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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

John Brees you are an IronMan: A Q&A

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you've for sure heard by now that John is officially an IronMan (which makes me first lady to the IronMan...just FYI).  He finished the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run in 12 hours and 53 minutes!

Post Race!
I could go on and on about every single detail of the day, like how he got up at 3:15 to eat (and then went back to bed) or how he personally had two volunteers escort him through dropping off his "special needs" bags because they were just that nice but I won' least not now.  :)

All of this before 5am!  
It's been a week and everyone seems to be asking me or John the same questions so I decided to interview my IronMan for the official answers.  (If you have any more please feel free to comment below).

Q. How much time did you spend training?  How many months?  How many hours a week?

In long line for the swim start.  Making new friends. 
I originally registered for Louisville in December.  My main goals were use December – February to get back into general triathlon shape, get my body weight where it needed to be, and be prepared to go full speed ahead on March 1.  I trained through Zoom Performance and my coach, Todd set up training beginning March 1 that would run up to the race-about 24 total weeks.  Training began around 12 hours per week and peeked at 20 hours per week in late July and early August before tapering.  Overall I’m confident the total training time totaled around 500+ hours.  The hidden number here is the preparation for the sessions that isn’t something I really anticipated.  Bike maintenance eats into time, packing nutrition for longer bike/runs, and then identifying/buying all the items you actually need for the race takes a big chunk of time.

2. How did you feel after the race? (Be Honest!!!)

One last photo before I left
I actually felt very good after the race.  My pace on the run was steady so I never felt like I was in a bad place.  The run was my most confident leg.  I was very comfortable the whole run knowing the river swim and long bike were behind me.  Once my heart rate came down and I ate dinner I started getting tired.  This whole week has been a different feeling though, Monday/Tuesday I was really stiff and sore.  I woke up Wednesday and Thursday very fatigued and that continued through the day, just a very worn down feeling.  Friday (8/30) is the first day where I feel like I’m not too sore and I have some energy back, but my guess is it will be another 10 days before I do a short run because I can tell my body went through something it never has before.

3.  Was there any point in the race you though you weren't going to be able to finish?

No.  Once I was in the water I felt pretty good.  The good thing about a time trial start (meaning swimmers jump in 2 at a time every 2 seconds – takes about 40 minutes total) is that since its not a wave start (meaning all swimmers start at the same time) you continually are passing or being passed by fellow swimmers.  That might seem annoying to some but I was preoccupied with that so it was more about where I was positioned rather than how far I had to go.  My legs felt strong the whole bike ride, I probably held back miles 15 – 40 where the bigger hills were because I wanted to make sure my body responded well to the heat but I was happy there.  My biggest concern of the day and through out training was having bike issues, I’m not a bike mechanic so if something major went wrong I would have a significant delay, thankfully I had no issues.  The run was awesome, I felt good the whole time, my mile time came down a little from miles 15-20 but I think I just lost a little focus.  I didn’t have any cramping on the run.  I did athletics all through high school and then football in college, but participating in this was completely different because you had a family involved.  The time you miss is significant and it's not fun not being with them a significant portion of the weekend and then some week nights.  That sticks in your mind through the race and I knew not doing well or quitting was not an option. I put everyone through a lot since the first of the year and the whole family made concessions so that alone didn’t allow me to consider stopping.  The race truly is mental because at that point you are in the best shape of your life and now it is just execution and a little luck (meaning no bike issues).
Even had time/energy on the run to give fives to his fans. 

4.  What was your favorite part of the day?

Two different aspects stick out that were my favorites.  One would be the family aspect of it.  It is such a great feeling to see your family when you come in from the swim and bike.  It can be lonely and stressful on the bike so when you return to town and see them it’s a big lift and relief as well (plus they are worried about you as well).  You have a lot of time during the day, especially on the run to reflect about training, and that is where I thought a lot about the sacrifices that many others made.  My wife certainly would be first on that list.  Saturdays went from her favorite day of the week to one that was no longer your normal weekend day.  That was long bike day, often I would load up the bike at 7:30 and head for Waukee.  I would generally ride 80-100 miles and then run 4-7 miles afterwards.  This was a time consuming process and most spouses probably wouldn’t be too keen on having their husband gone from 7:30 – 4:00 on Saturdays, but she was great!  My parents were a good help as well because whether Annie had  to work or had prior commitments they helped out on the weekends and then on occasional week nights towards the end.  I certainly wouldn’t have had the time to do this without all the help from all of them. 

