Monday, November 30, 2009

Athletes that Inspire

I am an Ironman.   I don't ever think I will get tired of saying this.   It is a great feeling of accomplishment and it has been years in the making!   I also realized a told my mom a fib.   After watching CT participate in an Ironman for the first time, she asked if I would ever want to do one.   I distinctly remember saying "no way, that is crazy!"   Sorry Mom, I guess I am eating those words now.  

I have always liked to watch the Ironman Events.  CT has just completed his 4th IM this year and I have watched, spectated for 3 of them.   Our friend Julie did her first last year, and we went and watched her.   We also record all of the Ironman Specials on TV and I have watched IronmanLive so many times I can't even count anymore.   I guess something kind of funny happened along the way and the more I watched these events, the more I came to believe that I could do one too.   Yes, I am still in awe that I was able to complete this fantastic event, but I wouldn't have even tried it if it hadn't have been for some of these inspiring people:   

Jon "Blazeman" Blais:  Finisher of Ironman Hawaii 2006 after being diagnosed with ALS. 

Sarah Reinertsen:  The first female below the knee amputee to finish an Ironman (IM Hawaii Finisher 2005) featured in ESPN Magazines "The Body"  Issue in Oct. 2009

Team Hoyt:  Together (with Dick pushing/pulling his son Rick) these two have completed 1009 races as of Sept. 2009, including, 6 IM's, and 27 Boston Marathons.

Rudy Garcia-Tolson:  First bilateral above the knee amputee to finish an Ironman (IMAZ 2009)  Winner of multiple gold medals in the Paraolympics in swimming. 

So, the next time you are feeling completely unmotivated and don't have the confidence to think you can do something, read one of these stories, which are sure to inspire.  

Sunday, November 29, 2009

IMAZ Race Report

So I am officially an Ironman!   It has taken me awhile to post my race report, as I wanted to get some pictures first.   As you can imagine, I didn't have my camera with me, so I had to wait until I recieved some from CT and my family.  Well, here it goes, the full race report:

Woke up early in the morning to a cool crisp outdoor temp of about 48 degrees, after a quick bite, CT and I headed down to the race so I could check my bike one last time, get body marked, etc. before the race start.   Most everything is "athlete's only"  so CT took a quick picture then went to find a good spot for the swim start!

I am not sure what the water temp was but I would have to guess somewhere in the 62 degree range. Having a full wetsuit helped.  The start is an in-water start and there is no beach to wade in to Tempe Town Lake. It has cement sides and I had to jump in, swim a few hundred yards to the starting line and then tread water - while waiting for the race to start!

The swim start is one of the best parts of the race to watch as a spectator, it is an awesome site to see 2600 people all treading water, then a mass start as the cannon goes off!   As a participant though, it is horrific! There are arms and legs everywhere, people are just trying to get through, I was getting bumped, hit, scratched across the face, and felt like people were trying to swim over me, all while I was trying to avoid doing the same to other people.

Fortunately, I was able to get clear after the first 15 minutes or so, the course was one loop and the first half felt like it took forever! Once I made the turn though, the second half went much better! And amazingly after 1:24:36 hours, I had completed 2.4 miles of swimming!!

Once out of the water, the amazing volunteers are there to help, First was a stop with the "strippers" to help take off the wetsuit, it took 2 people to help with mine!  Next, I had to run what seemed like forever to go get my gear bag and then into a tent to get changed. My volunteer was awesome! She had a big towel already spread out and she dumped out my bag and organized everthing. All I could do was just sit there and stupidly look around, she pretty much dressed me and told me what to do next, i.e. "I think we need to put on your sports bra first!" After a 16 minute T1 I made it out of the transition and onto the bike course. I think if the volunteer wasn't there it would have taken me much longer!

The bike course was 3 loops and the first loop we had a headwind going out, also there is a slight incline up for at least 15 miles of the loop before you turn around to head back. So, at times I was only going about 12 MPH but I didn't want to push it as it was only my first loop. I also witnessed a guy crash right in front of me. I was kind enough to ask if he was okay, as I went around him, but I opted not to stop and kept going. Once I got to the turn around there was a nice tailwind and we were going downhill, so it was smooth sailing from there. At one point I looked down and saw 25 mph and I wasn't even pedalling! Nice! As I headed back into town for the turn around I got to see all of my fans (my mom, my sister Lora, my cousin Taylor, my boyfriend CT, Dan, and Meredith)! It was a great to see them all and helped to lift my spirits.

