Ironman Texas 2016

A very raw report of the race – a few bad words (you’ve been warned) and not poetically written – just my brain on paper after 123 miles ūüôā

To set the stage for this race – IM didn’t have a bike course until ~a few weeks¬†before the race…and that course got flooded out by rain in Houston. ¬†IM miraculously still managed to put together yet another course but it¬†was only 94 miles (rather than 112). ¬†THEN the lake we were to swim in failed to meet quality standards (raise yer hand if yer thinking what I’m thinking about ‘Texas quality standards’…) – so they had to alter the swim course (we still swam in the same lake….see run report for details on how that worked out¬†#poopyerpants). ¬†The altered swim course meant we added another mile back to the bike – so now at 95 miles! ¬†All was well and good – until the hail storm on the run which forced them to (kind of) temporarily shut down the course….some of us kept running (there’s nothing temporary about stopping w/ 4 miles left in an IM #permanent #wheresthebeer).

ok – before i forget – thoughts in most basic form (punctuation not included):

leading up to the race i was actually pretty relaxed – i started to get nervous going to bed the night before and the morning of ….and then as we lined up for the swim i was about to come unhinged ūüôā

i had no idea what to expect from myself on this – hoping i was under 1:02 and figured if i could navigate well i’d be able to go under an hour. ¬†i don’t wear a garmin when i swim, but i’m certain i cut off time by swimming inside the buoys out of the crowds.
note to self: people lie about their swim times.  Some guy looked like the before picture in a total immersion video starting w/ the 1 hour group!  i have never punched or kicked people in a swim but i did on this swim. JEEZE.
transition 1 –
betty helper bees were swarming but nothing compared to the tea party in T2! ¬†honestly – they were great but it’s really hard to focus w/ so many people asking you questions and handing you stuff – and all your sh*t you’ve put in a certain order now spread out all over. ¬†next time i think i’ll just go in my corner and try to avoid the help.
bike –
well the first thing was that my HR monitor didn’t work the whole day.
Then i pulled my bike off the rack and the saddle was nose down – i didn’t realize how bad it was but after ~ 45 minutes before i decided there was no freaking way that would work (my arms were burning like hell b/c i was holding my body up! and i had to keep sliding myself back on the saddle). ¬†by the grace of baby gumby¬†himself i passed the bike tool guy on the road – i never saw him again that entire day – he fixed my saddle…not quite right the first time so i took off and had to turn back around – but the second time he got – i kind of can’t believe how lucky i got w/ that.
my legs felt good – and i didn’t have any of the cramping stuff that i had at the start of the biek during my 70.3s. ¬†and my hip never hurt on bike or run!! …this might be due to the iburpofen i took in the days leading up? ¬†which might have also made me shit my pants in the run – but i’ve taken ibuprofen SO many times before and NEVER had ANY problem. And i did NOT take it the day of the race. more on this to come.
i wasn’t sure what to expect w/ power – i was aiming for 165 – 180 but i noticed i was averaging over 20 mph w/ holding 160 power – and i felt like my legs were working as hard as they should be for an IM ride (honestly i was worried they were working too hard).¬† I just uploaded it though and my average was 150. ¬† I knew my power was low (i thought it was about 160 – no idea it was 150) – but i was consistently passing 10 miles in under 30 minutes – so i knew i was holding ~20 mph.¬† I thought about needing to pick it up to come even close to the power goal (and i didn’t have HR so no effort gage there) – but I thought 1. my legs are working hard. 2. i’m consistently over 20 mph for nearly 100 miles – over 20 was my reach goal (for me….i know [my coach]¬†thought i could do over 21 mph but yikes) so I was going about where I was hoping….given how my legs felt i didn’t think i could bump it up another 10 watts much less 30.
Plus, i was worried if i pushed it too much i’d crash at the end of the ride – BUT: ¬†i felt stronger in the last hour of the bike than at any other point. yea!
nutrition: i didn’t realize anything was wrong at this point – i thought it was a little weird i wasn’t as hungry as i usually am on the bike – i really had to force myself to eat but it didn’t set off any alarms….
irrelevant side note:
