I finished Ironman Maryland successfully, and “I AM AN IRONMAN.” It feels great. I broke my reflections into 3 posts. This post will focus completely on the Ironman weekend experience. First, I wanted to highlight what happened since mid-June that got us to the last weekend of September.
I went right back to training after Eagleman in June – there was still a lot of work to do to get ready for a full Ironman, and my trainer Adam needed to take into account that we’d be in Africa for 16 days in August with no access to a pool or bike. I also had two smaller races to go before Ironman – War At The Shore and the NJ Triathlon, which has become our annual ritual.
First, War At The Shore on June 29. This was a bit of a last-minute decision. Most of the folks I swim with do this event and love it. So they were urging me to sign up. It’s an ocean swim, followed by a 2 loop bike ride down Ocean Avenue and a 10K along the Long Branch, NJ boardwalk. The beauty of this event is it was going to give me my first experience using a “tri top.” I had already used tri pants – basically lycra shorts that have extra padding in the butt that absorbs water so you have a nice “cushion” when you go from the swim to the bike. But they also have tri-tops as well – they have pockets in the back like a bike shirt and are typically form-fitting and breathe well so it keeps you cooler in the heat and warmer in the cold. I hadn’t tried a tri-top yet, so this was going to be my first experience.
It was also a great way to learn a pretty easy mistake – wear the Tri top in the water. Don’t ask me how, but being surrounded by hundreds of people wearing their tops didn’t clue me into the fact that I should be wearing my tri-top before getting in the water. This mistake didn’t become apparent to me until I got out of the water and into transition. I could NOT get my tri-top on. Remember I mentioned they are form-fitting? Well, having a wet upper body doesn’t bode well for trying to shimmy into something that’s a few sizes too small to begin with! And I had a killer swim, so I was bummed watching all these people who I finished before leaving transition with their bikes before me!! I got so frustrated, I finally just put on the t-shirt I wore in the morning to the event and biked/ran in that old shirt! It was frustrating but also highly entertaining and a great learning experience. I also came in 6th place for my age group, which was pretty cool.
The next event was the NJ Triathlon on July 21. This tends to be one of the hotter weekends of the summer, and this year was no exception. It was so hot that NYC canceled their Triathlon for that weekend, and NJ Tri shortened both the Sprint and Olympic races. Andrea did the Sprint, which wound up being a 2 mile run instead of a 5K. I still did the Olympic, which was a 750m swim (instead of 1500m), a 13-mile bike ride (instead of 23) and a 5K instead of a 10K. So, really a “super-sprint.”
I wore my tri-top this time – it worked out great! I had a very good race. I had solid times in all three areas, finished strong, and came in the top 20% of my age group for the first time ever. Naomi placed in her age group (as always) – coming in 3rd. The great news is she moved up to the 25-29 age group which is more competitive than the 20-24 group. But she’s still rocking it!
So, 2-2 in June/July with successful triathlons. Now we’re off to Africa to see Aliza in August, so from August 9 – 25 there would be no swimming or biking, and limited running on Safari! Naomi and I were able to run quite a bit on vacation, but really just to maintain and it was more of a rest period than anything else. Africa was so worth it though. What a great trip which is a blog post for another day.
Starting August 26, I’m back at it – 4 more weeks until Ironman so we still have a few solid weeks of training before the taper. Everything went pretty well, I did a 106-mile bike ride over Labor Day, a few teenager runs (15 and 19 miles) and a lot of swimming. Oddly enough, my swimming and biking were doing really well, it was the running that wasn’t 100%. My “strongest” segment starting triathlon 6 years ago was now my weakest!
Heading into Ironman week, I felt healthy, strong and ready. Now it was just working on the nerves and making sure I got lots of sleep and drank a ton of water. Saturday, September 28 was going to be a long day.