A few weeks ago I had a total meltdown. It was the Monday after of Ironman Mt. Tremblant and for some reason everything was just too much. Looking back I had probably held things together after Ironman Lake Placid a little too well. I'd told myself I was fine and that it was just a race, one race, and it wasn't that big of a deal what happened, happens to everyone. Although some of those things are kind of true, we rookie pro's are a bit more fragile that than because frankly, we don't have the experience at this level to give us confidence and to say.. "Oh yeah, that happened three years ago to me and everything turned out just fine after".
After spending the whole day holding myself together Kyle finally came home and I just couldn't help but let it out. I felt like a black cloud was hanging over my head. I emailed my coach about something else and he picked up on it immediately that I wasn't myself. I"m usually pretty positive and this email was different. He finally told me out with it, and while tears streamed down my face my dismal sentiments exploded all over the page about how scared I was about Rev 3 Cedar Point and all of the what if's.. I had many - "what if my body doesn't want to do another 140.6 when I line up on Sept 9th, what if it malfunctions again and I don't have any power, what if I'm not even as good as I remotely even think I am and I shouldn't even be racing as a pro, what if Ironman Lake Placid was my coming out party and I missed it.. completely?"
Erin and I at the pro meeting
Heidi and I at the Expo
We warmed up, lined up, & proceeded to freeze our butts off. It was still 55 degrees and there were no wetsuits for the professionals due to USAT rules. I lined up in my BlueSeventy Skinsuit. I had a feeling once I checked how shallow the water was that these girls were going to dolfin dive and I have had little or no practice at that particular move. About 0.5 seconds after the gun went off I realized I was right and I attempted to half do one, but then also keep running forward to stay with them. No dice. Note to self: Learn how to do this before next season! Within a minute the front pack was gone and since there were only 9 of us on the start line I knew I would be swimming alone. I felt great though and confident I could have a decent swim. I could still see splashes on the way out and that helped me sight. We made the turn and the water got a bit choppier so I couldn't see quite as well. Finally I was hitting that far turn buoy and when I would look up I'd get splashed or be at the bottom of a wave so I went for the first line of buoys I could see. I swam for around 2 minutes before slamming directly into a red kayak startled but not hurt! I looked up to see a women staring down at me "YOU"RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!!" she yelled. Oh NO!! I thought! "WHERE??!" I asked her and she pointed to buoys around 250 yards directly across from me. My heart sank and I felt a little like I wanted to puke. Ok.. time to get back on it I thought! It's a long day, plenty of time to get back on track.
I swam up on a male pro who was pretty far back that I had passed on the way out.. great, not a good sign. I made the turn realizing I was now at least 4-5 minutes back from the front girls and headed back out into the lake. It felt like I was out there FOREVER! On the way back in when I WAS allowed to swim strait water kept hitting me in the face every time I tried to breath. It was a battle between me and the lake and the lake totally won this time!
When I finally exited I tried to smile and be thankful for the cheers. I ran to my bike only to see most other bikes were gone. I went through my mental mantra's about this race not being about "place" but more about my execution and doing the best I could to MY potential and headed out! I had Pittsburgh people cheering from the outside of transition right behind me so that was fun. Thanks guys!
Within 2 minutes I realized my heart rate wasn't showing on my bike computer. I racked my brain, what could be the issue??! Finally, it came to me, it wasn't sync up with this strap. I'd gone back to my old chest strap right before the race!! GRR!!! For my own sanity I HAD to see that my heart rate wasn't totally out of wack like last time so I realized I've have to reprogram it was on the bike. Not advisable, but necessary. I waited till a flat stretch of road and went to work! When it finally synced I had my own personal party yelling and doing a little happy dance in my heart. I saw it was in the 140's and I breathed a HUGE sign of relief! I was NORMAL! I was myself!! My body WAS going to show up today to play for the 135 miles I had left!! YES!
The rest of the bike course was primarily flat, a few rolling hills, a few tar and chip roads, a headwind here or there and sometimes a tail wind. I set off to nail my power numbers that Coach Jesse had given me and make sure I peed on the bike, which STILL hadn't happened yet this season. I drank like it was going out of style despite the weather being cool enough for arm warmers. It was a beautiful beautiful day and I was so thankful to be alive and competing which is what I love! My Trek Speed Concept was running perfectly and I was loving the Zipp 808 wheel set I had rented! They were the perfect choice!
It was pretty lonely at times. I didn't see ONE other pro women for the first 20 miles and then finally around mile 30 I saw a ref had one women ahead of me pulled over and standing with both feet on the ground. Well, "that's one way to pass people" I thought! Again, back to the plan, back to me, this is only about what I can do.. not about them.
Kyle was everywhere! He was out on the course at many turns and I saw him every 10-15 miles which was such a nice pick me up. I would smile and wave when I saw him. My power numbers were looking perfect and I just didn't care what anyone was doing up front. Finally at 2 hours and 24 mins it happened - I had to pee! It was pretty sparse out there in terms of people so I was finally able to relax and do it!! FINALLY! I knew it was a GREAT sign of hydration status!! Whoo hoo!! Things were going well!
