Tuesday, November 24, 2009

World Championship 70.3

A week after my first ironman, I decided to drive down to Clearwater to support my awesome coach during his World Championship 70.3 race. I mean, he helped me qualify for Kona, so that's the least I could do! :-)

Now, Coach Dan and I hadn't ever met face-to-face, but I've talked to him enough and e-mailed him enough, I didn't think I'd have any problem picking him out of the thousands of participants.

The electricity that I felt in Panama City Beach for my ironman had moved down to Clearwater. What a cool thing it is to race the best of the best in the world! I did this race in 2007 and have many fond memories of that day.

This year, because the tropical storm had come through Florida, the race organizers felt it safer having the participants race in the bay across the street. It sounded pretty cool to me, because it would be a time trial start for the age groupers. I got to experience that once at St. Anthony's Triathlon this year. Certainly different, but difficult to know where your competitors were with time.

Watching the pros come flying out of the water was exciting. Thinking to myself, "Nope I wouldn't be coming out of the water yet." A few minutes later, "Still probably wouldn't be coming out of the water yet. Boy, I think I should concentrate on my swimming in the off season!"

Once the age groupers started coming out of the water, that's when I really had to pay attention. Looking for my coach. Several tall, fit guys went by me. They looked like they could be Dan, but no dice. Finally, as I watched the wetsuit strippers (or should I say peelers) yank wetsuits off people, I noticed a LifeSports Coaching tri suit (Hey- where's my tri suit?!?) Yep, no doubt that that was Coach Dan. Now I knew what he was wearing, I could track him during the race.

To watch everyone come in from the bike portion of the race, I knew I had to find the best spot. There was a bridge, that apparently everyone else thought of too, where I planted myself. I saw some great triathletes also there watching, like Luke Mackenzie and Miranda Carefrea (I know I mispelled their names. Sorry.)

It was too funny watching the mass packs of triathletes coming in on their bikes. No wonder many of them had faster bike times than some pro cyclists. I do know it was difficult to avoid those packs, just from my experience when I did the race.

Where I was standing was also where the Timex run bonus was. The fist pro to get to that point got some really great $$$$! I had a blast cheering on all my favorite pros like Greg and Laura Bennett, Michellie Jones, Ritchie Cunningham, and Matty Reed.

When I saw my coach, I screamed, "Go Coach Dan!" He looked at me a bit strange, like I was a LifeSport Coaching stalker. I think it was my head to toe in pink that clued him in on who I was.

Watching everyone finish reminded of how I felt just a week earlier in my ironman. The joy and feeling of accomplishment was on all of their faces. So very cool!

I am so proud of Coach Dan and all the other LifeSports Coaching athletes and coaches that competed. Hopefully, next year I'll be joining you.

Yep, One More Ironman Florida Picture

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ironman Florida Pictures

Ironman Florida 2009

Had an amazing time at IMFL. Wanted to do a quick blog with some pictures on pre race through post race.For anyone that has done an ironman, the day you arrive to get ready for your race, you feel the energy. Nervous energy? Probably.On race morning, I was scared to death about the mass swim. Hey, I can hold my own, but I didn’t really want to fight people the whole 2.4 miles. I started waaay right, knowing that I’d have to swim a bit farther than other people. Saw lots of jellyfish and some stingrays during the swim.The bike was what I expected. Headwind going out and tailwind coming back in. I have never stopped during a race for anything, but found that I had to stop for a porta-potty break and for my special needs bag, not only for the bike, but for the run too. Quite the change from my sprints or even my 70.3’s. Felt good on the bike. Hard to go that slow at times, but I kept thinking that I needed to, so I could do well in the run. Not actually running 26.2 in training scared me a bit for the run.
Once I got out on the run, I felt great. I was running comfortably, then looked at my Garmin. Oh, how I am a slave to that Garmin! 7:00 min. miles?!? I don’t think so! So, I slowed it down to 8:00-8:30. Felt like I was in slow motion, but I had to make sure that I’d make it to the finish. Thank goodness I did, because by mile 18, I was sticking with my 8:30’s and no faster. I stopped at every stinkin’ water stop. This is also something I’d never do in any other race. By the last 4 miles, I’d grab a Gatorade and a couple of waters. Looking up ahead while I ran, I couldn't wait until the next water stop! I seriously didn't think I had ever taken in so many fluids in training or racing.
Finishing was just amazing! Laughing with me training partner, Shannon, who ran most of the marathon with me, just because we were almost done. Seeing that beautiful finishline all lit up and hearing,”Stephanie Liles, you are an ironman,” was something I’ll never forget. So, not only did I have a great experience for my 1st ironman, I get to do it all again in Kona. Thanks for everyone who was cheering me on, my wonderful family who put up with my absence for many months, for my fiancee, Mike, for doing much of the training with me, and for my awesome coach, Coach Dan, for training me well & helping me qualifying for World Championships Ironman 2010.