Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ironman Chattanooga 2015 Race Report

Ironman Chattanooga 2015 Race Report

This was my first Ironman race as a pro and I didn’t suck. At least, to me I didn’t.  Other people may think otherwise.  I didn’t come out of the water last, I didn’t have the slowest bike, and I finished, beating out 6 or 7 girls who quit.  I know for pros it’s a little different and they sometimes choose to quit because they have another race coming up that is more important to them to be healthy for.  But, I guess I still have an age grouper’s mindset that if I put in all that time and sacrificed so much sleep, I’m going to finish the darn thing. 

Daniel and I met in Chattanooga on Friday.  I got there in the AM, went straight to the hotel, Chattanooga Choo Choo, where I was able to check in early.  After dropping off all of my stuff and taking a little nap (I was up at 3:30 AM) I headed down to the race site to get my packet, bike, and gear and then attend the pro briefing.  After the briefing it started raining a little bit and there was nowhere for me to go with my bike and bags.  So, I had to walk back to the hotel with everything.  This was pretty miserable.  I made it back to the hotel and the worst part of the weekend was over.  LOL.  I waited for Daniel to meet me at the hotel and we went to the Brewhouse next door to the hotel to get a late lunch.  Afterward we went to Publix so could get bagels, bananas, peanut butter, Gatorade, water and my yo-yo cookie (tradition to have half the night before the race and half afterward).  We got back to the hotel and hung out for a bit.  Around 7 I went to the gym to get in one last run session to flush out the legs a bit.  For dinner we went to Mellow Mushroom and split a pizza with jalapenos, spinach, and pineapple.  After that, it was off to bed with no alarm!
Saturday we went to Tupelo Honey CafĂ© for brunch.  Good place.  Make sure to get a biscuit!  I got an omelet and goat cheese grits.  Pretty tasty.  Afterward headed to the expo to drop of my bike and run gear bags. 

Bike gear:
Fuelbelt race belt (specifically to hold the gps tracker that pros have to wear for Ironman races)
Swiftwick socks
Chamois cream
*Rudy helmet and Giros bike shoes were brought down on race morning with my bike and allowed to stay on my bike

Run gear:
K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Light shoes
Quarq race belt (specifically to hold the gps tracker.  I switched belts hoping the Quart wouldn’t bounce around as much, but it still did)
2 EFS Liquid Shot bottles
Orange Mud hat

We walked through the expo and Daniel bought me an overpriced sweater that I love.  After this, we went to the movies and saw Black Mass.  It was good timing too because the movie started 15 minutes after we got there.  Nice way to put your feet up (if not one is in front of you) and really relax and get your mind off of the race for a few hours).  After the movie, we went back to the hotel and hung out for a bit before going to dinner around 6:30.  We got Sushi from Sekisui and it was also quite delicious.  They had a dessert that looked amazing, but I really wanted my yo-yo cookie J.  I got to bed around 9.  Yes, I was super nervous and barely slept.  But, that’s why I don’t set an alarm the night before!

Race morning
Alarm goes off at 4:30, I get up and go to the bathroom to put on my Moxie tri kit, brush my teeth, and take my beet elite.  Breakfast was a bagel with pb and a banana.  I mixed a scoop of GQ6 Energy in my Gatorade and sipped on that until 45 minutes from the swim start time.  Around 5:15 I was ready and left.  I made it to transition, set everything up, got my GPS tracker from the Quarq guys, then went over to check my bike and run bags to make sure I had everything and that everything was still dry (it had rained a little the night before).  I wasn’t going to calibrate my pedals, but decided I should just do it and save myself a possible headache later.  When I tried to do it, there were too many other PMs around so I had to walk my bike over to no-man’s land to calibrate.  Glad I did though.  After re-racking my bike and double checking that I had everything (2 nutrition bottles, from hydration system full with water, extra gu gels, CO2 cartridge, spare tube, and one Pit Stop) I got in line to get on the bus to the swim start.  Once at the swim start, I stood in line for the port-a-let.  I didn’t have to go all morning and finally while I was in line it hit me (maybe TMI for some).  YAY!  Started walking to the front and I had so much extra time that I didn’t know what to do with myself.  So, I just walked up and down the line looking for Jessica and Katie.  Couldn’t find either.  With about 45 minutes left to start, I decided I should try to go to the bathroom again.  I walked back to the bathroom lines.  All of them were long now and I was super nervous I wouldn’t make it back in time.  I was able to make it through the line in time and very thankful I did.  I had to run back to the front though.  I did get to see Katie on my way back.  It was really nice to see a familiar face.  When I got back, they started the national anthem and then it was time to line up on the dock.  Go time!

