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Laura’s Kona 2011 RR – #21!

LauraFinishIMWldChamps2011_frontpage

IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

I often wonder what keeps me going and striving to be the best I can be on Ironman race day. Today (well race day), I finally figured it out. I truly love racing in Hawaii. The course, the town, the people, my competitors, the pros, and the atmosphere all wrapped into the World Championships. I absolutely love racing and will continue to embrace and love this race!

My first thank you goes to Maria Thrash for helping improve my swim. I may not have had a faster swim, but I felt nice and long…just got behind the wrong group after the turn around and could not get out of the mix. The swim was like being in a washing machine. The current forced me right into the buoy line on the way out so “open” water never existed for me and once we rounded the boat we had big swells and a group of people I was unable to swim around!

The bike was pretty incredible, plenty of sunshine, tailwinds for the first 50 miles, and 100’s of men blowing by me on that bike ride to Hawi. I remember smiling and singing…”Hey now you’re an all-star get you game on…lets play…” as I climbed the headwinds up to Hawi! Singing makes me smile, but I am sure others around me thought I was a bit crazy or something along those line. The descent out of Hawi was magnificent! Awesome tailwinds, very little of those famous cross winds, just a beautiful, quick descent back to the Queen K highway and home. Once back on the Queen K highway, I quickly realized we would have a head wind for the next 30 miles. I settled back and smiled saying…ok…let’s go play. I accomplished that goal and actually felt very good. A little vomiting on the way back and a lot of emptying my bladder let me know I was fully hydrated and ready to run!

The awesome volunteers in transition put cold towels over my shoulders and head, which really helped me too cool down quickly. I then exited T-2 and headed up Palani to begin 26.2 miles of fun! The first 2 miles seems to be very difficult for me, between tired legs, and mentally letting myself wallow in that feeling, I was worried that it would be a struggle on the run. But, then I saw Jeni, Jim, and Shelia on Alii Drive and they totally changed my outlook on the run. They were cheering, smiling, and sending me such positive energy, that I began to smile and within a ½ mile my pace improved dramatically and I knew right then and there that I could run! Next, I saw Kevin running and he looked great! The 10 miles on Alii Drive were very hot and we had quite a bit of sunshine. Then, I saw Crissie Wellington, running on Kuaikini and 3:00 min. later saw Miranda Carafee sprinting down Palani…the top two women were going to finish so close to each other. I was in the Energy Lab through 16 miles before I knew it, 10 miles to go. Ahhh, but I began to struggle on the run and those dark thoughts returned and the next 3 miles were a struggle. When I returned to the Queen K highway and 6.5 miles to go, I realized how close the finish line was, hopefully less than an hour to go. I ran a 3:51, one of my best runs in a long time!

The finish line on Alii Drive is so incredibly magical and you begin to run as if you just started a race…smiles, high fiving people, crying, laughing, all of the days emotions come out to play during the last ½ mile stretch of road. When I arrived at the finish line and Mike Reilly said…”Laura Sophiea, you are an IRONMAN”, I burst into tears and looked up as my friend Nanette Wien, put a lei on me and Shelia Howard, caught me to put an exclamation point on this Ironman day! Ironman 21 was in the books and # 22 is waiting in 2012. 10:45:45 New AG record!

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A special thank you to everyone who made it possible for me to reach for my goals, especially Kevin who has always believed in me, my girls…knowing they were following me from Michigan, and my mom who protected me along the way. One more thank you for being a part of Team SOAS and the SOAS clothing line. My first ironman race in 25 races without chafing. Amazing clothing!! Thank you all!!

Mahalo and see you in 2012 for # 22!

Laura

Hawaii Ironman Number 20 – Race Report

I am not sure where to begin writing another race report, so my goal is to keep this one short! I have been thinking about this all year knowing it was my 20th Kona Hawaii Ironman World Championship race. I never imagined this would happen when I began racing here in 1987. So much has changed, yet again, it is really the same. Race day for an ironman never changes, it is you, the course, the day, the conditions, and most important your outlook all day long.

I woke up to a glorious cloudless morning, light winds in Kona, and a body that was ready to race.

