Friday, November 27, 2009

12 hours and 49 minutes make this Ironman

ok, I am going to keep this as short as possible for you all but hopefully give you a good picture into what November 22 was for me. So, let's start at the very beginning.

Wake up at 3AM and get in my 1500 calories. Oatmeal, eggs, fruit, smoothie, pankcakes....anything to get the calories in to set me up for a great day and with my stomach on full. (but not too full)

I then got the drop off from Mz. Fuller at race site so I wouldn't have to walk far. Sammy went with me and we first dropped a few last minute things at my Transition bags, then time to go put air in the tires and pull all nutrition on the bike. This is where something small went wrong. I went to fill up the front tire and air wouldn't go in. As I reached down to make sure the pump was tight enough, my valve extender came off. As I had had very little experience with this, I went over to Sammy at the fence. He couldn't get it back on. (here you can insert tears, a bit of freaking out and then a rush over to the mechanics) I had a wonderful mechanic who took a valve extender off his bike (he wasn't racing) and then put in a new tube for peace of mind, filled up my tire and sent me on my way. I was still worried about that tire, but had to try and put it behind me.

After some deep breathing and some apologizing to Sammy for my freak out (as you can imagine...he felt horrible) I went to make one last stop at the bathroom, stuffed myself in my wetsuit and said my goodbye's to Sammy. I went to the water and waited until the last possible minute to get in the 63 degree water.

The SWIM. It was cold, treading water for 10 minutes in cold water was not fun. I didn't set myself up at the start the right way and so I got a bit off course. I had a rather large cramp in my left calf near the turnaround and had to hang onto a canoe for about 3 minutes. I still swam a 1:20....but I am capable of a 1:10. oh well, must continue the race and shake it off.

This was the best part of my day and I was secretly hoping it would be. When my stress fractures happened in late June and I was left to swimming and biking, I didn't miss a bike workout. No matter what I did not miss my long bikes on the weekends, and I didn't miss the smaller trainer rides that build strength. (I once had to do 2.5 hours on a bike in a hotel fitness center, but I did it) Biking was my weakness at CdA last year and I desperately wanted a better time. In AZ, it is a 3 loop course and so my plan was to be steady and to drink eat, drink. The course in AZ is deceiving in that it is a false flat on the way out and then a speedy entry back into town. Plus, you are guaranteed some wind at some point and we did have our fair share of that. I ate and drank everything on the plan and ended up with a 6:09 bike split. (18.2 mph avg) This is one hour off my bike time from CdA...yes, I said one hour. Apparently, the work I had put in showed up that day! (I did not know this during the race as I did not wear a watch)

The RUN. This part of the IM is what I was most worried about. I had been booted for stress fractures in July/August and was not able to start running any distance until late September when I raced 70.3 Augusta. I had to trust my base training from the winter as I had run 5 Half Marathons. I also had to start aqua jogging, which was not even close to fun. As I took off on the first loop of the run, I actually felt really good and avg'd 10 minute miles, the second loop I felt good as well and avg'd 10:30 miles. A little bit of a slow down but that was ok. Then near the end of the second loop I had an intense throbbing in my left foot, the foot I had injured. My foot was swelling as I had to have people untie and re-tie my shoes 3 times during the final loop. At this point, I knew I could do 8 miles and it felt easier to run than to walk. I pushed on keeping Des's spirit with me. I saw her right before my final 5 miles and that was all I needed....I could do this, I could finish. Crazy enough I ended up with an 11:37 mph average on the CdA I did a 10:37 mph average, so with the injury I wasn't too far off!

As I approached mile 25 I was overwhelmed with the day and how it had gone. At this point I didn't know times as I had raced without a watch. I didn't know a PR was in my grasp, I just knew I couldn't run more than one more mile. So I turned the corner to the Finish and grabbed my niece's hand. As I crossed under and a volunteer took me...she said, Congrat's! You did it under 13 hours! I said...WHAT? and looked behind at the clock seeing 12:49. A 25 minute PR? Is that possible? Is that what I had done? Yes. I fought for it though. I fought hard that day.

It was a great day for Ironman #2....and crazy enough, I can't wait for Ironman #3! (but not until 2011 folks!) Whose IN?

**I will post pictures from this day very soon, I am just waiting for friends to pass them onto me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

So thankful. So blessed.

The first of many posts friends and acquired followers. I am headed back on the plane and trying to write down my thoughts from Ironman AZ this past weekend. I didn’t think that the first IM could ever be topped, but this one certainly came darn close. It seemed appropriate in the week of Thanksgiving that this post would thank those that got me to November 22nd, 2009.

