Friday, October 21, 2011

Guest Post: Laura's Iron Girl Story

 I got the chance to meet up with Laura at the Lake Tahoe Iron Girl race. She's an inspiring mom and athlete, I thought you would enjoy hearing about her Iron Girl experience. It's a great reminder to get out there and live your dreams!

Laura's Iron Girl Wrap Up

We arrived in Tahoe Friday. I was hoping our early arrival would allow my body to acclimate somewhat to the altitude before the race on Sunday.  I was very unsure what it would be like to swim, bike and run at 6200+ feet. 
Saturday afternoon my husband and I went to the pre race talk, packet pick up and bike racking.  We met up with Robin who is truly one of the coolest people I have ever met.  She was so easy to chat with and very helpful with all my silly little questions.  After our meeting, hubby and I walked down to the swim course. There is a long distance between the swim and transition area. The Iron Girl organizers told us there were going set up an optional shoe transition area down by the water.  Running barefoot didn’t sound like much fun.  I decided old tennis shoes for the jog back to transition would do the trick. After feeling satisfied I knew where I was going race day, we headed off for dinner and bed.  With the race starting at 7:30AM I had to be up by 5:00. Ack. Early mornings are painful.
My sleep was not good.  I woke up at 3:00AM in a panic. I dreamt that I overslept.  In my dream it was 7:15. I was yelling that transition is closed. I kept saying my race is over before it had even begun! My hubby patiently rolled over, looked at the clock, told me I was dreaming and encouraged me to go back sleep.
5:00AM rolls around and we get up and eat breakfast. I had quinoa with cinnamon and coconut milk, a hardboiled egg, small cup of coffee and a banana.  I checked the weather report and was a little nervous the temperature was 36 degrees!  I dressed in layers and headed out the door to the race site.  Got in the car hubby cranked the tunes. A sense of excitement washed over me!  I wasn’t sure if my happiness was because I wasn’t crazy nervous or because I was being afforded this opportunity.
At the race site I immediately set up my transition area, don my wetsuit early for warmth and met up with Robin again. I had to decide if I was going to swim with my bike jersey on or just a sports bra under my wetsuit.  I didn’t love the idea of wearing wet layers on the bike course. I figured they probably were not going to dry quickly in the crisp mountain air. My final decision was to swim in just the sports bra and shorts.  I would throw my bike jersey and light weight riding jacket on after the swim. This was a good decision.
Transition closed and we all walked down to the beach.  I took another look at the swim course.  It looked a little different with the big buoys in place.  We waited for about thirty minutes for our wave to begin. Again, I wasn’t sure how cold we would get during that wait time.  Luckily I wasn’t as cold as I feared. Having my wetsuit and cap on really kept in the warmth.  Although my naked feet were chilled.
At 7:30 we watched the first wave take off.  Robin zoomed away. I stood around a bit longer waiting for my wave to begin.  Cheered on some first timers and encouraged another gal who looked scared.  When my wave began,  I tried to hang back and let others go in front of me.  This plan had worked the other two times. Not so much this time around.  The swim course seemed a bit narrow.  I found myself swimming through bodies anyway.  Grateful I wasn’t feeling frightened by the other ladies just kind of annoyed that I kept having to stop, look around a figure how to maneuver around the crowd. I felt I could have done the swim better if I knew how to get throw people.  I need to work on being a bit more aggressive.  I don’t want to be obnoxious but I do want to figure out strategy for staying my own course.  I found that I was having the same issue on the bike too.
The water was crystal clear and gorgeous!  The temperature was certainly a lot warmer IN the water than out.  Overall I had a great swim.  I kind of wished it was longer!!  My only other issue in the water was sighting the exit.  The sun was peering over the mountains. The glare was making it difficult for me to see the exit.   Once out of the water I jogged over to shoe transition.  My feet were sandy so I made a lame attempt at brushing it off.  My hands were really cold so tying my laces was an issue.  Once my shoes were secured, I jogged back to transition in my wet suit, with hubby jogging a long side.  
If I were to change how I did anything, I would have had a quick slip on shoe to wear.  No laces. My hands were too cold to tie them and I think I wasted a lot of time. Also, I would not have bothered with trying to dust off the sand. I think running in the wetsuit was a good idea. It helped me warm up for the next leg of the race.
Once in transition, I peeled off my wetsuit, put on my bike jersey and jacket.  Got my biking shoes and helmet on and headed out.  The course was beautiful!! They shut down the middle lane of highway 50 just for our race. What a treat! Not many people can say they safely rode down that part of highway 50.  When we drove the course the day before I wasn’t sure how prepared I would be for the hills. To my relief they were not a problem.  My only issue was not knowing when I could pass people.  I felt like I was hanging back, trying real hard to follow the rules but I knew I could push harder on the bike.  Overall the ride was wonderful. The only thing I think I would have done differently is maybe put my bike gloves on.  I didn’t realize how cold my hands were until I was in T2.
T2 went smooth. I had issues tying the laces of my runners.  My hands were not cooperating with my brain. I think I need to get some of those quick laces or something.   As I was leaving transition, I could see Robin coming across the finish line.  At least I thought it was her!! Before the race began I forgot to take notice of what she was wearing or some other identifiers.  I could have let out a cheer!
The run course was two loops through a neighborhood.  There was some elevation gain but I didn’t think it was too bad.  As I began my run, I realized my legs and feet were numb.  I told myself, no worries the feeling will come back somewhere along the way.  Ah I was wrong. I ran the entire run portion of the race with no feeling from my knees down!! HA!   I wasn’t in pain or anything it just felt really weird. The upside to all that is I ran a lot faster than I normally do!! 
As I approached the finish line with a huge grin on my face, I could see my family standing on the sidelines cheering me on.  It felt so wonderful!!  I loved that our boys could see that there Mom is more than just that lady always doing the dishes, helping with homework or driving the family bus. 
Overall I did better than I thought I would!! I told myself I would be happy if I finished the race under two hours.  Turns out I finished in 1:47. My division I was 49/102.  (I was astonished there were so many in my wave. It didn’t feel like it)  My swim time was 10:30, T1 10:00 Bike time 54:39, T2 2:31 ad run time 30:08.  I was also a little surprised at the T1 time.  I guess they must time you from the minute you get out of the water until you are o your bike. Which in this case is a long distance.

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