Friday, August 31, 2012

IM Louisville Swim Report

To back up a little, before making my leap of faith into the water, I stopped for just a moment and started my watch. I didn't want the mistake of hitting the wrong button on it and not have my total time. Once I saw the timer running, I jumped.
The water felt warm, but not too warm. I think they said it was around 85 degrees. Because it was not a mass start, it wasn't too crowded and I just started swimming. I did still feel a little panicked at the beginning though, but it didn't matter, I was swimming in an ironman, my first ironman. I was happy.
The course takes you about .7 against the current as you go around Towhead Island. It's very easy to sight during this section because you really can't go anywhere but straight with an island on side of you and boats and the dock on the other. Anyhow, I still kept to the outside and swam closer to the docks.

Once past the island you go to your left to make your way out to the river. It was at this point that as I was turning my head to the right with my strokes, that I saw people defining God. People were walking on water! At least it looked like they were walking on water since my head was level with the water. The water was so shallow by the sandbar that it came up to people's ankles. As tempting as a little break would have been a little less than a mile into the swim, I was not going to stop and water walk. I did not spend all that time in the pool to walk, so I kept on swimming. I was waiting for my hand the hit the ground on one of my strokes, but it never did, so that was a good thing.
Once I turned at the buoy to make the finial home run stretch, I got a big breast stroke kick to my chest. It really hurt and the guys foot got stuck in my tri top and actually pulled my shirt down to my waist. errr. I stopped for just a second, but then kept swimming. During this section of the swim, we were swimming with the rivers current, but I couldn't feel a current at all. At least the water was calm and smooth for the most part besides all the splash we were all making. I swam on the outside again and probably ended up tacking on a little extra to my swim because of this.
The whole time I just remember thinking, that the swim was going by so fast and that I felt good. I tried to draft off people with no luck. But, the sighting was not an issue at all as the entire swim is in a straight line. There was tons of buoys and even if you couldn't spot a bouy, you could just pick a column on one of the bridges. There was two bridges that we went under. When I got to the first bridge, I couldn't believe I was there already. I swam some more and the before I knew it was going under the second bridge.
I began to see Joe's Crab shack (where the swim exit was) and started to get excited. I knew I was getting close. I kept waiting to see bikes in the transition area but I never saw those. As I got closer and closer to the swim exit the water got really crowded. I found myself swimming over people or squeezing in-between people. Some super friendly person grabbed my leg and tried pulling me to swim over top me. Um not. I kicked really hard and got away from them. As I made my final strokes to the steps, I still couldn't believe how fast the swim went by in my mind. I was almost sad it was over, but I was so happy I survived.
Once I made it the steps a volunteer took my hand and helped me up. I walked slowly up the stairs as they were wet and slippery. Then I was greeted by loud cheers from the crowd which made me feel like they were all cheering for me. I must have had a huge smile on my face. 

Swim Time: 1:24:53

I still couldn't believe I swam 2.4 miles. Just over a year ago I couldn't swim two laps in the pool without having to rest and stop. Anyhow, my eyes darted all over the place to find my family. Then I saw them and even bigger smile came across my face! I gave them a wave and let them know I was feeling good.

Then I ran into transition and was handed my bike special needs bag. 

I continued to run to the changing tent, but stopped in the grass right before the tent to put on my shoes, eat a snickers, and have a volunteer sun screen me up. Once all that was done, I ran to my bike, which was luckily on the last rack by the bike out, and was one my way to 112 miles of fun.

T1: 7:14

I saw my family again at this point and another big smile came across my face. I loved seeing them at every point of the race. 

I still couldn't believe one leg of my ironman was already complete. Everything was going so fast. My big worry was the swim, and I knew if I could finish the swim, then I would most likely be able to finish the race if nothing went wrong... 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Getting to the Start line at IM Louisville...

The night of the race, I was strangely calm and feel asleep without any issues. It wasn't until about 2:30-3 that I woke myself up with a knot in my stomach from being so nervous. I tossed and turned and tossed and turned some more. I finally got up and went to the bathroom to vomit. Oh how fun. But as soon as I did, I somehow felt better and went right back to bed.
My alarm went off at 4:45 and I was headed down stairs at 5am. I met my family in the hotel lobby at 5:05 and we all made our way to the great lawn (aka transition area). I put my bottles on my bike and loaded my bento box with my nutrition and capstick. 