Much like the Oscars, if I didn’t mention him first, people would think we were in trouble. Sammy Legge. He played the amazing role of supportive and loving boyfriend + bike mechanic for the second year in a row. Last year we had only been dating about 6 weeks before CdA and so I thought he was just trying to impress me, but no, he was even better this time around.

There were many nights he got my bike ready for a long ride the very next day and many times I would come back from a work trip and he had cleaned, upgraded or simply tuned up my ride. I have to thank him as well for allowing me to attach onto his wheel for a few rides. I trained many miles on my own for this one and so it was nice for him to join me every now and again when his schedule allowed. Let’s remember folks, Sam is wicked fast on the bike, so riding with me is not even close to a workout for him.

It was also an amazing treat to have him with me in AZ! He cheered me on, kept me calm, dealt with my ever-changing mood swings, helped my sister and her family find me on the course, made sure I was getting rest leading up to race day and then helping me walk up and down stairs post race day. I think I will keep him! (I also think he is very happy that I am not signing up for an IM in 2010. And that is a promise. Notice I did not say NEVER….just not in 2010!)

To my Des- I know it wasn’t an easy decision to come and watch the race we had signed up to do together, but it was amazing to see you after my first loop on the bike and then when it all started to hurt. Thanks for cheering, slapping body glide where my tri top was chafing, and for tying my shoes because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get back up! Most importantly, thanks for fighting for a second time. Many lives are better with you in it and I know that there were days where fighting seemed futile. Thanks for honesty with me in the midst of all that! Love you lady!

My sister Shannon and family- I can’t believe the timing of it all. I really didn’t think about it one year ago that you might be in AZ for Thanksgiving week and then it just worked out. I am so glad that you got to see a piece of what I love doing. Well more than a piece, 12 hours worth to be exact! What a special memory to run with my sweet niece, Phoebe, through the Finish Line! That will be with me for a very long time! I certainly wish we lived closer but the times I do get to see you are always worth it!

Mz. Fuller- you are the ultimate cheer leader and friend. Thanks for always offering rescue and support during long rides on the weekend. Thanks for always calling to see how my workouts were going. Thanks for your prayers, humor and concern. Thanks for stopping in to take Eloise out when I needed to get in a second workout and couldn’t make it to her. Thanks for traveling to AZ and being out there to scream and yell! The list could go on….you are such a self-less person and I am so blessed to have you.

Juanita (imagine me saying this as Espanol as I can get) I love it that you live your life with such adventure! Thank you for coming to AZ and joining in on the fun.

Steve Hed- thanks for the amazing HED wheels. It was great to race with such sparkle and flair! I did take an hour off my bike time from last year so I am guessing you know what you are doing. It was a gift I was not expecting and one that I deeply appreciate.

Chrissie (aka Coach Pain)- For the second year in a row you made me feel like a rockstar in the pool and in all aspects of training! You are a great encouragement and a good friend. I know good things are coming for you.

The guys at Jack & Adams-
always there with a word of encouragement. For the help with Tri Bike Transport and the BEST races in the South!
Texas Iron-
For the second year in a row, your schedule guided me through to a great Finish. I wish I could have come to more group trainings but the monthly schedule you provided me was PERFECT for someone that travels a lot. I highly suggest this group for some great training and schedules you can keep forever.

And finally I would like to thank those that I sponsor financially: Ironman North America (race entry fee), Zoot Wetsuits, Louie Garneau bike shorts, Asics shoes, Nike socks and various apparel, Hammer products..... Without mine and several other triathletes money, you would not eat, sleep or be able to clothe yourselves.

Don’t you worry friends, a more extensive race report with pictures to follow but for now. I am so thankful and hungry.

(for those that might not have seen last years report, you can go here to read. This will get you set up for this years report to follow)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

so different second time around

I am sitting at home and just finished packing for Ironman Arizona. Just a few last minute things to throw in my suitcase. Crazy but I can't stop thinking about this weekend and how different it all is. Don't get me wrong, I didn't expect to replicate the first Ironman experience as that 140.6 miles was about me and doing something for myself that I wanted to conquer. I also went and raced with a group of first-time friends. Having Noah and Ed last year in CdA was by all means....some serious hilarity! This time I carry my friend Des with me across the Finish Line, and not in a "sad, she needs my help" kind of way. I just take her with me.

I think about her contacting me last November to sign up with her for 2009. We would celebrate her 40th birthday and her 2 year cancerversary Then January, I got the call. The cancer has returned. I will be getting a stem cell transplant at some point along with more treatment. She didn't say it at that point, but I knew, No Ironman for Des this year. My first thought to be honest, was to totally bail on the race as well. But I couldn't. I wanted to finish what WE had started. You see, Desiree is this special friend and complete bad-ass all in the same sentence. When I met her a few years ago, we simply connected and the memories I have with her up to this point, remain intact. Bike rides, coffee, glasses of wine, walks, runs, camping, one early trip to Houston and one late drive back on the same day. We even share those moments of silence where we simply don't need to say anything because sometimes we all just need a friend that let's us be quiet about it all.