there was this navy dude on his bike in the last ~5 miles that i passed and as i passed him he was like – “uh, hey do i have a flat? (I was thinking there’s no way you’d be asking me to slow down and check for your flat if i was a guy….and then i realized he was doing that b/c he was being passed by a girl so thought something must be wrong – or at least he wanted to make me thing the only reason i was passing him is b/c he had a flat….well if that didn’t get me going).¬† The best was when he sprinted past me on a hill at mile ~93 STANDING UP – (ps we have a marathon next)….unfortunately for him i flew by him on the downhill and headed in.¬† We got off our bikes at the same time and he sprinted past me in the transition yelling at spectators for smoking during his IM and yelling at the rest of the athletes for running on the pavement and not the grass and how we needed to save our feet…..i thought he was kidding and actually started to laugh and smile at him but he was NOT kidding and he was most definitely NOT smiling. ¬†needless to say i ran past him at mile 3 – walking.
grandmas tea party. ¬†how can you say mean things about such nice people – but next time i’m flying solo.¬† That night i found my missing salt and tylenol that they couldn’t find (i even looked in the trash for it) in the bottom of my transition bag. thus my transition time looks like i took a nap in there.
a shit storm on so many levels. ¬†so i actually felt as descent as i would expect to feel for an IM run.¬† The shits were awful – and the stops added to my time (id’ guess 15+ minutes maybe?) but in terms of my actual pace, i don’t know that i would have run much faster.¬† I feel like 8:45 – 9:15 is a pretty realistic pace for me – the 8:30 is probably a hair faster than what i’d hold for an entire IM 26.2 – i was hoping for sub 4 and had the shits not happened, i think i’d have done that.¬† All in all i’m happy w/ my run – and if one has to have the shits for the duration of 26.2 miles at least they were the sort where i could keep running – oddly stomach cramping was fairly minimal – so i could just deal w/ the episodes and carry on. (sorry Houston for crapping in your arboretum! ¬†your shrubs should grow like magic ūüôā
the hail storm¬†was a mess – no aid stations for the last 4 miles (which honestly was maybe a blessing b/c every time i put something in my mouth it made me crap – but i was also afraid NOT to eat anything….so at least w/ the aid stations gone i didn’t have to eat :). ¬†the rain cooled things off – it was kind of fun running in the thunderstorm. ¬†a great distraction.¬† It might have messed w/ my pace a little at times – b/c i had to keep myself moving despite everyone around me stopping and not being sure my time would count. ¬†it was just kind of weird. However, any disruption to my pace i have to believe was negated by the cooling effects of the rain. ¬†really no complaints about the thunderstorm ūüôā
out of transition i carried a 24 oz bottle of osmo Рand had another 24 oz in my special needs Рthose were like gold.  heavy to carry but i think really important.
no HR and auto pause was on on my 910 and i just couldn’t pull it together to get the settings changed. ¬†it was like a little buzz alarm for my shits.¬† BUZZZZ *shit* BUZZZ. ¬†….however, i just uploaded my 910 and it shows a 4:08 marathon (same as my race time) so i dont’ know – maybe the auto pause wasn’t working.¬† It was just buzzing all day to celebrate. who knows.
overall i’m happy – esp w/ my swim and bike. ¬†obviously it would have been better to have 112 miles on a non 81 turn course and to not have epic GI issues – but aside from that, it was a great day.
one last irrelevant note:
casey (my hubs) was literally getting hypothermia after the race b/c he stood there in that rain waiting for me – to make a long story short, we were trying asap to get him back to the hotel for a warm shower (i don’t need to tell you getting from the race finish to the car w/ a hypothermic IM finisher in the rain was not a fast process – thank god for todd/ jennifer/jenne/steve) – anyway we FINALLY pull into the hotel and i had to get a key from the front desk b/c mine was in my morning clothes bag still at the race site – i walk in and the woman at the front desk (mind you im standing soaking wet in a space blanket looking like hell and most likely with shit in my pants) started telling me about how her chihuahua¬†just ate a lithium battery – it happened when the bowl of tootsie rolls got knocked off ….can’t afford the vet ….on the phone with the $50 ask a vet….what did i think she should do?
at that point i was just like is this really happening – is this woman seriously talking to me about her chihuahua eating tootsie rolls and lithium batteries while im shit staining her lobby carpet??? …. at that point it all started to become hysterical – i had to turn around and walk out b/c i was going to come completely unglued – i was laughing so hard by the time i got to the car i was crying – and this poor woman’s dog was probably dying!!!!!! OMG!

what a freaking day!