The second loop was much of the same except the wind changed and we had a headwind going each direction, so it slowed me down a bit. I did take some time to look around, many of the fluid/bathroom stops had themes and the volunteers were dressed up. I almost hit an orange cone checking out the 20 something year old men in speedos at one of the stops! Before I knew it, I was heading into town again to make the final turn before going out on the final loop, and my fans were still there!

By the 3rd loop I was ready to get off the bike (mainly because my butt hurt) yet my legs never felt tired and I think this helped me. I was definately able to speed up and it seemed like I passed alot of people on the last 15 miles or so. It was also great to see my family as I headed down the final couple hundred yards into transition. My hydration/nutrition plan worked great - almost too great, I had to stop 3 times to go to the bathroom, I am pretty sure this added at least 20 minutes to my overall bike time! So, after 7:01:27 hours, I had finished biking 112 miles!

T2 was easier, the volunteers took my bike, got my bag and I went back into the tent again. This time I only had to change my shoes, socks, and at the last minute I also decided to change my shorts. As I stood up to change, I happened to glance behind me and realized I was in plain view of the exit and there were 5 male volunteers standing just outside the door. Good thing I looked before changing, they almost got a full moon! So, after 6 minutes I was out on the run course.

As I headed out my faithful fans were there to cheer me on again! It was good to see my mom ,Lora, Taylor, CT, and Dan again! I was also thrilled as I knew I would finish the IM, even if I had to walk most of the marathon portion. It was 3:45pm and I was heading out to the run!! At this point, I actually had no idea what my overall race time was. At 48 minutes into the swim, somehow, my stopwatch got stopped and I never restarted it. My brain was also a little befuddled and I couldn't do the math to figure out how long it had been since 7am. Just as well, I think it took the pressue off of my run.

The run course was also a 3 loop (figure 8) design. My plan for the first 1/2 was to try and run to each water stop and then walk through the water stops. I had a nutrition plan as well, but after my 2nd gu this pretty much went out the window. I felt bloated, nausea was setting in, I had a side cramp, and I couldn't imagine trying to put anything else into my stomach! So I started trying just fluids; gatorade was too sugary, the chicken broth tasted good it was so salty that I felt like my lips were sticking to my teeth, I tried coke once but all it did was make me burp. So for a few miles all I could handle was water. About this time I saw my entire family (mom, Lora, Taylor, and my Aunt Elaine and Uncle Jim) cheering me on - which was awesome!

A little ways down I spotted Dan and CT. It was the boost I needed to help start the 2nd lap!! I decided to try some pretzels because I knew I needed some calories and salt - this actually tasted good, so for about the next 4-5 miles this (and water) is what I ate at the stops and it really helped to settle my stomach down. Just past mile 12 I looked up and thought I was hallucinating. CT was standing by the side grinning at me and asking how I was doing! But it wasn't a dream, he was actually there! CT then settled into a little jog and kept me company for a bit. He also gave me some advice (he completed his 4th IM earlier this year) "make sure you are getting sugar!" and told me I looked good so far. It was great to see him and then a little ways up, there were my fans again!!

The 13 mile sign was just beyond this - 1/2 way through the marathon!!! Woo Hoo!! Then I hit mile 14. Yikes! I was dizzy, having trouble breathing, and just plain tired. So, I slowed down to a walk, gathered my thoughts and changed my plan a bit. At this point I decided to try and run for 5 minutes, then walk a minute (the rest of the race). I also decided that I would walk up any hill that I encountered and I would still walk through all the water stops. I also thought about CT's advice and realized I needed to get some sugar in me. I decided to try and orange - too acidic, I only did one slice, then I tried grapes - not too bad!! So every stop after that I would take 2 grapes, 2 pretzel sticks, and water. It worked and the rest of the run went pretty well. Heading into the 3rd loop I saw everyone again including Julie, Chris, and Liz - who I hadn't seen before! I don't really remember too much about the last loop until I had about 3 miles left. At this point I had just passed the 23 mile sign and was walking - the biggest hill on the course was at this point. The moon and stars were out, and because I was nearing the top of a hill - I looked out over the city and could see all the twinkling lights. I could also see the finish line across the lake and could hear the announcer saying ". . .You are an Ironman" This is was my favorite memory of the race, I felt so peaceful and was very calm. I was grateful for all of my family and friends that helped to make this happen, and I could just feel the positive energy that everyone gave me! I am pretty sure I smiled the rest of the race from then on. As I passed the 25 mile sign, I blew the volunteer a kiss - I know he thought I was a lunatic. Coming down that finishing stretch was incredible. I was  by myself so the announcer, Mike, pretty much gave an autobiography. "# 2442, Ann Kurtenbach, from Dublin, Ohio. This is Ann's first Ironman - how does it feel?" I remember pumping my fists up in the air and the crowd cheering even louder. After 14:11:26 hours, I started slapping people's hands and as I neared the pearly gates of the IM finish line I heard those sweet words "Ann Kurtenbach - YOU are an Ironman!"

