Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Overcoming Adversity.....Ironman Lake Placid Race Report!

The Ironman distance race is in my opinion is a mixture of your current fitness and your mental strength...

Going into this race I felt like I was more prepared than ever in both of these aspects. This allowed me to go into race week feeling confident and ready!

My build up into Lake Placid had gone really well and the weeks before I had played over different scenarios of things that might happen while racing that would throw me off and how to address them.

I was excited and genuinely so pumped to race and was really enjoying all the well wishes and support I was getting from all of you!!! There is no better feeling when you feel ready and in control and know you have the ability to perform well!

I love Lake Placid, I know every part of the course, and how I knew how I wanted to race it!

The night before the race I went to bed and like a few Ironman before, I had a 100% sleepless night. Unfortunately this you cannot control. I guess my nerves were kicking in... So I rolled out of bed at 3.20 am and started my usual am prerace routine.
My breakfast however was not going down well...I was feeling very nauseous .I continued to get ready but by the time I was about to leave I had thrown up twice. My husband reaction was one of quietness for fear of saying the wrong thing...Normally if you wake up not feeling good and having no sleep you can just get back into bed....I had to go RACE!!! Not only finish but really PERFORM!! MY self imposed pressure to do well was now playing on my mind!

So with out any nutrition in my stomach I headed out....I was now going through the motions and trying to stay positive. This was a situation that I had not rehearsed in my head...The worst case scenarios only are meant to happen while you are racing.
I tried to sip on my trusty EFS sports drink and eat a power bar but that was making me feel more queazy!

Once in transition I got all my gear ready. They had made the call for no wetsuits which I did not mind as the water was pretty warm (around 77 degree's) and I headed down to the beach with my TYR speed suit in hand! I was early and I sat on a bench just trying to regroup. Ironman is such a long day that I knew that this feeling of nausea HAD to pass!!! I reminded myself to just stay positive!!

This picture I have a very anxious look on my face which depicted exactly how I was feeling going into the water!

6.50 The swim start of an Ironman is always so daunting...(even after 19/20 Ironman). The pro's, would have a ten minute head start on the age groupers. I did a few quick warmups sprints in the water and calmly lined up on the front of the start line.

Here's a photo of the pro start!

Ten minutes later the age group start...a mass of 2500 people!

The start consisted of the usual getting hit a few times in the head but all in all it was quite manageable and I quickly found someone's feet to swim on. Just before the first turn around buoy I swam right into one of the giant buoys and my goggle quickly filled with water. I swam until I could no longer see a thing and then stopped to re-adjust them, thus losing the feet of the couple girls I was with.
Luckily I found the the feet of 2 pro guys that were on my feet. They pulled me back to the girls so I was happy about that. Coming into the beach I missed my 1st loop time as I was so focused on staying with the group! So I had no idea where I was time wise.

Running up the beach!

My heart rate is always the highest in the race right here!

On the second loop, I settled into a comfortable pace and stopped siteing as we were swimming right on the lane line and I was getting some nice bubbles and pull off of this guys feet.
But at the last turn around I looked up and noticed that we had been dropped from the girls ahead. I knew the pace felt too easy and I charged ahead. Just in time to start hitting and weaving through all the slowest age groupers.

I came out of the water in 1.01..a minute off my IMTX no wetsuit swim....but not to bothered by it...as the effort was significantly easier which would ultimately help my bike! The crowd cheering on the run to the change tents is always an amazing feeling...a blur of people yelling your name and me wandering who it was!!!

I blasted through the change tents and once on the bike quickly caught up quickly to two of the girls that were ahead of me on the swim. Once on the bike I settled in to the power and watts that I was ready to ride at . I pushed the downhills hard...but noticed early on into the ride that my stomach still was not feeling good. My nutrition was not going down well and my stomach was getting really bloated.