Recovery – what it is & why it’s important

Given that we’ve had a big month of racing, I thought it important to review what it means to recover and why it’s important. ¬†This is especially relevant as many of us come off big races ¬†– the inclination for many is to try to “hold on” to the fitness we’ve built in preparation for our A race. ¬†Not only do we become antsy about loosing fitness, but our bodies, which are used to a lot of exercise, feel “off” as we pull away from such intense training. ¬†We like how we feel when we are super fit and loosing this can become annoying at best and a mind game at worst.
Recovery is just as important as the training you do. ¬†Rest is NECESSARY – and mandatory. ¬†It is not being “lazy”.
What is recovery & why is it important
Stress vs Recovery are key factors in training. ¬†Stress = training. ¬†Recovery = Rest. ¬†You have to stress your body in order to stimulate adaptation (aka get stronger). ¬† Once you’ve stressed your body, however, it is the recovery period following the workout that allows your body to repair and rebuild. ¬†Every athlete is different in how much training vs recovery they need to get better.
Recovery happens at different times – daily (sleeping), weekly (an easy day or an off day), annually (Fall months for most of us)….
Fatigue is cumulative – if you don’t recover the way you should, eventually it WILL catch up with you either in the form of burn out or injury or both. ¬†It’s NOT pretty when this happens.
Not everyone needs the same amount of recovery – Just b/c your friend doesn’t need a rest day, does NOT mean you don’t…..or vise versa – when your friend is eating bon bons and watching 90210 on the couch, this doesn’t mean you should ūüėČ ¬†Figuring out how much recovery you need is a process that takes time – the longer you do this stuff, the more you learn to recognize your body’s needs.
The amount and type of recovery you need changes as you evolve as an athlete. ¬†Stress vs rest – as your body adapts to the “stress” of training for endurance sports, you will be able recover faster – you can take less rest and add in more and / or harder training sessions.
Recovery is mental and physical.  Mental burnout is JUST as real and just as harmful as physical injury.
Recovery is when your body gets stronger¬†– believe it or not, it’s not during the hard workouts that your body gains the strength but in the recovery after.
While recovering during “in-season” may be a light day or a day off, during the “off season” (usually Fall) it’s a time to shift the kind of training you do. ¬†Use this time to work on your weaknesses (swimming? heart rate? running?) and to do strength training. ¬†You want to stay moving during this time – and to be intentional about what you’re working on – but you also want to give your mind and body a break from your usual training routine.
This is important for longevity in the sport and for improving each year without getting hurt!!

Fabric of Grit

One of the things I love most about triathlon is how raw it makes us when we really get down to the nitty gritty of training and racing.¬† The older we get, the easier it is to become complacent – we have to seek out new challenges and ways to grow.¬† We have to make the decision to be UNCOMFORTABLE.¬† One athlete I know calls this Type 2 Fun: fun when it’s done.¬† As kids we are forced into challenges as part of growing up – but as adults we become aware of how uncomfortable uncomfortable actually is and quite aware we have the power of CHOICE – so why the heck do we do this stuff much less PAY for it?!
The answer is in the doing – and you all know the answer and know it can’t be explained to someone who doesn’t get it.¬† You know the answer is always earned, never given.¬† It can’t be bought.¬† It can never be taken away.¬† It’s about way more than a healthy heart or a finish time.¬† Those moments of triumph – be it when you gut out a workout at 8 PM by yourself or cross a packed finish line – fuel the soul with fight.¬† They become the fabric of your grit.
Triathlon presents a rare¬†opportunity¬†to not only to experience personal triumph¬†and strengthen personal resolve but let us not forget¬†the bigger picture. ¬†Though this is an individual sport in many ways, never underestimate the impact of your doing on those around you. ¬†If he/she can do it, so can I is a powerful notion to inspire in a friend or spectator. ¬†It most definitely can be life changing. ¬†When you’re out there, think BIG, think¬†BOLD, ¬†and when it gets tough, think EVEN BIGGER; ¬†you never¬†know who you’re inspiring in that moment.¬† ¬†Triathlon is about way more than triathlon – keep on with your bad selves – build grit, inspire grit (and take no s**t! eik)

For a good swim kick you need to be able to point your toes. This requires ankle flexibility.

