Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Okay. The marathon. The first three miles of the run were awesome and I loved the bridge view over the Ohio River!

After that I was feeling a little overwhelmed & intimidated by the notion of the marathon and was a bit cranky because of the heat. I walked a lot. Then I realized that I had to overcome this mentally and get with the running plan that I had practiced. I had to engage, get happy, and get to the finish line. I bucked up and started running 8 min with 1 min of walking. It wasn't bad once I got moving. I can't say it was as joyous as the swim though :)

We ran past the beautiful University of Louisville and wished that I could meander the course through the campus a little. The out and back seemed to go on and on and on. We also ran past Churchill Downs and then finally the turnaround. Tried to find positives to cling to and just take it bit by bit. As Tim O'Donnell helpfully reminded me - KEEP MOVING FORWARD. You have to keep going. Even if I did walk, I tried to prod myself to at least walk faster. There were a LOT of people walking - it seemed like "hey everyone is doing it".

Had to take it one segment at a time, and make it to the 2nd loop. And getting into the second loop required running right smack by the finish line. I just had to laugh...it was such torture!!!! But it reminded me of what I had to look forward too. It would be my turn eventually! The cheering spectators helped so much, including the awesome KC crew.

I started getting really tired around mile 18...started doing 5 minutes on, 1 off. Miles 20-23 weren't great with more or equal walking & running. But then I figured if I ran as much as possible from there, I could get in under 15 hours. All I could think about was that I WOULD get there...I WOULD be an Ironman...I WOULD be okay. I had to fight mind over matter.

Even though the run was the hardest part for me, in retrospect I realized that I was having a pretty good day...relatively smooth. There seemed to be a lot of DNF's and there were many many people throwing up on the run. Talk about tough times. I didn't have bad stomach problems and kept the nutrition simple - water, small sips of Coke and chicken broth, Hammer Endurolytes (2 per hour) and my yummy Sports Beans. They were AWESOME, because they are so small and you can just eat 2-3 at a time.

The sun setting was AWESOME...it felt so much cooler out. When it got dark, we got glow necklaces.
When I got to mile marker 25, it was just such an amazing feeling of joy. Almost there. Almost there. Keep going. This is happening! It was emotional. I got kind of choked up the last stretch before rounding the corner so I could vent that emotion.

They gave us advice that we should savor the finish and not sprint and rush through it, so I tried to take it all in. It was hard, because I had tunnel vision on the finish and there are bright lights in your face. :) I heard the people cheering and started to Jersey Shore fist-pump...I may have been yelling. I wanted to dance, or do cartwheels. It was just completely surreal. I heard some friends but couldn't see them. It was just glorious. I was SO happy to have completed this.

I cross the finish line. The announcer says "Amy Slater...you are an Ironman". And I smile for the cameras. (My finish is about 1:20 into the video below :) )

Run time - too long! Averaged 14 ish minute miles.

Total time: 14 hours and 57 minutes

The Aftermath

I am very very very very tired. My legs are stiff. The volunteer puts a medal around my neck and I get a post-finish photo. Apparently I think I'm a hilarious super model and strike some kind of sassy pose :). One of the volunteers says that I am 'working it' and I am happy that I'm lucid enough to laugh.

I feel okay and really really terrible at the same time. Looking down at my legs, I'm horrified to see a hideous hot pink heat rash. Meagan comes to greet me and thankfully takes me to where the post-race/morning bags are. Medical is there, so I decide to see what they think of my heat rash.

They immediately put me in a wheelchair and take me back (some people had to wait in a waiting area for quite some time)...and proceed to give me TWO IV's, one with Benedryl. It took the med guy 3 times to get the IV in and it hurts...I feel scared that it isn't going to work.

I'm pretty upset that I feel this terrible and am also missing seeing my friends and being at the party at the finish. I feel pretty alone too. I declare that I will not do another Ironman. I call my parents to let them know where I am. My coach is texting me and is worried.

The medical student volunteer listens to me babble on and on.

Finally I calm down and am FREEZING because of the IV's and my teeth are chattering. But I know this is doing me some significant good.

I can't really get a hold of anyone but am finished after the midnight race deadline, so I feel overjoyed when they call me and 5 of the KC crew stop by to pick me up. I am so happy to see them, and I'm actually able to walk back to hotel, which I know is good for me to move a bit.

