Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ironman Texas Race Report 2017

Congrats Gina Shand (Virginia) on a stellar Ironman Texas!! Here is her report.

Days leading up - crazy nervous on Friday. Felt nauseous and anxious all day. Wasn't really thinking about the race, not much going through my head, just anxious about what I couldn't control. I knew I had put the work in and really wanted a solid race, ideally a PR, but was okay with solid and no GI issues. Wanted to push, keep my head in the game and not self-negotiate.

Race Morning

Got up at 4am, ate a Clif bar and a banana. Got everything together and headed up to the race. Stomach and head were in better shape than I expected. I did not get as emotional as usual and was not dreading the swim like I had at Placid or Wisconsin. Stopped at transition, dropped off bottles, pumped tires, easy peasy. Decided to use the porta john at transition, figuring the lines would be shorter. Turned out to be a good call. Also, became the hero of the line when we noticed there were a few bathrooms that no one seemed to come out of. I jumped out of line when no one else wanted to check the doors and pulled on one of the doors to find a never been used portojohn. Winning! Line felt I earned the right to use it! Helped everyone out to get the line moving faster. Good race karma.
Munched on some Glukos chews and water on the way to the swim. Nerves were under control. Got to swim, dropped our bags and weaved our way up to the front of the swim pack. The time signs were gone, so we just kept moving forward until we found some space. Turned out to be a good spot because we were in the water within a minute with not a lot of drama.

Swim 1:17:47 - Got my swim title back!

Once in the water, really only took one hit to the face. I'll take it. Felt steady and strong. Not all that fast, but solid. I felt the chafing on my neck almost immediately. My left calf started to cramp as I was headed into the canal. Was able to manage it by flexing my foot off and on. The canal seemed to take a long time and I was getting passed a lot. I knew I wasn't flying but kept moving forward. As soon as I got out of the water I heard Coach's voice asking how do you feel and his hand on my back. Looked at my watch and said, slow I guess. I assumed that my Dave was ahead of me but didn't want to ask. Decided to shake it off and head to the change tent. Nothing I could do to change the swim time but now needed to find 10 minutes on the bike and run.

T1 6:04

Found my bag and the change tent was not busy. Volunteer was great as usual, got changed pretty quickly. Used the bathroom, stopped for sunscreen and confirmed, my neck was in fact chaffed. Ouch. On the run through transition to grab my bike, I saw Frances. Great to see her there! She said that she had not seen Dave. I thought for sure she had just missed him. Grabbed Armando and headed out. I should have used the shower caps to cover my cleats. Ended up with more mud than I needed in them.

Bike 6:05:54

Hopped on and got ready to settle in. Was looking for Dave on the out and back, assuming he was in front of me. Was shocked (but a little giddy) to see him after I hit the turn around. After about 30 minutes, my power meter started reading low so I decided to focus on cadence and not worry about it. Started taking in my Infinit on schedule every 15 minutes. After the rough section before the highway I thought I heard something rubbing my front wheel, made a quick stop to make sure it was all good and got some of the mud out of my cleats because my left foot didn't want to stay clipped in. I really had to use the bathroom coming up on mile 30 but didn't want to stop until I saw Dave. Fortunately he caught up to me right before the aid station so I was able to say hi and then stop. Easy stop and headed back out. At two hours my power meter went out altogether. Didn't faze me too much since it wasn't reading right anyway. I decided to keep my HR down and ride one gear easier than I wanted to. Just wanted to ride strong, keeping an eye on the time to keep me about where my BBS had projected. I was expecting more of a headwind at the turn around and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't that bad. Stopped again at mile 50 to pee ahead of special needs since there wasn't a line at the bathroom.

