Tuesday, November 6, 2007

IRONMAN!!! Really long summary! Go figure!

I've thought about my "race report," for months, what I would say, how I would be feeling when I wrote the report, hoping I would have good things to say and hoping that I wouldn't think it was a lofty goal....just hoping all these months I would feel that all the training would be worth it.

It was.

I finished Ironman Florida in 11:35:31. My times were as follows:
1. 2.4 mile swim (1:06)-1 hr. 6 min.
2. Transition 1- (7:08)-this is min.
3. 112 mile bike (5:42)-5 hrs 42 min. (19.65 mph)
4. Transition 2- (5:45)-also min.
5. 26.2 mile run- (4:33)-4 hrs. 33 min.

Let me back up a bit and give you the run down on the week =0.

Wednesday, Oct. 31st-
Dave and I left San Diego at 6:30 a.m., we arrived in Panama City Beach at 7:00 p.m....had a rather awful dinner at Pineapple Willies, however we met up with some of other people from San Diego doing IMFL, that was fun!

Thursday, Nov. 1st-8:00 a.m. breakfast with my coach: Amanda Lovato....I can't even tell you how great it was to be able to sit and have breakfast and just pick Amanda's brain for a while with last minute questions. The most reassuring part was that she said what I had already planned to do---was what she would have recommended anyway. That was extremely reassuring for me to hear. We did make some adjustments as far as how much liquid I should be taking in, and some guidelines as far as how I should start the swim etc. One of the aspects that I love about Amanda is---that she's supportive, motivational and empathetic, but she's tough-she'll tell you what to expect and she probably won't sugar coat her advice. It meant the world to me that she was getting ready to race Florida as well---and she took the time to meet with me.

The rest of Thursday was spent registering me, fitting in a short ride and swim in the pool (which was SO much colder than the Gulf), and then my parents, Dawn and Dave's parents arrived and we took them to a super late dinner at Carraba's. Only the finest of restaurants in Panama City Beach right? It really put me at ease to have my family nearby.

Friday, November 2nd: I dropped off my bike and my bags for transition. I had 2 transition bags-one for swim-bike and then another for bike-run. Dawn and I went and did a swim in the Gulf. We were the ONLY two people out there without wetsuits and we didn't realize why because the water was smooth as glass and SUPER warm. However, after passing several jelly fish we realized people were wearing wetsuits for protection. Not us! I felt really, really good in my swim warm up. The rest of the day I hung out, we had a super early dinner at 5:00 so everything could settle in my stomach (Just chicken and pasta, no sauce..just a little butter and cheese). Believe it or not, I fell asleep about 11:00.

RACE DAY: Let the madness begin:
3:30 (a.m.)-yes, 3:30 a.m. Dave woke me up--and I am so incredibly lucky to have a husband who was probably JUST as excited as I was to do this Ironman. He and I did a ten minute warm up run and I wanted to do some intervals but Dave told me to save my energy for later.
4:00-First accomplishment of the day: 700 calories for breakfast: 2 packets of oatmeal and 2 cups of yogurt w/granola. It sucks eating that early and that much food. However, the earlier you eat, the earlier your stomach settles. Although, i'm not sure. That yogurt came back to haunt me vividly at lap 2 of the swim.
5:00-Me, Dawn and Dave (my two Sherpa's...that is what they call people who help out athletes, schlepping their stuff around for them, keeping them calm...Sherpa's!). Dropped off my 2 special needs bags. 1 to be given out during the bike portion (refills on food/liquids etc) and 1 to be given on the run.
5:30-7:00-Check on bike-put air in tires, add food to Bento Box (the little box that sits on my bike that holds my food), get body marked-they mark you so they can read your race #, use porto potty, put on wetsuit. Yeah-little secret about wetsuits, they CHAFE if you aren't careful. I have to put body glide on (sounds kinky, it isn't, it's like an anti-chafing deodorant stick). However, I didn't get the top of my neck, so I now have 3 burns on my neck.

I said goodbye to my family and walked down to the beach, this was the loneliest part of the day. I forgot to walk over the swim mat to activate my timing chip on my ankle..oops! I ran over to the other side, walked over the mat and stood by the water, played with my goggles, kicked the sand, looked around....just waiting...

Swim: I positioned myself about 4 rows back from the start. Probably an ambitious position, but whatever, I had come this far and I wasn't going to get stuck in the middle of "survival" swim. I had made a strategic decision to go hard the first 500 meters in the swim. It worked. Despite looking up at one point and having a near panic attack due to all the splashing, hands, arms, claws and other methods people use to swim...I put my head down and just went. I *knew* the swim would be like a washing machine, and I did panic a little, I did get kicked in the face, but thankfully the person wasn't kicking too hard and it was just a reinforcement for my goggles in their suction! I basically drafted off of peoples feet, which served me well. Other than losing a small portion of my breakfast during the swim---I was more than happy with my swim time.