Swim

I absolutely loved the ironman swim this year. I started more to the left of the pier, found pretty clear water and swam on faster feet. There was little if any hitting me, banging me, or being swum over top of. It was crowded at the turnaround boat and then I found fast feet again, exiting the water in 1:06:18, two minutes quicker than 2009, which I attribute to my new Kiwami Amphibian Speed Suit. It was terrific, comfortable, and FAST.

Bike

This continues to be my favorite part of triathlons, I love the bike section. I enjoy working hard, fighting the tough cross winds from mile 50-70, and smiling all the way back home. I even sing ☺ I should have been a bit concerned as I had to “pee” copious amounts of liquid, not to mention barfing again…Yikes, way too many bodily functions happening on the bike all at once!!! I have no idea why that happened, but it was not the part I “love” while on a bike. I was lucky the bike chain did not freeze up! I finished the bike in 5:35:36 averaging just over 20mph. Once off the bike, I found it difficult to run through to the transition tent as evidence by over 5:00 in T-2. I felt like my body wanted to be in the ocean and not getting ready for a marathon. Once in the tent, there was ice, cold towels, Lolly, Dr. Ann, and Pua watching over me. Pua’s last words as I excited the T-2 tent was to take my endurolytes (sodium) as I had more than likely washed them out of me during the bike ride. I did not listen very well ☹

Run

When you begin the run there are hundreds of people lining the run up Palani and you almost (almost) forget you are climbing straight up! I felt awesome in the beginning parts of the run, through town, on Alii where I saw Kaitlin, Wendy, Sam, and others cheering us on. Then at the Lyman’s aid station I was able to get my water from Finn, our friends’ 3 year old…he was ALL smiles! Next up, the first turnaround and I was running at an 8:30 pace…YES! Back through town and to the 10 mile mat, even running a bit quicker…I still felt good, sticking with my water, sponges, Hammer gels and more water. Once up on the highway the heat and sun are pretty brutal as we head out to the Energy Lab. All of a sudden I began to feel awful…slowing down by almost a minute per mile but still able to keep going through the 17 mile timing mat. I had 9 miles left to the best finish line in the world. On the way back, I would every so often check my Garmin GPS…once I saw my 11:00 pace I decided never to look at the watch again! I continue my slow run/shuffle/coke stops/ back into town. Once on Alii Drive you realize that it is the BEST place to be on this day. I am not sure what compares in sports to the Hawaii Ironman finish line. Throngs of people cheering, screaming your name (on my race bib), and more speed back in my legs than the last hour. I continue to be in awe of this finish line especially knowing it was my 20th time crossing this same finish line. I hope to be here for 20 more! It is truly a magical experience–very, very humbling, challenging, and oh so rewarding.

The Med Tent
I truly was not planning to visit the med tent this year. However, my body let me know this was my only option. Pizza and massage would have to wait! I finished the race having GAINED 7 lbs and thus becoming hyponatremic due to very low electrolytes in my body. I believe the sodium was washed out on the bike, and ingesting Endurolytes (salt tablets) while running could not rectify this problem. They took my sodium levels and did not like what they saw, so I was an invited guest for about 90 min. Usually I am begging for an IV to rehydrate and speed my recovery. This year the docs kept sending me to the bathroom to pee in hopes of reducing the bloating. When discharged, I was told to go home and eat potato chips… Sounded like a plan, however there is nothing like that in the house!! So I had pizza and milk in the middle of the night instead! Now three days later, I am still looking for my ankles and calves! I am sure they will return soon ☺

-Aloha,
Laura

Editor’s Note: With this result, Laura broke the W55-59 AG Kona record by 50 minutes!! She is now the holder of two Age Group records, W50-54 and W55-59! Congratulations Laura on an amazing race!!

Laura is IM World Champion 55-59 AG!!!

Laura had an amazing day out there to take the 2010 55-59 Age Group IM World Champion title!

Congratulations Laura! We can’t wait to read your race report!