Got to see Dave again after he turned. Coming up on the turn around, sky was reallllly dark and there was a definite drop in temperature. Stopped at special needs, got my new bottle, some sunscreen and chamois butter. I was rolling on this 20 mile section and knew I would pay for it at the turn around. Kept in aero, rode strong, didn't have any issues with drafting or crowding. Even though the course itself was a bit boring, I entertained myself by watching for Dave coming back the other way. I saw him about 2 miles before the turn around and asked him how bad the wind was but he was gone before he could answer. After the turn, the wind was worse than I thought it was going to be 12/13 mph. I made sure to just spin through it and remind myself that I still had to run a marathon. Got caught by a big group that sucked me in about mile 90. Quickly did what I could to get out of that. Didn't want any part of it. Stopped to pee a third time at the final tollroad turn around. My four stops only cost me 5 minutes, but that is still 5 minutes. Gotta learn to pee on the bike. Went back and forth with a few people on the way back in, but was very happy to see the course was a bit short. I was ready to get off the bike, but not desperate to do so. Stomach was a little upset, but nowhere near as bad as it had been before. I took in all the calories I brought, but did not take in all the sodium.

T2 5:45

Dropped Armando off, ran down the sidewalk, made a quick stop to take off my bike shoes since I knew it was a bit of a jog back to the change tent. Was great to see Coach and smiled because I was feeling good. I actually wanted to run through transition cause I could. Volunteer had my bag, grabbed and changed. Great change tent volunteer. She was a bit thrown when she asked if I needed vaseline and I said yes and raised my arms. I knew they were chaffed but I couldn't see it. She said, oh, you want me to put in on? No one has asked me to do that. Ooops. At least it was my arms. Changed shorts, shoes, knee compression, more sunscreen. Out on the run. I was feeling good. No pepto needed!

Run 4:40:37

Came out, ran into Coach. Totally should have walked and chatted. Looking back I feel bad for making him jog with me. I was supposed to slow down anyway. Felt good to have someone to tell that I was feeling good! Words of encouragement are always uplifting and a good reminder to slow down. On that first mile I had to keep telling myself to slow down. Opted not to take anything in on the first water stop since my stomach was feeling good and I wanted to keep it that way. Made one portojohn stop at the park, but that was my only stop on the run. Was watching my HR and kept it under 150, pace was comfortable, walked briefly at every other water stop for the first loop. Took water and ice at each stop, put ice in the bra to snack on, took chews at every third stop. Mile 7, legs were beginning to hint at cramping, so I took some base salt. It was amazing to run and not feel like I was going to vomit. Got a boost when I saw Frances from the finish line as I was starting loop 2.The little things. I was looking forward to seeing Coach at loop 2 to tell him I hadn’t walked yet outside a water stop. Didn't see him, but probably for the best cause now I needed to make another loop to tell him the next time I saw him. Was getting tired, told myself no walking until 13. Made it to 13, told myself, make the second loop. Thought I might see Dave as he was finishing his third loop and I was finishing my second, but I didn't see him. Got to see Frances again. On my third loop it was crazy that I was the only one running. It kept me moving. Nice and steady. At mile 19 I was really tired and all of a sudden I was walking. I knew I could PR as long as the wheels didn't come off. I was doing the math in my head and I think that it was allowed me to walk a bit. I pulled it back together and kept going. Met a couple people who were on their third loop and we would go back and forth a bit. I couldn't believe my stomach was still cooperating. I took in about 70 calories every 30 minutes or so. My stomach was cooperating and my energy level did not feel like it was going down. Added some coke over the last few aide stations. No consistent salt, but felt like I got enough in because I didn't wipe out at the finish line when I raised my arms.

Total race time: 12:16:07

I am over the moon with this race and this time. I am most proud of how I kept it together all day. I never had the "this sport is BS" moment. Don't get me wrong, there were moments that were not great, but I kept my focus and plan together. It was really one step at a time. I knew I put the work in and trusted that I could go after what I wanted to accomplish. My leg was bothering me all day but because I had pushed it in training I knew the difference between just enough and too much that it is going to go out. It was pretty cool to rely on myself.

