Many of you were watching and cheering (THANK YOU!) and lots of you have asked for a report. Here are a few of the random things I learned in training for and completing Ironman Arizona 2016 just a few weeks back.
1. The training commitment is the hardest part! The structured routine of swim, bike, and run sessions often peaking at 18 hours in a week is hard. But what is even harder than the training sessions is the balancing of family schedules, sports, work and life responsibilities. I underestimated this. This is the 4th discipline and the hardest one!
2. You are ALWAYS hungry when training for an Ironman, and if you are not nearby food your mood quickly deteriorates to HANGRY (Hungry+Angry)
3. Manitoba has a short outdoor riding season and is somewhat limited in safe, close to the city long rides. I know every bump, turn and tree on the Birds Hill loop by heart. I also have a very intimate relationship with my garage. The bonus to early rides on the trainer in the garage is you can text your husband to bring you coffee:)
4. Saikel IS Manitoba hills! Teaching at Saikel was the best compliment to my bike training. It allowed me to use power, which I do not have on my road bike, and mimic hills of every stage and length. The AZ bike course is 3 loops. The out direction of the loop is a false flat/climb usually into the wind – aka a bit slow and painful for Prairie folk. The back is a nice downhill usually with the wind. I broke the course down into 6 Saikel classes in my mind – Saikel Climb then Saiked up( x 3).
5. The last 6 months I either smelt like herbs or BO. I was so worried about not getting sick at all to miss my training. I swear by Young Living Essential Oil for well pretty much everything, but I was obsessed with staying healthy, uninjured and energized in my busy life. I never missed one night of putting Thieves oil on my feet and it worked!!!!
6. Peeing your pants on the Ironman course is just plain hardcore and cool. Never hug a finisher too tight – you just never know;)
7. I love to run! It is my favorite of the 3 exercises and stand alone, I am decent at it, BUT you will be humbled on the run no matter what. It will hurt at some point! My legs talked to me from mile 17 onwards….negative chatter about not doing much weights during training and on and on. My quads were on fire! Note to self: Never give up all of your weight workouts again.
8. Ironman Tattoos – they are everywhere! I love seeing them on calves as your run or ride by competitors- so cool. I did not get one after my first IM because I wasn’t sure I wanted a permanent marker. My logic wondered if I would really like a tattoo when I am 80, but this time felt different. I actually want a tattoo so when I am 80 and sounding crazy I have REAL proof. The picture above is my new addition.
9. Doing a longer distance triathlon is kinda like having a baby for me. The anticipation can be the hardest part! Excitement and nerves mixed together then the labour of it all begins. Much like ‘real’ labour when the start gun goes off you are in it, no looking back, it’s go time! When you cross the finish you are mixed with emotions of elation and never again LOL. However, after time, you forget and consider doing it all over again. With each child or race, you seem to forget quicker!
10. Race day nutrition can induce an awesome post race sugar detox. What you eat during the race is something I practice in the months leading up to the race! I start off enjoying the sugary treats, candy bursts, etc. during training, but slowly the deliciousness fades and I have to force it all down. By the end of the race day, I can not look at or stomach anything but vegetables and meat. This can take weeks for me to snap out of….the timing of IM AZ may help with holiday treat control.
11. It is amazing the mental places you can go and the games you can play with yourself over 11 1/2 hours. I think this is where I am improving with age. I make lists and use tricks to stay positive and focused, much like everyone on the course. Here’s a few I used this time…..mantras – I probably repeated “just keep swimming” like Dory the entire swim circuit. On the bike, I taught you fellow Saikelists’ classes in my head….more rpm’s, next set, add resistance, more power – you get it! I always break it down into smaller chunks and never think much about the next stage before I am in it! I dedicate mile increments on the run to people I know and then I try to think about everything that inspires me about them. Miles 9 and 12 belonged to my kids:)
12. I talk to my bike! I have an very entry level road bike that has been modified a bit for triathlons. I bought it when I first decided to try a triathlon 5 years ago. Upon arriving at my first 1/2 Ironman in 2011 I cried while setting up in transition – the gear and bikes around me were intimidating! I ended up doing ok that day and re-gained a love for my old bike. I have steadily improved my time in the years since then and take pride in having an ‘older’ entry level bike that passes people and moves by my own merit. I have promised my bike during many races that if we make it without a flat or mechanical problem we could retire. Fast forward to Ironman 2016 – I still don’t really want to spend money on a bike so I apologize to her and get back riding. Once again my old bike does not disappoint, in fact we improve. Although I did again promise that she can retire! This bike has taught me a great lesson and reminder! It’s SO NOT about the stuff (yes, if you are racing in a category where minutes really matter it does) but otherwise YOU are the driving force, fancy bike or not!
13. The fans and volunteers make it worth it! They are awesome! No matter what your speed on the day of the race you are treated like and cheered on like a celebrity! It is AMAZING! Family makes it even better! I was lucky to have my parents, husband and children at the race and there are no better fans! The first thing my 12 year said when I crossed the finish was that he’s taking over Ironman when he is 18. This makes me prouder than crossing the finish!
14. THE FINISH – this is the BEST part! The chute is long and full with screaming fans, high-fives, and Mike Reilly announcing your name! The feeling of pushing yourself to the end and crossing under the lights is like no other! Oh that feeling, I could relive it over and over!
If you are interested in getting a start in triathlons there are many different clubs, races and options. I can try and answer any questions or point you in the right direction – just ask!