Archive | August 2012

5 weeks…….2 Ironmans, 3 Countries and 4 States.

It’s been a while since my last blog…..yes I have been slack! The last couple of months have been consumed with training, racing and travelling. I now finally have a bit of downtime, so its blog time! Here’s the lowdown on the past few months…….

At the start of July Clay and I jetted off to Germany, for a race I had heard so much about and was so excited to be going to……Challenge Roth! We were greeted by an amazing host family…..Reiny and Stilla, who treated us like family (they even hosted Clay a German Birthday party!), it was great to live in a German household for the week!

Challenge Roth truely lived up to my expectations! The whole town gets into the triatlon spirit, the race organisers are amazing, helpful, wonderful people who put on a truely unique triathlon experience! Out riding the course in the few days before the race, I understood how this race is renowned to be fast….super smooth roads, and although some hills, there are also some nice flat parts where you can get down into the bars and knuckle it out! Excitement for this race was growing day by day, and by the time race day rolled around I was eager to get going! I woke up feeling tired and heavy legged but didn’t think too much of it!

Transition area was buzzing with excited and nervous athletes and thousands of spectators. A beautiful day was appearing from the darkness, and soon it was start time! The swim is in a narrow canal, an out and back course. I have begun to take pro wave starts for granted, and had forgotten how brutal mass starts are! It was only a couple of hundred people in our start but being in a narrow canal, the first few hundred meters involved lots of elbows, being dunked, swum over top of  and pulled from behind. But once we started to spread out I was able to get into a normal stroke and breathing rhythm! So I now have a re-appreciation for the usual pro starts of 30-50 of us! I exited the water in 55mins, happy and off to a good start!

Roth pre race

Unfortunately that was about as good as it got! The fatigued, heavy legs that I felt that morning on getting up were there again on the bike. I kept positive and told myself I would perk up and feel better, I would, I would…….but at the 100km mark I came to the realization that it was just not my day. The tired, heavy legs remained with me all 180kms! That aside the course itself was AMAZING!!! Riding through beautiful German villages with streets lined with thousands of spectators, cow bells galore, music blasting, “bier gartens” lining the streets, and of course the famous Solarberg hill! WOW, that was totally out of this world! Riding up through a sea of people, who gradually part ways to allow a 2 foot space to ride through, was incredible! The atmosphere was truely amazing! However, with the body not co-operating too well I was on the countdown from km 100, k by k to the finish (its not good when you start counting down mid race!) Despite having a sub optimal ride I remained positive for the marathon ahead.

The run course is a very beautiful course that runs mostly alongside a canal on a dense gravel surface, so it’s not as brutal on the legs as on road running. As per the bike, the legs were still feeling heavy and tired, so I just ticked off the miles as best I could, and enjoyed the atmosphere and running through the cute towns! I crossed the line in 15th place, in a time of 9hr38mins, and I couldn’t help but be disappointed with my performance. On one hand I tried telling myself that 9hr38mins is pretty good for my second ever IM, but on the other hand I knew I had a much better performance in me.

The days following the race, my mind pondered and pondered as to why I felt so low during the race, and suddenly a light went off in my mind as to what went on……

  • Firstly we (Clay and I) flew from LA to Germany just 5 days pre race, which I thought would’ve been enough time to adjust, and although day by day I was feeling better, I still awoke on race day feeling slightly nauseated and out of it. So Lesson 1: allow more time when travelling long haul to races!
  • Second we spent the four days that we had pre race exploring Germany! Each day we were out for the full day walking around the towns, villages and castles, and by the end of the day we got home and were exhausted. Looking back now, it was a stupid thing to be doing in the days leading into an IM race, but I think we were both so excited to be in Europe! Anyway Lesson 2: The rest and taper week is called rest and taper for that exact reason! Do you taper training….and rest! Simple!

So despite a disappointing race, I still had an amazing experience at Challenge Roth! It was a great race to do, and hopefully I will be able to head back next year to redeem myself! The following week after the race was spent exploring Southern Germany and Austria, both beautiful, amazing places! Then we jetted back to LA to get back to work for the next round….IM NYC, just 5 weeks after Roth!

