Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Florida 1/2 Ironman pre race thoughts

Pre race thoughts:  FIRST: if you are reading this, please know it is long and you don't have to!  I write this up for myself, but if it is interesting to you, great!  If you want to track me on race day, Sunday, April 9, 2017, go to, click on live coverage at top of page; select race (ironman 70.3 florida/haines city), click on athlete tracker, my bib number is 491

Ironman 70.3 Florida is a new race for me, which is one of the reasons I wanted to do this.  I registered  not thinking fully that I would be swimming in a FL lake.  I am trying still to get used to that.

This year has not been what I would have hoped for in terms of overall fitness/training/healthy body.  Late November, my back went out and 4 m onths later, I am still “tentative”.  Tentative meaning:  sometimes I can run 13 miles at low 7 pace, sometimes I can bike 60 miles at a really strong level, however sometimes I can not stand after sitting.. Sometimes I cannot put my freaking shoes on, and sometimes I cannot lean over to spit out toothpaste.  Fun times.  I am really becoming aware of my age.  I will admit that for many years, I would hear people complain about age and… well… I frankly didn’t think it would apply to me if I stayed fit.  And.. that is not the case.  I am thoroughly frightened at what will happen to my body at age 70 and fear that there will be a time that my back will really limit my ability to do what I love.. (and even move).. ugh.

Regardless, I’ve been doing PT 1x/week and trying to get a 45 min massage every week or 2 weeks. 

Going into the race:

*I am EXCITED:  there are always such detailed memories and stories of races.  I will remember so much about the swim- what goes through my mind during it, arms that hit me, legs that hit me (hoping they’re not gators I am sure!!), there will be things that happen that I have no idea of- I will surprise myself- whether it is good or bad at some point in the race, I will learn at least 1-2-3 new things for sure.

*I am HUMBLED/SCARED/REMINDED of race conditions:  we only can ever do what we can do… When you get to a race of this level, it isn’t just how far can you push yourself…. Your body definitely cannot be fooled into something that is past its limit.  At the same time, I am well reminded that the MIND HAS A HUGE place in what happens on race day.

*I am READY. I am ready to believe in myself, to go out and have FUN, to celebrate being OUT in Florida, in WARM, ON MY NEW bike BLACK LIGHTENING😊 I am ready to see some people that will be down there that I’ve been in touch with, ready to race alongside people who have also challenged themselves for months- done the work- woken up at odd hours, pushed through fatigue, had some great workouts, but also some that reduced them to tears.  I’m ready to be out there with others learning and living !

*I am hoping to go check in to race, not sure about getting in water to do any of the pre race swim “festivities” since I am so nervous about …. The creatures lurking within those waters.  However, I do plan to run around the lake and drive at least part of the bike course.  I’m excited to go to a different race expo/packet pickup – I am so used to the races that I’ve grown accustomed to, and I really do need to do this- to again step out of my “comfort”  (not that my current races are COMFORTABLE, haha!) but… just to put myself into the unknown!!

*I am working myself mentally through the morning of the race: arriving with excitement, and a good dose of apprehension.  I need to remember to say nice things to myself.  I always go and see these fit looking people and freak out in my head wondering if I even have worked out recently!!  I always doubt myself, and I am going to work to remind myself of the weekly work I’ve done. 

*I also am in WAVE 12, which is 3 waves from the end- over an HOUR AFTER the race begins, ugh. BUt.. it is what it is.  I have to have some strategies to keep myself pumped during that time, excited but calm, and not lose the "race feeling" and motivation as I see an hour worth of age groups come before me!
*The swim:  I am planning to get in, and swim on the right side of the “m” course.  I know people have said don’t be on the edges, but I’m also afraid to be in the middle and have a panic attack by getting too many people’s body parts touching me.  The right side allows me to breathe to my right more often, plus cuts me a shorter line to the first buoy/turn.  I’ve worked on my swim and although it isn’t where I want it to be, I have done all that I could for now.  Nothing is made or broken in the swim, and I will remember that as I swim, stay strong, but also use the least amount of energy appropriate to get out strong and begin my real race.


My bike:  I am looking forward to doing my first race on my  new bike.  I’ve gotten fairly comfortable with it, and although it definitely feels different and lighter, I am ready to race it.  I will be aggressive, but also careful.  I am not afraid to push the bike, but also am very good historically at being smart at doing that.  Some people may not be comfortable at the intensity that I race the bike at (with a run after) but I think I’ll be okay with pushing it. 

I will take posture breaks along the way, check in with my back and MOST OF ALL:  the race can be MADE DURING THIS PORTION DUE TO NUTRITION, so:

My plan is to begin first 5 miles with water only.  I will then add in some food- fig newtons first.  (yes odd, I don’t even like fig newtons UNLESS I am on the bike).  (I may carry a banana to have early bike also, or maybe just at least half or a few bites of banana).  Then I will back off the food and go back to water.  I’ll then at about 20-30 miles begin taking in sports drink.  30-40 miles I am going to have probably ½ a power bar.  Definitely all food will stop by 43/44 miles for 12 miles of just water.

