23rd April 2009 | Megan
Last Sunday night we had our third training session, two more to go before the race! Many women came tanned and rested from a week of Spring Break somewhere other than the North East. Two of our youngest athletes came refreshed and tattooed (not real I am told) from their break. There are at least three sets of mother-daughter teams coming on Sundays. So neat to see those young teenage legs out there working as hard as their moms.
What was amazing this week is that every athlete completed three miles. Running, walking, running fast, recovering… it all counts. Moving forward is the goal. Many very accomplished marathoners race using the run/walk method. This isn’t for just for newbies, it is an established style of racing. It is much better to run for a set number of minutes and walk for a minute or two(and reapeat) , then to go out hard running and finish the race walking.
The progression of intervals that Eric has assigned is meant to be achievable. You should have the ability and confidence now to finish the last interval as strong as the first. You should be excited with your progress and that alone should motivate you to do more. I know it motivates me!
20th October 2008 | Megan
It has taken a couple of days to get this post out. Partly because I am trying to reacclimate to a life without Ironman training and mostly because it means the end of the trip for me. I have never been a “journaler” so this blog effort hasn’t been easy but I am grateful to now have a document of my experience.
The moment I crossed the finish line I realized that nothing about my experience was average. Running down Alii Drive was in every way what I imagined, crossing the finish line was beyond. Because Chon, Sam and Hanna had VIP seats they were within my view as I crossed. The medical volunteers quickly descend on you with a towel and begin evaluating your condition. I felt great and left them them to be met by John Smith. John was such an added bonus to our trip. Reuniting with an old friend was huge and having here at the finish was special.
We all headed towards chip removal, Ironman medal pick-up and pictures. John had suggested getting an IV, which helps tremendously in recovery. It is normal for some athletes to fake symptoms so that they can receive an IV and recover much faster. I laughed at John and said something like, “IVs were for wimps.” Chon and I posed for a picture in front of the M-dot flowers. Next, everyone thought I should stand in front of the other picture area as it had the date and 30th anniversary logo on it. Standing in line for this photo op, I suddenly started to dry heave and my legs buckled. To the med tent…
Last time I went to a med tent it was to have blood blisters popped post race. This was a different experience! The doctors quickly laid me down, elevated my legs and began an IV. Next the strangest thing happened, my legs began “running” again. There was nothing I could do to control the movement of my legs! The doctors gave me magnesium to stop the twitching and within 20 minutes my legs had finsihed their race and I was feeling almost normal.
I think my med tent experience was caused by not eating at all during the run. I had taken in Gatorade, water and Coke but apparently that wasn’t enough for my body. Lacking the proper hydration, sodium and potassium, my body was not happy.
About 45 minutes after I entered, I left the med tent to my waiting family. A quick shower at Hanna’s hotel and off to my post race tradition of cheeseburgers and milk. I didn’t have a stomach for food, ate 1/2 a cheeseburger then said good night to my cousins and headed back to the hotel.
In the hotel room, was a bottle of Dom from Scott and Mike. What a great gift but it was going to have to wait. I crawled into bed, pulled the covers up to my chin and ate the other cheeseburger before crashing.
The next day, we all headed to Hapuna Beach and laid in the water for a few hours. There were other athletes there as evidenced by their body markings, sunburned numbers and backs. After being it Hawaii for 4 days, it was nice to hang out and play in the waves.
After the beach we headed back to the hotel to rehash the event and most importantly share a special bottle of champagne. Some of the champagne ended on Sam’s pants. Could have been the rookie pourer, her hands were still shaky from the race!
I think my wedding, my children’s births and my Kona Ironman have been the most special days of my life. Having Chon and my cousins share this day with me was the best. This quest to come to Kona has been years in the making and now it is done. If you ever have the chance to race in Kona or just be there to watch and support it is an experience of a lifetime.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Mahalo Nui Loa and Aloha!
In a month this site will revert back to it’s main purpose, The Run Like A Mother 5K.
18th October 2008 | Megan
As soon as I got off my bike, my spirits lifted by the crowd, I knew that in order to finish strong I was going to have to put in a good marathon. In the words of my friend Sandy, “I had work to do!”
The first part of the marathon is an out and back on Alii Drive. It is nice as there are plenty of spectators cheering and visually a huge relief from riding in fields of lava. As always my first two miles were in the 7:30/min pace. TOO FAST! As I settled into a pace, my right foot began screaming at me. It felt like I had splints under my toes that were prohibiting them to bend. I reassured myself that in 24 miles if they were still “broken” I would seek medical help. Carry on!