The results as posted on the Live Coverage on Ironman.com:

Sophiea dominates the 55-59 age category – impressive racing!
1 417 Sophiea, Laura 55 Atlanta GA USA 1:06:18 3:48 5:35:37 5:53 4:00:08 10:51:43
2 419 Rouse, Kimberlee 55 San Diego CA USA 1:21:36 5:01 5:59:45 3:56 4:03:58 11:34:15
3 414 Wilson, Rose 56 Greenville SC USA 1:04:55 5:40 5:49:02 3:57 4:34:49 11:38:22
4 412 Welder, Laurelee 56 Kelowna BC CAN 1:25:06 5:05 6:08:10 5:10 3:57:10 11:40:39
5 392 LeStrange, Missy 58 Visalia CA USA 1:11:37 3:35 6:06:04 5:17 4:14:18 11:40:49

Here is the link to the Race Coverage on Ironman.com

Ironman Florida 2009 – Race Report

It was a beautiful day in the Panhandle for an ironman race. I finally decided to race Weds. night and that should have told me what I knew, that my body needed a break! My sister was racing; Kevin was racing as well, so it seemed like a good thing to do!
The swim was fairly uneventful two loop swim. My brother-in-law Graham was actually right there cheering as I finished the first loop. That was pretty cool. I did see way too many jelly fish for my comfort zone. Every time I saw one under me, I lifted my head out of the water so it could not sting me. I doubt that made a difference but at least I did not get stung. Only one event on the way back, I must have been swimming in someone’s way and he literally stopped me, pulled me back and told me I was in his way…huh? In a big ocean, I am in his way…go figure! We had a fairly long 100 yds. running in the water to get to the sand. I need to practice my dolphin technique as I landed mostly on my face in the surf. Wish I could look like the Kona dolphins!

The day was sunny and cool compared to Hawaii, low 70’s and a 7-10mph east wind. We spent about half the bike going east. My legs felt surprisingly good for most of the ride. It was pretty uneventful although lots and lots of fast men flew by me like I was going backwards. They would form a pack pretty quickly; it was interesting to watch that happen. I would guess they were travelling about 25+ mph and were out of sight instantly. I really needed to focus in this race as there were stretches where I did not see anyone I had my quickest bike split so I believe my plan of doing just 5 bike rides in 4 weeks worked.
The run was partially along the ocean road with the All3sports members cheering us on, into neighborhoods, and through a state park. Again, it was flat run. IM FL has great volunteers at the aid stations, and lots of people cheering us on. With a two loop run you pretty much see 2400 people so the day was never boring. I ran for a bit with my sister, she was experiencing vertigo, while I was in the bushes having G.I. distress over and over again. Luckily we both finished!

I believe every ironman is a learning experience and Saturday’s race was no different. I learned that I had fitness left in my body; I am sure from years of training. I learned again to never quit after experience something that has never happened before in an ironman race. Again, just keep moving forward always and you will find yourself at the finish line. While in the medical tent hooked up to an IV pole, the doctor said swallowing ocean water in gulps due to the chop causes GI distress, maybe that happened to me, but I knew that if I could keep running I would finish and I did, with an Ironman PR…10:27:25
I am looking forward to the off season and becoming a grandmother in February.

Train safe.

Laura

IM World Championships #19 – Race Report

Ironman World Championships #19 – October 10, 2009

2009 Ford Hawaii Ironman World Championships is a day for the record books. It felt like the hottest day I have ever had the opportunity to race here in Kona, coupled with an amazing head wind all the way home made for a brutal day! I am thankful and happy to come away with a strong finish! 11:03:02

When I walked out of the house a 5:15 a.m. it was already 77 degrees and I was sweating. I just thought, hmmm, going to be a day to remember ☺ I headed down to set up the bike and begin my day. I was able to get organized quickly and then go wait on the beach and chill for about 30:00 minutes. My typical MO is to have some sort of issue that freaks me out, but today it was painless.

I began the swim next to the pier and after the typical being used as some guy’s springboard forward, (let’s see how far we can push her down as I swim over her!) I settled into a group of what I thought were fast swimmers. It was one of my slowest swim finishes, so my swim group was not all that fast! It was fun, the ocean was rolling and chaotic. I talked to my mom as I swam past her ashes, and asked her to keep me safe on the day. That was pretty cool. Oh, I did get punched in the stomach, really not sure how that happens during a chaotic swim, I mean come on; my stomach is not in anyone’s way. That was a new experience for me.