Before I knew it, I was being swept along by my very own volunteer, given a bottle of water, a medal, a finishers t-shirt and hat, had my picture taken, and was pretty much shoved out of the post-race area, once they knew I wasn't going to pass out or anything worse. 
It all happened so fast that I realized I didn't get to do "The Blazeman" Roll across the finish line, that I originally planned to do . . .

Fortunately my family was there to meet me, give me plenty of cheers, and call CT, Dan, and Liz (they were still waiting for me around mile 25.5 and didn't realize I had finished).  Once CT found us, he gathered  my stuff, took a few pictures,  and he and my family took everything so I wouldn't have to carry any of it back to the hotel!  After a shower, I even had enough energy to go out for a bite and a celebratory beer! 

Stats for the Day:
Swim: 1:24:34
T1: 16:04
Bike: 7:01:28
T2: 6:20
Run:  5:23:03
Total Time:  14:11:26

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pre - IMAZ

Participating in an Ironman is actually a multi-day process.   The "event" typically starts at least 3 days before the actual race day.   There is an area that is normally referred to as the "Iron Village"  which is really just like any expo you would have prior to a race.  

In this area there are all of the sponsers of the event and their booths, food stands, athletic wear stands, the bike mechanic/store tent, the registration tent, and the empty transition area for the race.   CT and I arrived on the Thursday prior to the race.  The first thing I did after checking into the hotel was to walk down and register.   The main thing it does is give you all of your transition bags, timing chip, and race number.   You also get this cool bracelet, which you have to wear in order to access any of the "athelete" areas:

It was at this point, when they put the bracelet on, that my heart began to race and I thought "Oh shit!!  Am I actually doing this???"

Alittle later that day, I met up with our friend, Mike (who also did IMAZ this year), for an easy 3 mile run.   He was kind enough to slow down to my pace and show me the first 3 miles of the run course.  

Needless to say, by 8:30pm that night, CT and I were sound asleep.   Friday started early with a practice swim in the Tempe Town Lake with my friend Julie.  She did IMAZ last year and had all kinds of tips for me on the swim.   It was nice to have a buddy to swim with, as the water is very murky and it is hard to see once you are in it.   It was also good to test out the wetsuit and get acclimated to the cold temps of the water! 

After the swim, we mosied over to the Ironman Store and bought some shirts that I could wear once the race was over.   Later in the day I went for a quick bike to make sure everything was in working order. 

Saturday morning started with another swim.   This time I was on my own and 10 minutes into the swim I started thinking about how much we probably looked like big seals in our wetsuits.   Good thing there aren't any sharks in the Tempe Town Lake!   After the swim I went back to the hotel and grabbed all my gear.   Unlike tri's of shorter distances, it is required to drop off your bikes and gear the day before into the transition area.   Being the IM virgin that I was, I made sure to take lots of pictures!

Saturday evening ended with an awesome pasta dinner with friends, which was the perfect way to relax and fuel up for the next day! 

My stats for the week:
Mon:  Rest
Tues:  2800 swim, 45 minute run
Wed:  hour on the trainier
Thurs:  30 minute run
Friday:  30 minute swim, 45 minute bike
Sat:  20 minute swim