I had one more crucial issue. Blueberry Pomegranate Roctane! Enough to cause me to gag! I had two gel flasks for the run. One filled with the very smooth tasting Vanilla- Orange and one reserve for my special needs bag (at mile 19) that was Blueberry Pomegranate flavored. I had not intended to use the “BP” flavor, I just put it in my bag for back up. The flavor, loved by many, makes me vomit. Well, I accidentally switched the flavors. As I reached for my first shot of Roctane was I ever surprised! This mistake would come back to me later.
Alli Drive is nasty hot but not nearly as bad as the it is when I turned up Palani Drive to head once again up to the Queen K highway. Are you tired of the Queen K? I was tired of being on it! At the crest of the hill I was surprised to see Eric run up beside me. He had great words for me… (these aren’t verbatim, they are what I remember)
1. Forget about the swim
2. Forget about the bike
3. You know what you have to do on this run, you know how to do it, be strong, make it happen
And his last words…
4. Mandy Braverman is 3 minutes ahead of you Mandy Braverman is a 24 year old local athlete that seems to always have about the same race I do. She has beat me my 30 seconds a couple of times before. Mandy is a wonderful woman and I don’t have anything against her but Eric knew I needed a carrot, so this day she was it!
After Eric spoke, I got to see Chon as I headed onto the Queen K. His face and positive thoughts were all I needed. Chon is my support, my rock and my biggest cheerleader. When I saw him at this point there was no way I was NOT going to finish this race.
At mile 13, on the flats of Queen K I saw Mandy! Carrot passed…now what was I going to do? I focused on the mile markers, at this point I was running 8:25s. I told myself that I could do this all day. One by one, I was knocking them down. The interesting part of this race was that I got to see a lot of pro women heading back to Kona. many were struggling. The heat and winds on the bike zapped some great athletes and it showed in their run.
Heading into the energy lab, the hottest part of the course, I was feeling good. At aid stations I was drinking gatorade, coke and water, dumping ice into my top and on my head. Around mile 16 and mile 18, I had to make two pit stops, darn! The energy lab is famous for it’s out and back. NBC always makes it sound like the most terrible part of the race. It is hot but the this part of the run was actually pleasant as the crowds were very supportive and the view a change from lava beds.
I had given up on eating any gel after the first Blueberry Pomegranate debacle so by mile 20, I was running on fumes! Back out on the Queen K, heading towards home, I had calculated that I could break 12 hours if I stayed on pace. The coke I was drinking was keeping my mind alert and I felt like I was really moving. The reality was that my brain thought I was moving and my legs had NO gas! Miles 23 and 24 were 10 minute miles. Funny, I felt so fast.
Finally I made the right turn down Palani drive. The final stretch. It is hard not to be emotional with the crowds cheering (probably 5 deep)as Palani turns on to Alii drive. The final half mile on Alii Drive was incredible. Somehow for those few moments, I felt like the only person running the race. The noise is deafening and the lights, music and the voice of Mike Reilly made me feel like a rock star!
“#1028″, from Ridgefield, Connecticut, Megan Searfoss, you are an Ironman!” There it was! DONE! My fourth Ironman in three years, my second in twelve weeks, my first World Championship…I am on top of the world.
16th October 2008 | Megan
The first part of the bike course is not remarkable as it heads south of Kona on Highway 19. I settled into a nice pace and paid close attention to my heart rate and watts, knowing it was going to be a long day, I tried to keep both relatively low. The course referees were out in abundance, yelling and warning people not to draft. I felt great, the air was nice and it even seemed I had a tailwind heading out to the Queen K highway.
The legendary Queen K highway is such a desolate stretch of road, I concentrated hard on trying to stay on task. I have always tried in a bike race to never let a woman pass me. I reminded myself of what Eric had said, not to get caught up in women passing me, this was the World Championship. So, I let a few by (it was hard) before a woman passed me that I recognized. Her name is Cheryl S., a woman that I had raced against for years in Chicago. “Oh No you don’t” I thought, don’t let Cheryl pass you. So began thirty miles of friendly exchanges and camaraderie with Cheryl which helped the time fly. Because drafting is such an issue, Cheryl and I were careful to talk as we took turns in the lead.
We traded spots until Kawaihae, at which point I did not see her again until the run.