Meagan, Carly, and I clean up and then chit chat about the race until almost 2 in the morning.

Why is it still surreal? I am an Ironman. We are!!!

Everything is going to be okay. You start to feel better and life will go on...

IMKY - Bike + T2

“Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen.” ~ Louis L'Amour

Before the race, Meagan and I got a chance to drive some but not all of the bike course. It was really pretty. The first segment is flat, and you can cruise along at a decent clip. I tried to keep it pretty relaxed though...note to self during the ride "this is going to be a LONG day...do NOT burn out". RELAX. There are a LOT of riders out on the course and it is crowded.

Riders had to be careful because of safety and there are lots of potholes. So I can't look around TOO much, but grab as many peeks as I can of the pretty scenery. The course gets hilly and the temperatures were rising. You see some crazy stuff out there. There were several bike wrecks and seemingly lots of ambulances going around that day. As the day goes on, I see lots of men on the side of the road sitting in the shade. Some looking dazed and confused. Not really sure if they are taking a break or hanging it up for the day. Some are massaging their legs. Some are changing flat tires (if you don't know how, all you can do is hope someone is nice enough to stop). One man literally just falls over on his bike up a very steep short hill.

I had practice changing flats a couple of times at my coaches' suggestion, and it greatly increased my confidence. Sometimes flats come in 2's, so I also decided to carry 2 tubes with me and had 2 in my bike special needs bag. Didn't need any of it. Good luck that day!!!!

Anyway, there is lots of carnage out there. I roll on. Favorite parts: the beauty of the course, HORSES!!!, the gauntlet of fans at La Grange (great energy, signs, cheering), and of course our KC Multisport fan contingency hanging at a great point in the course before the loop turn. These things helped a lot. Nutrition plan - used Hammer Perpetuem, water, 1/2 berry smoothie power bar per hour (YUM), and 2 Hammer Endurolytes per hour. No tummy problems.

I kept a positive attitude on this leg of the race, and try to celebrate the good things. I stop a couple of times for my special needs bike bag and to mix my 2nd 3.5 bottle of Perpetuem. Feeling solid and relaxed, but the ride was a bit slower than I would have liked. Oh well! I can't help but think that I need to be careful because a MARATHON is next up. Really I feel decent...just a bit fatigued at the end and my feet hurt and are numb. Not too bad!

I'm SO happy to get back to the flat section and ECSTATIC to get back to transition. YES...I'm getting off this bike.

Bike time 7:04:42 (avg 15.8 mph); Rank 340 / 525 women. 2nd best split of the day behind the swim.

Transition #2

I have a volunteer helping me with my bag this time. She lays out my stuff and I change my jersey and into run shorts. Grab my bandana (later would be dubbed "Bandana Girl" and people mentioned being jealous of it - my coach suggested I take it to wipe my face, fill it with ice to have to munch on or use to cool off...it was AWESOME!). Also grabbed my nutrition - had 2 to choose from, my gummy gel blocks and my Sports jelly beans, extra body glide (mini) for any chafing, and my Hammer Endurolytes.

Heading out onto the course...I feel good, but am a little overwhelmed that we now have to run a marathon. I've never run a marathon before...

IMKY - Swim + T1

Meagan, Carly, and I woke up at 4:00 AM on Sunday morning 8/29/2010 and it was go time. We ate some breakfast and got our morning gear together and then met Alex and Mike in the lobby. Alex's brother Miles got up super early and gave us a much appreciated ride to Transition. When bikes must be checked in the day before a race, it's best to let some air out of the tires and pump them up fresh race morning because of temperature differentials. We pump them up, check things out, then are off to the starting line!

Getting the ride over there really saved us a lot of time, and probably put us about midway through the swim line at Tumbleweed's restaurant. It was about a 3/4 mile walk to the start from transition. We had just about the whole KC contingency there with us in line minus a small handful that did their own thing. The line was much longer than it "really" was because so many friends, fans, and family were in line with athletes. Once it was athletes only, the line started moving and condensing.

