Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Syracuse 70.3 Spectator Report

I wrote this last week.. forgot to post it. WHOOPS! The pictures are not in order which is not typical but I just need to get this report posted.

A few Sundays ago, just one short week after Ironman Wisconsin, was spent cheering on friends at Syracuse 70.3. This had been the plan for a while, but I felt truly terrible all week after my race until about Thursday evening, which made me debate whether or not to actually go. Between the race, lack of sleep, driving 800 miles, and then having to go back to work on the night shift, my body was rebelling. It was a wonder I even made it through those nights at work (one morning my supervisor sent me home early - that's how bad I looked). Miraculously, I was finally able to sleep for ~11 hours on Thursday after I got home from work, and then I felt ok enough to make the commitment to spectating the race.

I spent Saturday doing a mix of errands, lounging and cleaning my apartment. Now that it's the off-season, I have absolutely NO excuse for having a messy apartment! (Right.. just keep telling myself that). Saturday night I went to my friend Ari's apartment for a "ladies night" with 2 other friends. Ladies night consisted of the usual: margaritas, wine, food, talking about boys, giggling, pillow fights, crawling around on the floor with her 2 dogs.. what?

Mary and Kelly
After making it to bed no earlier than 12:30 am, my alarm went off at 5:30 am - race morning wake up call. Lovely. Commence trip to Syracuse in the dark. I have about HAD it with the stupid I-90 after driving back and forth to Syracuse a whole bunch of times last year, and then driving all the way to freakin' Madison and back on it this year! I got to the race site at about 7:45 am, just in time to see Mary running through transition, Matt C. running to transition, and my high school XC coach Mike Murphy running to transition in a matter of 5 minutes. I then found Matthias' girlfriend, Sabrina, who had flown out from California to watch, and Kenny as well! We saw Matthias come out of the water and head into transition. Then.. we waited, ate some food, waited some more.
Matthias about halfway through the run..
can you tell that he is colorblind?
 A few hours later, we started to see friends and teammates come through transition: Matt, Mike, Mary, Don, Chris, etc. We were standing right before the transition line and cheering! Chris and Don came in together. Mary had her Garmin in her mouth (she's the only one that I missed with my camera). Matthias waved as he came by and then almost wiped out at the mount line. We saw everyone come through except for Tim, at which point we decided to walk out to the run loop and cheer from there.

Chris and his 2 daughters who came to cheer him on
The run course was set up as a lollipop, so we walked out the "stick" and then parked ourselves at the bottom of the loop so we could see everyone going by. After we saw everyone go by once (either just starting out, heading into loop number 2, or coming in for the finish) we walked by down to the finish line. I saw Murphy at the finish and I chatted with him - he had a great race, especially for his first half IM! His wife, Rachel, was also out there, however I did not see her at all. She had a great race too - as this was her first triathlon EVER! Check out her race report here.

Murph and I after the race
After everyone had made it in, we hung out at Matt Kellman's beer tent for some post-race food and chit chatting. I then headed back to Rochester since my job was done!
Tim going to town on a plate full of cookies!

GREAT weekend! I <3 the off-season!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ironman Wisconsin Race Report


Alarm went up at 3:45 am and I took a quick shower, and ate my breakfast of whey protein shake, plain bagel, banana, and Gatorade in my hotel room. I made sure to put sunscreen on all over myself in the hotel room to try to avoid what happened to me in June, where I was a fried, peeling, painful mess for 2 weeks after the race. I left my hotel at 4:45 am with two random hitchhikers in tow - two guys I met the day before that were looking for a ride to the race start so that their families could sleep a little later - I was happy to oblige. Found a spot in a parking garage ~1 block from Monona Terraca and dropped my special needs bags off at Starbucks. I then made my way to my transition bags and my bike to stash some last minute items. Hit the porta-potty, got body glided, got the wetsuit on, headed down the helix, dropped off my dry clothes bag and headed towards the water.

This being my 3rd go at Ironman, I was calm, not nervous at all, and even SLEPT the night before the race. By this point, it was all routine. And actually.. I was so nonchalant about the whole thing that I got a little sloppy on race morning.

Lake Monona was as smooth as glass and the water temperature was 70 or so - a wonderful change from the frigid waters of Lake Coeur D'Alene. We herded into the water like cattle and I found a spot to tread water, safely on the right side of the field and to the right of the ski jump which divided the very wide swim start in half. I was not going to fight for my life like I had to last time (if I could help it)!

The cannon went off, I hit "start" on my watch, and off I went. There was much less body contact in the first 10 minutes - thank god. I was able to actually swim and not panic, but then I found myself drifting towards the buoy line - exactly where I didn't want to be as my plan was to stay wide and away from the mayhem. Unfortunately, once I got sucked over to the buoys, there was no escaping it and my swim got a bit rougher, especially around the red turn buoys. It was also a bit warm and I was feeling slightly overheated in my long sleeved wetsuit.

