Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Race Report

There are so many things I have wanted to say about this race, and I have had a hard time collecting my thoughts and actually writing (typing) them down.

The Days Prior.
It's no surprise to anyone that I was not at my peak before the race - physically or mentally. Between the 'big things': not being able to walk 3.5 weeks prior to the event, major hip pain from the 12 hour drive that left biking extremely painful, an unfortunate family situation that kept the Personal Cook from my side the days prior to the Ironman; and some "smaller" not ideal situations: my weight being 7 pounds higher than when I left DC, not receiving the hotel room I thought I reserved, having a CRAP practice swim on Friday.

All the big and little situations left me questioning even if I should bother getting into the water to start. I didn't feel well. I didn't feel ready. I was already an Ironman. So why even bother? I could get drunk, cry, and watch my friends accomplish their goals. I had lost my drive, and it showed. Coach kept calling for me to give him a play by play of my days and thoughts. Toby talked me into having a glass of wine and taking a shower to relax, and not make any decisions. The PC kept calling to check in. AJ was on a flight with Alejandro to sherpa. Erica was driving down the next day. Suzie, Rick and Therese were all coming on Sunday. And of course there were my parents.But Sandy and Lindsey talked me into going to the banquet and dinner. So I went, still in a funk. And something happened. There was Mike Riley, the motivational 9-11 participants, the married couple, the youngest and oldest participants, and a video. One little video with one line that changed everything.


By the end of the banquet, I was so happy to see all my DC Tri peeps and we were ready to CRUSH IT on Sunday.

On Saturday, the swim was under perfect conditions. The bags were packed with the check boxes marked. Blain shifted perfectly before he was racked. Racking was an issue - as number 403 did not have a spot. Actually, 401-410 didn't have spots... But given EVERYTHING else that went wrong, I took this in stride, found the proper place for Blain, and was on my way. I finally felt ready.

Race Day
Erica and I actually got some sleep before the alarm went off at 4:30. She was there in 2008, and commented on how different I was this time. Almost calm - hearing that actually helped. I was calm. I was excited. But I was not nervous. I know I had done all I could do, and the fact I was going to the start line was an accomplishment.

What can I say about a swim with 2400+ people? It's just crazy. The first part started well. Then I got punched in the face so hard I thought I was going blind in my right eye. I didn't bother looking in my watch, I really didn't care. I had a goal time - but not really. A few more punches and kicks, some open water, and a lot of thinking about how to handle the bike. Before I knew it, I was making my way towards the finish. Time - 1:13:23

Emily had an awfully terrible picture of me coming up the helix. It's a combo of "confused/dizzy" and to quote her "you look as if you'd been sleeping for 22 hrs and I just woke up and you're all "Whaaaa? Huh?" ;)" Which is true.
What, you want to see that picture as well? Fine. But it's not pretty! The rest of T1 was pretty uneventful. I just tried to move as fast as I could, but still make sure everything felt right. 112 miles is a long time to not have your socks in the right place!
Time - 11:45

Again, not being mentally ready for 112 miles crushed any confidence I had in my fitness. So when my right butt started to hurt 20 minutes into the bike, I was worried. Then I remembered that I tend to hate the first 45 -60 minutes of every bike ride, so I kept going.
Adam and Jen passed me first. I saw Suzie, Rick, Erica, and Therese 3 times within the first hour. (Erica had my phone and was taking pics and updating facebook. Thanks Erica!!) I think it was Dena and Jelena next. I FINALLY got to meet Stephanie (hi Stephanie!!) for a good 5 seconds as she passed, and I tried to keep up and chat. Becky passed me next. Then I heard Sandy, who just made me smile. And Jenny. And then it was the 3 hills.

At the end of the second one the guy in front of me clipped out and people just started cheering for me, as I was still pedaling. A guy in a full banana suit ran up, and passed me... and a few others in Speedos with flags wrapped around them a la Tour style ran passed me too... And then I saw the lead PRO MALE pass me as if I was standing still. Oops... all those cheers were for him, but I didn't clip out so I really think there were a few in there for me too.

