Monday, November 28, 2011

I am an Ironman

Yesterday, I completed a 2.4 mile swim in crystal clear blue water, a 112 mile bike ride on an extremely windy day, and a marathon through downtown Cozumel. It took me 14 hours and 56 minutes until I heard the words "Lauren Riley, from Arlington Virginia, for the first time in your life, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN"

The day was filled with ups, downs, doubts, and smiles. I'll give a full report with tons of pictures when I get back from vacation but for the next few days I will be nursing my sore muscles by sitting by the pool and drinking margaritas. Thanks again for all of the support- knowing people were tracking me gave me the boost to run the last chunk of the marathon.

Monday, November 21, 2011

See ya in Mexico!

My bags are packed, my Gu's are accounted for, my passport is in my purse, and I am ready to go!

why yes, that is peanut butter and jelly in my bag and 4 bottles of sunscreen

I'll try and check in later this week once I have picked up my bike and my race numbers. In case you missed any posts don't forget to read my goals for race day and how to track me during the race! See ya in Mexico!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Ironman Cozumel Goals Post

Well, this is it. It feels very strange to be writing my goals for this race. The race that I signed up for a year ago. The race that when other races this season went to shit I would say "My biggest goal is Cozumel in November". So without further ado, this is what I hope my sometime-less-than-17-hour (17 hours is the time cut off) day looks like.


Let me just say that my biggest goal for the day is to get my booty across that finish line come hell or high water. I have no time goals except for making the cut-off of 17 hours. I promise that no matter what situations may arise, and during such a long race I'm sure they will, I will keep moving forward. I will also take the time to look around me and say "wow...I'm doing a %$#^ Ironman" and smile. And just in case you had any doubts, I plan to cheese it up to the cameras as much as possible to keep my streak of awesome race photos going. I'm actually hoping for some pretty epic pictures...I have a few ideas in mind ;)

The Swim

Swimming- which I once thought was my weakest leg considering this time last year I couldn't cross the length of a pool without struggling, has pleasantly surprised me throughout the season. I have done 5 swims of 4500 meters in the past month which is longer than the Ironman swim. The last 2 or so of these swims felt close to effortless and that is what I hope for come race day.

The swim takes place in Chankanaab park. The water will be about 84 degrees, so no wetsuit! The water visibility will be 100% and the swim is a single loop with the longest stretch of the loop being with the current. Apparently it is one of the fastest Ironman swims out there. My plan is to position myself where I always do and swim strong and steady. And by that I mean swim easy, enjoy the fishies, and not get kicked in the face, Rumpus and Bumpas style. I estimate my swim time to be between 1:18 and 1:30.

There is also apparently a large, stone, statue of Jesus as you are making your way back to the dock. That might be a great time to say a little prayer for the rest of my day. It also may scare the crap out of me to see Jesus during an Ironman...

The Bike

The bike is a 3 loop course that loops around the island. I never realized how small Cozumel was until I saw this bike course. While at first I thought the idea of loops sucked, I have come to realize that it will be awesome. I get to pass my special needs bag 3 times, and me and Phil's awesome support crew 3 times. Downside? I also get to deal with the wind 3 times.

One of my friends and teammates who has done this race before and is a strong athlete warned us that the bike splits on this course get slower and slower each lap (so if you are tracking me, don't be surprised to see this!). He also warned us that many athletes blow up (thats tri talk for expending too much energy and then paying for it dearly) because they look down at their speedometer during the first stretch of the bike course and see a great speed (tailwind) and then when their speed drops due to crosswinds and headwinds they push and push and set themselves up for an awful run. Taking Damon's advice to heart and knowing that I would not be happy if I saw 8mph on my bike computer, I decided to ride without knowing my speed. Yup, thats right. My garmin will be displaying my heart rate zone, time of day, and distance traveled. This will allow me to solely focus on the effort I am expending so that I can set myself up to be able to jog the marathon. I don't want a repeat of Eagleman where I had to walk the whole entire run.

I also plan to take a salt pill once an hour, and 2 Powerbar gels an hour. I'll also have granola bars, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and other snacks to keep me fueled. I'll also be drinking water like it's going out of style. I plan to keep my effort easy, sing to myself, cheer for those who pass me, and enjoy the ocean view. I expect the bike will take me between 6:45 and 7:15 but that could be totally off depending on what the day brings.
The Pink Lady  is ready to rock and roll.

The Run

I am hoping that with an easy effort and focused nutrition on the bike, I set myself up for a good run. When I say good run please know that I do not mean fast. Nothing about next Sunday is going to be fast. I more so mean feeling ok, not sick to my stomach, and in good spirits.

From the very start of the marathon leg I plan to implement a run/walk strategy. I am going to walk the aid stations. I feel that taking walking breaks from the very beginning is a better idea than trying to run the first 12 or so miles and then be forced to walk the rest of the way due to stomach issues.

