Ironman Florida. No Really This Was the Last One.
It wasn’t long ago that doing our first Ironman, Ironman Canada 2006, seemed like an impossible feat. The anxiety of the unknown had me in tears the night before the race, so much time put into getting ready, could we do it, would we make the cutoff, would all the training pay off. Covering 140.6 miles in under 17 hours. The training and hard work did pay off and we got to hear “Saveria & Paul Tilden, you are an IRONMAN!” for the first time as we crossed the finish line together. That experience was so powerful in so many ways. The knowledge that if we could do that, we were be capable of anything we set our minds to. It might hurt a little, but anything is possible with the 4Ps - planning, preparation, perseverance and passion. OK maybe 5Ps if you include pain… no one said the journey was easy. This was a journey I was not planning repeating. Not being able to walk for days and the training time it took to get there… I was good with being an Ironman. Been there, done that, checked it off the list, no need to do another one.
I honestly can’t remember why we signed up for Ironman Coeur D’Alene 2010, considering it took me 2 years to want to look at my bike or think about putting on my running shoes, much less head to the pool. Maybe it was wanting to remind ourselves what we were capable of. I had experienced 2 serious bike accidents upon returning to riding and was feeling vulnerable, maybe this would make me feel strong again. It could have been the fact that sometimes you look back on an experience and think now that I know I can do it… I wonder if I could do it better, smarter, faster. Maybe it was just wanted the feeling again of crossing that finish line to know it wasn’t a fluke. Regardless of exactly why, once again there we were. In many ways it was a very different experience, btu in some ways it was the same. Now we knew that finishing was within our abilities, but could we do it again and how would it go. The day before the race I announced I would never do an Ironman again…the training really takes over your life… 6 days a week, every weekend consumed, nope too much, I was exhausted from the stress of making it all work with a job, and life and everything. I was ready for the race, but it would be my last. Paul rocked the race taking an hour off his first time… I squeaked in a PR by 2 minutes. But this race was unique in that all 3 segments are 2 loops and you come through town repeatedly, the support for the races is amazing, making the 140.6 miles fun, exciting, you feel like a rock star. We had amazing support from our family cheering us on throughout the day. I think I smiled the entire time, despite the hills that were kicking my butt all day long, and had a great race. The next day I woke up tired, sore and wondering which IM we should do next. I think the fact that Paul’s mom and aunt had come all the way from Florida to support us helped the decision that Ironman Florida would be next. It helped that the course is known to be notoriously FLAT and at the moment that sounded really appealing and three just sounded like a good number.
So there we were at our third and last Ironman, Ironman Florida 2012. Everything felt different about this one. We started training with a very business as usual attitude. We knew what we needed to do and got to it… coaching plan – check, nutrition plan – check, Ironman Boulder 70.3 prep race – check, equipment – check, getting our bikes & gear transport to the race via Tri Bike Transport – check, social life put on hold – check. The only really hiccup in this whole plan was Paul getting a movie in Nashville for the 7 weeks leading up to the race. For both of us loosing our training partner and doing the longest and hardest workouts solo was hard. I had great friends jump in and ride with me and he found some amazing rides in Tennessee… but this was definitely hard. Race weekend came before we knew it. The jitters and nervousness at the other races for me was gone. Being our third race, we knew the drill and planned accordingly to make sure that everything would go smoothly. Register… buy swag… bike some of the course, swim some of the course (making sure to do a swim the day before at the race time), run a bit, get our gear bags together, drop bikes & gear off the day before the race (required at IM)… but mostly relax and take it easy. Once again our amazing moms were both there, they too were going 3 for 3 as our IM Support Crew. Having them at all 3 races and share our journey was really incredible. There was a cool strange calm to the pre race build up. We both had high hopes for the race as our training had gone really well, and unlike the other races this course was flat giving us both good chances of PRing.
RACE DAY! Race morning started with the alarm going off at 3:15 am. Getting to the race shuttle by 4:30am, dropping off our special needs bags, chilling in the hotel lobby by 5:15am.
SWIM! The 2.4 mile swim was a 2 loop counter clockwise ocean swim. The morning decided to give us a good swell that lasted the entire race and was present throughout the entire course. Luckily being from CA we are used to this. Tons of racers we met got really seasick both during and after the swim. Paul came out of the first lap right before me and we actually saw each other on the run back in. Crazy considering we entered the water with 2600 other people and it would be impossible to swim “with” someone. The swim is definitely my favorite part and despite a few times of having the Jaws soundtrack play though my head the swim was fun and uneventful. The layout of transition makes you cover a ton of distance to get in from the swim to your bike bag over to the changing area and back to the bike corral making the transitions times a little longer than usual.