Transition 1: Grabbed my swim-bike bag from the volunteer, ran into the tent. I got my socks and cycling shoes on, put on my helmet and someone helped spray my sunscreen on. No 2nd degree burns for me--unlike Wildflower...shudder. My transition time was slow because I was kind of confused as to how the volunteer was supposed to help me and I really didn't want to rush and forget something for the bike!

Bike: Ya know, there isn't a whole lot to say about the bike---I found myself in a groove pretty early on. The thing is, for me, biking tends to be my strength, but I didn't want to go too hard because I haven't done the 112 miles and then run a marathon, and I knew I needed to conserve energy for a run that I already knew would be heinous and possibly the death of me =0 (nothing like a little overdramatization). The whole time on the bike I was strategizing. Do I go faster to break away from the pack, or conserve energy for the run. You aren't allowed to "Draft" in the bike (ie, ride behind someone closely) it's considered an advantage. Well, when you have 2000+ people on a one lane road, you're bound to have people drafting, it just happens. Plus, if you commit to passing someone, you have to pass them in a certain amount of time and maintain 4 bike lengths away from them. The bike aid stations were filled with awesome people, people dressed as pirates handing out water, bananas, gatorade, gu, cola, anything you needed! I loved seeing the volunteers, I tried to always remember to say "please, thank you" "thanks for supporting us". They're out there for us, all 4000 of them. I loved the bike course--minus a few bumpy areas where my bike computer stopped working. My nutrition seemed to work well---taking in liquids every 10 minutes, a shot blok every 20 minutes and a 1/2 Pure Fit bar every hour. However, I think I took in too much fiber in the morning and was on the porto potty by mile 49! Additionally, I had forgotten to put sunscreen on my face. So, a guy comes out of the porto potty, he's a red head and just DRENCHED in sunscreen, so I go. "OH! Great! I need some of that for my face, can I have some?"

So, there I was, mile 49, scraping sunscreen off of a red head for my own benefit! The rest of the bike was just moving along, no winds. The weather all day was gorgeous. Sure, in hindsight, I can play the "could've, would've, should've" game in regards to speed, but i've decided to just be content with my time!

Transition 2: Grabbed my bike to run bag, reapplied sunscreen, put on my shades, visor, new socks and running shoes.

Run: Let's get this party started. Ok, remember I am NOT a runner by nature. I don't enjoy it, it's easy for me to be lazy with running and I tend to wish I was still biking. However, I came out of transition and honestly, my legs were flying. I nailed the first 3 miles in 24 minutes (8:00/minute mile) and wilted a little but still pulled off my half marathon in 2:02. Great, I thought I could easily do a 4:10 marathon. However, I started to really, really hate the shot bloks I had with me, I was so sick of fruit punch flavored everything and my stomach started to rumble. At this point, I wasn't sure if I had to go to the bathroom or if it was just plain old rumbling. Combination of both. Great...which means, I had no idea how long my stomach issues would take to go away. So, instead of taking in gatorade, I was now doing water--only and taking in pretzels and bananas. Miles 16-25 I made a deal with myself: every mile I ran, I could walk the aid stations. You wouldn't believe the support at these stations, they offered grapes, cola, cookies, pretzels, cold sponges...music, people dressed up....I had 4 people do the "wave" for me! It was great! I smiled big and I tried so hard to show my appreciation. I had my name on my tank top, so people cheered me on. It was hard to get "mad" at this marathon like I had in the past! I loved the volunteers!

I knew at mile 23 that I was going to finish in under 12 hours and I started to get teary, started to think of the finish and I stopped myself. I said to myself that anything could happen in those next 3 miles and just to keep going. Finally, at mile 25, rounding the corner, I allowed myself to finally think of the finish and my eyes welled. I thought about training in Colorado with my family, I thought about Dave's first deployment with my first sprint triathlon, I thought about my DNF in Minneapolis, all those training months from the past. Here I was almost completing my Ironman!

The sun had finally set and I was in the finishing shoot, people were cheering like crazy and everyone's hands were outstretched for me to slap their hands, I ran over and hit people's hands all the way across the finish line. Unfortunately, I was so distracted, but Dave promised me that Mike Reilly the "Voice of Ironman" said ....from San Diego California....Meredith Trowbridge...you ARE an Ironman! I thought I could grab the banner and hold it up, but the people took it back so my finishing photo is kind of silly! I crossed and I saw Michael, Amanda's husband standing there and he took the medal and put it around my neck. Immediately over to the left I saw Dave....he had been on the phone with my sister Trinette and I could tell he was so excited.

