Tuesday, July 8, 2014

BIG NEWS & Ironman 70.3 St. George Race Recap

This is long overdue, but I didn't have much to say between when I found out and now without letting the cat out of the bag!

So I am writing this a few days after Ironman 70.3 St. George so everything is fresh in my mind, but by the time you are reading it, it will be June or July!

This race was very unique, and a challenge in a whole new way for one very big reason...I had some company for the race...


Before I recap the race a little update.  The 1st trimester is over, that was an adventure trying to train around the insane fatigue and nausea.  I've slowed down a lot, my MAF pace is about 2 minutes/mile slower than it was a few months ago, my heart is busy pumping away the extra blood volume and making sure baby is taken care of.  I tell ya 25 hour training weeks have nothing on pregnancy fatigue, that was out of this world!  I'm back into a training schedule these days, but its all aerobic work but some very short bits of intensity or ME work, I'm still able to do a fair bit especially now that most of the symptoms are gone and I'm not really showing yet.  My doc has been monitoring my blood work and cleared me to do as much as feels good, and right now I'm feeling great, but I have my trusty coach Lucho to keep me in check, and I will be working with him throughout the pregnancy.  Some interesting results from my blood work, I was really curious to see what it would look like as I was consistently doing more volume and intensity than I had ever done before (even in the peak weeks for Ironman) at elevation for a few months.  I felt like my body was absorbing the work, but it was cool to see the 1st results from the blood work right when I found out I was pregnant, everything was right where it needed to be, thyroid, iron levels, and it turns out this elevation works my hematocrit was sitting at 46.  Cool to see that my body was absorbing the work, and I was in perfect health to be home to a growing baby even though I had been piling on the Ironman training load.

Ok Back to the race:

So needless to say my racing strategy had to change a bit for this one.  We had started trying to start a family after Ironman Kalmar last year, and thats why my race season has been so last minute and I haven't been able to confirm much, I didn't know if I would be racing much this season.  Even though I wanted another shot at that Kona spot being 14 minutes off qualifying last year I didn't sign up for an Ironman.  I did plan on doing Challenge Atlantic City and had been training hard for that, but that was something I knew I could sign up for later in the season instead of Ironman where you usually have to commit a year in advance.  

Well funny enough about a month ago it still hadn't happened so I decided to throw a big race on the calendar, I couldn't keep waiting around and doing everything last minute so March 23rd I signed up for Ironman Canada...April 6th I got pregnant :)  

Ok back to Ironman St. George, I found out I was pregnant two weeks before St. George.  I'll admit it was a shock after trying for a while, and my head was instantly filled with happiness, worry, excitement and questions.  So I did what I always do and started trying to learn everything I can, especially about exercise and pregnancy, and started trying to decipher the American Health Care system to find a doctor.  Next call...coach Lucho.  First I told my husband, then my mom, then Lucho :p.  I wanted to hold off telling people until the 1st trimester when things are more likely to proceed all of the way through to a healthy birth, but I couldn't follow a 20+ hour training schedule, things were going to have to change!  "Soooo I have some big news" (after skipping 2 or 3 days of training which is unusual for me) "Are you pregnant??" "YES!!!" is pretty much how the conversation went, I swear he was almost as excited as I was :D.  

This is where it pays off to have an experienced coach, he has worked with pregnant athletes before, is a dad so has an idea of what his wife went through and had suggestions of resources and people to talk to.  So we talked a lot about the race and his opinion was to talk to my doctor, but with the last few big training weeks hitting well above 20 hours a 70.3 wouldn't be a huge stress to my body with the caveat that I don't race it like I usually would, with strict HR guidelines to hold me back.  So I talked with my doctor, and after dissecting my history and training the last few months, along with very positive blood test results, she gave me the go ahead with a number of guidelines around listening to my body, HR and feel.  The last question she asked before giving me the go ahead was can I hold back my competitive nature and put the baby first.  Priorities changed the instant I found out I was pregnant, I knew I could put my urge to win aside for the health of this little blueberry on board.

The race went pretty good, I was nervous with forecasts of 95 degrees race day, I knew I would have to keep it pretty comfortable effort to keep from cooking the baby!  

The Swim: 
Panic Attack! Crap, I stopped having these in the back end of last year once I got more comfortable in open water but turns out after 6 months of no open water swimming or wetsuit it returned, I'm sure it will go away with a few more open water swims...hopefully.  The buoys were easy to see and follow, still I managed to do some extra distance, I definitely need to work on sighting and going where I sight!  I probably went easier than I needed to but the freak out in the beginning had me cautious.

The Bike:
Here is where I realised how hard this was going to be.  It wasn't the heat, the bike course was tough but mild compared to some of the riding I had been doing in Colorado, the canyon was solid but nothing that had me too worried.  The hard part was letting my competition go by!!!  I was sitting at lower watts than I raced Ironman last year, my legs felt great like we were just cruising along, but I had to hold back and keep my HR from getting too high and it was busy pumping all of the extra blood my body was making for baby.  In racing I have this seek and destroy attitude, I come out of the swim down and the fun starts I get to chase down the competition getting a little boost from everyone I pass.  I was in phenomenal shape so I still did some passing but had to let people go when they passed me.

The Run:
Well legs were fresh! The run starts with a 3 mile uphill, which sucks in the beginning but that means the finish line is downhill, and I LOVE running downhill.  Lots of practise in Scotland running hard downhill at the end of long runs my legs can handle it without destroying my quads.  This was a beast of a run course, hilly and hot.  Hills on the bike I can do, hills on the run are my weakness.  There was no flat, no chance to get into a rhythm and again had to keep HR and effort in check.  Again I spent most of the time fighting the urge to go after people who passed me! 

The Finish - 5:31
Ok this was bizarre, usually at the finish line of a 70.3 I am dying, I look like I could collapse at any second totally wasted.  Well this time I cruised across, got my medal and water, and well felt fine.  It sucked :p 

I am so in love with this course though, it was tough but stunning.  I definitely want to come back and give it another crack!

While so drastically different racing experience, it will be very cool to tell this little blueberry about his or her racing resume with mommy.  It was hard not pushing to my potential, but at the same time I kept smiling to myself thinking about this shared experience and the new adventures that are ahead.  I have lots to catch up on, 2 weeks ago I went to Philadelphia to race TriRock Philly my first Olympic Distance and then to Atlantic City for the Team MaccaX camp and to cheer on my team mates doing the race :)

Stunning course!

Terenzo Bozzone

Andy Potts

Scoping out the finish line pre-race

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