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Getting Ready

5 days until IMAZ!!!  I am in my final week of preparation and getting ready for The Race.   It is funny, everyone is asking me:
  •  "Are you ready?"  Umm, yes!  I hope so, if not, then what the hell have I been doing all these months??  
  • "Are you nervous?"  Heck yea, however,  I am nervous before every race.  I still have trouble sleeping the night before a 5k and this only takes 30 minutes or less, so of course I am nervous prior to a race that will potentially take me 14 or 15 hours!!   I don't expect that I will sleep much the night before - sorry CT!
    • I am especially nervous about the swim.   Not the distance, this I know I can do, but all the people.   Although watching the swim start is my favorite part of the race, participating in the swim is an all together different matter.   You are out there with 2000 other people all trying to get to the same destination, arms, legs, and various body parts flying in every direction!   And, IMAZ is an in-water start, which means we have to be in the water, treading, before the race starts, no standing on the beach waiting until the gun sounds!  I am just hopeful I can get behind my friend Mike and draft off of him for the first 1/2 mile or so to get clear of all the people.   I wonder if he would be upset if I just grabbed his foot and held on for dear life? I figure I am pretty light, plus I will be in a wet suit that floats pretty easily! 
  • "Are you excited!"   Yes!!  I cannot wait to cross that finish line and hear them say "Ann Kurtenbach, YOU are an Ironman!!"   That really what has kept me going all these months and I envision it in just about every run that I do! 
So, the rest of this week is really just about getting ready and packing for the big trip.   Packing for an Ironman is alot more challenging than just a simple running race.   Mainly because I have to pack for all 3 events.  Not only do I have to bring running gear, but I also have to bring swim gear, biking gear, and any nutrition that I want to have with me on the course.   It is kind of difficult to know what to pack up ahead of time because I am not sure what I will want/need out on the course!   Here is what I am thinking so far.

The swim:  goggles, ear pugs, inhaler, wetsuit, bathing suit or tri suit underneath.   I imagine I will look something like this: 

T1 bagtowel, biking shoes, socks, helmet, sports bra, tri suit, arm warmers, inhaler, sunglasses, sunscreen, racebelt for my number, and nutrition (I am thinking 3 cliff block shots and 2 protein bars.   My bike will already be in transition.   We are taking it on the plane with us in a special bike box!  CT is kind of enough to help me take the bike apart and hopefully reassemble it when we get to Phoenix.

Bike Special Needs Bag:  This I am really not too sure of, right now I am thinking a second pair of gloves and some peanut butter pretzels or whatever special food I might like midway through the bike. 

T2 Bag:  running shoes, Livestrong sun viser, running shorts, gu for the run, hand held fluid bottle
My uniform:

Run Special Needs Bag:  headlamp and long sleeve shirt since I will likely be run/walking in the dark

End Bag:  warm dry clothes, camera, phone, and champagne (is that allowed??) 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

7 days until IMAZ

So I am starting the final week of the taper period and the countdown until IMAZ.    For many people the taper is dreaded, for many it is a relief!   The days of the long hard training are over, you have more time to do other things, but you also have more time to really think about The Race. 

 I was excited for the taper to start because I felt I was getting burnt out on all of the training and I was looking forward to having some time for some other things.   But, as I get further into the taper, it seems that I have alot of nervous energy and I am just ready to be over it.   On one hand, one week seems like a short time until the race, on the other it seems like an eternity.  

So with all of this nervous energy it is hard to just relax.  So far in the last few weeks I have cleaned out the fridge and wiped down the shelves, cleaned the kitchen, spent a few different nights out with friends, read one and a half new books (I am part way through the second one as I write this) caught up on two different shows that I forgot I had recorded, gone through all of my mail/bills that I let pile up over the last month, cleaned out the inside of my car, got a new phone, baked 2 different types of bread and tried a new recipe (Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash and Greens Over Bow-Tie Pasta) from Liz Brinkman's Oct. 24, 2009 Blog entry.   Today I am going to do my last "long" ride and then try to do laundry, tackle cleaning my room and begin packing.  

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (the original recipe)
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp nutmeg
3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2/3 cups water
4 eggs well beaten
2 cups canned pumpkin
12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, lightly grease 1 or 2 loaf pans.  Mix the first 7 ingredients.  Add the oil, water, eggs and pumpkin.  Mix well, then add the chocolate chips.   Pour into loaf pan until 1/2 or 3/4 full.   Bake for an hour or until baked through.

**I have adapted the orginal recipe by replacing the white flour with unbleached white whole wheat flour, replace 1/2 of the oil with 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, reduced the sugar to 2 3/4 cup, and used 2/3 of a bag of  60% cacao bittersweet ghiradelli chocolate chips.  You can also make muffins instead of bread or use small loaf pans (4 - 6 of them) instead of making a large loaf.  Reduce the baking time to 30 to 45 minutes or umtil a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fall Supper

With all of my extra time this weekend, I decided to make a good autumn supper last night.