I dropped off my special needs bags and proceeded to drop off my garmin and snickers bar in the run and bike bags. I was such a scatter brain that when I made it back up to my rack I realized I forgot my morning clothes bag over by my run/bike bag so I had to go back to get it.
Once all my stuff was ready, I met back up with my family and Victoria and we all headed down to the swim start. The swim is a point to point, so the swim start was about 3/4 of a mile walk. It seemed longer than that though and it was dark out and the paths were not lite up. We found our way to body marking though. This was really happening. I had my sister draw a kitty cat on my shoulder to keep my company the whole race.
After body marking was more walking! The swim line was long! It was lines and lines of people. We walked and walked some more. I thought the end of the line was never going to come. 

We had to of walked at least another mile. As mentioned before the race, IM Louisville's swim is not a mass start. It is time trail start, meaning people jump into the water one by one every 10 seconds or so. The first person gets in the water at 7am and it may take up to about 45 minutes to get everyone in the water. The swim line is first come, first serve. I herd to fist person was in line at 3:45am. I thought the 5:30ish time would put me somewhere in the middle, but I didn't end up getting in the water until 7:30am. Also note that regardless of when you get in the water you still have to finish by midnight, so not every body gets their full 17 hours to finish the IM.
Anyhow, I'm not sure how long we waited in line? But we entertained ourselfs. 
The volunteers were a little nasty and would not let friends and family stand next to their athletes, even if they were not in the way. People were getting yelled at for taking pictures standing next to their athletes. A little silly I thought. I took one anyhow.
Once the cannon went off the line started moving and there was no more time left to be nervous. My big day was here and I was excited. I took a second and gathered myself as I got closer and closer to the ramp. 

I was most nervous about the swim, so I knew if I would make it out of the water alive that I had a good chance of becoming an ironman!
I made my way down the ramp, adjusted my goggles, and before I knew it I was pressing the start button on my watch and jumping into the water.

 Shot this was really happening. My journey to becoming an ironman had began .... 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Race Tracking

Kiwi might be too tired and off sleeping on Sunday to track me...

But, if you are interested in tracking me you can go to the wonderful ironman live website, and then go to the race tracking tab. I'm bib number 241. Everyone knows that this site times out and doesn't always update. So if you don't see if updating hopefully I'm still alive.

Or you can follow me on twitter (skarpers_dc) as Jason will be live tweeting as he spots me out on the course. I'm sure he'll put some stuff on facebook as well.

At any rate, I will be on my way to Louisville tomorrow and will hopefully feel more awake then I do right now.

