Monday, October 1, 2012

I am not Super Woman, but I will be an Ironman

I can't believe today is October 1st.  My last blog was on August 31st.  The month of September was a complete blur!  Trying to find a balance between work, business travel, training/racing and my personal life is exhausting and possibly another full-time job.

I have just over 47 days until Ironman Arizona and although I have not blogged in a month, there have been plenty of opportunities where I have come up with content for my blog and things to discuss and share with you.

I finally decided to make time to blog today (I am forcing myself to "step away" for lunch today) and say to you, openly and publicly, "I am not Super Woman."

I am just a normal person (OK, so "normal" is a relative term) who enjoys pushing her physical and mental limits.  This is not an original concept, many before me have done this and many after me will continue to do this. 

Yesterday, was supposed to be my first 100 mile bike ride.  Seriously... look at this route... we started in Ft. Lauderdale and ended up in Palm Beach.  If you've never driven up A1A, I highly recommend it.  It's a beautiful route.  I got to see many billion dollar homes and experience a new bike route in South Florida.

But seriously... LOOK AT THIS MAP!  Anyone who knows Florida geography knows that Lake Okeechobee is a LONG WAY from anywhere.  I can literally FLY from Miami International Airport to the West Palm Beach airport via a commuter route.  If you have flight service from the point where you started your day (in Kendall) to just before you turned around on your 100 mile bike route... it's intense.

So, I digress...  yesterday felt like it was 100+ degrees with the sun beating off the ocean and the "sparkly" granite-flecked roads on Flagler Drive up in Palm Beach... wow - these 1%ers - even their streets have to twinkle and have flair.  Their streets sucked!  It felt like riding your bike on a road-sized emery board that just had a gazillion suction cups grabbing on to your tires. 

Sorry, I digress yet again, it was hot, the conditions were windy, humid, lacking in shade and mentally and physically challenging.  For the majority of the first 50 miles, I was able to ride with my teammate JoJo and two guys who had never ridden more than 40 miles.  We held a great pace and stuck together as best as possible although on the final bridge at around mile 46 (and there were plenty of bridges on this route) of the first 50 miles, I twisted my knee on the climb.  We dropped Ralph and Chad at mile 49 when Chad got a flat, ironically 1 mile before the 50 mile refuel station / rest stop.

On the way back (coming back over said bridge where I tweaked my knee at mile 46), we were sent in the wrong direction by the volunteers holding the arrow signs.  I guess they didn't realize that if they faced South and the arrow pointed East, that when they turned around to face East that their arrows on their signs needed to be flipped to face South.  So we went NORTH as their arrows indicated.  Adding extra mileage to a ride that is already long enough was just mean.

Once we corrected ourselves and were heading in the right direction (South back to the start line), the way back was grueling.  We had a horrible head wind that just made the ride even that much more difficult.  Eventually, our little pack ended up riding the rest of the day solo.

There was no rest stop / refuel station at mile 60.  This played a major role in what transpired over the next 20 miles.  Luckily I had filled all of my bottles at the 50 mile mark, but no amount of ice was able to hold up to the heat.  Drinking hot water and fuel is just nasty - but you do it because you need to.  You just drink it faster because you can't get relief.  So you run out faster.

I contemplated several times stopping to buy water / sports drink / soda... anything that would quench my thirst.  But I kept on going, I knew that I could make it to the rest stop at mile 70. 

When I got to mile 70 - they were closing shop and I was told that all of the other rest stops on the remainder of the route had prematurely shut down.  I knew this is where I had to get everything I needed to get me through the last 30 miles.  If you ever wondered why cycling jerseys have so many pockets... it's to hold not only your phone, fuel and other items but up to 3 more water bottles in addition to the 3 that are already on your bike!!!!

I was mentally prepared to make my way back to Ft. Lauderdale on my own.  For all I knew, JoJo was ahead of me and Ralph and Chad were behind me.  I didn't get JoJo's text message advising me that she had stopped around mile 65 at an ice cream shop to refuel and cool down.

Fast forward to mile 75... it seriously felt like a hallucination.  Next thing I know, JoJo is riding up next to me telling me that she feels horrible and that we need to stop at mile 80.  I said to her, "if you feel that bad, let's stop now."  She replied, "no, we need to at least do 80." (like any stubborn Ironman would).  It was the best thing we did.

Mile 80 happened to be the Ocean Rescue / Coast Guard Auxiliary Station in Boca Raton.  JoJo got checked out at it was determined that she was starting to experience heat stroke.  While she was cleared to go home, she was not cleared to continue the ride.  While I could have continued on the ride (slowly back to Ft. Lauderdale) I stayed with her until we were able to get a ride back from another teammate (Mario) who had his own route challenges and stories to tell. 

Needless to say, 100 miles, even on a ride that is supposed to be "supported" is tough for even the most experienced riders.  Things learned... 1) stay within your limits; 2) you can never be over-prepared or carry too much hydration/fuel; 3) eat breakfast - 2 breakfasts if you have to; 4) ride/run with a friend and always let others know your route and estimated time of arrival; 5) wear your Road ID or carry identification and emergency contact info; 6) probably the most important thing... listen to your body.

So we were bested by the South Florida heat and conditions, but this will not stop me from completing the 100 mile training ride that is a pre-requisite to Ironman Arizona.  The next time we try will be in 2 weeks.  We'll be on our flat "home turf" and we'll know what to do and when we need to do it.

Nothing is more important that your health and nothing is smarter than knowing your limits.  Remember if you can't/won't identify when it's time to stop, your body is going to do it for you whether you like it or not, and it probably won't be pretty or graceful.

Today is a Coach-Tim imposed rest day, and while I crazily enough feel pretty damn good after having completed a 2 mile swim on Friday, a 15 mile run on Saturday and an 80 mile bike on Sunday, I am going to REST today.  We often forget that another important component of training is RESTING!

So on the umpteenth day... she rests!


  1. I feel like I was there Janette. It sounds like you put in a great day of training despite things not going according to plan. Well done.

    I hope you enjoyed your rest day. I know I did.

  2. Great race report, Janette. It sounds like you made smart decisions at critical times; the experience and lessons-learned will serve you well on race day which hopefully will be cool and sunny, with a light breeze always at your back. - Andrea