I was a bit nervous with setting my race schedule including 2x ironmans 5 weeks apart, especially seeings these two ironmans would be number 2 and 3! I chose to do these races as they were both races I felt passionate about doing….Roth because I had heard great things about the race, and IM NYC simply because I love NYC! I visited NYC and spent 3 months there as a student 10 years ago and just fell in love with the city. So when I heard there was to be an IM race here, I didn’t hesitate in signing up for it. Coach Siri gave me the confidence in racing so close together, so long as I put more emphasis on recovery after Roth. So recovery it was for 2 weeks after Roth, followed by 2 weeks of training and another taper week into IM NYC.

We (again Clay and I) were lucky to be able to head over to the East Coast 10 days before IM NYC, and be hosted by our friend Kevin just North of the city in his lakeside cottage! So lesson 1 from Roth rectified…travel over and done with well in advance! The lakeside cottage was just perfect! Nice, quiet, relaxing and the lake right on our doorstep ideal for daily swimming. Clay was entertained by the 2 golden retrievers, and me by the Olympics on TV! After our week at the lake, we moved closer to the city, to our host family in New Jersey. Once again, amazing people who welcomed us into their home like family, and made our time in NYC for the IM so much easier!

Swim training buddies at the lake.

This was the inaugural event in NYC, and there was a lot more to think about logistically. We had to take a ferry ride to get to transition at 4am, and again another ferry ride from transition to the swim start. I actually found this really relaxing and a fun and unique way to start the day. We had amazing views out over the city skyline with the George Washington bridge in the background and the sun rising beyond. For me this was a big buzz!

Pre race ferry en route to transition

Pre race ferry en route to transition

My most anxious part of the morning was the swim start. After the ferry ride we were offloaded onto a barge 2.4miles up river from transition, where we were to dive around 4ft off and begin the swim. So there was no swim warm up, which made me a tad nervous and diving 4ft!!….I have never done a dive swim start in my life! And I was concerned about my goggles flying off my face as I hit the water or filling up. So standing on the start line, my nerves were all centered on the first 2seconds of the 9+hr race ahead! Anyhow, gun goes off, a tiny bit of hesitation, then dive, hit the water, goggles still on face, no water! Success! Now onto the actual swim itself! The swim was current assisted, which was a bonus! I exited the water in 45mins, so a 10min PB! I’ll take that! 🙂

Onto the bike, as we exit transition the hills begin! There’s a steepish climb straight away which is continued with a gradual climb for the next few miles out onto the highway where we do two out and back loops. I enjoyed the ride, it was tough, as it’s undulating, so either up or down most of the way, and of course there was a head wind heading back into town which gradually picked up as the day went on. I knew the run course was going to be the make or break of this race, so I ensured I didn’t go too crazy on the bike!  I had a pretty good ride, had a few cramping issues, and went through high and low points, but all in all I was relatively consistent through the ride.

The run……I had previewed the course and ran some of it the previous weekend, so knew exactly how tough it was going to be! The first 16miles to the beginning of the George Washington bridge is all hills! Literally! We start within the Palisades Park in New Jersey, and do two 7 miles loops going up and down, and up and down, then head out, or shall I say, head up towards the George Washington bridge to be faced with….stairs! to go up and down to get onto the bridge. It was hot and very humid, so the conditions combined with the hills made it super tough! I kept saying to myself get through the first 16miles then over the bridge where the rest is flat and ?easy along the New York side. Running over the GW bridge was awesome! Although faced with a head wind, it was so cool to look out upon NYC lining the river. Once over, the easy part never came! The legs were so fatigued from having to deal with so many hills that it just came to a matter of turning the legs over one by one and make it through the final 9 miles. I crossed the line in 6th, in a time of 9hr36mins, so much happier with this performance than the one 5weeks ago! This was by far the toughest and challenging course I have done, but it was a great location and the organizers did a brilliant job of making it all possible!

It was awesome to have coach Siri on the course and super supporter hubby Clay there. The volunteers along the way were all great, it was fun to have my friend Kristin hand me my swim-bike bag and homestay Jennifer helping me in the change tents.

So now a bit of downtime, where we are spending 2 weeks on the East coast. We’ve had the last week relaxing at Cape Cod with friends Dede and Dave and it’s been just great!

Beach time at Cape Cod!

Until next time!

Michelle 🙂

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This entry was posted on August 19, 2012. 2 Comments