Happy Wednesday All :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

IM Louisville Plan/Goals

Well... Race Week is finally HERE!
I am pretty much packed and ready to go, but would like to make a couple check lists to ensure I have everything I need.
Heading into the race I really only have two goals: FINISH and well have FUN. Of course the fun part is a wild card, especially on the run leg for me. But I will try to smile and take it all in and enjoy every minute of the race.
Which brings me to my race plan, if I really even have a race plan?
Louisville is unique in that it has a time trial swim start instead of a mass swim start. This means that athletes will be jumping in the water every 10-15 seconds starting at 7am. The last athlete is expected to be in the water by 7:40am. Now, regardless of when you start you still have to finish the race by midnight basically meaning you don't get the full 17 hours if you aren't the first person in the water. With this said, I hear the swim start line starts early and its a free for all. I myself am not sure what I want to do here. I could get up early and stand in line starting at 5am - but that would really just make my long day even longer. So, no I don't think I will be one of the first people in line. I would however like to be somewhere in the middle, so I still have no clue what time I need to line up. I also don't think it will be too big of a deal if I'm near the end of the line either. I'm not too worried about the 2:20 swim cutoff time and I don't think I need the 17 hours, but I guess I also have no clue how my body will feel on Sunday. Maybe I do need all the time I can get? Anyhow, once in the water my goal is the stay calm, find open water, then get into a groove, and just swim easy. There is no point in me trying to swim faster and use up energy that I need for the rest of the day. Time wise, I really have no clue what to expect here? This is will not be a wetsuit legal swim with water temps around 86, so no extra buoyancy. Boo. You swim .7 against the current, then swim the rest of the time with the Ohio river's current. My 2 mile open water swim time was 1:11, but was in choppy water. So I don't know? I guess I will be finished anywhere from 1:15 - 1:30.
Yeah it seems kind of silly to talk about this, but I have finally decided that I will be wearing my tri shorts for the swim and the bike, so I will not be doing an outfit change here. I just got my shorts last week, but they seemed comfy enough on my 40 mile ride, so lets hope that they are comfy enough for a 112 mile ride. I also plan on eating something, not sure what yet? Swimming makes me super hungry and I don't want to be getting on Boomer all light headed and feel defeated before I even start.
My plan is really to spin easy for the first 5 mile miles and get my heart rate back down and get my legs moving. I think the biggest thing on the bike will be to nail my nutrition plan and not let feel bad when I am getting passed by everyone. I am not super fast on the bike and I need to remember to just ride my own race and not worry what other people are doing. My nutrition plan is as follows:
* every 45 minutes = EAT. alternating between honey stinger waffles and chews = about 200 calories give or take. Wash down with water
* every hour = take a salt stick tablet. Wash down with water
* every time my garmin beeps = drink from my areo bottle which will be filled will a GU Brew tablet. Also just drink when I'm thirsty.
* Special needs = I plan on stopping. I will have a PB&J, snickers bar, and a coke waiting for me. I will stuff the PB&J in my jersey and save for later. I will eat my snickers, drink my coke, and use the bathroom while stopped. I think this tiny little break will be good.
Time wise, once again I really don't know? I don't plan on peeing on myself, so if I have to go the bathroom I will have some extra stops in there, but it will be worth it to me. I'm guessing anywhere from 6:30-7:30 hours.
I'm going to keep on my tri top, but am going to change into my favorite running spandex. I will have an extra run tank and sports bra though incase I change my mind and want to change my top as well. At this point I will also put on my hot pink calf compression sleeves.
Oh dear lord. I don't know what to expect here at all? Will be stomach by ok, or will I be throwing up every mile? I really haven't practiced a nutrition plan running either. My stomach is weird and even on my 20 mile run, I only ate a honey stinger waffle at mile 10 and nothing else. It's really going to just be a free for all on the run. Whatever looks good at the aid stations, I will eat. If my stomach hates what I eat, then I will try something else at the next stop. I don't think I will be using my hand held water bottle and will just use the aid stations once again since they are every mile. I will also have salt stick tabs, pepto bismol pills, and advil in my race belt. I will continue to take the salt tabs every hour and the other stuff as needed. My goal is to feel good for the first 13.1 miles. I do plan on walking the aid stations, but I don't want to walk any of the miles in-between on the first half. The second loop, who knows. Maybe I will still feel great or maybe I will feel like hell and half to start walking miles. I guess, if that happens that only thing I can do is too keep a positive attitude and keep my head up high. I am not sure if I will be stopping at my runs special needs bag or not? But I'm going to put an extra pair of running shoes, socks, and grapes in my bag. I'm actually still not sure what pair of shoes I even want to run in? Pace wise....hmmm....I know the first few miles will feel great and I will be so excited to be off Boomer and running on my own two legs. But I know that is not the pace I will be able to run for the entire 26.2 miles in. I will most likely be running closer to a 9:30 - 10:30 minute mile. Maybe finish in the 4:30 - 5:30 hour range?
Soak in everything and run through the finishers chute at 4th street live and enjoy every minute of it. For this is my first ironman and there is only ever one first.
Happy Monday All and good job to everyone who raced over the weekend. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's Almost IMKY Time

It's Friday, which means a week from now I will be in Louisville...
I can't believe how quickly race week has came (even though it's not race week yet). When I registered for this race back in Nov. I thought I was nuts. But I picked out a training plan that fit my needs and went with it. And as I began training my thoughts went from I'm nuts to "hey, this is pretty fun." My training partners and friends have been very supportive and they have helped me along my IM journey and made workouts interesting and fun.