Overall, I really enjoyed Ironman Texas. The headwind on the bike was worth the lower temperatures on the run for sure. Now I have to get my leg healthy and figure out what is next for the rest of the season!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Boston Marathon Race Report: Daniel Mikula

Daniel Mikula (Pennsylvania) is fast, a father of 5, and the newest addition to the Triple Threat Triathlon national team. Here is his report from the most famous marathon in the world.

At the risk of losing readers I will do my best to summarize the year leading up to my first (yes I plan to make it to Hopkinton again) Boston Marathon. While I will never admit there is any truth to this, I have been told that I am not as young as I once was. Clearly, my body started to listen to all of this drivel and I took advantage of the two for one special they were running at Hershey Orthopedic…sort of like Wal Mart but the special was on surgeries. They cleaned up a torn labrum in my left hip and did some work on the meniscus on the same leg. Needless to say, there was a long road ahead of me before I could toe the line in Hopkinton.

Fast forward through months of PT and a slow return to training and I found myself just a few short months from Patriots Day finally putting together some solid longer runs, never feeling quite 100% but certainly optimistic that I was on the right track. Then It snowed! One of my favorite things to do is run in the snow, a survival skill I developed growing up in Michigan and that I tap into from time to time living in Central PA. Once again, what I like isn’t necessarily what my body likes and I wound up with a deep calf strain, sidelined by my Physical Therapist for three weeks. Not what I needed to hear as I kept turning pages on my calendar. Back to training and I was doing great…until two weeks before the race when I tweaked the same knee that I had fixed a year earlier. I promptly sought my surgeon’s advice and was promptly told not to run Boston…yeah….right! I spent the last two weeks prepping for Boston running in a pool and on the elliptical, doing anything I could to maintain fitness without aggravating the knee. I know what you are thinking…where is the race report? Well, now that you know that I was feeling undertrained, let me tell you about the good stuff…Race weekend!

I was feeling better and we made the 7 hour drive to Boston the Friday before the race. My family and I (all 7 of us) checked in to the Hyatt Cambridge (great place to stay…they really take care of their guests) and we made plans to head to the expo Saturday morning so that I could get my bib number and we could spend the rest of the day doing the Boston thing with the kids. The Hotel shuttle was able to get us about a half mile from the convention center and we made our way there. You can probably imagine my surprise when we found a line that would take us well over an hour just to get into the building, so we could stand in the line that snaked around the building…for another hour. Not sure what happened there, but the word on the streets was that this had never been the case. I was finally able to get my bib and gear check bags, but the natives were restless…and for good reason…so we headed back to the hotel. The day was pretty well shot, but we salvaged what we could by hitting the hotel pool on the top floor overlooking Boston. We ordered in and had some delicious pasta while hanging out in the hotel, not having enough energy to venture out into the city after line standing all day.

Sunday was Easter and we were able to celebrate Mass at St. Paul’s in Harvard Square before catching a beautiful Easter brunch back at the hotel. Huge spread, but I was good and ate sparingly, not wanting to risk GI issues the next day. Have you ever had a huge spread of fresh seafood calling your name but knowing you are not going to go there? NOT FUN! The remainder of the day was spent lounging about, trying to stay off my feet as much as I could. Unfortunately, that left my Beautiful wife to handle logistics for 5 kids. Have I told you how much I love you Margaret?! The crew went for a walk along the St Charles River and hit the pool again. Can you tell I feel guilty that I wasn’t confident enough to take them sight seeing? It will be different next time! I spent the evening obsessing about what I needed in my gear check bags and had everything laid out the night before.

