Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Full(ish) Ironman: A Completely Full Heart (P3)

Part Three: The Run

After I handed off my bike to the volunteer, I picked up my run bag and hobbled into the changing tent. Again, I realized my naked butt was going to be visible to the world. Also, this changing tent seemed even smaller than the T1 tent. Ohhhhh well. I was pretty disappointed that I took thirty minutes longer than expected on the bike, but reminded myself I was 30 minutes faster on the swim - so it had evened out.

I immediately asked if they had any Advil or painkiller and the woman responded they only had Tylenol. I accepted it and she wrote a "T" on my bib. I honestly didn't care - I needed something to ease the pain in my shoulders and neck. I was able to quickly change into my running clothes - a pair of Tyr compression shorts (but not SUPER compression-y like 2XU) and my Team Drea shirt. I wore my sports bra throughout the swim, bike and run - careful to apply a gob of vaseline under the base of it because it chafes me after 15 miles or so when I run. I changed socks and stepped into my running shoes, remembering the advice of Swim Bike Mom in either her book (or a blog) about taking the time to make sure everything feels good. Saving two minutes in transition by skipping a sock change might cost you an hour on the run course if you can barely walk later on.

I added water to my handheld water bottle - which already had my custom Infinit "Run" blend in it. Pulled on my belt/pouch where I had extra Infinit bags, grabbed my race number belt and pulled on my hat. I had forgotten to pack sunglasses for the run. *trombone downslide* Oh well. I stopped at the porta-jons (FINALLY! HALLELUJAH THANK YOU JESUS) and then began the .5 mile exit out of T2. I saw the babies and Derek again as I started to run.

The first part of the run didn't hurt and my energy was great. I saw Andrea and Dave at the beginning of the run course and ran over to give them a hug. The run through downtown was nice, although I was seriously jealous of the people drinking beer and cheering on the racers! Then we turned toward the lake where the run traces along the edge, with an out-and-back.

I was able to maintain my intervals for quite some time on the first half (3 minutes running, 1 minute walking). I drank sips of water at the aid stations and refilled my bottle with nutrition every hour. I do have to say it meant the world to me to see the BASE signs that my kiddos made. It was a little windy coming back into town, and people were really cheering loudly as I made my way to the turnaround point. I saw the Leventhals and the Peets again. Unfortunately, I missed Derek and the kids because my time was a lot faster than he expected!

After the strange twisting and turning at the beginning of the second loop, I stopped at run special needs to change my socks. Now - it was perfect running weather and I wasn't super sweaty, but I decided to change my socks anyway. It actually felt GREAT to take off my socks. I had also packed "Wet Ones" and used one to wash the salty sweat off my face - that was very refreshing. After that, I sort of just stared into my special needs bag until a volunteer asked me if I was ok. LOL. Yes, I am just thinking about running another half marathon. It was around 4:10PM or so and I knew I would finish before the temperature dropped substantially, but I decided to grab my freebie arm warmers from an FS Series race, just in case. I also took my remaining bags of run nutrition and shoved them into my belt (that I wore underneath my shirt).

When you come out of town on the run course, you gradually climb up, then you gradually go down to the lake. Then back up again, and then down to the finish line. Needless to say, I walked most of the uphill grades. I started eating real food - pretzels - around mile 16. I drank a few sips of flat coke to get some caffeine around mile 17. Mile 20, near the BASE tent, is a park with real restrooms and I decided to stop and potty. I didn't *have* to go, but I felt like I should just flush my system. I washed my hands in a real sink, and chatted with a woman in the bathroom.

Now - obviously I was "running" slowly. And I don't care. It's my pace and it's my race. It was my first marathon and I kept waiting for a wall or a bonk to hit, so I was afraid to push myself very hard - especially after mile 18 because I had never, not ever, "ran" or "walked" that distance in my entire life. But, I felt good. My feet were sore, but not in excruciating pain. I walked a lot coming back up from the lake and ran/jogged nearly continuously when we finally turned onto Front street, except for one spot. And let me tell you about that.