The bike for me turned into a bit of a challenge. I felt pretty good, and was riding steady, but about 40 miles into the ride I began to vomit and that continued for the rest of the ride. Let’s see, covered with urine and vomit… imagine being anywhere near me ☺ The heat was the story of the day. Well that and the incredible head winds coming home which made the last 35 miles an adventure in mental toughness. I love the blowing trade winds, but today, they were absent. I would take a trade wind gust any day over a 20 + mph head wind for 35 miles! Also, I train with power and my power meter was not working so I used my heart rate and tried not to work as hard on the hills. Have to love technology…but only if it works! I did hear after the race the temperature on the course was 100 degrees. I think in 19 years, it has never been that hot and in fact I never had cloud cover until 22 miles into the marathon! I know enough about racing now to realize one needs to race their own race and as people flew by me on the bike, I knew that I may see them again during the marathon.

Once the run began I certainly was not sure how that would play out. After being sick most of the bike, I was worried that nothing was left in the tank, but all of a sudden I did feel good. Once I was on Alii Drive, I felt like I was home and actually love running that part of the course even though it was hot and even more humid. There are lots of people cheering for you and just so much energy it keeps you going. I had a bad spot about 9 miles in the run, took a Hammer gel, and slowed my pace down and was so excited because I was able to run up Palani Road. Nice steep uphill that is normally a place I love to walk. Gary my awesome massage therapist was there cheering me on and telling me it is a long day and stay in the moment! The highway was HOT, HOT, HOT! I enjoyed the run at least until after the Energy Lab, which seemed to suck all the energy out of me. It was survival mode back to the finish line. I was incredibly happy to finish strong, placing second in my age group to Donna Smyers, a great competitor of mine. I look forward to next year and a new age group. Who ever said getting old is not fun…I am very excited to age up!

I also wanted to thank everyone for their calls, text message, and facebook notes. It was inspiring and kept me going knowing you all were behind me. Thanks again to Hammer Nutrition and Steve Born. During the day I used Perpeteum, Enduralytes, and my most favorite, Energy Surge tablets. They carried me through the day. Thanks again for your continue support of me as I continue on in this sport I love so much. Without your help and knowledge in endurance sports, I would be lost.

Mahalo,
Laura

USAT National Championships – Race Report

8-22-09

Tuscaloosa Alabama was home to the USAT Triathlon National Championships August 22, 2009. It was situated around the University of Alabama’s’ beautiful campus.

We arrived in town Thursday late afternoon in time for a ride on one loop of the bike course. I really enjoyed the ride, flat to rolling terrain with smooth pavement. We finished just in time to be greeted by thunder, lightening and rain. Kevin went in for a quick swim before the storms and found the water to be calm, warm and current free.

Friday was registration and bike drop. We completed that early, had a chance to catch up with triathlon friends from around the country. I love Nationals as that may be the only race I would run into old friends…some from my first years of racing

Race morning was humid but cool, low 70’s, picture perfect blue skies but I knew something was amiss as I was standing waiting to swim and Kevin noticed a 3 foot long dead catfish (eyes gone and whiskers out of the water) moving at a fast clip past the 60+ age group already lined up in the water. The catfish was gone in a blink of an eye. The current was on and moving fast! My wave was left at 7:12 and immediately I saw a purple cap pull away. I wondered why my legs felt tired during the swim and as soon as I exited the water, looked at my watch and realized I had been in the water for 32:00 for an Olympic distance swim, I knew I had just completed .9 miles swim agonizingly slow. It was an adventure.
I loved the bike course. It was a terrific course with some harder climbs and awesome downhill’s. I finished in 1:03 for the 5th fastest women’s bike split. (Thanks to All3sports for taking care of my bike before I left for the race) It was now time for the run and it was heating up. I did not know where I stood in my age group but after the first uphill climb, I only saw Karen (from another age group) in front of me, but on the downhill I recognized Liz Buhlman from my age group only :40 seconds back and 4 miles left in the run. I saw her again on the 2nd and 3rd hill climbs and each time she had taken 10 more seconds back and seemed to be gaining quickly. The run is not my strength and I was waiting for her to come by, but on the last part of the run, I realized that she was not there and I crossed the finish line winning by age group by 18 seconds (!) and winning the National Age Group title for 50-54. It was such a surprise and a hard fought win. It was a great race against an awesome competitor and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the day. Thanks Liz for pushing me into a new heart rate zone :)

All in all it was a wonderful atmosphere for a race. It is so much fun to race the best people in your age group and even better that is over in less than 3 hours!!
Next year, I hope they put mile markers up on the run and bike.

