Friday, August 25, 2017

Ironman Mont Tremblant: A Testament to Keeping the Faith

When I started this year my coach forced me (ok, requested) I make a list of my goals.  Oh, that's easy.  Win an Ironman.  Except that goal wasn't allowed to grace the list.  Oh, shoot, well I guess it's a pretty short list then!  ha!  I should know better because as I tell my athletes all the time, "you can't control who shows up at your race, you can only control yourself".  The outcomes are the results of many things, including factors that are 100% out of your control.  Your best days reveal themselves when you focus solely on what you need to do for hours between the gun and the finish.

After the worst night of sleep of my career (I swear, I probably got two hours of actual sleep!),  I began the 3am prep for the day ahead.  I always have mixed emotions on race morning and Kyle will tell you, there have been plenty of races where I've suggested we pack the car and start the drive home before anyone knows we're gone.  Regardless of how I feel, we always get our act together and get on the road because we both know I came to do my job and my job is to see what God has in store for the day.

Emma was stoked about getting up at 4am!  

Despite all the nerves, my team was ready to send me off on what we hoped would be a long but good day!  Thanks Deb! 

When we lined up, I had a swim goal in mind of right around an hour.  The week before I'd swam 4k in 57 minutes flat in the pool during a workout, so I felt pretty good about a wetsuit swim with some fast girls.  I was hoping to grab some good feet and make it happen! 

The pro women always amaze and surprise me.  Some were chatting, others were focused.  A few even came up to tell me they enjoyed my blog!  Thanks ladies. 

The horn blew with jets overhead and we were off.  I had a fantastic start where I was out front and diving in the front row.  That was the end of my swim performance.  The group I was hoping to stay with swam away and I hooked on with another group of three which included Jennie (I could tell from her ankle KT tape).  We swam together to the turn buoy and I was feeling pretty strong so I hoped to come around the girls and do some pulling on the way back.  At that moment, the age group men started swarming us and the pack broke up.  Before I knew it, I was swimming alone with 1.2 miles to go.  With every group of age groupers that came through I attempted to jump on, didn't make it and then lost a little mojo.  I also felt a little nauseous, so that wasn't helping my cause.  The swim seemed to go on forever as I ended up inside the buoys, then outside again!  UGH!!  I kept thinking "I'm going to swim 1:10, I just know it."  I wasn't that far off!  

When I ran into T1, I was feeling pretty low.  There were only two other bikes left on the rack besides mine and a bad little voice inside my head told me I should just pack it up and go home.  I tried to shut it up quickly as I began riding.  
 Emma didn't care about my poopy swim!  She was rolling on the red carpet all morning!  

 Once I got my mind back on track, I proceeded to see some of the highest heart rates that I've ever seen during an Ironman race!  I wasn't sure what to do other than just ride the prescribed wattage given to me by my coach and try to relax and not worry too much.  I didn't feel the effort was too high, so I just started drinking two bottles an hour and kept my cadence high out on the Monique Ryan highway.  
 The time passed relatively quickly and with every 28 mile split of the 112 mile bike ride, I felt more and more confident that I was feeling good and enjoying the ride.  I remembered how much fun it was to just be OUT there competing and using all the fitness I'd built over the last eight months.  I reminded myself what a gift it was to just be healthy and have my family on the course.  Of every bike ride I've done in my career, I did the best job I've ever done at riding that bike like I stole it.  I used every bit of knowledge I'd ever acquired from cutting the tangents to getting as aero as possible on the descents.  I managed my power on the climbs to push where appropriate and not burn one extra match when it wasn't necessary.  I started seeing the leaders coming back to me and passing a few other pro women.  It gave me a small boost when about mile 90 the camera guy pulled up and started filming.  I wasn't sure what that meant, but I smiled and gave him a thumbs up.  I fell in love with racing all over again.  