So, it's after 7PM at this point and I was alone on the course. The people on Front Street had probably been drinking all day. I ran a little fast to cross an intersection because a car was waiting on me, then I walked for a minute, and I heard some young guy say, "hey - you're walking. Oh, is that a run-walk? That's not even really running" and he scoffed.

I had swam 2.4 miles. I rode my bike for 56 miles. I had "run-walked/that's-not-even-really-running" for 25.5 miles at that point.

I was beyond pissed off.

And let me tell you, it took every ounce of strength remaining in my body to not turn around and punch that guy in that crotch. I wanted to shout, "then you effing do this, a$$hat." The only thing that kept me from doing that was the realization that...

He probably does do this. He probably does run, or maybe he was one of the full finishers who had finished hours before me. There were a group of people who decided to ride their trainers after the race so they could get their "140.6" miles all in a row. I thought that was a great idea, but you know what eventually turned me off of it (other than having two little kids who were exhausted)? When a woman in the expo said, "some of us actually are going to get our 140.6 miles tomorrow." In this middle-school, "I'm the cool girl and you aren't" sort of voice. 

But you know? Those people are everywhere. They're everywhere - just waiting to one-up you, or tell you how you have it easier, or you aren't good enough for their cool kids club. And to paraphrase my husband:

"If you're dealing with someone insecure enough that completing an Ironman doesn't legitimize their achievements for themselves - you're never going to win with them. Because it's always going to be about filling their own void, and nothing to do with you."

And that's all I have to say about that.

So, by the time I got to the twisty (AND DARK) docks, I had let it go. And then someone walking their dog with a retractable leash nearly gave me a heart attack. I came running around the DARK corner and scared the dog so it lunged at me, barking and growling. "JESUS CHRIST," I shouted. The dog owner apologized and said the standard, "he's a very sweet dog," that every dog owner says after their dog has tried to kill you. I could hear the music from the finish line and I was so excited!


I ran my first marathon!
I just did a FREAKING MARATHON!

I saw Andrea and Dave and waved to them! I kissed the babies and Derek (who had been waiting a loooooong time because he was afraid of missing me again). I heard Mike Reilly saying stuff and I rolled across the finish line. I pulled myself up, accepted my medal and clothes - and that was it. I can't describe the gratitude I felt.

Heather Scott, You are an Ironman.

Nutrition: 6 non-concentrated servings of custom-blend Infinit "Run", handful of pretzels, bit of a cookie, sips of chicken broth
T2 (UGH): 15:40
Run: 6:27:38 14:47/mi pace

Total Time: 11:58:46

Next: Part Four - Final Reflections and Thank-You's (I have a lot)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Full(ish) Ironman: A Completely Full Heart (P2)

Part 2: The Bike

Due to the devastating and lasting flooding from Hurricane Matthew, the full-distance 112-mile bike course was changed twice. Five days before the race, it was initially promoted as an "approximate 50-mile" bike course. When I checked-in on Thursday, I inquired the possibility of racing as a "half-distance" athlete, because I wasn't interested in running a marathon if I couldn't call myself an Ironman. Because of the training interruptions and injury concerns, it seemed to be a wise choice. WTC officials unfortunately told me I could not transfer, so I made the decision to race the "full" course anyway. The bike course was ultimately changed again into an entirely different 56-mile course.

I was so happy about my swim time when I exited the water. The wetsuit strippers were fast! "Can I take you to all of my open water swims?" I not-so-cleverely asked. I stood underneath the fresh water shower for a minute, taking the time to rinse the salt water off my skin and face. Then began the long run to the transition area. I saw my friend Chandra, with whom I will be relaying IM70.3 Raleigh next year, and my friends Erin and Brian Leventhal. It was so amazing to see people I knew and it gave me an even bigger boost to keep on going!