 The menu consisted of the following:  

Spinach Salad
Large handful of spinach leaves
1/4 apple thinly sliced (we like fuji and gala)
Small handful of dried cherries
1-2 TBS shelled pistachios
1-2 TBS balsalmic vinegrette

Becky's Beef Stew from "Fix it and Forget-It Cookbook"
1 1/2 lbs. beef stewing meet, cubed
2 - 10 oz pkgs. frozen veggies
4 large potatos, cubed
1 bay leaf
1 onion, chopped
15 oz can stewing tomatos
8 oz can tomato sauce
2 TBS. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp salt
(I didn't follow this recipe exactly, but it is closest to what I made)
Layer the veggies and potatoes on the meat in a crockpot.  Cook 6-8 hours on low heat.   Serve once potatos are soft and the meat is fully cooked. 

Red Wine
Sliced and warmed Whole Grain Bread with Olive Oil and spices for dipping

Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pie*
I saw these at Trader Joe's and couldn't resist trying them.   For a recipe you can try at home, look here

My stats for the week:
Monday: rest
Tues: 3500 swim, 60 minute run
Wed: 30 mile ride, 20 min run
Thurs: 60 minute run, 45 minutes on the trainer
Fri: 3500 swim
Sat:  2 hour run
Sun:  52 mile ride

IM Florida

I just wanted to congratulate my friends Aimee Bross and Matt Herring who finished their first IM's yesterday in Florida!   I was able to track them most of the day on   Unfortunately I missed Matt crossing the finish (13:05 hours), but I did see Aimee and she looked spectacular.   She had the biggest smile on her face, which I thought was awesome!   She also did amazing and finished with a 13:51:40!!   Congrats to both, who had a wonderful day!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

If It's Not Spit It's Snot

As the weather changes and grows colder there are many things that make it difficult and/or annoying to train.  Of course cooler weather means more layers, less day light, many technical things that can make planning a run or ride difficult.  Another thing it brings about is more mucous.   And it seems to come from everywhere.  This is especially evident on the bike and on the run.  Half the time you are battling snot dripping from your nose and the other half of the time it is deep in your throat and the longer it sits the more thick it becomes.   And so, at one point or another you have to decide, do I just keep sniffing, wiping, and coughing and hope it goes away?  Or do I figure out how to hock a loogie and/or blow a snot rocket?

I, being a very refined lady that I am, have tried best just to sniff it out.  Of course, this means clearing your throat and or sniffing/wiping the face about every 30 seconds.   By the 3rd or 4th time you have done this, especially if you are using gloves, you realize that all you are really doing is re-wiping the snot back onto your face because your gloves are already saturated.  Plus, it doesn't really get rid of everything and 30 seconds later you are sniffing again.  Therefore, on some of my lone runs and rides I have tried to figure out how to projectile both a loogie and snot.   The first few tries I succeeded in getting spit/snot on my face, chin, and/or arm.  Thus, defeating the purpose of trying to form a projectile.  I obviously did not know how to do this correctly.  At this point I decided to ask some questions of my friends and obseve some experts in this practice.  I am happy to say that Matt and CT, without realizing it, have helped me to be able to successfully hock a loogie and blow a snot rocket!  I fully realize that I still need practice and will likely continue my sniffing and wiping technique when I am in the company of my firends.   I am afraid my aim is not the best yet, and I would hate for a misguided projectile land on one of my friends, but I think with practice I will be able to master this technique!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Weekend

  Besides a lot of exercise this weekend, CT and I actually got out of the house and went to a co-worker's wedding.  We didn't stay very long, but the Halloween themed wedding was very unique and I thought quite fun.   The wedding was costume optional; CT and I went as "wedding guests,"  original, I know.   We were met at the door by the grim reaper, there was a huge spider at the entry doorway, they had free masks and accesories to help "dress up" and there was even a table full of candy, complete with Halloween Bags so we could go "trick or treat."

Meghan and I decided to find some accesories since we didn't really wear costumes.  I managed to keep this awesome mask on for most of the evening! 

The bride, Diana, and her father at the start of the ceremony (which only took 20 minutes), complete with an authentic bag pipe player for the wedding march! 

The happy bride and groom, after they "tied the knot!" 

My stats for the week:
Monday:  hour ride
Tuesday:  3500 swim, 80 minute run
Wed: 30 mile ride, 20 minute run
Thurs: 80 minute run
Fri: 3500 swim (1:08:35)
Sat: 3 hour run (18 miles?)
Sun: 83 mile bike (6 hours), 50 minute run