Round #2 with Ironman

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Posted by: Heather Leiggi 5/24/2014 6:07 AM

My second IM is done and dusted. I am happy to say this one went just a tad bit better. I'm not going to lie…I am also pretty relieved to have it over. The anxiety I had leading up to this race was over the top. I'm used to pre-race nerves by now but this was different. I knew a lot of it had to do with my previous IM experience which, while I had initially just been happy I had finished, I obviously was not happy with finishing somewhere in the bottom of the pro field. A lot had happened leading up to IMFL so I knew I hadn't really given myself a fair shot at success.  But it still left me hesitant about wanting to do another one. However, I knew I couldn't give up after one failed attempt and this year I felt ready for another shot.  I made sure that distractions were at a minimum and I was ready to give myself a real shot this time.  And while my training went much better this time around, my IMFL experience still weighed heavily on my mind. I did my best to deal with it like the professional athlete that I am...ha! I have learned a lot about dealing with expectations and pressures but I am constantly having to re-assess.  There were definitely a lot more chats and email exchanges with my coach and a few more visits to Mitch at Greenepsych.  "Courage over confidence" as Mitch always says and in this case it had never been more appropriate. I didn't have a lot of experience with ironman racing so I had no idea if my preparations had been enough. I knew this was a large and very experienced pro field. My previous race experience was far from stellar.  There was no way I was going into this race with much confidence.  But, I would be brave and courageous and do the best I could on that day.  I would worry about the rest later.  Coach P also gave me a very specific checklist of goals for race day. They were things like get in a pack on the swim, hit your nutrition goals on the bike, etc. This helped get me focused on this things I needed to do during the race and off of the things I couldn't control.  It was just another triathlon after all…I had myself pretty well convinced by race morning. :)

Air temps promised to be on the cooler side for Texas and so were the water temps. Surprisingly it ended up being a wetsuit legal swim. I was a little worried about swimming 2.4miles in my wetsuit. The water was legal but warm and I didn't know how my shoulders were going to feel about swimming 2.4 miles in a wetsuit. Fortunately Zoot makes awesome wetsuits and my shoulders felt great through the whole swim.  The pro field was big at this race and with the men and women starting together, the start was utter chaos... at least that's what it felt like to me.  As I said earlier, my goal for this swim was simple: get on feet and stay there. I had managed to do it at Puerto Rico 70.3 so I felt like I had a good shot at it again.  After getting punched a few times and bumped all over the place, I did actually manage to find some feet and latch on. I had no idea if I was swimming well, where most of the other women were or who I was swimming with but I was happy for the company on the long swim, especially since the sun glare was pretty bad for a lot of the swim!  The last third was down a narrow canal and it was awesome to have spectators lined up cheering us in.  I was pretty tired by this point and I was on the verge of breaking losing my group.  I got dropped off the back a few times but managed to somehow get myself back on.  I was happy to find out post-race that I had swam sub-60min.

I exited the water grabbed my bag, stripped wetsuit, grabbed my bag, stuffed pockets, grabbed my bike and was off.  I was looking forward to the bike since I had heard such good things about it (although I wouldn't have minding if it was a few miles shorter :)). It was a beautiful course, rolling hills through the countryside. My focus for the bike was on my nutrition. Even though I know what I need to take in and usually have a solid nutrition plan, I have a bad habit of taking in less than what I should. I made sure this time to not to let that happen.  I ate and drank my way through the bike and even though cooler temps were promised, it did seem to be heating up quickly.  I played cat and mouse with a few of the women who I came out of the water with and just like the swim, I was happy to have company out on the roads. I felt pretty solid through 80miles and then was pretty much ready to be off my bike. I managed to keep the power up though and came into T2 feeling not too bad.  As anyone who has ever done an IM knows though, the hard part was just beginning.

In my head I thought I was going to feel okay getting off the bike.  My body had a different idea though.  I hobbled out transition and tried to find my legs. My stomach wasn't too happy either. I was immediately passed by a couple super star runners but was too concerned about the state of my body to panic about getting passed. My parents, who saw me come out of T2, later told me they were worried my race was over...guess I looked as bad as I felt!  Fortunately, after a few miles things did come around. The run is 3 loops and by the end of the first loop I had found a rhythm and was feeling about as good as I could expect to. The 3 loop run course was a blast with tons of spectators and some of the craziest fans I have ever experienced.  That last loop seemed to get twice as long but finally the finish line came into sight. I had no idea what place I was in or what kind of time I had run. This race had been about executing my plan and getting to the finish line and that's what I did. In the end, I was 11th and went 40min faster than IMFL.  A much better day for sure.  We'll see, maybe there will be another IM in my future.  I do get to eat tasty ironman cakes after all!

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