Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ironman Chattanooga Race Report 2015

Apologies ahead of time this will be a LONG one, but hey the race took me 15 hours 41 minutes so there is a lot to write!

"Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life" John Collins, creator of the Ironman race

Let's make things more interesting:
-144.6, an extra four miles added to the bike course.
-7:30am late start taking at least 30 minutes off the normal 17 hour time limit.

My excitement levels were high the minute we started our roadtrip to Chattanooga the Thursday before race day. I made sure to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated which resulted in MANY pee breaks for the entire trip which ended up taking well over 14 hours. I packed all kinds of healthy snacks but by hour 13 I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie from a gas station. We arrived Thursday evening and trying to find a grocery store proved more difficult than anticipated but we picked up a few supplies and got settled in our house.  I highly recommend renting a house as it took the pressure off trying to find proper food and gave space to spread out.

Friday morning it was chilly and rainy and my desire to do anything was extremely LOW but J and I headed out to get in a little 25 minute or less swim above the damn and believe me it was less.  I think I ended up swimming maybe 10 minutes max because I was freezing, it was raining and I was just not in the mood to be cold and wet.  The water felt great and I was still looking forward to not wearing a wetsuit. After changing in the biggest handicap port-a-potty we had ever seen we headed over so J could buy race tats.  Seeing the line we decided checking in would be smart so we headed to sign our lives away in waivers and pick up our swag. Excitement level was at an all time high!  We headed back to the house to pick up Z so we could drive the bike course and then head to whole foods to purchase more food. My parents arrived later Friday and I made a big pasta dinner for my last really large meal because I don't like to eat a ton the night before a race. 

Saturday we got all the gear bags dropped off (what went in the bags is a whole other post!) as well as our bikes even though it was still raining!  At the athlete meeting they noted the water temperature had dropped closer to the 76.1 wet suit cut off and I was pretty disappointed as more rain was forecast.  The irony is not lost that for my first triathlon the morning of they announced it would not be wet suit legal and I cried because I wanted my security blanket yet this time I was hoping for no wetsuits! Things like this show me how far I have come and make me feel very proud.

I slept pretty well and woke up excited with no stomach nerves which is very good for me.  Shortly after waking up the alert came out it would be wet suit optional which made me very happy, although at this point we were already awake so no extra sleep.  We headed to put my nurtition on my bike and in my run bag and then drop my special needs bags.  At that point I realized the myathletelive had been in the bike bag all night and not fully charged, sorry people who were expecting it to work and sorry self for the 75 bucks you spent. After minor tears over that I realized if something was to go wrong it was best to be that, at this point I was hoping it would still work so I wore it the whole race without realizing it never gave my location!

Swim 1:14:59
Spectators were allowed on the buses to swim start which was fabulous because they kept me occupied and made the time pass, Z even held my place in the LONG port-a-potty line.  Time seemed to fly by and my sherpas spent some of the time looking for items from their bingo cards which were a huge hit. I had my three scoops of Ucan and before we knew it the sky was brighter and it was time to march along to swim start, I quickly put on my borrowed swim skin, swim cap and goggles and did some exercises to warm up.  The wet suit swimmers went to the right and we walked by them so the line didn't seem quite so long and before I knew it we went through the arch way.  Many people had said we would go in two by two, but that was not the case, essentially you walked to the dock and just jumped in with about 20 of your closest friends.  This part created a bit of anxiety but I walked to the edge and more slid into the water, got myself together and then off I went. It was a surreal feeling to think that a year of planning had finally come down to the actual race.  The water felt great, the river is very clean and I was excited for the swim instead of anxiety ridden. It was pretty smooth and I enjoyed the scenery on the shores, it didn't feel as fast as my swim in June and there was definitely more contact with other swimmers.  At one point someone grabbed onto my leg and would not let go so I gave the a swift kick which seemed to discourage them from touching me again.  There was a tiny bit of chop at one point but luckily I trained all summer in the ocean so this didn't affect me but I heard a lot of people mentioning it.  I got sandwiched between two very large guys at one point and had to maneuver my way around them but once I saw the bridges I knew I was home free.  The left turn into swim exit was not difficult but getting out of the water was a bit hard, I wish I had practiced at these stairs, you had to really bring your leg up to sort of crawl out and next to me it looked like one girl might drown with people crawling out over her. 

T1 8:45
Jackie had me visualize what I was going to do in transition and I think this helped calm me.  I got excited to hear and see my fan club upon getting out of the water which got my blood pumping even more and then I faced that lovely hill up out of swim exit which was fun.  I remembered where my bag was but there were so many volunteers to help so things went very smoothly.  I ran into the tent and it was pretty crowded so I just looked for an open chair and sat down, a volunteer quickly ran over to help. I got the swim skin off, bike jersey on, salts in my shorts pockets, chamois cream on, glide on my feet, bike shoes on, helmet on and I headed out to find my bike.  A nice volunteer actually unracked Scottie and passed him to me and we headed to the mount line.

