When I left off, I had promised to discuss the Timex study I am in, and also to detail my pre-race final days.
But I didn't cause I got all stressed out and in the I'm going to race an Ironman in 24 hours, OMG mode, and couldn't focus enough to write a post.
So now, here I sit, three days post-race. My family has arrived and I am in full slothdom, eating, drinking, and otherwise sitting on my ass with a drink in one hand and a book in the other, ignoring my children as they repeatedly ask me to watch them do this or that flip off the pool deck. It's quite wonderful, really.
We plan to stay in Kona until next Tuesday meaning that by trip's end I will have spent 2.5 weeks here on the Big Island. I'm digging the Big Island. It's quite possible my family will have to carry me to the airport kicking and screaming. Can't I just say here? They need teachers and coaches everywhere, right?
Where to begin? On Friday, as I said, I started to get the pre-race jitters. The fact that I was actually going to compete in an Ironman--here, in the heat and wind, slowly became real and unavoidable. I took Mrs. Z for a quick spin Friday morning to see if the gels I had taped to her down tube would scrape my legs. All good. Then I went for a one minute run to get a free t-shirt from the colostrum capsule people. If you haven't heard of the colostrum people, go here. The gist is: If you take colostrum (from organically fed New Zealand cows) every day, you will develop an immune system as strong as a New Zealand cow, and be able to race as fast as a cow, or maybe even faster. Anyway, the company was giving out free shirts, and I liked the shirts, so I ran to get one.
Robin and I also had a very large breakfast at Lava Java. When I read about Lava Java in blogs before coming to Kona, I thought it must just be a hot spot--the in place to get coffee. It is that. It also serves, however, the most delicious food I've had in forever. I sampled breakfast, lunch and dinner there,(not all on the same day :) and every meal surpassed my wildest yum factor fantasy. Anyway, for breakfast I had banana and macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup and a cup of fresh, local fruit. My mouth waters thinking about it.
Race night I picked up my family at the airport (yeah!) and then I went back to my hotel where Robin and I snacked on victuals from a previous supermarket visit, and went to bed by, drumroll... 8:30 pm.
Stunningly (and after 10 mg of melatonin) I fell asleep and didn't wake until the alarm went off at 4:00 a.m.
Before I start into painstakingly reliving race morning and the race itself, I must preface this novel of a post by emphasizing that this time around I implemented a new approach to nearly every facet of my IM race--including but not limited to preparation, taper, nutrition during taper and during the race, pacing strategy, and biggest of all, attitude both before and during the event.
The result was that I had the race I expected to have in terms of execution and time. I also was able to feel joyful throughout the race, sure of my ability to finish strong, and thrilled to be in Kona and living this dream--even at some very difficult moments--like, for example miles 21-23 of the marathon.
I also felt sure I would not come close to achieving an Ironman PR.
That is the price, I learned, you pay for ensuring yourself a joyful race experience, one in which you feel strong from first stroke to last step. To achieve this you (or, I should say I, since I can't speak for you) must take the risk out of the race, and rely on what you know you can do, for sure.
I do not regret my approach. Not even a little. After struggling, barfing and shitting my way through the marathon portion of my first three Ironman races--and ending up in the medical tent passed out for two of those three, I needed to PROVE without a doubt that enjoying the race, and not ending up with an IV in my arm was possible. I needed to take that step--backward you might say--to go forward again. And I had to do it here, in the heat and wind of Kona.
And I did it.
I swam easily, away from the crowds--so far away that I saw a pod of dolphins swimming beneath me--and probably swam an extra mile by doing so.
I rode nearly 10 watts lower than my coach recommended for the first 56 miles of the race, and then 5 watts below for the rest.
I started the run easy, walked every water stop, and kept running easy until the final two miles of the race, when I picked up the pace to the pace that Kurt had recommended I start at.
And I never felt sick. And I never felt desperate. And I never felt that I wouldn't make it to the end or that I need help, and NOW.
I just felt good, and I finished with my arms in the air, a look and feeling of glee about me.
And you know what? Now I know it's possible for me to execute a race in that way, with that level of caution, and that level of confidence that I will finish strong.
And I also know that's the last fucking time I race like that. Because it's not racing. It's just going 140.6 miles.
I needed to know I could do 140.6 with a smile.
Now let's get back to business, baby!
Off to dinner. We're going for Mexican and margaritas. More tomorrow. :)