We celebrated the Star Spangled Banner and then heard the cannon go off. Through the trees along the river, we could see the athletes starting their 2.4 mile swim. Since it was a time trial start instead of mass start...we had to wait only a short time longer. They say it takes around 45 minutes or so to get everyone in, and we went off around 7:22 (I think???).

As the line moved towards the start, we passed through an energetic gauntlet of fans and it was pretty surreal. I couldn't believe this day had finally come. We moved down the boat ramp towards the docks and they told us to run to keep things moving. I was jogging and it was totally wild - there were two docks and two lines so I picked one, crossed the timing mat, and jumped off the dock feet first. Our chips started timing us as we crossed the mat.

Oh my...here I gooooo!!!! I'm in the Ohio River and swimming upstream along Towhead Island. It is a tiny bit crowded, but NOTHING like the Ironman mass swim start where bodies are packed like sardines and swimming over each other. SO happy I'm doing an Ironman with a swim start like this. I manage to find some patches of free water and I'm a little freaked out and have to get my mind calmed down. That happens after a couple hundred meters and I'm doing this "swim 2.4 miles" thing.

No one kicks or scratches me, or pulls my goggles off. I manage to find my own water and go... relaxing and trying to focus on technique so that I can expend as little energy as possible. It feels fantastic...joyous. Is the Ohio River kind of gross? Yes. But you can't think about that too much. It's a beautiful day. I'm super excited to reach the turn-around buoy because then we are doing downstream. There isn't a crazy strong current like say the Missouri River, but there is some.

As I turn to breathe, I see my friend Meagan is right beside me!!! I give her a shout out. I am kind of over by the edge of the river and can actually touch the bottom, which is very very gooey. Here is some shocking news...triathletes pee during the race but that can be hard to do that while you are swimming. So since I can touch the bottom, I stop for a second and announce to Meagan - "I'm peeing!!!!". "Good call" she says and we take a break together and then get going. For some reason Meagan told me later that she 'decided' to run into a kayak instead of making the turn :). Luckily she is fine...lol.

We continue on back downstream for the last 2/3 of the race and it is still joyous. Luckily, I don't swallow much of that nasty water. I take it one bridge at a time. As I sight my swim line, the Crabshack restaurant by the swim exit gets closer and closer. I'm doing this!!! Yes!!! And I feel fantastic. I savor this, because I know later I may not feel fantastic.

I'm at the swim exit and am kind of sad it is over...looking down at my watch, my time is pretty on par with my time goal and is at a faster average speed than I did for the Kansas Half Ironman 1.2 mile swim!!!!!! All that work on technique and in the pool paid off. Not only am I faster, it feels easier and I'm expending less energy. Thanks Kathy!!!!

Swim 2.4 Miles - 1:24:01 (avg 2:11 / 100); Rank 272 / 525 female finishers. This is my highest ranked split of the day, which is highly unusual for me. In short course my bike split would be the best, then the run, and the swim 3rd usually!


I run a long way to get my Bike bag and then into the female changing tent. I didn't have a volunteer helping me with this one. I change into bike shorts and grab everything needed for my pockets...my berry smoothie Power Bars (delish!), Hammer Endurolytes, etc etc. I pour water into the water bottle and then carefully empty my Hammer Perpetuem drink powder into it...it can go bad so I wanted to mix it fresh. This is a 3.5 hour bottle that I'm going to pour into my aero bar bottle. I CANNOT spill it...do that, and it's trouble (although technically I'm prepared and have the next 3.5 hours of powder with me on the bike, and have some spare powder in my special needs bag). I swear this stuff is magic...Hammer does great nutrition.

Okay now I'm ready to get sunscreened by a volunteer...she does kind of a sketchy job and I have to give some instructions because we are out there a long time. You need that sun protection.

I'm all gooped up and ready to grab my bike and head out for this 112 mile bike ride. Let's do this!!!! 1 down...2 to go.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Twas the Night Before Ironman...

...and all through the hotel, athletes were carb loaded and rocking compression socks with visions of GU packs and the Big Race dancing in their heads.

Is this for real??? The race is tomorrow??? What???? Really?????

I arrived in Louisville with my buddy Alex on Thursday morning and the rest of the KC rolled in late Thursday or early Friday. It seemed like we had SO much time. Friday night the big KC group went to the banquet and pre-race orientation.