Bike  7:56:46
I am so happy I rode the bike course back in June because it helped me know what to expect and really increased my confidence.  The first set of train tracks out of town were covered in bottles and nutrition that had been ejected from bikes but I had no trouble and the tracks were covered, signs were there to slow down and volunteers worked tirelessly to clean up the road. I stayed in my zone, I raced my race as people FLEW past me for miles.  I didn't let it get to me and at one point I told myself it was because I did such a great job on the swim so these people needed to catch up. My goal was to stay consistent, pee twice, fuel properly, not fall and hopefully do a 7:45 bike split (15mph). I felt great on the bike and at times I pulled myself back to make sure I had something left for the second loop.  I sipped water every 15 minutes, Ucan every 30 minutes and BASE salts every 5 miles. Special needs came at the perfect time, I sucked down two fruit pouches, grabbed my third Ucan bottle, smeared on more chamois cream and was off on my way. My backup BASE had spilled all over the bag but luckily I had more than enough on me.  The rest stop after special needs was my first pee break and I decided to ask for the time of day because my watch only showed how long I had been biking and I was unaware of what time I had entered or exited the water. A kind volunteer said "12:20 pm" and I swear I could have kissed him!  This was my "moment" the pre-finishline moment that meant so much to me and made my day because at that point I knew that I was fully capable of making the 6pm bike cut off.  Around mile 95 I started having some trouble with chaffing and I pulled to the side of the road, apologized to the people cheering, put on more chamois cream and much to  my chagrin realized I should have done it sooner, the last miles were painful to say the least but I kept a smile on my face! I didn't get into my aero bars even once because I was too nervous from my last accident and I know this hurt my pacing on both the bike and the run, I need to get better at my bike confidence and handling.  I passed Scottie to a volunteer, said we were on a break but that he did a good job so he deserved to be taken care of and wobbled to my T2 bag. Total of 9 scoops of Ucan, 2 fruit packages, about 5 bottles of water.

T2: 9:13
This transition was not as busy, presumably because it took me so long on the bike but I had my pick of chairs and a very nice volunteer who assisted me with an almost complete outfit change! I put body glide on my feet with toe socks in hopes of no blisters.  I sucked down a fruit packet while the volunteer put my Ucan in the back of my tri top, I grabbed a hat put on my race belt. peed and went on my way only to realize about half a mile later I hadn't grabbed any of my base salts...FAIL.

RUN: 6:11:48
I got to see the family as I left out on the run and Z even ran down the huge hill to see me on the river walk, my biggest regret of the race is not taking the two seconds to go give him a kiss, my poor sherpa.  I went out WAY too fast, the excitement had me on a high and I was just so happy to be off my bike but I settled into a routine.  The first aid station had base salts so I picked up a few and set about my run to the aid station and walk through the station. About mile 4 my stomach was a bit unhappy with me for the first time of the day, I think due to my heart rate being a bit high for the first miles of the run and I threw up.  Nothing terrible and I think my proper fueling on the bike really saved me here, I slowed my heart rate down and it took a little while for my stomach to cooperate.  I didn't eat much from miles 5 to 13 and when I got to special needs my stomach was still a little iffy but I sucked down a fruit packet while dealing with my HUGE blisters.  I was so glad to have clean, dry socks and Vaseline in special needs because these blisters were out of control, I had been so careful not to get my feet wet so I have no idea what caused them.  My half marathon mark was 3:03 so all in all I ran a consistent run and I actually passed a ton of people so I was happy with my progress.  I found a partner who was going my speed and we hung out for a lot of the back half, Lauren and I power walked like soccer moms, dragged each other running, toasted to the joy of chicken broth and shared our stories which made the time pass more quickly.  I ditched her toward the end when all I could think was getting to that finish line, sorry Lauren!

The last time down the big hill on Barton was amazing a group was playing T.Swift so I started singing, they were yelling and giving me high fives and I kept screaming I'm an Ironman, I'm doing this, this is happening!!  At the bottom of the hill stood my rock, my support, the person who has had to suffer through the brunt of my insanity and he had a huge smile on his face and I said quick you can't miss my finish (of course he runs WAY faster than me so who knows what I was thinking.)  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry that the amazing journey was coming to a close and as I ran people kept saying you did it, you are an ironman.  As I rounded for the finish I saw a few people that I knew I could pass so I did with care to make sure I could get a good finish line picture and then I don't know what came over me but I SPRINTED, I mean full out ran down that finisher shoot.  Someone said "Oh wow what a finish!" and before I knew it I heard those words I had been waiting to here..."Katrina Purcell from New York City, NY, you are an ironman". I looked up, gave Packy, and all my angels a kiss and then the winner of the race put my medal on.

Total time 15:41:31        

Turns out that I passed a lot of people on the run, my bike and run times were pretty consistent and I really couldn't be more proud.  I wasn't the fastest person but I did my best and I didn't let others affect my race or mindset.  I kept my fueling and hydration plans under control even when there was a minor hiccup. I thanked volunteers and spectators all day, I had a smile plastered on my face and I enjoyed every single second (ok maybe not that second I found that really gross port-a-potty but all the others).

I am so happy I started this journey and I am so thankful that my parents, Z, Joanne, My aunt and uncle and Jamie and Mike could be there to share it with me.  It truly takes a village to get to the race in one piece and I could not have asked for a better support system. Z massaged my calves while waiting for swim start, carried every single bag, took on anything that could possibly cause me stress and kept me calm.  My words when I crossed were I am never doing this again but that has worn off and I could entertain it but first I have a long to do list of things I promised to do "after the race" :)

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful read.Thank you for taking me along the journey. That article you had posted about going through the finish line, was reflected so beautifuly with what your father had to say.. And it couldn't be truer for your grit and determination. Well done. Who knew that one Saturday afternoon I was destined to meet someone like you.

    So it is your fault I couldn't track you. I tried all day, but then your friends and family were doing a great job on Facebook. So I kept stalking that instead. I slept so happy that night. :)

    I notice so many people write on your page, about thanking them to do more, to do better. It is so nice to be surrounded by that kind of positivity and inspiration.

    Kudos to you! And I should stop before my comment becomes longer than your post!. So congratulations and hope to keep hearing from you on this blog. :)