But, not every training session was spent with a workout buddy. There was a lot of lonely days as well when I had my head down and listening to music on my trainer or I was off running on my own thinking how the heck am I going to run 26.2 miles after biking 112. Sure, some days I had to force myself into the water or drag myself out of bed, but who doesn't have those days?
I have second guessed my training plan I don't how many times, then I just learned to trust it. After all, I'm just trying to finish my first ironman, not qualify to Kona. I might have only missed a handful of workouts due to one thing or another, but for the most part I followed the plan to the tea. I'm sure I will wonder if I did enough during the race, but I can only trust that I am ready at this point.
Jason, my M, has been wonderful to me during this training cycle. 

He has dragged his butt out of bed and pretty much went on every bike ride with me. He has cooked me dinner when I'm too tired to function. He has rubbed my feet, calves, etc after my long runs. He was been there every step of the way. No questions asked. I consider myself very lucky to have such a supportive husband and I'm not sure if I could have put myself through 20 hour training weeks without his support. It means to world to me. My family has also been very supportive and I can't wait to see them next weekend! My parents, sister, and brother-in-law will all be there cheering me on. And I know cheering for at an ironman can make for a super long day, so once again I am so thankful to have them there. Then there is also Kiwi. She makes me smile every time I see her even if I'm having a bad day.

As I head into my final taper weekend, I just have an easy 40 mile ride, followed by a 10-15 minute run, followed by brunch with fellow DC TRI Louisville bound peeps. On Sunday, I have an easy hour run.
Yes I am getting excited and nervous all wrapped up into one.
Happy Friday All :) 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dog Days of Summer Sprint Race Report

And now a race report by my wonderful husband :)....

Saturday night I started to freakout for some reason due to my upcoming Sprint tri the next day. Insomnia set in and i was not able to go to sleep till around 12:30 which made getting up at 5 am no fun! Luckily all of my tri stuff was packed so I rolled out of bed at 5 , showered, and was out the door by 5:20. A quick 45 minute drive late we were in Ashburn (about $6 poorer with tolls).

We arrived around 6:15 and I proceed to get my transition area set up. I made sure my bike shoes were loose so i could slip them on and tighten them. I also made sure my socks were turned inside out so i could get them on effortless are the swim. I setup my running shoes behind my bike shoes for easy access and put my helmet and sunglasses on my bike handlebars.

We were corralled to the swimming pool at 6:50 for the playing off the National Anthem and a 7 am start. The swim was in an outdoor 50 meter pool with 2 people starting at a time about 15 seconds apart. You had to share a lane and swim a lap before snaking underneath the lane dividers to continue for 3 more laps (total of a 400 m pool swim). I seated myself correctly and started near the back with an estimated time to finish of 16 minutes. They didn't want you to pass in the lane but instead at the wall. After my third length, I let someone behind me pass at the wall. However, this way a big mistake as he had no swimming form and fought through the water with incorrect head position (always above the water). I had to stop twice mid lane since i had caught up to the guy and he was walking in the water. 13 minutes later i was out of the pool and on my way to T1.

Stretching before I dive in.

About to jump into the pool, oh boy!

About to start back after my third length.

Emerging from the water like the swamp thing.


Here is where i made up some time. The course was 12 miles long consisting of 2 six mile loops along some lightly traveled neighborhood roads and through a housing division. The course started out flat, eventually leading into an uphill which turned into another uphill and finishing with a nice little decent. After crossing the line where I could clip into my bike, I had a few problems getting my shoes into the pedal. However, once I was past that I was chugging along on the bike course passing a bunch of people who had finished the swim before me. I spent the first few miles on the bike getting my heart rate down after my swimming fiasco. I finished the bike in 38:10 (19 mph average).

Running to bike mount line.

Trouble clipping in.

Having fun on the bike.