I saw my whole family---Dave ran over and I said to him as he hugged me...."I'm so......tired". I was exhausted. I truly gave it everything I had. It was an exhaustion and happiness of focusing....for 11 hours on constantly trying new things to keep myself motivated and my head in the game. When I finished I felt nauseous. I wasn't sure if I needed to eat or be sick. I quickly ate two pieces of pizza and that helped. I took pictures with my family and I just took it all in. Immediately I was aware that they had been supporting me for hours, so I was like "OK! shower and dinner".....

I never expected to enjoy the Ironman as much as people said I would. I hated training. Honestly, I did. I laughed at people when they said I would miss training and it would be a let down for me when I didn't have Ironman to train for. I never realized the camaraderie of Ironman, how people truly band together. On the run course, I ran up to a guy and I said "my stomach hurts, what do I do," and he said "Ok, my coach said if you don't feel good, take in water and try to get in some salt". In any other race, people don't "talk" to each other. In Ironman, everyone has worked just as hard and no one wants anyone to experience a DNF. You are out there for so long and you can see the pain on people's faces. I could see people walking sideways, people getting sick, people walking, people smiling, people wincing, all emotions. I tried hard when I couldn't speak to wave, or smile to show the volunteers I was thankful they were there, giving up their day.

Funny story. I finished 14th in my age group, far enough away from any danger of qualifying for Kona, Hawaii (the Ironman World Championships).....anyway, Dave and I were buying some Florida Finisher items and I knew that the slots would be announced to see who would go to Hawaii (they take the top few from each age group depending on how many are in that age group).

So, I walked out and they announced that from my age group it had rolled down to the 4th place finisher and I saw the girl walk up and sign her name for Hawaii. And ya know what, the competitor in me......had just a little bit of jealousy. That's just pure honesty from me to you---I was jealous. Little old me---I hated Ironman training, the thought of ever training for another one annoys me. But, I was still jealous that she was going, and I wasn't. I didn't even have any interest in ever doing another Ironman, let alone Hawaii, so, I don't know what to make of my feeling.

Maybe it's because I felt like I had a solid race and I didn't expect much from myself to begin with. Or, maybe it's because even though the standards to qualify for Kona are set by a corporation, those images are vivid in most everyone's heads when you say "Ironman Hawaii."

One thing is for sure. My Ironman far exceeded my own expectations not just in the race but the spirit of people who do the race. I never cared about pre-race and post-race dinners or all the hoopla that comes with triathlons and races in general, but for Ironman.....I cared. I wanted to be a part of everything and i'm very glad that I was.

How am I doing today? Physically I actually feel great. Everything feels loose-the only thing still a little tight are my calves. It's scary how normal I feel though, i'm still tired from the race.

I have a host of people I need to thank in getting me through this year---but i've sent most of you emails and you know who you are-----a big shout out to my husband Dave, my family, Dave's family, my friends, my smart-fast and super witted coach, Amanda--and my training buddy, Elaine.....without them, I wouldn't be an Ironman!

Thank you to everyone who has joined me on my journey! Will I do another one? Hmm, I still don't know. It used to be a definite "no," but i'm softening a little as time goes on......i'll keep you posted! =)


Kir said...

You are so amazing!! We tracked you all day! I was so happy to get your text on Sunday!!! How is the knee???? I miss you!!! RELAX and enjoy your success....you really deserve it!!!!

JMoTriBella said...


I'm so proud of you! I can only imagine what it would feel like to cross that finish line after all of that work. You Rock Girl!

Jill said...

CONGRATS!!! That is so AWESOME MER!! What an amazing experience. The pictures were great - you and Dave looked so happy in the end!! SO happy to hear all went well and you should be so proud of yourself. Maybe this weekend you can relax??

Angie said...

Hey Mer,
I am so proud of you! You are just amazing!! Way to go on your very first ironman. You have me wanting to do one in the future.....maybe.

Ms. Saigon said...

You are indeed fantastic, fabulous, awesome, amazing, hard-core, tough, rockin, superlative, splendid, and, in short,terrific!! I tracked you a few times in the morning, but I knew you were doing just fine! You continue to be an inspiration to me!!

Amanda Lovato said...

I love you Meredith. Your post was awesome! You are the best girl ever! I can't wait till next year. You are going to ROCK!!!!!

Mer! said...

Awwww--thanks everyone for tracking me on-line and supporting me!!!

Amanda Lovato said...

You've been tagged. You mush write 5 random thngs about yourself and then tag 5 others...
Sorry chic:)