And when the third hill hit, around mile 50, I had a pain in my right side I had never felt before. Almost like a side stitch, but it kept me from taking a deep breath. Not.Good. Alejandro and AJ were at the top with a sign that said "GO BLAIN! (and Amanda too)" - which I LOVED! But I pulled over and started to hyperventilate. My legs hurt, my foot hurt, my back hurt and I couldn't breathe. So I clipped back in and pedaled off to with special needs (mile 58) in mind. Lindsey passed, and Jen passed. And Tammy. I got to special needs and started to stretch. I took what felt like 5-10 minutes figuring out what to do. Motrin, salt pills, sun block (thanks Jen!!! Note - always back a spray, not a tube!) biofreeze (I had been stopping about every 45-60 min to reapply) and Gu. No blocks. No combos. No power pellets (peanut M&M's). No SNICKERS! I know, all the training I did with Snickers - but I did not want them.

I got back on and kept going - seriously questioning why. I passed Erica, Suzie, Therese and Rick and gave them a thumbs down sign. I passed my parents and told them I was giving everything I had. And I was. If I stopped, I would have been happy with what I did. But my favorite part of the course is mile 30/70 - 40/80, so I figured I should at least do that - I was so close. And once I enjoyed that section, I figured the 3 hills were right there, so I might as well try them. Plus, I wanted to make sure there were Hula girls and not Pirates at the 40/80 mile water stop. I was sure Brooke, Diane and ME were dying to know.

On the first hill, my right inner thigh cramped. I had enough time to take a few salt tabs, some combos and a swig of Accelerade before the left inner thigh cramped. Again, all the guys around me were clipping out, but I kept going. I swim through leg/foot cramps all the time, so why not try and pedal through 2 inner thigh cramps. While going up hill... but it worked. And I made it. There was no one was in a banana suit to get me up the next hill - at least in person, there was one there in my mind. And I started talking to a 25 year old who agreed that at every turn was into the wind, or maybe he was a hallucination too... I saw my parents and said "1 more hill, I think I can do this". And no side stitches, no unclipping, I just moved forward. Back to Verona. And back to Madison. As fast as I could, so I would have more time on the marathon. And a slight tail wind helped...
Time - 8.02.40

Once I got into transition, my order and plan was out the window as soon as I dumped my bag. I just wanted to get moving. I forgot to body glide my feet, biofreeze my feet, take off my heart rate monitor strap, and re-body glide my knees for my knee brace straps. (I paid for all of those when I hit the shower...)
Time - 5:29

My plan was to walk the first mile, then try and run:walk. But the first mile is around the Capitol, down state street, people are calling your name and cheering - so walking is hard. But so was running, so I knew a run:walk wasn't going to happen. Option 2 - walk with a purpose. I knew if I did 15 minute miles, I would finish. And I was surprisingly happy... Still not confident I would finish, but I really happy I made it as far as I had.
AJ found me around mile 3 and I told her how my foot was really hurting and I needed to retie my shoe, but was afraid to stop. I eventually found a ledge and kept going - worried about what that 1 minute stop did to me, that I knew I couldn't stop again. Andrea passed on Observatory hill (and I only mention everyone passing me because it was SO GREAT to see everyone on the course. Same with Ellen, Amy, Chris and others I am not thinking of right now). On State street, I heard lots of cheering, people yelling "Go Amanda" and "Woo Hoo!". Normally, I like to ham it up for the crowds, but I was on a mission and needed to get a buffer on my 15 minute mile pace - so I didn't even stop to hug Greta, a college friend from my polo days. She got a quick (sweaty) hug and hi as I kept moving. So when a guy yelled "Hey Baby" and stared to come into the street, I was ready to stiff arm him out of my way and keep going. But to my unbelievable surprise, it was the Personal Cook, ready to get me to the finish line, dressed in khaki shorts and all... He had left the Chicago area after a family wake, with the funeral the next day, to be at my side.