After having a good bike split, I proceeded out on the run which was an out and back course along a running path. We had to cross under the road twice (through some tunnels) which made for some slight hills, nothing too bad. The run was uneventful for the most part. I kept a 9:22 mile pace and my legs were moving along and not hurting. Only two people passed me on the run (I guess since i started so far back) but no big deal. The second person that passed me (a little past mile 1) was running at a pace a little faster than my own so I decided that i was going to keep up with that person for the rest of the race. By this time I was to the run, the sun started to come out and it was getting hotter. Though this was the case, I managed to finish the run in 29:00.

Running along the path.

More fun on the run!
The finish line is in sight.

Overall Time: 1:25:01


Despite not really doing a whole lot of bricks, I had a pretty good bike to run transition. My goal was to finish under 1:30 which i did, so I was glad about that. My weak part is the obviously the swim. In the offseason, I plan on getting to the pool more often and training so I can swim longer distances without needing breaks. I may also find a coach if it is worth it. I definitely plan on doing more triathlons next year , which means Olympic distances and doing open water swims. Maybe i will go stalk the trifind website.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tues Ramblings

As many of you, may or may not know, I coach gymnastics in addition to my full time job. It has been interesting juggling my full time job, coaching 2 nights a week, and finding time to fit in my ironman training. But I have managed and to be honest is almost has reminded me of my old self when I did gymnastics 16-20 hours a week, went to school, and did homework. I guess it all comes down to time management, and I think I secretly like being busy...

Anyhow, in an effort to get the girls that I coach involved in my race, I asked them if they would be interested in writing me little notes that I could pull out and read during my walk run leg. They were pretty excited about this idea last night and happily made me little notes. I folded them up in a zip lock and will not read them until I'm running in the Louisville heat. I'm hoping these little notes will give me a laugh and lift my spirits up when I'm having a low point on the course. Plus the girls loved the idea of being there for me since they can't come cheer me on.

Other than that, I had a great swim last-night and swam 4000 meters straight (which I think is 2.4 miles?). I really just wanted to double check I could indeed swim the distance since my longest open water swim has only been 2 miles. It took me 1:15 minutes to swim the 4000, but I know this will be no where close to my IM swim time and I'm ok with that.

I could continue to ramble, but I'll go for now.

Happy Tues All :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Weekend Recap: Back to enjoying my workouts

So, last time I checked in, I felt like death.
Well, I took a rest day on Friday and it was great. Of course I didn't get as much sleep as I wanted and panicked because I was still out at dinner with friends at 10:30pm. Way past this grandmas bed time! But regardless I woke up on Sat. morning feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my brick workout.
I am happy to report that I enjoyed myself. Riding my bike was fun and the run afterwards wasn't so bad either. Thank goodness! I was beginning to think there was something wrong with me. It was also nice to be done early in the day. Thank you taper.
Sunday, I woke up bright and early for Jason's first Tri :) I was a little jealous he was racing and I was not, but I got over it and remembered I was there to support him. He did so great and I am so proud of him! There is now two triathletes living in our house :)

What I wasn't so excited about was getting in my 90 minute run after we got home from the tri. After eating lunch and napping I finally got my butt out the door around 2:15. Luckily the weather was pretty nice yesterday and I finished 10 miles right at 90 minutes.
Only two weeks.... getting so excited!
Happy Monday All :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Help someone took my motivation...

As I have mentioned before, I have really had a blast with ironman training. I have looked forward to workouts and enjoyed them... until now...
This week has not been good at all. I have been tired. Beyond tired. My motivation has been zapped and I feel like I'm just going through the motions because they are on my schedule.
I have basically struggled all week to get anything done. The pool...dread it, biking... I hope it rains so I have an excuse not to do it, and running...well I don't know.
My pool and cycling times also seem to be getting slower instead of faster which is frustrating.
Despite feeling like this for a solid week, I have not skipped any of my workouts, until today. This morning my alarm went off at 5:30am and I just turned it off to go back to sleep. I slept till 7 and I'm still tired and I still have to run 10 miles. The funny thing is I have looked forward to this shorter run, but when it came down to it, I just couldn't make myself do it this morning. Which means I will either have to force myself to do after work or run on Sunday after Jason's tri.
What I really want to do is just take a whole day off and do nothing. I mean just lay in bed all day and be lazy.
Yes, I know I sound like a big pile of complaining....
And I don't know even want to think about cycling tomorrow. I only have about 60 miles. This should be easy. It's got to be better than last weeks ride.
Two weeks left. I can do this.
Hope everyone has a good weekend. Happy Friday All :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Three Things Tues ~