The changing tent. First of all - there was nowhere to sit where people couldn't see into the tent. All of those seats were taken, and I knew people outside were just going to have to see my naked butt. Oh well! (Also, seriously Ironman? You can't put up a screen or something by the entryway?) After the bike course changes, I debated whether or not to even change into bike shorts. Obviously I need a new bike fit, but as it stands right now - I can wear tri shorts easily for 56-60 miles, but anything beyond that I need my Pearl Izumi chamois. However, my nice and tight bike shorts that give me lots of compression are a wonderful choice on any given day - except when I am trying to pull them up over cold and slightly damp jiggly stomach skin. I could not pull them up. Not one bit! I tugged and tugged, finally got them somewhat over my gut and then the chamois was twisted. A volunteer helped me, and then helped me get into my arm sleeves (also difficult to put on).

Lesson learned? I should have never changed into bike shorts for 56 miles, and when I do another full, I will either purchase a larger size than normal bike short, and/or practice ways of getting them on to damp skin (vaseline? powder?). I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I wasn't expecting it to be nearly impossible. I was finally changed and even though I had to pee, I decided to just get on the bike.

While on the bike I immediately took two giant swigs of nutrition. I love BASE Performance products, but I had been working with a custom Infinit blend for this race. I navigated around the turns and *gulp* decided to slowly ride over the first bridge with metal grates. Now, when I did this two years ago - I fishtailed like CRAZY over the bridge. I nearly wiped out. I told myself I was going to walk across the bridge this year, but at the last minute I decided to just try. S-l-o-w-l-y. I softly screamed the entire time. "AhhhhhhhhHhHHhHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhh - I'm sorry, I am just trying not to fall - Ahhhhhhh - sorry!" And I was across! WHEW. I carefully pulled out my chapstick and slathered it on, and it was time to really ride my bike!

The first road was relatively easy, and then we ride a stretch on I-140. Bikers stay in the left lane, and there are giant divots (sleeper lines) in the shoulder.

That.
Wind.

The average wind speed in Wilmington that day was 21mph with gusts up to 28mph, coming from the WNW. So, for the west-bound stretch on I-140, there were horrible crosswinds, and sometimes headwinds. It was difficult to remain in aero and control the bike. I was actually thankful for my weight gain at this point, because I probably would have been tossed into the ditch otherwise - or at the very least, blown toward the left shoulder and then crashed my bike after hitting the rumble strips.

When we exited onto US-421, I realized I should have paid better attention to the course changes, because we were going the wrong way! We turned south, then made a u-turn, then back up 421, where we would eventually u-turn again and head back into Wilmington.

The entire section of northbound US-421 was into headwind. When I raced the full course in 2014, there was actually very little wind until the end of the course - and then it was WSW and only 10 mph. So, it made the last section of the bike unpleasant, but it wasn't that difficult. This was horrific. Everything on me hurt - my "parts," my shoulders, my neck, my hands, my back. I refused to look at my watch and rode solely by effort. I didn't care that I was being passed by pace lines - though I longed to grab that back wheel and cruise along with people, I just raced my own race.

I took one water bottle from the first aid station and topped off my Speedfil bottle. I should add that this set-up was amazing for me. A lot of times during races I don't want to take my hands off the bike, so I don't fuel or hydrate properly. It isn't a fear thing, it's just that I am usually hauling butt and don't feel like taking a moment to carefully grab a bottle, etc. For this race, I had my liquid nutrition (two hours - concentrated) in my aero bottle, and 2+ hours of water in my Speedfil bottle (which goes onto my frame and uses a long hose that I placed near my aero bottle straw). I don't want to use this all of the time - but it was PERFECT for a long race. I had another two hours of nutrition on my saddle bottle cage.

Riding into the wind was seriously the only time I considered quitting the entire day. My body just hurt so badly. "Where the "F---" do we turn around?!?! Why did I forget Advil?!?!" I took deep breaths, and just continued my moderate effort cadence and power. I remembered my "why."