The marathon did not showcase my finer side. There was some yelling, informing the PC that the only answer was "Okay", but not in a questioning way - a firm, OKAY tone, was all I wanted hear. He wasn't allowed to complain (khaki shorts... really...), or tell me to "Never give up, never surrender" as we joked about before. He was to ignore my mantra of "You WILL do this" - which I had taped on Blain and read it over and over - so I had to keep saying it, but he wasn't allowed to say it. However he was also not allowed to leave my side, unless it was State street (tons of people so I was fine), or the Ford motivation mile (thanks mom and dad, I kept Moooooooving), or another out and back where I felt confident. (Side Note - I fully understand that outside help is not allowed in the Ironman. And some people may not think I earned my finish - and to them, f' off.)

It wasn't until I was whining for the 127th time that I hurt and I just wanted to stop moving forward, that he pointed up to the sky at something all a glow - the Capitol. It was so close, and I started to get choked up. I had 1 hour and 14 minutes to do 2.2 miles. I was going to do it again. I was going to be an Ironman, a second time.
Walk - 6:49:37

Nothing. And I mean NOTHING compares to an Ironman finish. Nothing compares to hearing the crowds. All the pain being lifted away. The party. And the voice of Mike Riley.

"From Washington DC, Amanda Chadwick - Amanda, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

So, What Are YOU Doing Tomorrow?

Here is my plan.

Wake up at 4:30.
Have some cereal. Some coffee. Eat a banana.
Walk over to the lake, but stop off to pump some tires and drop of a water bottle or two.
Put on a wetsuit with bag balm around my neck and under arm.
Around 6:45, hop into Lake Monona with 2200 of my closest friends. Go for a little 2.4 mile swim. Give some high 5's as I run up a parking ramp. Change in front of hundred women. Hop on Blain and bike down a parking ramp.

Thanks what I know will happen for sure. And I hope I will finish my 112 bike bike ride, full of snacks and no flats.

And I hope I do that fast enough to bike up the parking ramp and start a 26.2 mile walk with snacks.

I am not 100% sure on those last things, but I really hope they come true.

I have been reminded how lucky I am. How many people are pulling for me. And more importantly, how many people love and care for me to tell me it's okay if my body says no - it won't change their opinion of me.

I am finally excited. I am believing again that I WILL DO THIS.

Thanks for sharing in the journey again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Just Don't Know Anymore

Around 8 o'clock last night, my left side started to hurt. In the same SI joint area that was bothering me on the right side. I took some Motrin and tried to sleep with the ice pack.

This morning, it was a smidge better, but not much. Walking was okay, but sitting and bending over was not. When I got to PT and described the pain, my PT tried to stay positive, but I could see it in her eyes. Things are not good. I didn't do anything different, didn't do extra workouts, didn't lift anything heavy - just packed and rested. And that set my alignment off on the left side. The session was spent learning how to self align my pelvis and back. And saying over and over there is still time for things to heal.

But really, 4 days, that's not a lot of time. Especially since I will be driving all day tomorrow.

For the first time, I am questioning if this is all worth it. Up until now I was 100% confident in my ability to start, kick a$$ on the swim, and see what happens on the bike. And hopefully the 26.2 mile power walk. Now, I just don't know.

I sent my Personal Cook a text to which he responded "Never give up, never surrender". If you are a regular watcher of Wipeout, you will know why this made me laugh.

I know I can't go into this already defeated, but it's really hard not to when your own body keeps rejecting everything you are doing.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Hi All 9 of you! Or am I at 10 now... :-)

I wish I had something fun to blog about, but not so much. It's been pretty uneventful. Yesterday I got my last week of workouts from Coach and started crying. I wish I had more time, I wish I was faster, but I am also happy to be done. Whoever has my voodoo doll moved the pin from the right side to the left side. So being done with training hopefully means a full recovery.

And I spent today doing my last bike ride in the city. And I started to pack. If you look closely, you will see each bag has a list with check boxes safety pinned to the bag with its contents. There will be 10 bags - Swim, Swim Extra, Swim to Bike, On Bike, Bike Special Needs, Bike Extra, Bike to Run, Run Extra, Run Special Needs, and Extra. It's the only way I feel confident that I have everything. Or know what I need to keep looking for - like my watch...