And here we are the Day Before. We rolled out for the official practice swim in the Ohio River this morning at 8 am and that was interesting. According to Ben Schloegel, we'd have more athletes around us in the practice swim than the actual race. I am SO SO happy this isn't a mass swim start. My swim was nice and relaxed, and it was a good ice breaker to have been in the river.

Then I went for an easy 30 minute run and picked up a Starbucks latte on the cooldown.

Meagan, Mike, and I had some Jimmie John's and then Meagan and I dropped our gear bags and bikes at transition, got mini-orientation on the swim entrances, bike in/out, run in/out and changing tents. Then Meagan and I drove some of the bike course. It's pretty! A bit hilly in places, but not much different than what we train on in Kansas.

We bypassed the craziness of actually trying to get a table at Spaghetti Factory and ordered takeout...then Mike, Alex, Meagan, Carly, and I had our carb feast back the hotel. That was WAY more relaxing. So glad I have these friends to share the experience with.

And so now it's time to chill, and hopefully sleep. And tomorrow is the BIG DAY. I really can't believe it.

Yes, I'm feeling a bit emotional but feeling good. I want to really enjoy this day. The good and the bad...embrace the experience. And really savor crossing that finish line. I want it.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reflections 11 days out from IMKY

On October 29, 2009 I took the plunge and registered for something life-changing. "Congratulations! You are now registered for 2010 Ford Ironman Louisville." Here I am about 10 months later...with 11 days to go. Time flies (when you are having fun).

My friends will tell you that I said I'd NEVER do this. "Never say never" right? I also said that about my second and third half Ironman races. And yet here I am...ready to go complete this race:

Swim 2.4 miles, Bike 112 miles, Run 26.2 miles = 140.6 miles

So looking back at this point...I still remember and know exactly why I signed up:

1. Because I can. Thanks to my time at Fit Pit, my body has been strong and for the most part injury free. I'm thankful for my health!!!

2. I have the time...I'm single and don't have kids. Next year I'll be running for re-election for City Council, so that wouldn't have been a good time to tackle this!

3. Needed a challenge. I was bored and crave meaningful life experiences. Ironman is a big one in that department.

4. Lisa Fowler and Alex Franz were doing it. They are two of the coolest people I know. And I know a lot of amazing people.

5. Lots of other great people signed up too. That could be fun, and I'd have them to share the experience with! It's been fun getting to know people and being part of this together.

6. To honor some special people that I and loved ones love and miss. The past few years have been tough and sad with losses: my Lenexa family (Former Mayor Joan Bowman, former Mayor and Senator Rich Becker, Councilwoman Jane Klein, and Councilman John Ramsey), family (my Uncle Terry), and loved ones of loved ones (Bill Warner, Megan McBride Franz, Harold Green...). It is a way to express my support and care for their families, and that I miss, remember, and honor them.

7. I've been inspired by a lot of other amazing tri friends that have completed Ironman.

8. I wanted to see what I would learn.

What have I learned so far...11 days out?

1. Hiring a coach (Ryan Ross & Kathy Boyd: Perception Multisport) has been invaluable. I've learned so much from them and have appreciated their approach and guidance.

2. Perceptions and realities change. The first sprint triathlon I did in 2000 was intimidating, and I backstroked the first couple of tri swims in my 'career' because I wasn't used to putting my face in the water (and didn't like it very much). 10 years later, I'm doing an Ironman! Building up to this experience and training volume led to new 'normals' (and I definitely emphasize the quotes on that word!!!). Some things don't seem AS hard anymore. You get used to the changes and volume necessary for Ironman...for me mainly it was higher volume and time investment. Ironman once seemed daunting and it still is, but you can manage it and it seems more possible.

3. There are times this was boring, and times it was amazing. There are times when I wanted to do more, and times when I didn't want to workout but did it anyway. Times I felt great and times I felt terrible. In the end I did what my coaches asked me to do. You have to make sure your and your coaches are a good fit and then trust their plan and execute it.