Hope to see you at Nationals again in 2010. Laura

Ann Arbor Triathlon…from a coaching perspective.

Sunday June 7th was the first local race in Michgan put on by Jim and Joyce Donaldson from Elite Endeavors. It was a wonderful day for a race; cool, overcast, great organization, great volunteers, and  an even tougher course!
It was a special race for me as I have not raced back in my “home” state in a few years. I was able to meet up with old friends and more importantly I was able to race with many of my athletes.  That turned out to be the best part of the day.  Amy, Lisa (in her very first triathlon), Julie, Terese, Kelly, Jon, and Mark were out there on the race course along with most of my old Team Mongo teammates. 

I was in the second wave being the older, wiser triathlete!  It was fun to swim on the feet of King Yaeger.  Drafting behing King allowed me to swim the straightest course I think I have ever swam. I wish he was at all of my races :)  Then it was off on the bike…rolling hills, pretty scenery, lots of potholes, and a high heart rate all combined for a good bike split.   The trail run was demanding with many hills, roots, an even higher heart rate all combined to make it one of the toughest trail runs I have the opportunity to race.

Since I finished early due to the wave starts, I was able to watch my athletes finish.  Finishing with smiles, fast times, and great races gave me the biggest thrill as a coach.  It was so cool.  Seeing Lisa in her first tri swim an awesome time, watching Jon and Mark finish within seconds of each other, the smiles of Julie, Kelly, Amy and Terese made it the best day!

Ann Arbor Triathlon is a challenging, great race.  Make sure to add it to your schedule for 2010.

**I had three athletes racing in Monroe, MI in the Race For Recovery Half Ironman on the same day.  Nikki, won her age group, placing 7th woman overall, Anne was 4th in her age group, and Wayne won the sprint distance in his age group.  Way to go!

Lesson Learned !

***Here is a note from Brett who recently raced the Black Bear half ironman. He reflected back on his race and has generously allowed me to share his post race thoughts. Great race Brett!!

1) We got to the race early. No wait to get into transition or for the bathroom. Relieved a lot of stress having all the extra time.

2) Put heart rate monitor on my bike helmet so I don’t forget to put it on.

3) I need more electrolytes. I took 21 on the bike with me but dropped 3 on the road. Didn’t have any major issues, but could feel the cramps starting towards the end of the ride as I would get out of my saddle to peddle up a hill. I think I need to have 3 of those Hammer tubes filled for a full Ironman. Plan on one for each half, and the third as spares for any I may drop.

4) I need new water bottle holders. Even on a smooth course I managed to lose my bottle off the back of my seat.

5) Coke is my friend on the run. If I would of had some when I first started to feel sick I wouldn’t of had to wait over two miles to find an aid station that had some.

6) I felt the Energy Surge I took while on the run really helped. It was hard to tell on the bike since I took it before I climbed the last large hill.

7) I didn’t have any cramping issues on the run but I should have some electrolytes with me to be safe. One of my friends had issues while running and didn’t have any electrolytes with him and had to push through it.

8) Remember to shake protein bottle before drinking.

9) Took approximately 1300 calories with me on the bike. I had 4 gels in my flask, one bottle with 5 scoops Sustained Energy 1 scoop HEED, one bottle with 3 scoops HEED, and water in my aero bottle.

Swim T1 Bike T2 Run Overall
Gulf Coast ’07 45:05 9:25 2:58:33 5:25 2:58:24 6:56:51
Black Bear ’09 39:31 3:12 3:36:09 2:38 2:20:59 6:42:27

St. Croix Triathlon 5-03-09

St. Croix 70.3
Race Report

My first half ironman of the season…not quite sure I was ready, but you could not ask for a more beautiful venue than St. Croix. The island is spectacular, the locals, race volunteers, and Race Director Tom Guthrie was incredibly wonderful to all the racers. It is truly a destination race and as Don a man I ran with for 5 miles on Sunday said, “This was a “bucket” list race, one to check off your list of great races to do before die! (Remember bucket list…a race to do before you “kick the bucket”!)