Finally we turned around, and I got the push from the wind I was waiting for. My dear friend Preston rode by and said, "hey - you're doing great!" and that gave me another boost. I reached up to adjust my helmet because it had started to slide forward and *DOINK* my magnetic visor popped off my helmet, flew into the air off to the left and crashed on the ground behind me.

Are you serious?

I made a split-second decision to just leave it. At this point, I would have been a major safety hazard to stop and ride/walk AGAINST traffic to retrieve it. And of course, a course marshal rode by a moment later, but I was never penalized or DQ'd for littering. Thank goodness.

The wind at my back was a welcome push, and I kept the same moderate-paced effort, knowing that I still had about six to seven hours of work ahead of me. Unfortunately, the rest of the ride was also very bright and my eyes were watering from the lack of wind protection. I also decided to s-l-o-w-l-y ride across the second bridge, and did my same "ahhhhhhhhhhhhh" quiet scream across the entire section of metal grates. I made it! A few minutes later I saw my husband and kids before the dismount - man, that feels nice to see your family.

Unfortunately, when I started to run down the hill with my bike, my left groin muscle locked up and I couldn't run. So I walked the long walk to the bike handlers and held up a bunch of people. Sorry 'bout that. But the walking eased the cramp and then it was time to get ready for my very first marathon.

T1 (ugh): 16:46
Bike: 3:31:45 15.87mph

Nutrition: Three and a half hours custom-blend Infinit "Bike" blend, ~16-20 ounces of additional water

Next up: The Marathon

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Full(ish) Ironman: A Completely Full Heart (P1)


Part One, The Swim


I want to post a few different blogs about Ironman North Carolina. The first is going to be a race report(ish) in three parts, and I will also have a thank-you reflection post.

Saturday, October 22, 3:30AM

I woke up with a happy heart, but a terrified mind. The winds were very strong - there was a small craft advisory in effect for the open water, but I wasn't sure what to expect in the channel. I knew there would be chop and perhaps waves - but I also swam 1.2 miles in Jordan Lake during a tropical storm last year, so I reminded myself I was strong. Stronger than I give myself credit.

I ate three gluten-free waffles and had a cup of coffee. Washed my face, put on deodorant, got dressed and kissed Derek goodbye. Somehow both kids slept through me getting ready.

I had my run special needs bag, my bike nutrition and bottles, water bottles, wetsuit, additional food to eat before swimming, and goggles/cap. Timing chip on.

The bus to T1 was literally a two-minute walk from our hotel (the Riverview Suites - we made a last-minute change to this hotel and it was so WORTH it. Huge thanks to Lisa Arnold for letting us take the extra room she had booked.).

Someone I know from Raleigh actually sat next to me and we chatted for a bit on the way to T1. I was weirdly calm. I had my tires filled, set-up my bike, double checked my bike gear bag, dropped off run special needs and had my body marked. Then it was time to board the trolley to the swim start. For some reason, they dropped us off about 1/2 mile or so from the actual swim start, so it was a long walk to the end of the road where the beach starts. This was one of the low moments of the race. As I walked with all of these tall and fit-looking people, I have never felt so out of place in my life. Never. I told myself I didn't belong and shouldn't be there. When I finally made it to the end, I chit-chatted with a few people, put on my wetsuit and it was time to drop off my morning clothes on the truck.

OK, ok - this is a RACE report. Fast forwarding! It's a looooong walk to the actual swim start, and I was freezing. The solution to standing around in 45-degree weather is to stand in 73-degree water! It felt like a bath compared to the air temperature. It was time to line up, and I heard Mike Reilly talking and he mentioned the cannon. The cannon! OMG - I am about to swim 2.4 miles! I am doing an Ironman(ish). Star-Spangled Banner, then... *thump*. People started filing through the swim start entrance and Eminem's "Lose Yourself" started playing. Hell yeah. I put my goggles on, walked through, remembered my "why" and stepped into the water.

