IronWoman

Celebrating 5 years of Ironman participation


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Ironman Lake Placid: 2013 Race Report

On Sunday, July 28th, I completed my fourth Ironman race.  I finished the 140.6 miles in 13 hours and 31 minutes – my fastest race yet (17 minutes faster than my IM Wisconsin time in 2009 and 27 minutes faster than my 2008 IMLP race).   Overall, the day was nearly perfect – the weather was cool and overcast, the course was full of friends from coast to coast, and my family & friends were there to support me.  But, it wouldn’t be an Ironman without a few challenges to overcome – and this year presented some unexpected ones. 

The Unexpected Emotional Challenge

The week leading up to an Ironman race is typically spent eating, packing, going over your gear list repeatedly, traveling, and enjoying some short (yet intense) taper workouts, and generally obsessing about all things Ironman.  This year, my pre-race prep week took a different focus due to an illness and death in my family.

My original plan was to meet my brother and his family in NYC and drive up to Lake Placid together.  My brother, his wife and two daughters would also be sharing my rental cottage just a block from Mirror Lake (the race start) and we would go explore the region together for a few days after the race.  They were there for my first race in 2008 – and my niece had one of the best phrases a then two year old could say, “What Aunt Sara doing now?”  I couldn’t wait to see my nieces along the course and splash around in Mirror Lake with them after the race.

Unfortunately, my sister-in-law’s mother had been very ill and when her condition took a turn for the worse in mid-July, we quickly changed the plan.  My sister-in-law and younger niece flew to Florida and I flew in to St. Louis to meet my brother and older niece.

I was definitely anxious about the change in plans:  more flights = more dehydration, fewer chances for workouts, less time for work, and no training buddies.  But, I reminded myself, I’ve done this Ironman thing three times already. I know the drill.  I’ve been to Lake Placid many times.  So, without hesitation, I was off to help out my brother for a few days.

From Sunday until Thursday, everything went smoothly.  I found the time (and facilities) for a few final workouts.  I borrowed my parent’s car in Albany to get up to Lake Placid a little earlier and get settled in (grocery, pick up bike, etc).  It’s amazing how quickly the time goes by once you get to an Ironman race site.   Registration, bike pickup, a few short workouts, an athlete briefing…

Unfortunately, we learned Thursday night that things were really not going well for my sister-in-law’s mother.  On Friday morning, she passed away.  My brother and niece left that afternoon to make the journey to Florida for the funeral.  I stayed in Lake Placid, questioning what I should do.  Should I skip the race?  Should I leave just after the race?  Would I be able to make it in time for the funeral? Would it be ok if I did not attend the funeral? Do my brother and sister-in-law need my help over the next few days?  How do I focus on a race?

From Thursday night through Saturday (pre-race) night, I probably slept a total of 12 hours.

Many of my friends were thinking and talking about their expected times on the course, I was thinking about the time it would take to get to Florida and the time you should spend with your family.

I felt a bit exhausted and distracted going in to Sunday morning, and I was reminded by friends (Thanks Mona!) that I had put the effort in during training and gained the strength to get me through race day.

I Know This Feeling

While the days leading up to the race were full of the unexpected, by the time I hit the run course, I faced a new and familiar challenge.  In my last two Ironman races, during the run I found myself so dehydrated that I felt like I had to pee, but there was nothing there.  I wasted a lot of time stopping at port-a-potties and even more time just walking.  Not only is it an uncomfortable feeling during the race, but it can hurt for a few days after and I even had blood in my urine after Ironman Canada.

When this old familiar feeling hit pretty early into the run, I knew what to do this time.

I ran in between each aid station, and at each aid station, I alternated between a combo of coke/water or water/perform-water mix.  The Ironman Perform drink had wreaked havoc on my stomach during the bike, but I knew I needed to push the electrolytes until I could pick up my Cytomax bottle from my special needs bag at Mile 13.

I told a few friends what was going on, and then just tried to ignore it.  The strategy seemed to work!  I definitely paid the price at the end of day and into the next – there was blood in my urine again and my bladder ached.  I almost dreaded going to the bathroom most of Monday.  But, I felt like I beat that old familiar feeling that wore me out at Ironman Canada!

A few other highlights from Race Day:

Swim

  • Loved: The new swim start – we lined up on the beach by estimated finish time, rolling entry into the water.
  • Hated: My sleeveless wetsuit caused some serious chaffing under my right arm.  I started pulling unevenly to compensate…and lost some time.
  • Learned: Swimming 3 days a week is really necessary if I want to ever hit my best time again (1:06)
  • Finish Time: 1:12

Bike

  • Loved:  Cool, overcast day.  And seeing my all the cheering stations from DC Tri Club and Team Z!
  • Hated: Ironman Perform caused stomach cramps.
  • Learned: To push water to clear out Ironman Perform!
  • Finish Time: 6:50 (met my goal of breaking 7 hours!)

Run

  • Loved: It was so fun to see so many friends…had the opportunity to run, walk, hug, and high five Matt, Clay, Daphne, Brandon, Sara, Katya, Katie, Angela, Kevin, Kate, and more!
  • Hated: Feeling like I had to pee constantly.  And, spectators trying to get me to run up the hills.
  • Learned: To ignore the pain and the comfort of walking.  Picked myself up and started running again – and followed my plan to walk the hills  and bust out the last mile along Mirror Lake Drive and through the Olympic Oval to the finish.
  • Finish Time: 5:11

Is there another IM in my future?

