Last year several friends and I decided we were going to do Ironman Chattanooga. This would be my first Ironman brand race and my 4th140.6 distance (well technically this one was 144.6!). From the minute it was announced, I knew I wanted to do it as I spend a lot of time in that area because my husband has family in both Chattanooga and about 40 minutes outside the city in Alabama.
Again, I was working with GoFast coach, Mark Gorris on my training plan for the race and I had been pretty diligent following the workouts leading up to the race. As race week approached, of course there were a few things I wished I could have done better, but I was relaxed knowing I should be well-prepared.
As I made my way to town for the weekend, we were treated to perfect weather for everything. Everything at the expo and packet pickup went smooth and Chattanooga was just bustling with race activity. There was no shortage of restaurants to hit and getting around was easy with the free shuttle service. This just seems like a great race venue!
While I had stayed with our relatives on Thursday and Friday night, I settled into a hotel room with friends at the Choo Choo hotel Saturday night. The wake-up call was an early 3:45 AM (ouch!) and I had not slept that well. There was not much to prepare as all of our stuff including are transition bags were already at the race. I brought two special needs bags with me and those were very minimally stocked. One flask of FE Liquid Shot in Run Special Needs and one more flask in Bike Special Needs along with a 20 oz bottle of EFS.
Planned nutrition was about 500 calories for breakfast (bagel, PB, banana) and sipped on EFS prerace. 1500 calories on the bike (2 flasks at 400 cal each, 2 – 20 oz bottles of EFS mixed heavy at approximately 350 calories each with a planned additional 50-60 oz of water. I planned on about 600-800 calories on the run which would be just 2 flasks of liquid shot and water at aid stations and coke later if desired. I was very diligent about following this plan and it seemed to work just fine for me.
This was my first every Ironman brand race and I felt lucky to have the opportunity to race it as a pro. It sure made the morning less stressful as I was able to walk to the front of the swim line to get in first. I was very relaxed that morning and was hoping things would go smoothly. As the daylight started to break, it was time to get into the water for a very short warm-up swim. The current was definitely going to be a nice assist in the swim as the other pro ladies and I held onto a line and fought the current while we waiting for our gun to go. As the swim went off, I tried to stay in contact with some of the ladies but my goggles were fogged which I fixed and I just did my best to settle into my own rhythm and to stay relaxed. Everyone who knows me knows that the swim is a constant source of frustration for me but I have been working at it and I would say I have had some small improvements thanks to both my regular swim partners (thanks EB & JM) and Liquid Lifestyles (thanks Michael & Daniel). I was hoping to break 1:15 and with the help of the river current I was stoked to see my swim come in at 58:05. Thank you current. This helped set a good tone for my day.
I ran up the hill and got off the skin suit and grabbed my biking stuff as quick as I could. T1 3:55
As I hopped onto the bike, as usual, my heart rate was through the roof. I was trying to reel it in but it was just so high so I was trying to back it down without losing too much time. About mile 5 or 6, I went to grab my sports bottle with EFS and it slipped out of my hand. I stopped as quick as I could and ran the 50 yards or so back to grab it as I was going to need that! At this point, I was beginning to worry that this bike may not be my day. However somewhere between 35-45 minutes in, my heart rate finally settled and I started to feel better. I was beginning to pass the people that had passed me and was now enjoying the bike course. It was a nice mix of rollers and beautiful scenery. Having a lot of others around frequently gave me carrots to focus on and I was entertained by certain people like this guy wearing a USA kit (I think his last name was Leestma) who really seemed to ham it up for the crowds and camera. While the ride was methodical in watching my power, speed and heart rate, I was definitely just actually enjoying the bike and my average speed increased from 20.5 early on to 21.4 by the time I was done. As I headed into the home stretch, I was thinking this was the best I could imagine feeling after 116 miles and I got off the bike excited that I had executed well on 2 out of the 3 sports and now there was just one left! 116 mile bike 5:25 (21.4 mph)
I grabbed my running stuff as quick as I could and out onto the course, I ran. T2 2:20
All and all I would say I was just a steady tired and just couldn’t seem to push myself to go faster but I was remaining fairly steady. I kept to my nutrition plan sipping my EFS flask. I had carried a handheld so I could drink more easily but for some odd reason it quite working after about 6 miles so I pitched it after carrying the thing for several miles. As we started into the run, I noticed how thick and humid the air felt and I knew that could impact my asthma. However a little over halfway through the run, it started to rain and I must say, at that point I thought it felt great. Step by step, I made my way to the finish. I was most excited to see my husband and his family and friends out on the hills in the run a couple times and I was now longing to make it to the finish to see them and to finally be done. I knew I was far off my run time goal but as I made my way to the finish I knew it was going to be a PR day for me and I took comfort in that as with the extra 4 miles on the bike, I knew that might not be an easy feat. Run split ended at Run 4:00:00 9:09 avg pace per mile
Total 10:29:26 13th division, 27 female, 199 overall
Overall IM CHAT was a wonderful experience for me. A PR, a good time with friends and family. Overall I felt well prepared due in no small part to my coach, Mark Gorris. I was want to thank The Bicycle Hub and owner, Rob, for taking extra special care of all my last minute bike kinks that needed working out. Lastly, thanks to my husband for all the sacrifices race weekend and all the days leading up to the event.
I really loved the course and now the question is, will I return next year?????