The Swim
Time – 59:15
Place – 36/38
The swim was pretty uneventful for me.  I started off strong but started to get a side stitch and had to slow down.  Slowing down messed up my rhythm and I had to keep reminding myself to keep good form – keep the hips up, try to be long, high elbow, follow through on the strong, oh and breathe!  I was happy to see that there were 2 other bikes still racked when I got mine.  On the swim, I used my Roka Pro Swimskin.  It’s comfortable and really easy to get out of. 
T1 – 3:53
The Bike
Time – 5:41:59
Place 35/38
So, I wasn’t the slowest on the bike.  This makes me happy too.  There were 2 other girls with slower times.  On the bike, I had 2 nutrition bottles each filled with 2 scoops of Infinit custom mix, one scoop of Carbo Pro, one scoop of GQ6 Endurance, and one scoop of GQ6 Energy.  I grabbed a bottle of water at every aid station except for the last one and grabbed a bottle of Gatorade at the half way point.  I was glad I did because I ran out of nutrition with about 10 miles to go, but still had some Gatorade left.  My left quad started to cramp when I stood up to stretch around mile 80.  After that, I tried to stand up every 10 miles to stretch it out so it wouldn’t be too stiff for the run. I did not have a special needs bag and did not need to go to the bathroom at all on the bike.    

T2 – 2:37

The Run
Time – 4:22:10
Place – 29/38
This run is hard.   The last half mile of the first mile is a 2.5 ish incline.  The rest of the run is all up and down and false flats.  Take a look at the elevation if you don’t believe me.  After about mile 3 I had to break each mile up to ¼ and ½ mile segments.  Like, walk .05, run .2.  Or, walk .1, run .4.  Every once in a while I was able to go a mile or a little over a mile.  Thank goodness there was overcast almost the whole time.  For the run, I had 2 EFS Liquid Shots each with 1 scoop each of GQ6 Endurance and Energy.  I also took Base salt prescribed, 2 licks at every aid station along with water and rotated between oranges, coke, and Gatorade at every aid station.  I had a shot of EFS every 2 miles.  This is the first time I’ve ever used Base and it is awesome.  I totally recommend it if you cramp.  There were a couple of times towards the end that I forgot to take it and almost a ¼ mile after each time I was supposed to I would start to cramp just a little. So, definitely recommend it.  The salt is actually a nice change from all the sugar of everything else too.  There were cold sponges about every 2 aid stations.  I shoved one under each short leg and at the back of my neck.  For me, this also helps with cramping in my quads.  I did not have to go to the bathroom at all during the run either.  I didn’t feel dehydrated, so hopefully this means I was keeping a perfect balance the whole time.        

Time – 11:09:52
Place 29/38 – I was actually last, but all the other girls that started quit

Other minor details about the race, the city, where we stayed…
I did have a good race all things considered.  This race has a great swim (point to point with a slight current) and challenging but doable bike.  There are lots of ups and downs with two big climbs on each loop (2 loops) of the bike course.  If you can train with some hills, you’ll be good on this.  For the run, it is all up and down and false flats.  There are no more than a handful of flat areas that can’t be longer than a ¼ mile.  So, do a lot of hill work for the run if you are planning on doing this race.  This race is at the time of year when it’s usually cool and rainy or overcast.  Last year it was rainy.  This year it was overcast. 

The city is very supportive of this race and the racers.  All of the restaurants, hotels, and cab, uber and shuttle drivers are fully aware of the race.  They have a free shuttle that runs all through downtown that makes getting around very easy.  One of the drivers saw that I was a finisher and pulled the handicap ramp down for me so I didn’t have to step up to get into the bus!  And, another driver later that night stopped with a full bus for Daniel and me and then asked everyone to scoot over and make room so we didn’t have to stand up.

We stayed at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, a converted train station that they sent out soldiers from WWII.  They have some of the old train cars and converted them to rooms.  We had a normal room and the hotel overall was nice.  It’s a little far from the race site for back and forth walking (1.3 miles), but the Shuttle is right next to the hotel and drops you near the Aquarium (right next to the race site).  Not a big deal except when you have your bike with you.  I actually rode my bike down on race morning (perk of being pro). 

I used Tri Bike Transport to ship my bike there and back and it made my life so much easier, especially after the race. If you ever have to fly and it’s going to cost you $200 or more to take your bike on the plane, just pay the extra money and ship through TBT.

One other mentionable, I only ended up with 3 blisters and minimal chafing.  It didn’t even burn when I got in the shower! I have one blood blister on my left pinky toe, a regular blister on the right pinky, and a blister on the arch of my right foot.  I coated my feet in Aquaphor before the race and also sprayed them with TriSlide before the swim start.       

Thank you to:
Outspokin of Tampa, especially Mike, Andres, and John, for all your help with my bike  - Garmin vectors, fitting, rusty bike cleats, and a trainer wheel  for the lonely indoor sufferfests.

OrangeMud – No way I could have done my long runs as well without my HydraQuiver pack.

My teams -
Outspokin Multisport team

TRIBAL Multisport team and coaches

Moxie Multisport team, especially Bryan Palas and Katie Waters.  Thank you for the multiple 100+ mile rides and running torture in Clermont and San Antonio.  Definitely contributed a lot to my race not being a suckfest!

And of course, my super supportive husband and awesome sherpa, Daniel.  


  1. Great race recap Maria. I love the specifics on your nutrition and how you felt. It is great insight. You are awesome my friend.

    1. Thanks Brad. Sorry again about Maryland. Hope they give you something awesome to make up for it. Maybe Cozumel ?? :)