A few blogs ago, I wrote about driving the bike course. I wrote about the wind, the rolling hills and the heat. What I didn’t write about was that we drove the course only to a town called Kawaihae (about mile 54), feeling like I had gotten a good idea of the course, we headed home. What I neglected to realize that from Kawaii’hae to Hawi (the bike turn around) was the most difficult part of the course, a 6 mile steady climb, where the winds and the heat are the worse!
The road up to Hawi was the most unstable I have ever felt on a bike. The winds were so strong and gusts so surprising that most of my energy was used trying to stay upright on the bike. I would watch the man infront of me as the wind would shift his bike in a direction, then I would brace for the wind to hit me. Hydrating was very difficult as I did not want to take my hand off the handlebars. I watched people heading back down the hill and prayed that I would eventually be where they were. Finally, Hawi! After the turnaround, the special needs area was ahead. I grabbed a Mojo bar and headed towards down the back stretch. Trying to eat something solid in 40 mile an hour winds was a huge task! The downhill I had seen on the way up was unforgiving as the wind had changed and now was hitting me head on. Bummer!
I have trained this year using a powertap. The powertap measures HR, speed, cadence but most importantly wattage. I have learned alot about my cycling from the powertap and truly become dependent on the feedback it has given me. About 40 miles into Ironman, I realized the powertap was giving erroneous numbers, telling me I was not producing watts when I was climbing and that I wasn’t pedaling. I did have the heart rate function and speed, but it was very disconcerting not having the wattage as a governor. Was I working too hard? Not enough? One of the hardest tasks in an Ironman is to stay reserved on the bike so you have energy for the run. Would my race have been different if I had the computer working?
The last 45 miles of the bike was the hardest, most trying experience of my life. I rode with no confidence and worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish the race. I was momentarily lifted by the RTL rocks we had placed and used that to try to rally. My heart rate was fine, I just felt like I was on a stationary bike from hell. I was moving so slowly and the head winds were getting the best of me. A woman road next to me for a bit, she said that she had done this race for the last three years and that she had never experienced the heat and the wind as it was this year. That was a consolation but I still felt defeated.
Somewhere around mile 110, I remembered where I was, why I was here and willed myself to hurry up and get off the darn bike. Coming into town was thrilling. I was motivated to see the crowds, my peeps and the transition area. At the dismount, I happily handed the volunteer my bike and ran into T2.
I rode the entire ride without a second application of sunscreen. I wasn’t going to continue to make this mistake. As someone helped me get my shoes on another woman with white sunscreen caked gloves, lathered me.
I am thrilled to be out and on my feet…
16th October 2008 | Megan
The race does not start until every athlete is in the water. You are not permitted to start on the beach, once everyone is in the water, the race begins with an “unanticipated” start. This means there is no count down, no ‘on your marks’, no warning just a cannon. Was it wild! Check out the surfboard up in the air at the start…
The cannon boomed and immediately there was a sea of arms reaching for open water. 1700 athletes fighting for position all at once. I had placed myself to the far left, this was a clock-wise, u-shaped course and Eric had warned me that the current was going to push me in quickly. The men had green caps, the women had orange. I tried to surround myself with women because generally we are more polite. It didn’t matter, within seconds positions changed and I was forced into the mix. It is weird to have a non-wetsuit swim in clear water as I could see the ages of the athletes on their calves. I tried to pass the “older” athletes but kept in mind that I was swimming amongst champions of all ages. Darn! It was tough.
Immediately, I found myself pushed inside the buoy lines. This was not a problem until I realized I would have to work my way out to get around the ship turn-around. This took a lot of time! The wind was causing huge swells and choppy water. I am typically a right side breather in races and so I had to readjust to keep from swallowing half the ocean. In the water, I had a very hard time gauging effort and pacing. The current often made me feel like I was swimming in place. By my time, I probably was!
I have never even been in a pool as long as I was in the ocean swimming. It was the longest swim (time) of my life. I got to the stairs to enter the transition area (t1) and looked at my watch, 1:21, darn! In Lake Placid I was really dissapointed with my swim, here I was just happy to have people still behind me. It was going to be a long day and I wasn’t going to let myself worry about what I should have done. The water was beautiful!
I entered T1 and immediately saw Chon and my cousins. I think I have cursed at them about the swim, but this blog is not the place. The changing room was chaos and there was not a lot of help. Although I had applied sunscreen in the morning, I missed the women that were reapplying it in the tent. Big mistake!
Getting to my bike I wa able to get a good look at how many of my competitors were gone. I have never started a bike ahead of many. I usually have to do a lot of catch up on the bike to make up for my poor swims. This was the case in Kona.