutrition. Sometimes you "win" the 26.2 miles and sometimes it puts you in a headlock and shows you who is boss. I wasn't able to wiggle out of the vice grip Ironman headlock but was HAPPY to cross the line in 4th with another 9 hour Ironman under my belt.

Now now all I had to think about was this:

And cruising around on the basket bike

1 week after Austria I flew to Philly for a little family reunion and to channel my inner Rocky. Ready to ROCK at Ironman Lake Placid in 3 weeks!!  

And before I sign off I promised a shout out to one of my friends I am sharing a house with at Placid.  I'd like to introduce John Rymes, Owner of Rymes Heating and Oil. He promised me a sponsorship for next year if I gave him a shout out so I thought I'd highlight some of his weekend ephemisms.  Actually, all of these gems spewed from his mouth in a matter of moments. Not only is he an accomplished long course triathlete and business owner but he has an extremely colorful vocabulary.

"I was really humping up the hills!" (post bike ride)
"It's just the air around my next turd." (during bike ride)
"I'm already drunk." (pre bike ride)
{someone is choking} - "I don't know the heinie-lick!"
"Keith runs like an albatross."

 Also, if you're cheering in Placid and want to meet him he will be the guy in the budgie smugglers.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Moments in Austria: Clear eyes. Full Heart.

"Competitiveness is the opposite of complacency. It is disquieting and uncomfortable. It requires commitment, and risk and soul-searching. When you choose to compete, you take a huge gamble. You might lose." - Pat Summit

That quote is truer that true. Competition can be thrilling and rewarding but also riddled with disappointment. In the end only one athlete crosses the line first.  

But the athlete that is in love with the journey and the special moments along the way is the lucky one. That athlete will always, on some level, win. 

I am in love with the  grind and long days of endurance training. 

I love the chase and to be chased. 

I am not afraid of failure. Failure helps me grow as an athlete, tinker with my approach and discover myself.

And I recognize that it is a GIFT every time I toe the start line.

Ironman Austria came hot on the heels of the DELTA DENTAL Race UP Mount Washington. A race that I will try to toe the line at every year because it holds a special place in my heart. It is grueling and unique and beautiful and the one with the most heart wins. I like that. Below are a few pics post 7.6 miles up, up, up the auto road. A few key points on how I approach this race.  I do not do any specific training for this event because it falls directly in the middle of the bulk of my race season. This particular year I was racing Ironman Austria just 6 days after.  Instead I put focus on some of the BIG GEAR workouts I do on the bike. A common one for me is 20 min intervals efforts where the first 10 minutes is in the biggest gear I can push and then 10 minutes at 90rpm. I try to hit the same power average during the entire interval. I find this workout carries very well over to running uphill due to similar muscle recruitment. 

Moments are always coming and going, so it’s sometimes hard to tell how important a moment is until it has past.  Some big moments are easy to see the value, while others might not seem important at the time, but later you’ll find out that’s when everything changed. Crossing the line 4th at Mount Washington was very special to me. I had been trying to break into the top 5 ever since I started running this race and this was the first year it happened. I also knew how strong and fluid I felt which was a great boost of confidence heading into Ironman Austria.  

After Washington all energy was focused on RECOVERY. A few of my secret weapons:

-8+ hours of sleep per night
-SPM Omegagenics fish oil 2x daily
-Infinit Nocturne at bedtime
-self massage/foam rolling
-2x daily Smoothies made with beetperformer juice and wheat grass and kale and jalapenos! 

Before I knew it I was flying out on the big bird headed to Klagenfurt, Austria! I am just going to build some suspense before I detail my training, nutrition and secrets in the lead up and during the Ironman. 
The top of the bike Ironman Bike Course

The Famous Basket Bike with the beautiful Ironman swim course in the background.

The most wonderful host Hermann Keiler and family. And again, the Basket Bike.

Stay tuned for the Ironman Austria Report....