1. I have been feeling like death in the water lately, but I had my first good swim in a long time yesterday. I know a couple months ago swimming was my favorite of the three sports, but recently it has dropped to last place. Hopefully, after yesterdays swim I will be more motivated to go to the pool. After all, I only really have one more swim workout with a 4 in front of it.
2. Jason's first tri is this weekend! I am getting really excited for him and I hope he has a blast. To clear up my training schedule so I am off on Sunday, I will be moving my long run to Friday morning before work. The good thing about taper is that my long run is only 10 miles. I am actually excited about this and looking forward to my run. But not as much as I am looking forward to watching my M race. I secretly love being race shipra.
3. I wanted skittles more than anything in the world yesterday. I have had the worst sweet tooth lately. I held off though and didn't get any. And guess what. I woke up this morning wanting skittles. Looks like I'm just going to have to give in and get them at lunch time.
Happy Tues All :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Weekend Recap:

Last weekend was a confidence boosting weekend in Louisville, this past weekend was anything but....
I met up with the regular crew for our Sat ride. My training plan had me down for a 4-5 hour ride which to me means a 5 hour ride since I figure I'm on the slower side. I planed on doing 80 miles.
Just miles into the ride, I felt like crap and couldn't keep up with a single person. My head felt like it was going to explode and I felt dizzy. I'm not sure how long everyone was waiting for me at the BP but I rolled in slowly and was considering just riding back home. But I didn't. I wanted to see how I felt when I made it out to the T. River road was slow for me. I couldn't pedal faster than 13mph. I felt bad for holding up the group because I knew they would be waiting for me at the T, which they were. I let them ride and Jason and I stayed back as the tears started rolling down my checks. I was having a mini pity party for myself. I ate a waffle and had more water as I tried to decide what I wanted to do. I really didn't want to sandbag my last long ride. So after 5 minutes of crying, onto Poolesville we went. Once there, the rest of the group was waiting for us and I had a coke and a snickers bar and everything seemed to magically get better. The rest of the ride was just ok, but I survived. I think the thought of having a milk shake from Jetti's kept me pedaling.
But honestly, I think this was one of my worst rides of my life. I'm not sure what I am going to do if I feel like this come race day. I just hope I will not.
Last 2 hour run! Woot. Met up with my running group and did a decent pace in the humidity. I looked like I had jumped in the water when I was finished. Looking forward to the 10 mile run I have this weekend. Somehow this seems short now.
The rest of the day involved naps, Olympics, and an early dinner at Cava. I was going to swim, but my training plan said it was optional and yesterday I took that as I'm not swimming.
Happy Monday All :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Things just got Real

Bib Numbers are up for IM Louisville. I am lucky number 241. Of course well I don't really know if it's lucky, but I am pretending it is. I can't wait to jump in the water and get this race started! 25 more days!

 Happy Thursday All :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

3.5 weeks left until the big day

I can't believe it. There is only 3.5 weeks left until my very first ironman!
I remember back in Nov. when I signed up for Louisville thinking it was forever in a day away. I was nervous when I signed up and drank myself silly the night of registration because I couldn't believe I actually was going to do an ironman. When I registered I remembering thinking to myself that I was nuts. I had only completed one season of triathlons: 1 sprint, and two oly distance races that were cut short due to weather. So, yeah, basically I had no clue what I was really doing in the sport. But I did know that I loved it and that I love the challenge that it presents. I never thought I would find another sport that I loved and was so passionate about as gymnastics, but I found it. Triathlons.
So far the journey was been wonderful. Sure there has been some hard training days and some days that I just want to stay curled up in bed. But for the most part, I have enjoying training and have had fun. I know, it's not over yet and I still have a few weeks left. I don't know if there is really such a thing as IM tapper, but I suppose I will be on it after this weekend. I have a couple longer rides left and longer runs, but they will feel short compared to what I have been doing.
Happy Wen All :)