Here's where "Rookie Mistake" number 1 happened...I always tell people...don't try anything new race week" Well what did I do...I broke that rule. I was so excited to try my new Torhan's Aero Hydration System out that they had specially sent me for IMLP that I set it up the day before the race and did a quick check on the set up! I had filled the bottle up and had noticed the straw was way to long and had snipped it twice to the perfect height. Little did I know that due to the yellow gauze that I had placed in the bottle, that did not belong there,I failed to push the straw all the way to the bottom. Hence now that I was on my bike in the middle of an important race, with an upset stomach. I further was distressing it by sipping up huge mouthfuls of air and just not reaching my sports drink! Big problem!!! So I had to rely on my single bottle in the down tube and had to make sure I slowed down at all the aid stations and got a drink for fear of running low on fluid!

Despite the distractions,I kept pushing the pace...and was riding where I had to be heart rate wise..but my legs were not feeling super and I was definitely distracted by moments where I was using me throwing up as an excuse for the way my legs were feeling. All in all my power levels dropped slightly throughout the ride making me lose some valuable time. Coach Jesse definitely thinks the lack of fueling before my race played a huge part in the way my bike went down.
I love the Placid bike course...and I really enjoyed all the crowd support and enthusiasm going through town.

When I rolled into T2 with a 5.30 bike split I knew I was already 10-15 minutes off where I wanted to be in the race.
But I am always happy to get off my bike and to start the run...especially not having any mechanical issues!

I saw Coach Jesse on the run and he assured me to hang in there and that I would start to feel better! I started the run with that in mind. But by mile 2 I was already having stomach distress and lost time at the porto potty. I actually felt much better and continued on my way all focused again. My pace dropped and I was running well....and feeling good... but by the time I hit the 8/9 mile mark I had to stop again. I had to keep pushing to bring my pace back to where I wanted it to be. By mile 11 I was still on pace but was feeling the lack of energy.

On the second loop when I passed Coach Jesse and all the QT2 guys I was pushing knowing that I had to pick things up if I was going to catch any of the girls in front of me. With all the great support through town it's so much easier but as you leave town and are left alone with your thoughts I tried over and over to regroup and refocus. I managed to catch friend and pro Suzanne Zelazo who had had a great race but who was battling on the run which now put me in 5th spot.
At the turn around I tried to time how far behind I was to fourth. I was 8- 9 minutes and I knew that it was not gong to be easy unless she totally fell apart.

Unfortunately my pace had now slowed to 8 minute miles and then a few slow miles heading into town. I knew I was not going to catch 4th so I basically cruised the last two miles to the finish! BTW those last two miles are the LONGEST ever!!!!

The finish is always great running through the Olympic Speedskating Oval!

It was a challenging mental and physical day....but thats Ironman for you! They are never easy!!!!! I really enjoyed the crowds and wish I felt better.

So another 5th place finish at IMLP in a 10.07...still a minute PR on that course. So lots to be happy about!!
Congrats goes to Heather Wurtele who had one incredible day!!

Big thanks to my fam who were there to cheer me on and all the support out on the course!!!! Also to Coach Jesse Kropelnicki from QT2 Systems who got me ready to race and was there to answer my hundred questions!

This race earned me another 1200 points on the KPR, the new professional points system that decides who races the Hawaii World Championships this year. So I am back to my 30th spot. I was hoping my Lake Placid race might give me enough points to make the Top 25 cutoff at the end of the month but unfortunately I will now have to choose another race or two to gather more points if I have any chance of qualifying.
So no rest for me...back to work!!!

Thanks always goes out to my sponsors Rev3/Trakkers...First Endurance, Kestrel, TYR, Avia, Oakley and Torhans Aero Systems.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Xtri posts a nice interview today ...On the Podium with Jacqui Gordon

Nice article posted on Xtri.com this am...

by Mary Eggers

Photo Credit: Eric Wynn

Professional triathlete Jacqui Gordon is in an interesting spot as she heads into this week's Ironman Lake Placid. She's just outside the top thirty in the Kona Pro rankings (currently around #40) with an Ironman on tap and some outstanding performances under her belt. At age 38 and recently under the guidance of Jesse Kropelnicki of Qt2 Systems, it seems like 2011 is the year it's all coming together for this wife and mother of two.

Gordon is no stranger to the professional scene, having turned professional in 2005, hitting multiple top five 70.3 and Ironman performances. Athletics however have always been part of her life. "In 1999 I wanted to do something epic for my birthday. So I talked my husband into driving to a local ski resort to race in a ski/mountain bike/trail run event. It was my first multi sport event. I led the whole way and won! The next week I found out I was 7 weeks pregnant with my son Tanner. So things were put on hold for a few years!"