It felt GREAT. I was pretty far to the left of the buoys, but I made sure I swam around the red turn buoys. A little bit of chop coming from the left, not bad. When the sun came over the houses, though, it was impossible to see to the right. I just kept following the green and pink caps in front of me. At one point I glanced at my watch, which I never do, and it said 37:00 and 1600 yards. Hmm.. I am bad at math, but this told me I was going to be alright in terms of time.

The course makes a sharp left turn and as soon we started swimming to the northwest/west - the chop. It was so strong it nearly tore my goggles off my face when I sighted. I am not kidding. The swim at Jordan Lake was like swimming in washing machine, but this was something else. Stroke-stroke-breathe, stroke-stroke-sight-BAM-spit out water-breathe. Repeat. I finally saw the dock and ladders, and it took a while to get to them. But I was PLEASED as ever to see 1:25ish on my watch! How did this happen?!? Did I take a short cut? Holy cow! THANKS, TIDES! THANKS, MOON! THANKS, GRAVITY!

Official Time: 1:26:27 (2:15/100m pace)

Nutrition Before: Three GF waffles, half of a Cliff bar, one cup of coffee, one 10oz water)

------

Next blog: The Bike. :-/

Friday, October 7, 2016

Core Values

Everyone who knows me is aware I have diastasis recti - a condition where my abdominal muscles have separated from my pregnancies. I also have an umbilical hernia, so the area where my belly button should be is actually a large hole, and sometimes organs stick out of it. I just push them back in. I just don't have a functioning core. If I try to do a sit-up, crunch, plank, or even lean back (think: pulling up a bathing suit or tight pants) my entire stomach poofs out like in Alien. I can't bend over and reach into the van (or a crib, or a kids bed) without falling over unless I brace myself on something. BUT...

I've noticed that my other muscles step in and help out. Since my stomach can't hold my butt up while I swim, my shoulder muscles and neck muscles are much stronger than they ever have been. My obliques are pretty solid (although presently covered with a layer of french fries, beer and chocolate).

I'm thankful and lucky that other parts of my body have said, "hey - we'll help out!"

I've been thinking about Ironman training, my tri-friends and triclub teammates.

After I had my awful respiratory infection this summer, my first few long runs were painful and slow. But my running partner would run ahead at her own pace, then circle back for me and walk for a bit. It certainly added on her to her mileage, but she made sure I wasn't left behind. When I was having trouble finding the motivation to get out and run during the week because of the kiddos this summer, another mom friend invited us to all run together. Kids on bikes, and she pushed Mads in her stroller. When I knew I needed to get back on the open road to ride again because I was struggling to keep a steady pace on the greenway, multiple friends offered to ride with me on the weekends and during the week. Friends called to offer nutrition advice or to just make sure I wasn't worrying about something. And last - but CERTAINLY not least - another friend messaged me out of the blue in August and asked how training was going. When I mentioned being nervous about the swim, she immediately made plans for us to swim in the lake. I am much slower than nearly everyone who swims in the group, so she swam in front of me, stopping every so often to tread water and let me catch up. It's been an enormous help. And the funny thing - I don't think any of these friends knew I was mentally struggling to stay motivated and positive. They just stepped in and helped.

Core values. People stepping up, stepping in, helping, offering advice, sharing their experiences, riding along side of me, waiting for me at the top of a hill. Just like the other muscles do for my broken abs - the core people in my life knew to help, somehow (*peers up at the clouds*).

Unfortunately, after my 18-mile run this past Monday, I am afraid I have mild plantar fasciitis, and am quite certain what I thought was a tight muscle is actually shin splints. I also crashed my bike again over the weekend, so I haven't been able to swim - the scrapes on my arm are missing quite a few layers of skin, probably because the previous fall left it a little thin!