4. There were times I threw in the towel (i.e. was kicked in the face at open lake swim and hang it up for the day). There were times I cursed my workout. As long as it isn't a regular occurance or mode of operation, sometimes it is okay to hang it up. Sometimes it just isn't your day and you need a tiny break. The important thing is to learn something / get back out there / pick yourself up. Be tough on yourself, but not too tough. And have good communication with your coaches!

5. As lucky and happy and fortunate as I can be, I'm human and feel voids sometimes. No material possession or challenge or experiences or Ironman can ever truly fill that. Nothing in this world will fill a void...other than my spirituality and love for God.

6. I believe in myself. I can choose to face fears, change course, chart a new course, learn, grow, face hardship, and actually embrace all of that. I can choose to see what is possible and work within my power to make it happen.

7. The poison ivy really stunk. That was pure evil.

8. And finally, I used this as an excuse to buy lots of new tri toys...including my Felt B2. Love it.

Yes, this experience has been pretty deep so far. 10 months. 11 more days. It will be interesting. I can't wait to see what happens.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Horse Farms!

They posted the 2010 Athlete Guide!!!!

Remembering how seeing horses down south along 199th Street makes me very happy when biking...in the intro letter:

"During your journey on the bike course, you will enjoy some of the world’s most beautiful horse farms. The run course will take you past historic Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, as well as the University of Louisville. "

How cool is that????

Monday, August 9, 2010

19 Days To Go

So the 6 day poison ivy treatment was completely inadequate, and as I tapered off of it the poison ivy reflared in all the same places it was. Saturday's 22 mile run that became 14 miles in the heat didn't help matters. I had a minor meltdown freaking out at my appearance and then booked it over the Walgreen's clinic, where thankfully there was no wait! I love that place.

The nurse practitioner was appalled that the urgent care doctor had only given me a 6 day treatment. I'm starting over...and feel hopeful this will kick it! At least I'm not itchy anymore. It's looking better day 3.

I have to keep telling myself that maybe this happened for a reason...if anything, during the race I could say "this isn't as bad as the poison ivy!!!!"

Had to delay my last Big Workout a couple of days...Wed (or Thurs) will be the glorious day. 7 1/2 hours. THEN taper.

We had a nice IMKY crew get together on Sunday (thanks to the Farrells!). I'm happy to share this experience with so many stellar people. I said I'd never do this...you all (and those KC folks that have Ironman-ed before) inspire me and make it more fun. I wouldn't want to do it alone.

New toys make everything better! Picked up the
Garmin 310xt and am totally stoked to have it for the race.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Small Poison Ivy setback and moving forward

Logged about 15 hours of training the week of July 19-25. Saturday I ran 16 miles group run and it was pretty stinking hot (could be on race day! :) ) and then turned around Sunday and did a solo 7 hour workout...my longest ever. I keep saying that every week...
'longest ever'.

So on Sunday I swam 5 x 500, drove south to Heritage for an 80 mile ride (4 x 20 mile loop to work on pace. Result? I am freakishly consistent), then an hour run. It was hot as usual. Seeing all the horses along 199th made me happy. Getting ready to run, I really didn't feel like doing it and was cranky. Did it. First 10 minutes = cranky. Next 10 minutes = a little better. Next 40 minutes = I'm fine, this isn't that bad! Best moment that made me smile (have to find those little things) a dog frolicking at the dog park. He found a puddle to run through then plopped down right in the middle of it looking so proud of himself.

Tuesday/Wed/Thursday of the next week roll around and disaster...I got poison ivy on my legs during my 16 mile run. Touched that, then wiped my eye :( Itch-fest and swollen eye follow...followig Friday realizing something very bad is going on, I go to urgent care and get treatment.

I miss the August 1st group Century Ride, which would have been another great opportunity to practice nutrition and endurance and hang with IMKY peeps. My eye is half swollen shut that morning. That and the treatment would impact my (and others?!?) safety on the bike.

So I get on the trainer for a little while but it isn't the same. But it isn't nothing either!

Monday...eye is better and I'm able to get goggles on and back in the pool.

I feel overjoyed. Although it was a short break from training, maybe the poison ivy happened for a reason. Maybe my body needed rest. It made me appreciate being ABLE to train. I felt joy being in the pool today and moving. When you really can't do something, it makes you appreciate the time you CAN all the more.

4 more weeks. Tis August, the month of Ironman.