The run course is also 3 loops. Which is great because I will get to see my friends, teammates and the love of my life (who will be hours ahead of me, I assure you) on the course a few times. It also means I will have to see and hear the finish line 2 times before I am able to cross it. This is when I will have to be mentally tough, perhaps read some love notes you all have sent me and just keep pushing forward to the finish line. If all goes well, I expect the marathon to take me between 5:00 and 5:30. Again, these times are all estimates because you never know what the day will bring.

The Finish

Once I get my butt to the finish line chute, I have a very strict rule: NO WALKING. Music will be blaring, people will be lined up cheering, and the announcer will say "Lauren Riley, usted es un Ironman!". You can't walk for that! I'm sure my adrenaline will give me enough energy to pump my fists up and down and execute the perfect finish line dance. Yes, there is a finish line dance. I've thought long and hard about it. It will be the perfect way to end a long day of somewhere between 14 and 17 hours.

I think that about sums it up! My plan is to go slow, enjoy the day, stay mentally strong, and make constant forward progress towards the finish line. holy crap, I can't believe it's finally here!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to Track me During Ironman!

On Sunday, November 27th, while you are all still in your post-Thanksgiving food coma, I will be exploring the island of Cozumel for many, many hours. If you would like to cheer me on from the comfort of your own home, with beer in hand, there are several ways you can do that.

  1. You can follow me on Twitter for real-time updates on where I am on the course. Not only will automatic messages be coming through to my Twitter account with my times/pace/location, but my big sister will be taking over my account and sending tweets when she sees me on the course. This will most likely be the most entertaining way to track me especially as time goes on because my sister plans to be partaking in margaritas throughout the day and the tweets could become quite ridiculous. This is also a good way to track Phil, too!
  2. You can join this Google group to get real-time updates emailed to you through out the day. The emails will say something like "IM Cozumel Update: Lauren just finished the swim with a time of 1:19:32" or "IM Cozumel Update: Phil just finished the race in 12:02:03" or something like that. With this option you are not glued to your couch pressing refresh on the Ironman site- especially if you have a smart phone where you get your email!  Updates will be sent for Phil as well.
  3. Lastly, you can use the Ironman Live site and enter in my bib number (137!) or my last name (Riley) and see my splits. With this option though, there is the risk that the site will crash or be super late in putting up my splits. You can also utilize this option for the live video stream to watch me actually cross the finish line if you decide to stay up past your bed time. I promise my finish line dance will make you laugh. To track Phil on this site, his bib number is 195.
I know the race is still almost 2 weeks away, but I leave early next week. Don't worry, I'm sure I will remind you of how to track me next week so it is fresh in your mind :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Race with Gratitude

With Ironman less than 2 weeks away (!!!) I have been doing a lot of thinking about my goals for race day. I have spent time reflecting on the past year and how much I have grown as an athlete and as an individual. You'll have to wait until later this week to hear what my goals for the race are, but there is one thought that kept coming to mind as I was brainstorming and I felt it needed it own post: race with gratitude.

I am so unbelievably thankful for all of the wonderful and supportive people I have in my life that have made this experience not only possible but enjoyable. It is overwhelming, in a wonderful way, to know that on race day Phil and I will have those we love most cheering on the side lines, as well as many others cheering remotely.

I have been blessed with a supportive family that hasn't questioned why I chose to do this- but instead, memorized the Ironman distances, booked flights to Cozumel, and ordered matching shirts in preparation to cheer me and Phil on.

and Phil. From the very beginning he pushed me when I needed it, listened to all my frustrations, and was by my side always. I am very lucky to have someone so wonderful in my life who makes me happy every single day. It is nice seeing him at the finish line even if he gets there hours before me.

and lastly I have the best friends in the world. My non triathlete friends have forgiven me for missing birthdays, law school graduations, and nights out due to early morning training sessions. My triathlete friends have made this adventure enjoyable as we pushed each other to reach our goals this season. The bonding that people have while riding 115 miles together is pretty impressive. I've made amazing friends training for this race.

So for that, I am grateful. No matter what that race throws at me on November 27th, I will find strength by remembering the journey and racing with gratitude for my health and the wonderful people I am surrounded by. Sometimes we get caught up with our pace, heart rate, and things that may not be going our way on race day- but it is important to remember how lucky we are to be able to have this experience.

I promise my goals post wont be as sappy :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Makin' a list, checkin' it twice

Thanks for all of the comments reassuring me that Ironman taper feels like crap. I feel much better knowing that this is normal and I won't feel like this come race day! Which is in 19 days and the planning is well under way.

The title of this post is a total lie. I am making way more than one list, and I am checking it way more than twice. And by more than one list I mean over 6 lists so far regarding packing, prepping and planning for Ironman. Additional lists because it is an Ironman out of the country with a vacation tacked onto the end.

I had a list of items I needed to buy before leaving (check!).

I have a list of what I need to pack for the race layed out to when I will need it. Pre race, swim, T1, Bike special needs bag, T2, run special needs bag, post race.

just a few things of the many on the list
I have a list of things to pack for the vacation part of the trip because lets not forget that after the race I get to spend 5 more days in sunny Cozumel rehydrating with margaritas and nachos.