I think Desiree and I have had this unspoken rule that I won't bring up her cancer unless she does. I mean, the cancer is not truly who she is. She is a wife, mother of 3 amazing kids, creative thinker, has great taste in music, has taught me forgiveness and grace...and oh yeah a Boston Marathon Qualifier, Half Ironman Finisher....and now, 2x cancer survivor. Cancer has never changed the core of who she is, one of the kindest people I have ever met. Always looking out for others before herself and walks through life with total humility. (by the way, she will KILL me for publicly writing this) She doesn't know it but those early morning walks we had a handful of times during the last couple of months really meant so much to me. She thought it was getting in the way of my training, but actually it slowed me down. It caused me to live in the moment, and i need that pull back. I am turbo, to the max and those walks with Des were therapeutic and honest.

I guess maybe this post has gotten completely off track from what I intended, or maybe not. About one month ago, Des showed up at the LIVESTRONG Challenge in Austin to run the 5k. This would be the first time she had run any kind of distance post-treatment. As I waited at the Finish Line for her, I was hoping I had not missed her in the Survivor Shoot. And then I saw her. I saw her running towards me and will never forget that moment when she grabbed me at the Finish Line and well, we had a total girly, emotional moment full of tears. It was more than worth it. We both laugh how we have told so many about it, but honestly you really had to be there. And I guess you have had to be along for the journey. The picture below is from the Finish Line. I was so glad someone caught that moment.

I guess here is how it all wraps up into how this is different this time. November 22 is about finishing 140.6 for myself and Des. (she wouldn't let me do it for just her) And when it gets tough, I will channel that hug at the Finish Line, and know I can move through just about anything.

I carry my dear friend Des with me in total strength and Des, if you read all the way to the bottom.....when you are ready, I will be back to take on an Ironman WITH YOU. Your day will come, I completely believe that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


So I woke up and got the email that my Bib # had been assigned for Ironman AZ on November 22. Yes, friends it's almost over and so the constant chatter and obsession is as well. Hang in there with me for a few more weeks. My Bib # is 2380...I instantly thought...well, Michael Jordan was a childhood hero, in fact, I found my first hat I ever owned in a box recently, and it was a Chicago Bulls 23 is MJ's number and then 80...well, who can resist a good 80s jam? not me!! In fact the 80s accompanied me through a few bike trainer sessions and so 2380 seems fitting to me.

All day my brain has been reeling over Sunday, November 22. I have had many folks ask me...are you ready? are you excited? how do you feel? what time do you think you will do it in? The questions are a bit much right now, because in the taper you have too much time to think. So here are those answers...Colleen style.

Are you ready? Well, I sure hope so friends. I mean, if I'm not, we will see on that day. I know my work travel has been insane, but I have stayed as true to my schedule as possible. There were many long runs done on tread mills and many long bikes done on cheezy hotel bikes in workout rooms...all for the love of this damn sport. i feel ready, but i also have fears that are different from my first Ironman last year. There is more pressure. Will I PR? Will I do my nutrition as perfectly as I did one year ago? Will my mental toughness take over again? Who the hell knows...I am going to approach that day with as little expectations as possible. I am racing this one for me and my friend Desiree who can't join me for this Ironman (I believe she will have her day at some point, but cancer returned for a second time and so she is fighting a much harder fight)

Are you excited? Um,, not right now. I am trying to relax after some stressful work weekends and I am trying to get my bike and bike bag ready for Tri Bike Transport. I am not excited for 140.6 miles of pain...however, next week will be a different answer I hope.

How do you feel? I feel tired but I also feel strong. I had one of best long runs this past weekend and I desperately needed that. I ran 5 miles before the Run for the Water started. Then as I got to the 10 miler that goes through some hilly terrain, I thought...ok, 1 hour 30 minutes is what I would love to see. I clocked in at 1:29:57 folks! What was even better is as I checked my results..I ran a 9:14 first half and an 8:46 second half. My run this season has been different for me with my stress fracture injuries. Could it be though that I am peaking at just the right time? i will choose to say YES! I have not had very many long runs but I think I have had just enought that 26.2 will be there on November 22. Which is fine, that's when I need the leg strength to show up.

What time do you think you will do it in? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! you thought I was going to answer that one? nope. I won't. i know I can and will finish this race....or I will come close to die trying. I will race without my watch (again) and trust by body and how I feel during the day.

2380 folks. November 22, 2009. 140.6 miles. Bring it!