Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cowntdown to Ironman: 12 Hours: Pitfalls and Possibilities

First of all, let me start this post by saying THANK YOU to everyone who has commented, emailed, facebooked, tweeted, or spoken words of support to me through this process. Even if I've never met you "in real life" (whatever THAT is), your kind and encouraging words mean a lot. I will be thinking of the things you've said and when I have to dig deep they will be there, filling my heart up with strength. And Marv, when the time comes to dig deeper, I will remember your pond and I promise I will dig!

12 hours from now I'll be in the transition area, probably waiting in a porta-potty line before crawling into my wetsuit. This week of preparation has flown by, with some added surprises (like some really really horrible food poisoning on Monday) thrown in for good measure.

So, without further ado, here are the things I'm confident about, and the things that I'm worried about. I'll start with the worries and end on a good note because at this point I need all the happy good thoughts I can get.

Things that will keep me up tonight:

- My stomach:  five days out from a round of food poisoning so violent that I'm surprised I actually still HAVE a stomach lining, my stomach still feels a little bruised and touchy. In normal life, real life, that's not a problem. In an Ironman, a bad stomach can become a real problem. In fact, a stomach can yank you out of a race much faster than a cramping hamstring. I am hoping that all will stay down, food and nutrients will be absorbed, and that this won't be an issue that derails my race tomorrow.

- The downhill: My new race wheels are a bit twitchy on the winds and the downhills. Trying them out on the biggest hill of all, I had to brake constantly to keep them in line. I don't know how much of that was due to the winds from the big cars and trucks screaming by, but I"m mighty nervous about it. Especially since the big downhill will be a "no passing zone" on the course, which means all the Type-A fast triathletes behind me will have to go as slow as I'm going down the hill. I don't think they'll be pleased :-(

- The swim start: Nothing new here. I've been nervous as heck about this since I pulled the trigger and signed up for this race (which notoriously has one of the worst swim starts around). My plan: line up in a good spot, go hard for 400 yards, and hope to find clear water by then.

- The knee: I haven't run in a month. I have been a good girl. I have seen my Physical Therapist and followed her orders. I have done pool running, stretching, and rolling. Whatever my knee gives me at the start of the run will be what I get. I just want it to be enough to finish feeling good. 

Things I feel good about:

My swim: My swimming has been feeling AWESOME lately. I have felt fast, and strong, and comfortable. The water will be cold (54 this morning) but I've been swimming in cold water and I can do this. Other than anxiety about the mosh pit effect of the start, I feel that I will have a good swim.

My bike: I think I have a good handle on bike pacing. I paced my last Ironman bike well, and came off the bike feeling great. My goal is to do the same. For the first hour or so, it will feel incredibly easy, a walk in the park. I will not get amped up hammering up hills. I will do the right thing.

The run: Although yes, I've had the knee problem to contend with, I feel peaceful about the run. It's out of my control. If I can run and run well, I will concentrate on my pacing plan which I practiced a lot. If not and I have to do a lot of walking, that's what I will do. I will run as much as possible and it will be what it will be.

My goals:

I don't really have a time goal for this race, although I would be quite happy to come in under 13 hours. If all goes well - stomach behaves, knee behaves, I pace myself well, that is definitely doable. Because I have so many unknowns, it could also be a much longer day for me out there. Four weeks ago I had more ambitious goals. But I've had to release that like a red balloon on a string and watch it float away. In a way, it's freeing. Since I no longer know what I can do, I no longer have something to whip myself with into a state of anxiety. I feel much calmer about this Ironman than I did at the last one. I have nothing to prove to anyone, and I plan on enjoying the day as much as I can out there.

My predictions:

Swim: Somewhere around an hour, give or take a few
T1: Hopefully well under 10 minutes this time!
Bike: 6:45-ish if all goes well and no unexpected disasters ensue
T2: Again, under 10 minutes
Run: Who the heck knows? Fastest I could possibly run according to predictions in online calculators puts me at 4:35. Probably closer to 5:00. If it gets hot, my stomach shuts down, or my knee goes wonky, it could be 6 or 7 hours.

1:00 + :10 + 6:45 + :10 + 5:00 would be 13:05. If it goes better than that, hooray for me. If it goes worse, it'll be what it'll be. You can track me online on the Ironman Tracker:

I'm race number 679. Keep the good thoughts coming, pray for an uneventful and safe day for me, and for all the athletes on the course, and I'll see you on the other side of the finish line!


Marv said...

Oh my gosh! It is here. It makes me take a short breath just thinking how this must be. thanks for the Bib # ...I want to follow you. I love your perspective about the run. My biggest concern for you is the recent stomach problems. There is a sort of peace to the tone of your post, I can't put my finger on. I will pray. I will hope. God bless you Robin.

Ironmomma said...

Good luck to you! I will pray for your safety and a very strong finish! My first 70.3 is on Aug 5, and I'm so nervous!

Kathy said...

Good luck Robin. It is SO hard to adjust downward to new expectations but you sound very ready and Zen. Have a great race!

cherelli said...

I hope you have a fantastic race and really enjoy finishing what you've trained for; by the time you read this...happy recovery!!

Kiki said...

Good luck from the UK! You've been an inspiration.

Marv said...

I am following you and your 6:45 on the bike was right where you hoped. Way to go, girl!
You really are an inspiration.

Marv said...

Just got off my trainer and checked on you. Your pace is holding halfway through the run. Great news! I am pulling for you Robin!

Marv said...

Checked your latest run split and you have slowed dramatically; gut check time. I am with you in spirit. God bless you Robin.

ThreeBoysFull said...

Just saw your results! I hope your race was a joyful experience. Little drama and all go! Can't wait to hear your race report. -Laura