Those first few steps off the bike are always eye opening.  You're so stiff and sore you wonder how you'll EVER run 26 miles!  Within two or three miles, you're clicking along and hopefully feeling good (which I was!).  I had a 4th place cyclist so that lifted my spirits too!  The first five miles were critical not to overdo it, so I settled in and relaxed.  The key is refusing too think to far ahead in the Ironman marathon.  Your best bet is to pretend you are literally running ONE mile at a time.  I kept repeating "smooth, fast, efficient, strong" and phrases like "it won't hurt until mile 16, today is your day."  If you do happen to have a day like that, you have to take advantage of it, and I did.  There weren't many people out on the far end of the course and it was my first chance to look at my distance to the leaders.  I timed the distance between Rachel and Mags to leader Lauren (who was SCHOOLING us on the swim so she was light years ahead).  They were 4 mins to her at 7 miles and I was about 4 minutes from those two.  "Eight minutes" I thought, "totally do-able".  I didn't increase my pace, I didn't surge, instead I just ate, drank and ran steady.  I knew the second loop was going to be tough, but I also knew I could make up ground.  Kyle just kept saying "BE SMART!" and I silently promised him I was trying!  Around mile 14 of the second loop, I starting hearing I was getting close to 3rd, who I THOUGHT was Mags.  Instead, when I got a peek while closer, I realized it was Lauren.  The bikers who kept track of the places were confused for a moment and the camera man also was mixed up in our mess!  "Where was Magali Tisseyre?" bikers were yelling.  When I passed the biker along the road said Mags was in the bathroom, so all of the sudden I was in 2nd!  I saw Rachel at the turn around and she looked like she was about 3 minutes ahead.  We are good friends, but we are also fierce competitors.  I knew barring some major issue, she wasn't backing down one inch.  For the last 10k, I just kept getting splits and asking myself if I was running as hard as I could.  The answer was certainly that I was running with everything I had left.  Jennie also wasn't that far back, so I had to keep the gas on to try to catch and not be caught!

I'd forgotten the extreme pain of those last miles of the Ironman marathon in my hiatus from this distance.  Your legs screaming in pain, your mind saying quit, and your heart saying "NO WAY!"  I was gaining time on Rach, but not quickly enough.  I did the math, I was not going to get her unless she blew and there wasn't even a hint of that happening.  As I made my way into town, the cheers grew loud and I finally let myself enjoy the day a bit and smile.  I had done my best, clawed my way back and that was going to have to be enough for today.  The crowds in the final tunnel to the finish were deafening.  It was one of the best feelings I can imagine running down that stretch.  I slapped fives, cheered out loud and was truly happy.

Seeing my family at the finish was simply the best.  I looked forward to that all day long! Thanks for all your support Kyle, Deb and of course I love you Emma!  

Seeing my fellow pro women at the finish was fantastic.  Jennie's emotion had me crying.  It was such a special day to be with her for both of our comebacks.  She has worked so hard and I was incredibly proud of her effort!  I can't wait to see where she goes from here!

Teammates, competitors, friends. 

 Your top three!  Rachel Joyce 9:19, Me 9:21, Jennie 9:25

In the end, I managed the fastest run of the day 3:06 and the second fastest bike at 5:03

 Rachel, a true friend and world-class athlete and fellow MOM!  She works so hard and if I had to be beat, I was glad it was her! 

A toast to Team Schwabenbauer! 

Oh and that goals list from the beginning?  Just a few were 
1. Get back to a level of fitness where I could be competitive
2. Bike around 5 hours, run close to 3 hours
3.  Have fun, enjoy the process
4. See my family at the finish line of at least two races

Well, I guess that was check, check and double check to all four.  

There are so many people to thank and I'll never do it justice.  You know who you are, and I love you.  My coach Jesse from QT2 has been my steady rock.  He's lasted the test of time and believed in me more than I ever did.  Thanks for all you do to help me live my dreams!  Thanks to my family, friends and sponsors:

Finally, thank you to Kyle and Emma.  You've put up with all the crazy to let me do what I love.  This journey would be nothing without you!  

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