I don't know what any of that means for race day quite yet. Two weeks is a very short time, but it's also a long time. But, you know? When I think about this journey - from my first triathlon three years ago to this moment right now - ice on my shin, sipping coffee, thinking about the wonderful people in my life, the renewed purpose that I have found, the appreciation I have for my body and ALL of the gifts in my life - I am lucky. I am happy. I am proud. I am humbled.

And I certainly appreciate my core - my family, my friends, and all the other people who step in to help and support.

Core Values

While on a training ride a few weeks ago, a friend was talking about the different physical limitations she has - in a partially-joking and partially-serious sort of way. She is a fabulous athlete, but was struggling to keep up with the group only because she hadn't been out on her bike since last year (other than commuting). Funnily enough, she went on to place 3rd OA Female in a triathlon the next week! Anyway, I tried to be funny, and failed, by saying, "my abs are totally ripped apart, but I am still doing the things!"

*crickets*

(I promise this isn't going to be a blog where I whine about this condition. Promise.)

Everyone who knows me is aware I have diastasis recti - a condition where my abdominal muscles have separated from my pregnancies. I also have an umbilical hernia, so the area where my belly button should be is actually a large hole, and sometimes organs stick out of it. I just push them back in. I just don't have a functioning core. If I try to do a sit-up, crunch, plank, or even lean back (think: pulling up a bathing suit or tight pants) my entire stomach poofs out like in Alien. I can't bend over and reach into the van (or a crib, or a kids bed) without falling over unless I brace myself on something. BUT...

I've noticed that my other muscles step in and help out. Since my stomach can't hold my butt up while I swim, my shoulder muscles and neck muscles are much stronger than they ever have been. My obliques are pretty solid (although presently covered with a layer of french fries, beer and chocolate).

I'm thankful and lucky that other parts of my body have said, "hey - we'll help out!"

I've been thinking about Ironman training, my tri-friends and triclub teammates.

After I had my awful respiratory infection this summer, my first few long runs were painful and slow. But my running partner would run ahead at her own pace, then circle back for me and walk for a bit. It certainly added on her to her mileage, but she made sure I wasn't left behind. When I was having trouble finding the motivation to get out and run during the week because of the kiddos this summer, another mom friend invited us to all run together. Kids on bikes, and she pushed Mads in her stroller. When I knew I needed to get back on the open road to ride again because I was struggling to keep a steady pace on the greenway, multiple friends offered to ride with me on the weekends and during the week. Friends called to offer nutrition advice or to just make sure I wasn't worrying about something. And last - but CERTAINLY not least - another friend messaged me out of the blue in August and asked how training was going. When I mentioned being nervous about the swim, she immediately made plans for us to swim in the lake. I am much slower than nearly everyone who swims in the group, so she swam in front of me, stopping every so often to tread water and let me catch up. It's been an enormous help. And the funny thing - I don't think any of these friends knew I was mentally struggling to stay motivated and positive. They just stepped in and helped.

Core values. People stepping up, stepping in, helping, offering advice, sharing their experiences, riding along side of me, waiting for me at the top of a hill. Just like the other muscles do for my broken abs - the core people in my life knew to help, somehow (*peers up at the clouds*).

Unfortunately, after my 18-mile run this past Monday, I am afraid I have mild plantar fasciitis, and am quite certain what I thought was a tight muscle is actually shin splints. I also crashed my bike again over the weekend, so I haven't been able to swim - the scrapes on my arm are missing quite a few layers of skin, probably because the previous fall left it a little thin!

I don't know what any of that means for race day quite yet. Two weeks is a very short time, but it's also a long time. But, you know? When I think about this journey - from my first triathlon three years ago to this moment right now - ice on my shin, sipping coffee, thinking about the wonderful people in my life, the renewed purpose that I have found, the appreciation I have for my body and ALL of the gifts in my life - I am lucky. I am happy. I am proud. I am humbled.

And I certainly appreciate my core - my family, my friends, and all the other people who step in to help and support.