The rest of the bike was pretty uneventful. I ate my Powerbar Gels right on schedule and drank my Powerbar Perform and felt pretty dang good throughout. I encouraged the half Ironman bikers when I saw them on my second loop and it just felt good to be riding with people again when they were there. Unfortunately they turned off around mile 70 and it was just me again and the open road!
The goal was to bring those power numbers up as the ride went on and I had nailed the last three 28 mile splits. When I hit 80 miles I knew it was go time. I pushed a bit harder, still felt great, and went ahead with the plan from coach. He said I should feel my strongest of the day in those final 20 miles of the bike and I completely did. I was actually holding back so my averages weren't too high! "Nice and steady" I told myself! I wanted a good file!
When I got close to T2 I attempted to look at my bike time but I had stopped and started my computer a bit so there wasn't a great estimate. I knew it was pretty dang good, for me, and that was all that mattered.
As I pulled into Rev 3 T2 it sure seemed like a lot of bikes were there, and I struggled a bit to get my shoes and socks on but then I was off! Time to run 26.2! I was thankful for no mechanical or flats on the bike! Now, it's all about the run which I love!!
The legs felt fine as I headed out and I couldn't wait to get on the course and see Kyle again. After assessing my stomach which was perfect, I started my nutrition plan at the first aid station. The heart rate instructions were explicit and I knew my coach would be seeing all the files so I tried to stay relaxed and keep it down in those first miles.. surprisingly the couple times I checked my pace it was under 7 mins/mile so the weather was really perfect that day (70) for a good run.
Around mile 3 a motorcycle pulled up and started filming me and I thought "What is this guy doing here??" he didn't say anything, just filmed away. I tried to stay calm but I was grinning ear to ear and my heart rate started climbing because I was excited! This was a first!! When he finally put down his camera I said "where am I?" He said "You're in fifth." I was elated. Ok Kim, calm down, back to the plan I told myself.
I would see Erin Spliter and we would smile, encourage each other or slap a high five. It was just awesome to feel the support of another fellow pro and friend out there (thank you Erin!! You are awesome!!). I had so many Pittsburgh PTC people cheer and say hi out on the course. It made it such a great experience and I cheered for those that I could when I felt like I could!
I felt STRONG.. really STRONG. My legs.. honestly, felt spectacular. I can't believe I'm saying that, but they did. Kyle kept telling me I looked good and I was just so so thankful! I was having a day!
At one point I yelled "I LOOVVEE YOUUUU" To him and he laughed. It was a good sign! I passed one other pro girl at mile 8 and moved into 4th. "Just keep truckin, smooth & easy" I told myself. Around mile 17 it started getting a bit tougher and the legs were a little harder to move. It took more focus and I started to get a bit quieter when I saw Kyle. My mile splits were now toward 7:30 vs. 7 mins but I was just fine with that.
I was now into the caffeine and trying to keep the heart rate stimulated and up for this second half. Every mile was a victory and I promised when I hit 20 I would do a little celebration as there would only be a 10k to go.
We wound through the town and it was great to see people out working hard. I saw my friend Rich around mile 24 and he said "4th?" and I held up four fingers as I ran by.. I couldn't speak any more, but it was good for my heart to see him.
Kyle said I could do anything for 2 miles when I saw him and I decided he was right.. it was up over the bridge and HOME!!! I got the last bit of calories in and gutted it out up the bridge and toward Cedar Point park. That last half mile I just rounded the corner and soaked it all in. I had no idea what my time was, but the day had unfolded pretty dang well and I was able to BIKE and RUN and my body did what it was supposed to and I was so so so thankful. All of those fears of "what if's" were gone out of my head. Finally..
As I crossed I was elated and just full of joy. God had been there through my whole day supporting me and seeing my through. I felt the love of my family and friends watching and I just cried out in utter joy. You would have though I WON the race - I was THAT happy!!
Kyle hugged me as we sat down and showed me his watch.. 9:41 he said.. I was in total disbelief! My face showed it!! I seriously couldn't believe, especially with my extra sight seeing tour in the lake for 4-5 minutes.
Team Schwabenbauer - I couldn't do this without you!
My very own poster! Thanks Rev 3! This is awesome!!
There are too many people to thank, but most of all I'm just thankful for this life, for this chance, for the opportunity to hopefully show a tiny bit of the blessings I've received and say thank you to the one they all come from up above. Thanks for those of you who always believe, always support and always love me.. you know who you are. Thanks to my husband Kyle who endures my breakdowns and realizes that it's all part of this process and that we are in this journey together 100% as a team. None of this would be possible without him.
Also a huge thank you to:
Ballou Skies for allowing me to be part of this great team that does so much good for boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Power bar for fueling me with delicious products that never fail me on race day. Newtons for helping me run with good form and hopefully, get speedier with time. Top Gear for outfitting me with a bike that works and helping me learn how to fix it along the way. Jesse my coach at QT2 Systems who I cannot say enough good things about! You are providing the tools to make this dream possible. Blueseventy for supporting our Ballou Skies team with super fast wetsuits and speedsuits!! You all keep me in the game, faster, longer and stronger – I can’t thank you enough!