The swim course is a long rectangle running parallel to the shore, and once I had made it around the two turn buoys and was heading back to finish loop one, I swam into a man who was floating face down in the water in the middle of everyone. I thought he was unconscious! I stopped mid swim, grabbed his shoulders and started shaking him while shrieking "oh my god! oh my god! are you ok?" (Hey, I never said I kept it together). He then lifted his head up and said "I'm fine." My response to that was "JESUS CHRIST DON'T DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT!" and then I started swimming again. Took me five minutes to get rid of the heart palpitations after that!

I was really, really tired after loop 1. My swimming has not been up to par lately and I just didn't feel like I got the yardage in that I had before IMCDA. During loop two, the field was much more spread out and there was almost no contact, but I could feel myself getting tired and my form unraveling. I was sooo happy to see the final turn buoy and make my way back to the shore. Again, I was aiming for about a 1:12 and couldn't pull it off, but the swim is so dependent on crowd, sighting, etc. that a few minutes didn't really bother me.

Swim: 1:14:09, 1:57/100m, 805 OA, 35 AG

The run to transition is really long. You have to run all the way from the swim exit to the helix, up and up and round and round the helix (which was cool because it was lined 3 deep with people) into the terrace to grab your T1 bag, into the changing tent to change, then back out to the parking garage to get your bike and get covered in sunscreen. My bike was WAY at the other end from the swim exit, so I heeded the advice of Travis E. and ran the entire way across the parking garage barefoot, carrying my bike shoes. Two volunteers had my bike waiting for me when I got to it, so I threw on my shoes, ran to the mount line, and coasted down the helix. Long transition times (especially T1) are very typical in this race because of how transition is set up.
the helix was PACKED with spectators!

T1: 7:35

After riding down the helix, the bike course goes along the bike path for a few miles which is a no passing zone. That was fine, because my heart rate shot up to 170+ during the mile-long run in T1 with all of the people screaming everywhere. The bike path spit us out in the Alliance Energy Center parking lot and then we were headed out on the 18 mile "stick" part of the course, then we would do two 40 miles loops, then ride the "stick" back to Monona Terrace. The stick is easy - there is one minor false flat but otherwise it was time to settle in, get the HR down, and start taking in nutrition. I've already said that my huge goal for this race was to nail the bike split and the nutrition, which was my primary focus for the next 6 or so hours. I have been practicing my "new and improved" bike nutrition plan for 2 months and I was confident that I would be fine. I noticed 30 minutes into the ride that I had forgotten to reset Gary the vibrating Garmin (I bought a Garmin 310XT the Wed. before the race because I don't trust my 305 to hack it for much longer) after a 30 min recovery ride on Friday, so my bike split was 30 mins off (and ~7 miles off). Crap. Oh well.

As usual, I spent the first half of the bike leg getting passed over and over and over again, mostly by men. This is fine, however the course is a bit technical with some screaming, twisty downhills and sharp corners, so I am always worried that someone is going to take me out when I am getting passed by packs of 180 lb men. I had driven the course on Friday but I had never ridden it, so I was a little apprehensive about how I was going to do on the hills. Turns out, I loved them! The first part of the loop is pretty boring, just some long, straight false flats. Then you start to hit the hills at the back half of the loop. The first section of hills are called the "woody hills" in Mt. Horeb because you make a left hand turn and start heading down this section much like going over the crest of the big plummet of an old wooden roller coaster. I would hammer down these hills and let my momentum carry me halfway up the other side, which was typically short and steep, and then I would shift accordingly and spin my way up the remainder of the hill. I was careful to ride these not too aggressively because I didn't want to wear myself out.

Then comes the three steep climbs that Kevin had warned me about. When I drove the course with Laurie - they looked rough. The first one was the longest but wasn't quite as steep and was shaded. The second one comes right after the first one. And the third one is a bit farther down the road. I believe these three hills were right around the town of Verona and there was a shuttle bus taking spectators from town out to these hills. So I saw all sorts of stuff - people in costumes, crazy signs, lots of beer, etc. These three hills are literally lined with people cheering for you like you're riding in the Tour de France. So even though they were steep (there was no spinning up them for me, I was grinding on the pedals trying to make it up) they are relatively short and there are SO many people screaming for you that they weren't bad. I was a bit worried about what they'd be like the 2nd time around!

love, love, LOVE the scenery!