A lot of you have heard me say your kick can’t “make your swim stroke but it can break it”. ¬†What this means is if you DO have a functional kick it won’t be your primary source of power for a triathlon swim (kicking takes a lot of energy and will make your heart and breath rate go UP. ¬†Instead, you need¬†a good body position and a strong pull as your primary mover). However, if you have a non-functional kick, it can really mess up the rest of your stroke. ¬†…..your reward for developing a good triathlon-swim kick isn’t necessarily massive propulsion but it is definitely less drag. ¬†Less drag = faster &¬†less work. My point? Part of a good kick is ankle flexibility – which a lot of us don’t have (runners particularly). ¬†Specifically, you need to be able to POINT YOUR TOES. Here is a good video about how to work on that – an easy thing to work on in and out of season and although it may be slow to come around, it will make a huge difference in your kick.

toepoint-637-1 dorsiflexedswimmer

Alter G (antigravity) Treadmill

Sport, Spine physical therapy got an Alter G treadmill last week!  Anti gravity Рthis magical device allows people to run with anywhere from roughly 10-80% of their body weight supported.

New Alter G Treadmill at Sport, Spine

New Alter G Treadmill at Sport, Spine Physical Therapy


¬†Shorts you use to zip into the treadmill – they come in all¬†sizes…can be¬†borrowed or bought¬†for ~ $100 – less than some bike shorts.


Locked and Loaded! The Alter G calibrates with each user to get an accurate read on body weight (don’t worry, it doesn’t display the lb). Then you adjusted 1 % at a time to provide the support desired. If you weight 200 lbs and set it for 50% – you’re body would only have to support 100 lbs. while running.

These treadmills are fantastic for injury prevention, rehab and improved performance. ¬†Being able to walk/run¬†without having to support your entire body weight can help people start moving sooner after surgery or when rehabbing an injury. ¬†For runners they’re a great way to get in miles and intensity without the pounding on the joints. ¬†The month of July Sport, Spine will¬†be letting people come in and give them a try – best way to find out about this is to find Sport, Spine PT on facebook where do their promos or contact at¬†

Swim angst isn’t a fitness issue nor an “ability” issue. Prepare accordingly.

The month of May, for many of you, will mean your first tri of the year.¬† A review of the swim – what to expect and how to prepare is in order. ¬†The start of the swim can have a lot of angst around it – the important thing to note about this is THIS IS NOT A FITNESS ISSUES.¬† This is also NOT an “ability to swim issue”.¬† Furthermore, the angst happens whether you’ve been swimming for your entire life or you have just learned to swim. ¬†Your body is reacting to the start of a race and all that goes w/ that – general race angst / hype, needing to get warmed up, dealing w/ lots of people in a small space in the water, open water, COLD…the list goes on and on.
The best thing you can do for both your swim and the rest of your race is to plan for this – how?
I highly recommend mentally separating out the first 500 – 1000 meters of any race swim from the rest of the swim.¬† Give yourself that time to get oriented – and get warmed up. ¬†Let that first part of the swim be what it is – and do NOT let it set the tone for the rest of your race.¬† Get situated in the water and then decide it’s go time.
Practice this in the pool – do a 500 or 1000 ‘get in and swim’ set where you jump in and just have to swim. ¬†You can even turn around before the walls to simulate open water more accurately. ¬†If loosing your breath is something that unnerves you, practice restricted breathing sets. ¬†Of course use common sense w/ this – but taking a breath or 2 less per 25 is enough to start introducing that feeling of being out of breath. ¬†Not only will this improve your lung capacity but just as important it will help you get used to what being out of breath feels like – and then it’s not so scary.
Set yourself up for success with a plan that you practice practice practice.
This will be especially true and necessary for the KC Tri Рthe water will be cold Рand this can take your breath away.  You MUST work through this first and collect your breath before your can swim successfully.  Plan for this!!!  If you need help ASK ME!  please!!

How Heart Rate relates to what your body uses for fuel

The heart rate conversation is multifaceted – but one part of this conversation has to to with what your body uses as fuel and how this relates to heart rate. ¬†Your body uses primarily fat and carbohydrates as fuel when you’re exercising.¬† At a low heart rate (think zone 1 and 2) your body will use more fat for fuel. The more intensity you add the more carbohydrates you start to use.
Why does this matter?
It matters because your body can use fat as fuel without causing “the burn” we all associate with hitting “the wall” when we exercise. ¬†“The burn” happens a result of using carbohydrates for fuel.¬† To be clear ¬†– we certainly can (and do) use carbohydrates for a while with no burn – at some point, however, we start to fatigue.¬† Teaching our bodies to use fat for fuel (by training at lower heart rates), is one way to help delay “the burn” we get by using carbohydrates.
You have to teach your body to burn fat – thus part of the reason for low heart rate running / training.