So far this season Gordon has PR'd by 33 minutes over the 140.6 distance with her 8th place finish at Ironman Texas with a 9:27.20, among many other accomplishments. While one coult rattle off stats and PR's all day long, what is most captivating about Gordon is the passion she possesses for multisport.

What would you say is your "driving force?"

I have always had the desire to be the best triathlete I felt I could be. From my very first race I knew I had potential and I still feel like I have untapped potential..That's what keeps me coming back for more. As long as I am getting faster and feel like I can balance training/racing with my family life I will keep competing professionally and working hard to fulfill the goals I set for myself each year

Who has been your biggest source of inspiration as you have evolved through the sport?

Natasha Badmann was always my biggest inspiration. She always remained so composed and professional and raced with such passion. Now I get great inspiration from all the pro girls that I race against. Women's triathlon is just at a new level right now. The great results being produced at every race is inspiring! I look around at race start and see a lot of good friends who all share similar goals and passion for the sport like I do.

You have been competing professionally through the changes to the qualification process for Kona. What are your thoughts on the new qualification process?

It will be a very interesting year. Already the changes are apparent with the early season races being packed with girls all trying to nail down big points. The pressure is on at every single race to perform instead of focusing on one big Ironman race. Everyone wants to be at the big show in Kona this year! I personally wish that WTC would have kept things more even and given the girls the same amount of qualifying slots as the men. There are enough talented girls that all deserve to have a fair chance to race in Hawaii!

You changed coaches this season, a hard subject for many athletes to talk about. Is that akward for you to talk about?

Not awkward at all. I am so grateful to have had 4 good years with a great coach. Coach Paulo Sousa from PS Triathlon got me to many top 5 IM and 70.3 finishes. It is always a tough decision to switch coaches but I decided that I needed a change …a new approach. I am so thankful to him for his never ending support he gave me. He taught me about myself,triathlon and mental toughness. Constantly challenging me and keeping me coming back for more and more. He transitioned me from top age grouper to racing and competing well as a professional and I really enjoyed his constant drive for me to be better.

You have rearranged your race schedule a bit to include some of the Rev 3 events as you are part of Team Trakkers. As you have so much experience in the M dot world, how do you compare the Rev 3 series?

I am all about Rev 3 and what they are doing in triathlon. I think we all need to support them as they are offering a great race series that is focused around families and triathlon. Not only are their races first class, the race venues are well chosen to keep friends and family happy too which is so important. You want your family to come and see you race and have their own good memories about their trips. My kids have really enjoyed the amusement park venues and their race in Costa Rica was amazing. I am so happy to be a part of the Rev 3 family.

You race a lot, what's your secret to staying fresh for each event? Do you ever train through races?

I have had years where I have raced 3 or 4 Ironman in a year and other years where I only race 2 Ironman. Bottom line is that I love to race, so I like to take advantage of when I am feeling fit and healthy and race as much as I can. I have had races in the past that I definitely have trained through. I pick my top 2 races for the season and then I arrange my schedule around those.

What is your big focus for 2011?

I will continue my support for the Rev 3 race series. My race schedule has included Rev 3 Costa Rica, Texas 70.3, St Croix 70.3 and then IM Texas, Quassy and then IMLP. That's a full schedule right there!

I shall be working with Coach Jesse on fixing my weaknesses and really trying to improve on my Ironman run.

You have two children and it seems like the majority of your triathlon career has been after their birth. What's your secret to balancing being a mother and a professional athlete? What do you hope to teach them as you compete?

My children have only ever known me as mom and athlete. My life is very busy, just the way I like it! I am very lucky as I have a supportive husband who works from home so together we manage to keep everything going. I want my children to excel as athletes and we keep them very involved in all sports. I always remind them that if you want to be good at something….not only good but the best you can be…you need to put the work in. I have taught them to face your fears. To dream about your goals and to love what you do or find something else to pursue

We will be cheering you on at Ironman Lake Placid!