Rear View B2B 2014 - The Swim


It was over too soon! It was a truly fantastic swim. Years ago (2009), I volunteered for my first B2B event. I was assigned the changing tent in T1 and I remember a woman rushing in and letting a big Woo Hoo! That was the fastest swim EVER! She was shaking from cold and excitement. That's how this swim felt. From the get-go I was relaxed and happy. Ace, Erica, Jen and I hit the south end cul-de-sac in the dark. I got to hug Lori Drake and catch up with Mike Worley. We donned our wetsuits under a street light and then shuffled out to the south end - just like we'd done all summer.  We got in the water, we danced at the start line, I hummed the national anthem and we were on our way. 



Two things went right and one went left. The first thing is that I warmed up. I've learned that getting in the water before the horn blasts is essential for me. I was able to get in the water. I got the horrible part over - that cold shiver of water that creeps in through the wetsuit zipper at the small of my back. I put my face in the water. I swam 100 yards easy and then did a few sprint efforts back. I floated on my back and watched the sun rise. 

The second thing that went right was the current. Compared to last year, the tide was rippin'!  It felt like I took three strokes and was past the coast guard station. Three more strokes and I could hear Tim Bomba at the 1.2 mile mark (start of the half iron). The thing that went left? Me. I have the advantage of knowing that channel. My unofficial mantra for the two weeks leading up to the race was I own this channel. I had swum the course and knew the tides. I knew not to go right and swim close to the piers. I know that I tend to veer right so I made sure I stayed left. When we hit the first left turn at Harbor Island, I knew to stay left. At some points I felt all alone - there's a lot of water out in my channel! -  but could tell I was flying past swimmers nearer to the pier. 

Nothing went wrong, but I had a few obstacles to overcome. My biggest challenge was sighting, There are not a lot of buoys on the course and even though I know the channel, there were a few moments when I felt all alone. I sighted for a while on a coast guard vessel until I realized that it was escorting the faster swimmers and it quickly faded from view. At the halfway point, I was able to see my favorite landmark on Harbor Island and sight on it until I reached the turn buoy. Plus, no matter how new or well-fitting or fog resistant your goggles are, there are always goggle frustrations.

The only other issue I had was someone on my feet for at least 500 yards. At first I didn't care, but five minutes of someone tickling-my-toes-slash-grabbing-my-ankles was too much. I don't mind a drafter at my hip or my toes - just please don't touch me. I mean, didn't I mention that we have all this water out here? I don't really kick much in the first part of the race, I usually save my legs a little while. I picked up my kick and still couldn't lose him. I ddid about fifteen hard kicks and suddenly he was gone. [I assumed he was a he only because I wanted to chick someone that day.]


Rear View 2014

On the heels of my last race of the season, I thought I'd write about the race and the training season leading up to it. Last year, I wrote a multi-part race report. This year I thought I'd do something a little different and do a Q&A format to tell the story and help take stock of the year. Some of these are questions I've fielded and others I made up! [See Dad? I AM using that journalism degree!]


It was another amazing experience! I couldn't have asked for a better day - the weather was perfect and I felt rested and energetic going into it. I had set small goals and big goals and overall everything went well. Of course, anyone will say that the finish is always the best part and I think my highlight was the finish line chute. I could hear Tim Bomba from blocks away announcing other finishers. I could hear him say: if you can hear my voice you will make it in under 12 hours. I could hear the music and the people cheering and clapping on either side of Water Street. When I reached the Blue Post alley, I could see the bright lights and I got fired up. I started yelling: HELL YEAH! I pumped my fist and shouted: I'm going to be and IRONMAN! When I got in the chute, I yelled it again and lifted my arms to fire up the crowd. I could hear Anne Goins and Jen Young and Beth Sheppard and Ace and I could see the finish line clock when Tim called my name and proclaimed: ELIZABETH ANDREW, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!