I also went for an uneventful swim at an over crowded Wilson pool (PS. Just because you swim with fins does not mean you should swim in the fast lane).

This was followed by a quick dinner with Sandy to discuss our excitement for Moo. And more packing...

See, not very exciting. Just getting ready. So ready!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One More KTrain Ride

I can't believe it was the last KTrain ride before the race. I never thought the day would come. And I just wish I had a bit more time. Alas, extra time to heal is not an option.

I am happy to report that today's ride went better than last weeks. I started the ride with some biofreeze and I really think that helped for the first hour. The hill at Old Anglers was much better than last week. Or maybe it was because Sandy rode with me... Either way, the first hour was better, the second hour did remind me that I am not totally healed, but I have more hope. And biofreeze will be in my bento box on the bike, in my bike special needs bag, in the bike to run bag, and the run special needs bag.

I am still worried about my speed, but there isn't much I can do about that now. All I can do is keep moving forward, for as long as I can, in 17 hours.

Thanks everyone for the support. The emails, hugs, voice mails, they all mean a lot and I am sure are helping the healing process.

Friday, September 2, 2011


(Friday's post)

Have you ever just stared into a mirror? I mean really REALLY stared. Past the flaws you see in yourself - like the new zit on my chin, or the fact that my belly is showing the self pity ice cream I have been eating; but really REALLY look at yourself.

Something happened today at the gym. I was power walking listening to my new favorite song, Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap; and I just wanted to run. So I ran. Only for 10 minutes, but it felt so good. And as I stared at myself, checked on form (ignoring the jiggle), I realized I can do this. I don't mean finish the Ironman, there are so many factors that I can not control - the weather is currently calling for scattered showers, people are stupid and might drop a water bottle in front of me, I might get a flat that rips the tire and not just the tube, etc. But this feeling came over me today that I CAN DO THIS! Which is very different than I WILL do this. And it made me smile.

I started to think about the first one. Getting into the water and seeing everyone around Monona Terrace. Running up the helix to the cheers of my family and friends. Seeing my mom on the bike for the first time and stopping to give her a hug. Biking John Nolan drive and seeing Monona Terrace - knowing I would be an Ironman in less than 7 hours. Starting the marathon with my friend Tony. Meeting Gina on the run. When I couldn't feel my legs, seeing my dad, and I suddenly felt light as a feather. Jess not changing her watch to central time and giving me a panic attack (which now just makes me laugh). Rose dancing on the path. Suzie and Rick with their signs. Hear Kristin and Lauren before I saw them. And the incredible, indescribable feeling of the finish.

I am lucky I have had that feeling once. I would love more than anything to have it again. However we all know how the best laid plans turn out... And today on the treadmill, with 10 minutes of power walking, 10 minutes of running, and 10 minutes of power walking, staring deep inside myself, I knew in an instant that I CAN do this. And that means more to me than actually what happens in 9 days.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Still Working Out

I am still even getting up at 5:30 to bike. See, that is a picture of the sunrise I took this morning. Beautiful, but EARLY!
Anyway, it was worth it and I was pleasantly surprised to see Karen and Kimberly there. But I was even more surprised with Mary Elizabeth rolled up.
ME and I rolled out first and as we were finishing our first lap, Karen says "come on, interval for 5 minutes".
Me to ME - "Want to?"
ME to me - "Can you?"
Me to ME - "Won't know unless I try"

And off the 4 of us went for a 5 minute interval. I kept up with K squared for about 4 minutes, and I was happy with that fact.
On the third loop (K squared was long gone), ME and I did more more interval set.
Pain free - no.
Progress - yes.
Walking after - we aren't going to talk about it...

But, later in the evening, I had workout number 2 - a swim. And this 2000 meter swim was with 2 IRONMEN - Karen and Janie. AND this was the best swim I have had in weeks. I am not sure why, but I felt so great in the water. Good stroke, proper body position, and felt very comfortable. And the best part, NO PAIN (mostly). YAY!

Tomorrow, PT and if I'm allowed - maybe even a RUN/WALK! Maybe...