This year Troy had to travel for work the week of Hawaii. When faced with having Annie all by myself in Hawaii I decided to bring our neighbor Ann as a babysitter and helper for the week. This really altered my week. Usually in Kona I like to swim to the coffee boat in the morning with all the other swimmers, and run down Ali’i with all the other runners, eat at Lava Java and have Acai bowls. I meet up with friends from around the world, and it’s like a big social fun fest. This year I did none of that. Muddy and I discussed things and he said very clearly “This is a work trip, you are here to work, not play”. (Best office ever)
We also had a small one room studio so I didn’t want to leave the girls cooped up for too long. Pre Kona week felt a lot like an average week at home. I was mostly a mom all week, with a little training. Muddy was with me for all my training sessions in Kona, so we would wake up and get things done while the girls were sleeping in and making themselves breakfast, then I was free to go be mom the rest of the day. I’ll tell you, if you do things this way and you do your sessions at non-common times of day, the island and Kona actually feels pretty quiet. Go swim at 2pm, you’ll pass like 3 people out there, you’ll hardly know there is an Ironman in town. Run on Ali’i during the underwear run...dead quiet. After 3 previous years of running around in the circus, it was refreshing. (My athletes Mikki and Mo came to Hawaii to cheer for me this year, and that added yet another layer of home to the big island)
Coach also wanted me off social media. I admit, this was quite hard. I love me some Twitter and Facebook, but every time I logged in everyone was swimming to the coffee boat, running down Ali’i or eating at Lava Java. I was here for work, so I turned it all off. I would ask the girls what they wanted to do, and we would go do it.
Tuesday “girls choice” took us to the beach, and swim suit shopping, Wednesday we ate at Annie’s (since both the girls are nicknamed Annie) and then to Captain Cook, in a kayak, in the middle of a pod of 80+ jumping dolphins.
Thursday the girls had to endure a drive of the bike course but then were treated to ice cream in Hawi and new knitting supplies and more beach time with turtles. Friday Troy was finally here and the girls went off with my parents for paddle boarding, beach time, pool time and sunglass shopping. These girls lived it up!
By the time race day rolled around for me, I was really energetic. I didn’t over think anything. I didn’t get hyped up over anything. I was calm, and ready, and honestly didn’t spend much time on race week thinking about the race. I didn’t write a race plan (first time ever). It took me about 5 minutes to pack my bags for bike check-in. Everything was really simple and slimed down to the basics. No extras, just what I needed to execute my plan.
T1 bag - Sunglasses (helmet and shoes on the bike)
T2 bag - Shoes, socks, race number, PxRx run hat, Fuel Belt (with 2x10 oz Osmo women’s formula, 2 bags of chews, a tiny ziplock of Imodium, $20)
Special Needs Bike - 3 frozen 25oz bottles of Osmo, 2 bags of chews
Special Needs Run - 1 bag chews
Morning Bag - swim skin, Slik, goggles, cap, 3 frozen 25oz bottles for bike, 2 Amrita Bars for bike, 3 bags Honey stinger Chews for bike, white bread sandwich for before the race, bottle of Osmo to sip, spare clothes for after the race, cell phone.
After last year in Hawaii my mom and I talked a lot about what I could have done to have the potty situation not ruin my race. I did a lot of brainstorming and came up with lots of ideas. Mom was in the camp of “assume it’s going to happen, and plan for it”. I love my mom, she’s genius. My main problem last year was that I felt disgusting, I smelled disgusting, and that was demoralizing. Once demoralized in Ironman, it’s really hard to break out of it. The fight or flight response had degraded into the curl up in a little ball and wait to get eaten response. I took moms advise big time, and I read a lot of books this year about the mental side of sport, and overcoming adversity. I talked to a lot of people, I did a lot of google searches for “What to do when you poop in Ironman”.
I learned that every experience we have is automatically assigned a threat level by our brain. This threat level dictates where out brain sends blood. High threat level and your brain goes into automatic response mode and shuts off the blood to calm rational thinking mode. Think about what happens when you are about to get into a car accident, you don’t rationally think, you act, and quick. That’s a blood flow to different parts of the brain situation.
When thinking about last year I thought long and hard about why I didn’t trouble solve the poop situation better. Why didn’t I ask for shorts, or stop at an ABC store and get baby wipes? Why wasn’t I asking my family to help with the situation so that I could take 5 or 10 minutes to solve my problem, and avoid slowing down by 40 and dealing with a death march the rest of the race. Why?
Threat level! The pressure I felt last year to have a flawless race was huge. When things went south my ego was crushed. “This again” “I’m disgusting” The emotional response I had was devastating and my brain assigned it a high threat level. I was emotionally crushed. That was not going to happen this year. So I “PRE-Problem Solved”. (Roger and Mary from IM Brazil, Roger is 70, can't tell, can you?)
Every single person I knew on the course who asked me in the days and weeks before if they could help me out had a pair of run shorts in their bag. There were like 6 different pairs of emergency run shorts on that course for me. I know it’s outside assistance, but when you’ve pooped yourself...I consider it more of a sanitary situation. I’ll take the penalty if need be.
I completely reworked my nutrition this year. I found the culprit of last year, and my nutrition was tested in 70.3 races, Ironman races, and training sessions in various temperature conditions. My nutrition plan was the most bomber and pre-tested I’ve ever had. Thank you Stacy Sims and the art of experimentation.
I had Imodium in my pocket, something I just hadn’t been smart enough to use in the past. I had $20 in case I needed to visit an ABC store for help. I knew where the outside beach showers were on the course. And lastly, I practiced envisioning what I would say to myself if something happened. I mentally walked through a script I had prepared. Let’s just say....I was READY to shit myself out there. Bring it on.
And can I just say...I learned so much going through that process. It’s almost cliche to say that you learn more from the bad races than the good ones, but it’s true. If you are willing to work on what didn’t work you truly can use bad races to launch yourself into good ones. I learned so much more than just how to solve the poo problem. I learned about the mental game, problem solving, visualization, women’s nutrition, laxatives, and much more.
So, as race day rolled around, I felt armed. I felt prepared on many different levels. I felt like Kona was just any other race that I was suiting up for and my head was not sensing Kona as a high threat level. Muddy had told me all year “You can’t disappoint me” and I knew it was true, there was no pressure from him. My parents and Troy were already having so much fun and they were ready for whatever kind of race I had. Failure was totally an okay option this year. I was prepared with new mental dialogues. I was prepared to problem solve and I had tools to take the threat level of different experiences down a notch so I could think rationally.
On race morning I did everything I needed to and went and found coach. We sat on a bench and there was nothing left to say. He got teary and gave me a big hug and I said “We’re gonna be fine coach” and off I went.