5:13…time to roll. Needless to say, it was a restless night. I am pretty sure I ran the race 5 times over throughout the night, but I woke up feeling pretty good all told. The weather was beautiful and there was no need to wear the parka I picked up at the local goodwill store. Our Hotel provided a tour bus to the Boston Commons where we would board school busses to take us out to Hopkinton. Shared a seat with a great guy from Quebec and I am grateful for that as the ride out just seemed to go on forever. I remember at various times thinking to myself that we were driving pretty far and that I was amazed that people would choose to run that far…and then I realized I was one of them. I had to chuckle as we got off the expressway because the State Police was stopping all traffic except for us. At first I felt like we were honored guests heading to the dais but then recalled a scene from one of my favorite films…”Dead Man Walking.” Now I know how the bank robbers from the old west felt as they were being led down the dusty streets to the gallows!

We finally arrived at the High School where the staging areas were set up. The B.A.A did an amazing job organizing things and everything was great. As expected, the port-o-john lines were ridiculous, but I heeded some advice I had read and waited until we were being staged towards the actual start line. There is a whole other bank of toilets on the way and the lines were much more manageable. Took care of what needed to be taken care of and it was time to get into my corral. After walking a couple of blocks, I found myself nestled in with my partners in crime and we anxiously awaited our turn. I am pretty sure I heard some mooing and the nervous stomping of hooves before the gates were opened until it started as a shuffle and then we moved in unison as one organism into a slow jog, and then it happened…I was running the Boston Marathon.

I am not one to be glued to my watch, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overcooking it for the first few miles as runners apparently have a tendency to do that with the perfect storm of excitement and the slight downhill run. I was slightly up on my pace so I dialed it back a tad and found myself running the race I wanted to run. I felt great and found myself amongst a pack that was holding a similar pace so I settled in and just enjoyed the moment. Mile 10 came and that is when the combination of recent injuries and slight undertraining coupled with the hot sun started to make themselves known. Nothing too bad yet, just an inclination that this was not going to be a PR day. I wasn’t prepared to give up the ship yet so I did my thing and stayed on pace. At this point, I felt like I still needed to give myself a chance at my goal time. I maintained my race plan for another 5 miles or so and then realized that I needed to be smart about what I was doing. Runners were literally dropping from the field and I saw some pretty ugly stuff out there as the heat was getting the best of folks. I made the decision (well my body had a big part in this too) to adjust the race plan and I shifted into survival mode. I walked a fair number of the fluid stations, making sure I was hydrated so that I could make it across that line in Boston. I am a known to be a pretty heavy sweater and I knew I was working to take in as much as I was putting out. The weather had moved into the upper 70’s. I am not sure if it made 80’s, but it felt like we were running on the surface of the sun out there.

The rest of the miles were a battle of attrition but I kept the train moving forward and found myself on the streets of Boston with only one quad pounding downhill leading into the final stretch left to run. I summoned all of the courage I had and allowed the amazing energy of the Boston faithful to help me bring it home. I had decided that I would run the middle of the famous blue lines which indicate the last mile of the race and I had some room around me, so I followed that line. I have had some amazing experiences in my life…My wedding (love you babe)…the birth of each of our 5 children (love all of you guys)…my first Ironman finish…but Boston is now in the mix. I have to admit that I was feeling pretty emotional when I crossed that line. I didn’t shed a tear, likely because I had no fluids that my body was willing to sacrifice, but I did take a moment to just soak it all in…and it was good!!!!

The rest was making my way back to the hotel to meet up with the crew, being greeted there by the staff of the Hyatt, and my family cheering as I entered the lobby of the hotel. Pretty good stuff if you ask me. After making our way up to our room, I laid on the bed as my kids unshoed me and placed a big bag of ice on my feet. Man did that feel good! A half hour later, I was up in the pool playing with the kids trying to keep the legs moving so that they didn’t lock up on me. My wife and I went down to the bar for a nice celebratory cocktail and we spent the rest of the night at the post party at Fenway. Not much there for the kids, so that didn’t last too long. We hit the rack early and we were waving goodbye to Boston after having breakfast in Harvard Square. That’s it….until next time!