I loved last year. That thrill of saying I AM AN IRONMAN! still hasn't worn off. Last year's experience was peppered with the worry of what if? and the possibility of not being able to finish. Last year's race was an adventure - it was all new and and challenging to face the unknown. It was happy from start to finish. Maybe it was my experience last year, maybe it was a few tweaks in my training this year, maybe it was it the weather - but I was armed with a confidence that I've never felt before. I was relaxed and assured and - to use my one word for 2014, I was CONNECTed - to my effort, my breath, my body, my brain, the course and everyone out there. 


I am proudest of my effort and my mental strength. I had a plan to PUSH on the swim, base my effort on the bike by my POWER meter and to think about the PROCESS not the outcome on the run. I stuck to that plan and it paid off. I pushed on the swim and it was over too fast! I felt powerful on my bike and for the first time knew I was neither sand-bagging nor over-cooking the ride. I stuck to my guns on the run and was mentally strong on the run. My secret: I didn't look at my watch or my pace. I based the whole marathon on my effort and form. It made for one of my hardest - but my favorite runs ever. 


I am excited about my finish and the outcome - but I worked harder on my effort and my mental strength this year than anything else. I think that I would have been pleased no matter what the clock said because I did what I set out to do mentally and physically during the race. Plus, I had a simple strategy to improve (fewer stops on the bike ride and less walking for the marathon), the weather was PERFECT (a tidal push and less wind) and I had one year of experience behind me. All the ingredients were right to take minutes off my time. A podium finish was icing on the cake. I've learned that's a hard outcome to shoot for because too much depends on who will show up on race day. 



The Out-Season

Off Season. Out Season. Transition. Whatever you call it I'm glad it's here! Hoooray for the off-season! I am thoroughly enjoying my year-end break. These past few weeks have been an such a respite - physically (no more 15-hour training weeks), mentally (no more thinking, planning and coordinating said 15-hour training weeks) and emotionally (the high of the race and the low of the post-ironman blues have faded to a sweet spot of satisfaction and contentment).

It is amazing what I accomplish when I'm not filling bottles, planning meals, washing clothes, planning weekend rides and recovering from those 15-hour training weeks! Here's what I have done in my off season so far:

Visited sunny Florida: Days after my race, the Spice Girls and I took off for Panama City Beach, Florida to watch Dirty Spice compete in her fourth IronMan. The jacuzzi, shuffleboard and champagne with Bee Beth, Falcon Spice and Boss Spice were key to my recovery. 

Beautiful Day in FLA
I Went to Waffle House at 4:30am

Dirty Spice and I Played Ninja Shuffleboard

CUCALORUS 20: I did an movie-athlon! Ace and I caught at least 20 movies at Cucalorus 2014. Do See The Bravest, The Boldest, Where Do Cars Come From and Cosmic Kiosk. Don't see Two Films About Loneliness.

Kona Kona Kona! I watched the world championships. Dirty Spice and her dog, Nick Lickerson, came over for pizza, wine and swim/bike/run. We were fired up to watch Mirinda Carfrae overcome a 14 minute deficit to win her third title in the worst conditions (waves, wind, heat) in years!

PUPPY! I've been spending more time with my little girl. Right now she's got a dog body and a puppy brain. She still looks all grown up, but she still wants to bite and chew and chase and wiggle like a puppy.  I've taken her to swim, been on multiple play dates with the aforementioned Nick Lickerson, aka Emerson, aka PET. Plus, we do Sunny Day School: I'm teaching her stay, down, look, leave it and weave. Now if she'll just learn to stay out of the recycle bin and off the leather couch we'll be all good. 
Photo Bombed by Emerson
Girls Night. I stayed out past 8:00pm in the middle of the week! It wasn't wild and crazy, but, it was an awesome evening playing catch-up at K38. Salsa, chips and the best women in the world!

Michelle, Tina, Beth, me and Erica

Okay, I admit. A lot of these things still involve triathlon. I can't help it - I love it! The off-season is not a time to quit. It's a time to rest and reflect. check out the rear view mirror. It's a great time to learn and grow and then let go of one year as you head into the next. 

Since I didn't do a very great job of keeping up with last year, I figured I could take a look back in my next batch of posts. After all, according to Cam Newton, hindsight is 50/50. Plus, I'll try something new and do the review in a Q&A format and see what we discover.