Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ironman Louisville and My 2011 Road Trip

I’m heading home today after my three week road trip which started when I left San Diego August 11th and flew to Michigan for the Steelhead 70.3 in Benton Harbor on August 14th. I stayed with Mike and Katie Jones on this first of three stops on my road trip. What luck to have a homestay who owned a bike shop and looked after Aussie Christie Sym and I like we were pro cyclists…I wish everytime I flew to a race I had someone waiting to put my bike together, pick me up on a ride when a thunder and lightening storm suddenly strikes (out of nowhere!), and then proceed to shuttle my bike into the shop to prep it for the next day’s race! Unfortunately, the swim was canceled at Steelhead so it turned into a 90km timetrial start followed by a half marathon. I had developed tendonitis behind my ankle a couple of weeks earlier, and with IM L’ville two weeks down the road, I decided to skip the run and make it a bike TT day. I was happy with my 2:27 bike split, packed my bags and it was time to move on to my next stop.

The next destination on my road trip was Indianapolis so I rented a car and headed south. About 4 hrs later, I dropped off the car at the airport in Indy and was picked up by next homestay, Catherine LaCrosse. Catherine is training for Hawaii and graciously opened her house (and cereal cupboard!) to me for the week, showed me some great training rides, introduced me to the local masters swim team, gave me her Prius for the week, and became my mapquest to Whole Foods and the best coffee and frozen yogurt in town. While I was in Indianapolis, I also had the chance to visit Zipp twice, take a tour of their facility, and join them on a couple of their lunch time rides. Amazing to see the work that goes into making the best wheels in the world! Before I knew it, my week in Indy was just about up, and it was time to head south again. Unfortunately, my ankle was still not a happy camper, and I was on the fence about whether on not I’d be able to run a marathon in Louisville. If there’s anything I learned from staying with Catherine, it’s “If there’s a will, there’s a way”! In less then 24hrs before I was due to leave, she had organized for me to see a well known Podiatrist in the area and a PT with six years experience on the LPGA Tour. So my last day in Indy began with a cortisone injection, followed by physical therapy, and then I was in the car being chauffeured by Catherine to Columbus, IN (the half way point to Louisville) where both Catherine and my next homestay offered to tag team my ride to L’ville.

I arrived in Louisville on Tuesday before Ironman, and stayed with another amazing homestay, Ann Gaines, who treated me like royalty. How many times do you find a mini fridge stocked with drinks in your room, a basket of pretzels, cookies, fruit and other goodies awaiting you, and I’ll skip ahead to the three cans of Pringles and a dozen yellow roses at the IM finish line!! Ann is also a body builder and I learned how much hard work and discipline goes into training for these competitions. I’m not sure if I could give up my Pringles, cereal and ice cream to do what she does!

So after almost three weeks on the road, race day for IM L’ville finally arrived and I was still not sure how my ankle would hold up during the race. I made a deal with my coach the night before – if I was out of the money or in pain, I’d pull the plug. The swim was a fast one in the Ohio River and I came out of the water in 4th place in 54 minutes. For the first 50k of the ride, my legs didn’t feel great and I wasn’t sure that I was gaining time on any of the three girls ahead of me. By 60k, my quads finally woke up, at 120k I moved into third place, and at 160k I moved into 2nd place. I finished the bike in 5:21, about 3minutes back from Nina Kraft and with Jackie Arendt coming into transition behind me. With my not so speedy transition, I started the run in 3rd place. Heading over the bridge on the first out and back, my ankle was not feeling great and I told my bike escort that it looked like I would have to drop out when I came back near transition at the two mile mark. So it was a pleasant and welcoming surprise to me when somewhere around a mile and a half, my ankle stopped complaining. I stayed in third place until about 15miles when the lack of run training in my legs began to take effect and I was passed by a fast charging Stephanie Jones. For the last eleven miles, my pace was slowing, but I was determined to hang on to fourth place and happy to finally cross the finish line in 10:01.

My summer road trip is now over and I’m heading back to San Diego for a couple of weeks of recovery before part two of my 2011 race season. Lots of great memories from the last three weeks, but time to head home and unpack, and see what else awaits around the next bend in the road. Thank you to all of my great sponsors, my family, friends and coach who never stop supporting me, and to all of the wonderful people I have met over the last few weeks.


Brad said...

What an inspiring post. Thank you so much for sharing. It is nice to see a realistic story written by a smart athlete who makes the right decisions. As an age-grouper going into my first half and full IMs, it is nice to have a pro athlete who is not afraid to drop when the body says stop rather than just pushing the body to the point where an injury may occur. I wish a very successful fall season. Thanks again for sharing

Kiki said...

congratulations Donna! Was so excited following your race online and seeing how well you were doing! See you at the pool for your recovery:)