Sportin' our "team Brees" shirts

The most personally satisfying parts of the race for me during the moment was the last 40 miles of the bike and the last half of the run.  I knew on both disciplines that I had paced myself correctly and handled my nutrition well.  This allowed me to pick up the pace on the bike and then continue strong on the run.  I passed a lot of people on the bike and run which was gratifying for me because it kind of validated my plan and race day preparation.

5. What did you eat during the race?

I had a strict plan of what I would eat before the race for breakfast, then during both the bike and run.  This of course ended up being modified due to the heat and need for more calories during the day.  Here is a list below of what I ate by discipline.
  • Breakfast – Bagel/Peanut Butter, Protein Bar, Banana, Powerade, 8 oz of coffee (approximately 600 calories)
  • Bike – Carbo Pro drink (500 calories), 3 bottles of Powerbar Perform (200 calories each), 6 uncrustable peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (1,260 total), 1 Cliff bar (230 total), 2 bonk bars (600 total), and 2 gu packets (200 total).  Total bike calories were 3,170.  You generally want to take in 300 – 350 calories an hour, I went over this but my stomach was holding up so I was good and I needed the boost from the Powerbar Perform.  I also drank a total of 12 bottles of liquids (24 oz each) and consumed 17 salt pills.
  • Run – You generally want to take in around 150 calories per hour but in the heat you need to listen to your body and adjust.  I had 6 gu packets (600 total), 3 small bonk bars (450), and around 1 banana.  I also had Powerbar Perform, regular coke, and 3 cups of chicken broth at the aid stations – plus as much water as I could stomach!  I’m guessing I had around 1,200 calories, but who knows with the liquids.  I backed off the gu packets as the sugar was not tasting so good later in the race and switched to bonk bars which was a great move. 
  • All in all I’m guessing I was around 5,000 calories for the day.

Ok what else do you want to know?  Ask! (Trust me, he loves to talk about it.)

Now that it's all over and done with I can honestly say I got a few things out of it too...(trying not to cry here.)

1. I know it's not about me but I stay at home and pre-IronMan Annie would hand the kids over the minute he walked in the door.  My patience was typically shot by the end of the day and I relied heavily on John for a break.  Post-IronMan Annie has much more patience.  Heck, I'd even let him go play golf now!  And what's that?  Oh you wanna go to a Iowa football game?  NO PROBLEM!  Seems like a cake walk now!  This training/race challenged me too and I'm a better mom because of it.  He still can't do one for another ten years though.  

2.  Our weeks got pretty hectic.  John or I was gone almost every single night during the week.  Either I was working/training or he was training.  When you have weeks like that you gotta let some things cleaning the house.  I'm no where near a super clean freak but I do like to clean.  Some weeks nothing got cleaned and guess what....we lived.  I think I may have been the only one that even noticed but the point is that when our time was limited we all had to pick our priorities and commit to only those.

3.  Obviously, I love John so much but there is nothing like worrying about a loved one when they don't walk in the door the second they are supposed to to remind you how much they really mean to you.  If I had a buck every time I was convinced "something happened to John".  I'd be a freaking millionaire.  Just ask my in-laws about the time John went to run 20 miles on vacation.  When he didn't show up when I expected him I had my father in-law drive me to town just to meet him on the road.  He had stopped at the grocery store post run.  Duh.

All in all it was a great experience for everyone involved.  I'm so proud of him.  I always knew John was amazingly tough this just proves it!

Thanks to everyone for their support throughout this entire process.  It took a village and we're so blessed!  Thank you!

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