BIKE! As I headed out on the bike I felt good…it took my heart rate awhile to come down so I tried to start out keeping it easy. My goal for the bike was to average 16mph giving me a 7 hour bike. The important part of Ironman is to remember that you are racing your race. Stick to your plan. Don’t be concerned that you are being passed by a billion people. I realized on this race that I had a pretty decent swim as it seemed like at least 1000 people passed me on the bike… it turned out to be almost 900. The first half of the bike was awesome and I was averaging 18+mph while staying in my heart rage zone! I started having delusions of an epic bike… then I hit the back half of the course which was slightly more “uphill” and had a continuous head or side wind. This took the wind out of my sails…. literally. I still came in 15 minutes under my goal so I was super happy coming into the run. We are often asked “how do you run a marathon after that swim and bike?”. The answer is simple around mile 95 you start fantasizing about getting the HELL OFF the bike… you will do anything to get OFF the bike even if it means running a marathon! J
RUN! I felt good coming out of T2 and immediately started looking for my mom and Payson knowing they always find a good spot to see us off on the run. I saw Payson and then my mom but there were two guys standing in between them, which seemed odd. Then I realized it was my dad and brother, Sebastian!!!!! They surprised us all and flew in from Oklahoma after wrapping a shoot they were working on the night before! It was such a great surprise and I took off into the run all fired up! I had 2 super fast miles and was feeling great but knew I had to bring it way back to keep my goal pace of 12:30-13:00 min miles. Not fast but sustainable or so I thought. About mile 3 I started feeling off… couldn’t get my HR down, was feeling a bit queasy, was run/walking thinking I just needed to get in a groove. Then every time I started running I became nauseous. Saw Paul as we passed each other on the 2 loop out and back course J as he was coming back from the turnaround on his first loop and found out he was having stomach issues too, his started on the bike, such a bummer. So I took a nice 5 mile walk… chatted with the EMTs about how I was feeling, took some time to check out the other racers, met some nice people and enjoyed St. Andrew’s State Park. I think one guy was excited to start talking to me because he thought we were going to walk the whole marathon together… we were talking about finishing being the accomplishment… my fantasies of a low 14 hour finish from hitting my bike goal were gone… my goal of getting in the 14s was a slipping away… and then I realized I wasn’t ready to completely give in to walking the whole marathon quite yet. So I picked up my stroll to a speed walk and met CJ. He was on his 2nd loop - me my first, we got to talking about racing, funny stories, how sometimes things don’t always go as planned, but we push through it. CJ did Ironman Coeur D’Alene with a broken rib a few years back and today had gotten seasick from the swells here which was giving him stomach issues. After about a mile he decided he would push through and run to the end. The thought of finishing an Ironman with a broken rib, helped me put my situation in perspective. So I decided to give running another try. Saw Paul for the 2nd time literally 50’ after I started running, so we stopped a caught up. I jogged back into town and to the special needs bags where I got to see the family really quick and got an infusion of energy from them. I actually felt pretty good on the second loop and ran all the way back to the park/turn around except for stopping at the aid stations to get ice and coke. When I got back to the park I had to walk again. I think the thick moist ocean air was not agreeing with me, because as soon I was out of the park I felt better. Then it was back to business and finishing this race strong. The rest of the run actually felt pretty good. Next thing I knew I was in the chute heading towards the finish, high-fiving people, and hearing the announcer say, “Saveria Tilden from Pasadena, CA… You are an Ironman!” Paul was waiting in the finish area… a bonus of having your loved one also racing! We got some finisher pics together and then I headed to the med tent because I started to feel nauseous again. Trying to get a little nutrition down there actually helped everything else come up, which actually made me feel better! Our amazing family helped gather our gear, drive us back to the hotel and grab dinner. Post Ironman Dinner of Champions… a McDonalds Quarter Pounder, small coke and Krispy Kreme donut then sleep!
Everyone has been joking that they have heard before that I would never do another ironman and I understand the skepticism based on the fact that I said that after the first and have now finished 3. But I can say with complete confidence that this is my last full Ironman. I may do another triathlon someday, but not a full. To train for an Ironman everything else in your life takes a backseat while you train and we had started to plan lots of new fun adventures we want to go on. In the past couple of years we have starting exploring the outdoors in a whole new way… climbing mountains to be more specific. Mountaineering and rock climbing have become a new love for both of us and we had to put this all on hold while training for IMF. Now we are excited to get back to it!
We have learned so much about ourselves during these adventures, along with new skills along the way, and we want to make sure we have a history to look back on of the crazy life we have chosen to lead hence the creation of this new blog, The AdventurUs. We hope to find the time to write about these good times, funny times, and maybe not so good times… but at all times remembering that life should be an adventure. There is Adventure in all of Us and we are excited to share these adventures with you.