So my coach, Frank Meyers, and I decided to do a little experiment last month. Fresh off of my Third Place finish in Ironman Wisconsin, we wanted to see how quick of a turnaround I could do to another Ironman. Hillary Biscay took first at Wisconsin ONE WEEK after finishing Ironman Louisville. I would not even attempt that anytime soon, but I wondered how quick could I turn around?
Florida was seven weeks after Wisconsin and we both felt that that should be enough time to recovery, then ramp back up with a hard three weeks of training block and then a one week taper. Hopefully this would be a perfect prescription without inducing injury or exhaustion. To be honest, I wasn't 100% enthused and driving to crush all competitors in my way, but I wanted to do well and end the season on a good note.
I drove down to Panama City Beach the Wednesday before the race and got a chance to spend some time with my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew that flew in from Wisconsin that evening. I LOVE my sister Jayne! She is like an older version of me…or, am I the younger version of her? We get-along very well and she tries to come to as many of my races as possible…in the 9 Ironmans I’ve competed in, Jayne has flown/drove to 8 of them! She’s really into the triathlon community, the family support and passion all the athletes, families and friends bring to the table. Someday I hope she competes in a sprint tri and I’ll be all over the course cheering her to the finish!
The next day I met up with some friends to include my good friend from Austin, Richard Freer. Richard is a pro from Austin I met while I was stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas and a great guy. His wife Tiffany is so much fun and I was also introduced to Mike and Kari Harris and their two daughters, who over the course of five days have become great friends as well. Mike, Kari and Tiff weren’t competing, but were there to support, take TONS of pictures and videotape…Mike is such a pro at taping that during morning swim practices he’d take his camera out in the ocean with us and he would video us swimming over him…every year in Florida he puts together a great “movie” of the trip, race, training…it’s awesome! One of the best things about triathlons is that the community is made up of some of the most friendly, kind, and caring people in the world.
Race day quickly approached as it always does and my husband, daughter and coach came into town around midnight the day of the event. My husband and coach had to work till Friday evening, so they had to drive about 5 hours to Panama City Beach. Exhausted as they rolled in they knew they would only get about 4 hours of sleep before the race day wake up call! Amazingly, I felt very relaxed and happy on race morning. I’ll tell you, you never know the state of mind you’re going to be in on race morning, but this year has taught me so much about confidence, remaining calm and staying in your “element”.
The swim was interesting in the ocean. The water wasn’t too cold, but definitely wetsuit legal. The race was a dry start and a two-loop course which also required the racers to get out of the water after the first loop, run over a timing mat, grab a cup of salt-free water (if you want) and then pounce back into the ocean…this was tough on me and getting my rhythm again in the water was a test of wills! After the swim I was off on my favorite part…the bike! I love the road and it seems as though the road loves me J I always have to remind myself to remain patient and the competition will come back to me…I mean, let’s be honest, I’m ALWAYS chasing down the better swimmers, so the road is where I buy back my time! Florida is relatively a flat course, especially compared to courses like Wisconsin, Coeur d’Alene and such. Now, let’s not let this fool you – this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easier! You don’t get the down hills to relax…you are always hammering, hammering, hammering! I loved this, but, again, I’m not your normal cyclist J
On the run, I entered the marathon in fourth place, but could see third and second place right away within the first mile. I past both girls right away and was excited to be within 3 minutes of first place. The run is a 2-loop course winding you thru neighborhoods, city streets and a state park. It is as flat as the bike course, but again, this doesn’t mean it’s easy…you use the SAME muscles over and over again. Sometimes a hill is a nice break on the quads! I held onto second place thru about mile 17-18, but unfortunately was passed for second and just didn’t have the next gear to go with Tamara.
Finishing in third place was a feat I didn’t foresee and was very happy to accomplish. My coach was ecstatic and very pleased with the training he invented and the outcome for the ’08 season. I am now enjoying a nice break from the day-to-day grind during the month of November. I’m taking care of things that were neglected for months such as cleaning the house, painting the bathroom and yes, my husband and I held our very first garage sale last weekend…that was a trip! I look forward to the ’09 season and training, but I’m going to really enjoy the much deserved off-season right now!