I have a list of all of the food I want to either bring or buy there.

I have a list of what needs to be done every day from the morning I arrive on Thursday to the morning of the race on Sunday.

I have a list of tasks that need to be done before I leave for the trip.

Lists, upon lists, upon lists. They are neatly organized into a google spreadsheet and color coated by category. Me? Type A? No way.

Are you a list maker for big events? Any suggestions on how to further organize myself?

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Taper Blues

I just began my Ironman taper. This means my workouts are low intensity (except some pick ups during runs to make sure my legs are still alive) and much shorter than what I have been doing for the last several months. You would think that the short workouts would feel easy and great after weeks of long rides, long runs, and hard track practices that left me hobbling for days.

 Unfortunately that is not the case. My legs feel like lead, I feel like I am swimming so slowly that I may drown, and I am sore in spots I never was during the weeks of 110+ mile rides and 18 mile runs. Luckily for me, I was told this is normal. Coach said we may not feel great this week. We may not feel good next week. But we will be fresh and ready to rock in Cozumel. It is my body recovering from the weeks of insane miles I put it through. I also feel tired even though I have been sleeping 8+ hours a night. I also noticed that my miles may have decreased but my appetite sure hasn't slowed down!

I found a great article on about The Taper Blues and it seems I have a slight case of it! I have also almost fell into a few taper traps that Runner's World discusses. I have to keep in mind for the next few weeks that there is nothing I can do to squeeze in any extra fitness. In fact, it would be detrimental for me to even try. It is time to nurse my bumps and bruises, stretch my tight muscles, know that my workouts may feel sluggish, and get my mental game together for the big day.

I have never tapered for a race this big nor ever had a taper this long and I am certainly ancy! To the experienced Ironmen out there- please reassure me that this is how taper is supposed to feel and that I won't feel like this on race day!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Leave me some Ironman Lovin'

During one of my long runs out in Denver I thought to myself " I wish I could have my cell phone with me during the race so I could call my friends and they could make me laugh." From that idea came the idea of asking my friends to send short notes via email and I would print them out on strips of paper and stash those love notes in my gear bags, special needs bags, bento box, or wherever and pull one out whenever I needed a smile, words of inspiration or just to forget the fact that I still have 5 more hours on my bike.

If you would like to send me, Phil, or any other Team Z racer, a love note, please email a short message (nothing long, we cant read a novel while on our bikes!) to  and put the athletes name as the subject. I will be printing them out and giving them to the athletes. Dont worry, if you send something for me, it gets automatically forwarded to another email address so I can't read it! These notes will be a total surprise come race day!

 I hope you send me somethin' to laugh about :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Getting Settled in Denver

Actually, I am not in Denver anymore. I said my goodbyes to Phil and our puppy (yes, I cried) the other day and I won't see Phil until Cozumel. (and I won't see Brizzy until the end of December! ah!)

I am back in DC for the week and then in Philadelphia, and then Cozumel, and then back to Philadelphia for the holidays and finally reunited with Phil and the pup for New Years. Keep up with me if you can. I am currently a traveling nomad living out of a suitcase and sleeping on Kate's couch.

However, in the week I was in Denver I made a few connections that make me really, really excited to get back there in January. I made friends with two PT students at the school I will be attending, I decided on my bike/tri shop, and Phil met a neighbor who is an avid triathlete doing IM AZ in three weeks.

The two ladies who are current PT students are awesome and I really look forward to spending more time with them when I am back in Denver! They answered all of my questions about school- but more importantly they told me how much they loved Denver and how much fun they have outside of school. They ski and snowboard so I better learn how to snowboard this winter if I want to join them on trips to the mountain! I want to try to snowboard because I am still scared of skiing after my accident in 2009. No more torn ligaments for this girl, please! Between these two ladies and my snowboarding boyfriend, hopefully I will learn quickly! (Tony, I will stay far away from the trees!)

that's Phil!
Also while in Denver I wandered into an all-women's tri shop, Tri Bella, which was recommended to me by a few readers. Thanks for the suggestions because this place is awesome! I walked in and introduced myself to the owners and said I was new in town and looking for a bike shop and wanted to know what they were all about. They talked to me for over an hour about everything from my 650 wheels to my goals for next season.

source. check out their facebook page!

They are a not only a tri store (with really great merchandise for women!) but a community of women that empowers other women to get into the world of multisport. I love what they are all about and I really look forward to being a part of that community when I return to Denver in a couple of months. A supportive community of women who are also passionate about triathlon and they have a black and hot pink race kit- sign me up! The pink and black race kit would look awesome while riding Pink Lady, don't you think?

When Phil set out for his long ride on Saturday morning he ran into another guy, Max (who is a USAT coach!), leaving the building setting out for his long ride in prep for IM Arizona. Max's wife is also an endurance athlete. Hooray for meeting another triathlete couple! Denver is filled with cyclists, snowboarders, skiers, runners, hikers, rock climbers...all of which I plan on being once I get my booty back to Denver!

I am super excited to return to the Mile High City!