Where to begin...it's been a busy few weeks...The plan was Ironman Mont Tremblant and Ironman Chattanooga 5 weeks later. With my somewhat limited ironman experience, I had no idea how my body would respond to racing 2 ironmans 5 weeks apart but it sounded like plenty of time to me...not so much but more on that later. Ironman Mont Tremblant was up first and I was really looking forward to FINALLY getting a chance to race an ironman. I felt like I had spent the whole season training for ironmans and still had not raced one. I got up to Mont Tremblant on Thursday and spent the next few days doing the usual pre-race stuff. I had quite a bit of anxiety about the hills on the bike course. I don't love super hilly bike courses and now that I live in Delaware where there are absolutely NO hills, I was extra concerned with how I would handle them. The run course was hilly too but for some reason I love hilly run courses...But, I had plenty of other things to think about and my coach had assured me the hills looked worse than they were. I spent lots of time going over execution (nutrition, pacing, strategy, etc.). I've raced so many 70.3's that while I am always tweaking things slightly, racing a half feels like second nature. Not so for an ironman. Race morning was foggy and overcast. It made for a nice swim with no sun glare. I swam in a little group and came out of the water in 13th. I did swim a little on the conservative side and felt like I could've swam a little harder...Next time! I headed out on the bike and forced myself to stay under control. No racing the bike like I do in the half...This was made quite a bit easier by the fact that my stomach was acting up. I rarely have stomach issues so not sure what was going on but I was not a happy camper. Luckily after an hour, my stomach calmed down. I immediately started eating and drinking since I wasn't able to get much in in the first hour. From there I actually felt pretty good. I was hitting my numbers and slowly moving myself up through the field. Much to my surprise, the hills were no problem. In the end, I actually really enjoyed the bike course. I came off the bike in 10th and headed out on the run. Ooh, that run was rough! My legs were heavy from the start and just never came around. I was frustrated that I was running so far off my goal pace and honestly wanted to stop so many times. By the time I got halfway through the run, I pulled myself together and realized that while I was feeling absolutely terrible, I was not actually feeling any worse. What I didn't realize was no one was really running very fast. The heat and humidity was taking it's toll for sure. And, in true ironman fashion, patience usually eventually pays off. I managed to catch a few girls in the second half despite my slog of a run and crossed the line in 8th. Overall, a decent race and my best placing in an ironman up to this point. I was still pretty disappointed with my run but I was happy to have moved my way up throughout the race. Something to work on for next time.
Up next was Ironman Chattanooga which is one of my favorite race courses. I went on to 5 weeks of my worse training ever. Way too many failed sessions, unfinished workouts and A LOT of tears. I pulled out of IMCHAT several times in my head. My coach did his best to keep me reassured. The training between IMMT and IMCHAT was not that important-all the prep work had been done prior to IMMT. In the end, my desire to race another ironman and my curiosity over whether I really would feel ok on race day won out. As you can imagine, there were a lot of doubts going into race day. It was another big field of women so I was expecting lots of action out on the course. My swim was less than stellar. It was a fast downstream swim but seem to take forever. Despite my determination to swim this more aggressive than IMMT, I just lacked any pep. I tried to grab feet multiple times but just couldn't seem to get moving. This caused me quite a bit of concern (especially given what my last few weeks had looked like) but thankfully once I got on the bike I felt great and didn't dwell on my swim. My goal was to drink as much as I could, especially early on even though the temps were
not too bad. I am a heavy sweater and I think being under hydrated has been one of my limiters. With the big women's field and my not so stellar swim, I had lots of people in front of me to chase down. I had worked my way up from 18th to about 13th with about an hour to go. I was feeling so good and had just decided to step things up slightly for the ride back to T2. 5 minutes later, my front wheel hit something in the road knocking my aerobars out of my hands and down I went. Game over. It all happened so fast and I could not believe my day just ended like that. I was SO lucky to come away from this crash with minimal damage. No head injuries and no broken bones (other than a few possible cracked ribs). Just good old nasty road rash. The rest of the pain came from the disappointment. I was SO bummed I did not get to finish this race. I really wanted another chance. I was actually feeling good and looking forward to another shot at the marathon. A big thanks to my amazing homestay couple that not only helped patch me up when I got home but took me out for a beer to help drown my sorrows!
The good news is I am completely fired up about ironman now and ready for another go. Unfortunately, it's been a long season and the body is in much need of a break. I will just have to be patient and wait until next year for another go.