The morning dawned sunny and warm with a small chop on the Caribbean Sea. It promised to be a gorgeous day. The swim began with the pro men and then every two minutes thereafter waves of people hit the water. My wave was last (of course), and we had the opportunity to swim through lots of people on the way back to shore. I exited the swim in 34:12. Then off to the most incredibly difficult bike ride of any race in the world! Everyone one believes climbing the Beast with the average grade being 14% to the steepest of 27% covering just 7/10’s of a mile is what the races is all about. In reality, the East end of the island is one challenging hill after another. The ocean, winds, heat, humidity and tough road surfaces all end up making the race what it is famous for and one you do not want to miss. Unfortunately for me, I ended up with only my 2nd flat tire of my racing career, at mile 47 of the bike. I thought about riding in for the last 10 miles, but knew we had a tough climb and long descent still ahead. So, jumped off and changed my tire. I was pretty pleased that it only took 6 minutes but did see my friend and competitor Lydia bike on by me! When I later told Kevin he said, time for more lessons as I could be quicker. I guess there is an “art’ to changing a tire and I will be faster next time! I was off the bike in 2:58 with that time including both of your transitions.

The run takes place in the heat of the day…just like Kona! I ran out of transition and realized I had forgotten my visor, but since I was in second place there was no way I would venture back in there for my hat. I was hoping my 50 sunscreen was still on my face. I felt pretty good on the run and ran a steady pace. I saw Lydia as I came in on the bike and figures she was at least 2 minutes up and knew I needed to run a good race. The run course is 2 loops and has 2 rolling hills before you hit the Buccaneer Resort and the big hill on the golf course. There is great support with aid stations every .6 of a mile…and I needed everyone on that day! I saw Kevin on the way back into town and he told me Lydia was not too far ahead. I continued to run a steady pace and at 6 miles was able to overtake her and move into the lead. I finished the run in a 1:45, eight minutes faster than 2008. I did win my age group and finished 6th overall amateur woman, and set a PR for me on that course by 9 minutes. It was a great day on a great course. A quick jump in the ocean after I finished, short massage, lots of water and then off to the awards party that evening. Again, if you have the opportunity, make sure you do this race, you will not be disappointed!

See you at the races….
Laura

Georgia Season Opener–Tri the Parks @ John Tanner State Park

John Tanner State Park
April 25, 2009

Race morning dawned clear, comfortable, and beautiful as we drove to John Tanner State Park for the first local triathlon of the season. If you have not participated in one of the Tri the Parks series you are missing an incredible triathlon experience. From the safe venues, friendly volunteers, awesome race directors to the cool shirts, it is a great place to be with and meet new friends doing something you love.

The race began in a small lake with 6 waves spreading out the swim and making you feel quite comfortable with 500 of your best friends. I enjoyed the swim and came out of the water in a good position actually working with one of my teammates, Catherine Meihofer as I tried staying on her feet while swimming around the last buoy. She was quickly through transition as I struggled to get out of my wetsuit!

The bike was great with lots of rolling hills which I love, great scenery, and lots of men to pass along the way. That is one of the great perks of starting in one of the later waves! I ended up having a terrific ride and coming in first female on off the bike, although at the time I had no idea.

The run was next! The course gave us gently rolling terrain through the park and then out to the dirt path and the BIG hills on the run course all the way to the turn around. After the turn around I realized I was in first and if I could just run strong I might be able to hold on and win the race. I enjoyed the run and was able to see one of my athletes, Meredith having a great race. The finish line was in sight, lots of cheering, and a good finish to the first local Georgia triathlon. It is always fun to win, but even more enjoyable to talk with the “newbie’s”, and let them know what a great sport this is. My finish time was 1:02:56. I do have to say that I LOVE sprint race even though you race hard it is over pretty quickly compared to ironman races!

Thanks again to the awesome race directors, Bill and gang from All3sports, and seeing all our teammates having such a great day on Saturday.

See you at the races.
Laura