I just don’t know right now.

I feel happy with my overall performance.  I met some goals I had set: shortened my transition times, broke 7 hours on the bike and finished in 13:31.  I had a great time with friends and family.  It feels like a good note to end on…

On the other hand, it was a tough week leading up to the race.  I was not as focused as I had hoped to be…and I did give up on the run a little bit.   I know I can break 5 hours on the run.  My bladder hurt so badly though – I was considering icing it after the race!   And, there was blood in my urine after the race (just like in Canada).   I’m not sure this dehydration situation is the healthiest and it might not be worth putting my body through that again.

Ironman #5….we will just have to wait and see!


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PR!

Sara has finished, and with a new PR!! 13:31:31! Congratulations Sara! You are a fourth time Ironman (Ironwoman)!

More later! I’ll leave you all with a few pics of the sunset, and the ever-smiling Sara!

Sunset

Sunset

More sunset

More sunset

Ironwoman!

Ironwoman!

 

Congratulations!!!


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#Latepost

Yes, I hash tagged the title. Inappropriate, I know.

So due to some late updating from IronTrac (ahem), and our attempts to see her out on the run, I haven’t been able to post until now. Sara finished the bike in 6:50:56!!! Awesome! I was able to see her on her run back in on the first loop and she was psyched to hear that.

She’s currently on the second loop of the run. We’re hoping to catch her on her way back through town and set up camp by the finish…

More soon(ish). Likely next update will be the wrap up.


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Halfway through the bike!

Well Sara and friends are just powering through the bike course! I’m happy to report the temperature is idyllic for racing today, and the rain was light and brief. We may see some rain again later, but so far so good.

Sara came through town around 11:05am looking strong and smiling big as always. I wasn’t able to get the best picture of her, but Dan Aukes snapped quite a few great shots as the girls came into town. I cannot take credit for these shots. I had some semi-decent iPhone ones, but these put me to shame.

Sara spots us

Sara spots us

Daphne waves

Daphne waves

Taking the corner

Taking the corner

Sara Hohenshelt heading towards us

Sara Hohenshelt heading towards us

Sara Hohenshelt taking the corner

Sara Hohenshelt taking the corner

Sara taking the corner

Sara taking the corner

Sorry these aren’t exactly in order! Thanks again to Dan for the images!

Sara’s pace on the first 30 miles was 19.65 mph and she completed this in 1:31:37. For the next 26 miles she maintained a pace of 15.10 climbing and had a time of 1:43:20. Nice work Sara! We’ll see you in a few!


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Swim done, onto the bike!

Sara is doing great! We saw her somewhere between 745-750am smiling as usual. She completed the swim in 1:12:26, and spent 8:41 in transition.

One note – the IronTrac and ironman.com’s athlete tracker are both (quite a bit) behind. Bear this in mind if you are watching live.

Hoping to catch Sara on the first bike loop in a few hours! Will try to keep you updated with pics if possible.


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They’re off!

Best-friend Mona here serving as your guest blogger for the day! I’ll be trying to update periodically.

First and foremost let’s talk weather. The weather situation is a bit tentative at best. Forecast calls for rain in the afternoon through the evening. This is starting to remind me of spectating at the 2008 IMLP! I’m still hopeful the rain will hold off. This was the view this morning as Sara was getting marked.

Sunrise over Lake Placid

Sunrise over Lake Placid

That’s about all for now. Sara has shared some of her racing goals with you all, and again I’ll be updating as I can. If I can make one recommendation to any of you tracking more than one athlete – you MUST download IronTrac ($0.99) for the iPhone. You can input several bib numbers and track to your heart’s content.

I will leave you with a few pictures for now.

Snow in Lake Placid... always...

Snow in Lake Placid… always…

The bike transition yesterday

The bike transition yesterday

This morning en route to drop off special needs bag

This morning en route to drop off special needs bag

Sara, Sara and Daphne

Sara, Sara and Daphne

Swim Start

Swim Start

Off they go!

Off they go!

See you all in a few hours! Race strong!

 


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Participating vs. Racing

Typical Conversation with Triathlete Friends:

Me: Are you racing the Monte Rio Olympic?

Tri Friend: “I’m participating!”

Participating vs. Racing – why do we make such a clear distinction?  It’s a signal to whether we feel we’ve trained enough, what our goals are, and how we think we measure up to the competition.  Sometimes a race is just for fun – an excuse to hang out with friends.  Other times, you’ve been training hard and want to push it. For years, I’ve been in the “participating” camp.   Next week at IMLP, I will be racing.

I’m planning to race against myself.  Can I beat the younger, yet rather inexperienced, version of me who participated in the 2008 race?  Have I honed in on that competitive spirit a little more?  Can I hold that edge, and even push it a little more?

I put forth some goals at the start of this training season and asked you to help keep me accountable.  Thanks to a great group of friends (Ironminxes!), I think I’ve done the work on the bike and run.  

So, here’s the comparison to watch on race day – Sunday, July 28th

Sara @IMLP 2008 Sara’s Goals @IMLP 2013
Swim 1:06:00 1:10:00
Bike 7:13:47 6:45:00
Run 5:17:46 4:55:00
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