*I also am going to have No/Doz pills as well as one of those energy bomb little shot things.  I am unsure still about taking any salt in (depending on weather).

Mentally starting at 40 miles on the bike I need to get myself ready to run… To KEEP MY EDGE HERE IS WHERE I SOMETIMES STRUGGLE.  I lose caffeine and that hard edge/mojo/feeling that it does in fact matter!!  And I become “soft”  like I decide to let myself be comfortable and “enjoy” the race!!  (aka letting myself off the hook)…  I have to remind myself that enjoying the race is also happening when I am present…. When I am honoring the months of work I’ve done, the miles I’ve spent preparing, the sacrifices / time/energy/choices I’ve made along the way.  So I need to balance this awareness/edge/competitive fire while not getting too ahead of myself and pushing too far too much too soon… There is such a fine line and I have to really flirt with that and be right there dancing around it and loving it and making friends with it.

The run:  off the bike I am hoping I can stand!

Haha. Seriously.  If not, I plan to find a tree if possible and see if I can kind of hang a bit from it to stretch my back out… I’ve been able to do this in training and it helps me get upright again!  (I am imagining if you are still reading this, now it has become very bizarre sounding!)  Anyway:  hopefully I can manage the heat which I haven’t even had 1 workout in!!  (although I’ve been training in the basement without a fan for the run, so hopefully this gives me a little bit of help).

I am going to remind myself first 2 miles:  easy does it.  Not “easy” but not hard.  Just moderate, run, and be upright and enjoy the first half of the loop.  Each loop is 4.5 miles and we have 3x around the lake.  This is both good and bad.  I can see my family at beginning, 2x during and then again END.  HOWEVER.  I also don’t LIKE crowd support, it gets me all tight and I don’t really want people “looking at me” (here is where I just hear my kids saying to each other:  you’re looking at me, ugh_).. anyway.. I like to be out on a trail alone, but.. I think every 3 loops having a crowd I’ll just manage and remain calm😊

I’m going to take that first loop to get an idea of what that beginning pace is.  And then 2nd lap,I’m going to work really hard to make sure I keep it OR GENTLY GENTLY GENTLY increase it.. I do not want my LEG MUSCLES maxed (yet).  I need to keep it aerobic. Goal is to not stop.  I’ve read about this race that some of the hills aren’t worth running up- however, I’ll see for myself pre-race and do my best to remind myself that a slow run is still much faster than a walk😊

Last lap.  I know I’ll be excited and READY.. I am not sure how I will feel at 9 miles HEARING the finish line but not being one of those who gets to stop… (wave #12- so I’ll be one of the last 3 waves to go….. this is a HUUUGE bummer, but it is what it is.) just GO…. I am going to possibly remind Ryan and the kids to remind ME when they see me to “not give up”…giving up is so easy- you can still “finish” while giving up, and that isn’t the way I intend to finish.  That doesn’t really FEEL AWESOME.  I remember my best Eagleman race- sub 5 hour finish- I remember knowing with 3 miles left that I was RIGHT ON THE LINE of being able to finish under 5 and I literally every step I took told myself to run like my ass was on fire.    I was trying to run away from my own heels.  Every step I was focused/aware, I was literally no nonsense out there, on a mission.  I think it helped that I was SO borderline- if I had been maybe a little over 5, I wouldn’t have worked that hard and THAT is what I want to channel NO MATTER WHAT in this race.. (because it isn’t going to be a race that is a sub 5 hour finish with the hills)…. So time doesn’t matter, EFFORT DOES.  I have 6 days to recover after this race.  6 days to be in florida.  Lay my silly self on the sand and roll.  So go.  GO SHARON with all of your BEING, with all of your HEART AND LEGS AND SOuL AND BACK! GO GO GO!!! To the END!!!!

So yes.  I am trying to qualify for World Championship- 70.3 distance (half Ironman) in September/Chattanooga.  I qualified last year, but it was in Australia and couldn’t do that.   I would love to qualify now.  If not, I will give it my all again at Eagleman in 9 more weeks.  BUT:  I intend to race to my potential this Sunday and have a HOOT of a time doing it😊!


*manage discomfort.... are you okay right now in this minute (don't get ahead of yourself and "worry about 5 miles from now"... are you okay RIGHT now, then take it).

*you can be comfortable or you can be courageous

*no one said this would be easy (I use this all the time)
*Patient and persistent:  this is my new favorite one-- I just taught a girl power fit class (tween age) and we focused a few of our days on being patient (in an active and aware way) and persistent to the end:)
*if I'm at a real bad place, I have to FIERCELY BELIEVE in all of my past experiences of FIGHTING THROUGH and that it DOES ease up.... that in another mile or 2, there is a whole new feeling that I will struggle with then... so just get THROUGH the issues.
*ordinary is not my goal.
*is this my best?  being truthful with myself... honoring the commitment I've put in so far.
*you don't get what you wish for, you get what you make happen:)