I made it around the first loop feeling great, but the wind had picked up and it had gotten really hot by the time I was on the 2nd loop. I was grabbing both water and Ironman Perform at every aid station, putting the Perform in my bottle cage and dumping the entire bottle of water on my helmet and shoulders. I would stay cool for maybe 15 minutes and then I would be boiling again. As I was riding the false flats in the wind, I found myself leapfrogging with three other girls in my age group, which is pretty abnormal. Sometimes I see one or two girls out there once in a while, but never three and we continued changing positions for the better part of the 2nd half of the bike course. I hit mile 80 and felt great! My nutrition was perfect (1 bottle of Perform per hour, salt pill every 30 mins, 3 Shot Bloks every 45 mins). The hills the second time around were no worse than the first time which is NOT what I experienced in Coeur D'Alene. I don't really think I lost much speed at all on the second loop (except maybe due to the wind and the heat which are not factors I can control) and by the time I was rounding out the end of the loop, I was hauling ass and passing a LOT of people, which is not normal for me. By this point I usually feel like I am riding backwards through the field. I peed three different times during the 80 miles that I was on the loop - I just keep getting better and better at peeing on the bike! I felt great riding back into town - was still passing people, and some volunteers told me how strong I looked. Road the bike path back to the Terrace, rode up the helix (fun!), hopped off my bike and handed it to a volunteer! I was hoping for a split more in the 6:20-6:25 range, but I was just so happy that I didn't blow it on the bike that I was ok with this split.

Bike: 6:30:41, 17.2 mph, 1064 OA, 36 AG

Ran into the Terrace, grabbed my bag, ran into the changing tent, and got my sneakers on and my nutrition in hand. I did the same thing as in CDA where I put all of my nutrition in a ziplock bag and then stuffed everything into the pocket of my tri top as I was heading out on the run. I switched Gary the vibrating Garmin 310XT to run mode (already I was LOVING him). I also made sure to stop and get sunscreened again (third time that day) because it was HOT!

T2: 3:43

The run course is two loops through town and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, with several small out and back sections, so it's very different than the other two Ironman courses I have done which have had very long stretches of out and backs. If you are looking to see other people out on the course (who are racing) it is hit or miss. I saw Kevin a few times very briefly throughout the run. I did not see Laurie at all.

seriously.. thumbs up for the camera!
I started off at a nice pace. I felt like I was running slowly but my pace was between 8 and 9 min/mile and I felt strong. People kept telling me I was running steady (hello, I had been running for 5 minutes.. of course I looked steady!). The plan was to do one shot blok every 2 miles and drink Ironman Perform at every aid station. The first six miles went well. I ran through the Badger Stadium and screamed "WE ARE PENN STATE" which I am pretty sure was heard by no one. Then my stomach started flipping right after the 7 mile mark and I got that nasty saliva feeling in my mouth that happens right before I get sick. I had to stop on the side of the run course to vomit. I felt slightly badass because I have NEVER puked in a race before, but I kept thinking about what happened to Greg at IMLP and I didn't want that to happen to me! And let me tell you, if you are like me and can barely stand the taste of Ironman Perform, it's even worse coming back up - so be forewarned! Puking made my stomach feel loads better so I picked back up and started running again along a dirt path that goes along the lake. Unfortunately, this was the end of my ability to eat Shot Bloks. I knew I needed to replace what I had puked up, so at the next aid station I tried to eat a Blok. I got it in my mouth and was chewing it, but I just could not swallow it without gagging, so I spit it out. Perform was having the same effect on me. None of the food looked appetizing - I tried bananas (too mushy), pretzels (my mouth was too dry to chew), and grapes, which is what I finally settled on. I switched from water to Coke at mile 12 but even the Coke wasn't appealing to me. (And that's when I know something is going wrong because Coke is basically my version of crack). At this point my run had slowed drastically and I had lost the will to "race." The first 13 miles are ok, the last 13 miles are a bitch.

 I headed out on the 2nd loop feeling a little refreshed after running through the crowds and around the capitol. And then.. I was done. Walk breaks got more frequent and longer. I could not find anything I wanted to eat and was basically just pounding ice water at aid stations. I was walking up AND down hills. I tried to keep myself running as much as possible because that's the fastest way to get to the finish line, but it wasn't fun and I was unhappy that I was falling apart AGAIN, even after fixing my nutrition issues from IMCDA. Even running through town at mile 25 wasn't fun. It was dark, I was heading in for my slowest finish time yet, and I was mad. I ran down the finish chute, gave a bunch of high fives to little kids, crossed the line, and didn't even hear Mike Reilly announce that I was an Ironman!!

Run: 4:49:08, 11:02 min/mi, 856 OA, 33 AG

Finish Time: 12:45:16

finishing Ironman #3!
Two volunteers grabbed me and got me my medal, my t-shirt, my hat, some water and some Sprite. They took me to the photo background and I forced a smile for the photo. They then sent me on my way, and at that point I started to cry as I was walking back to the Terrace, alone. Yes, I know, I am a giant baby. But I was disappointed with my day (mostly the run), I had no one to hug, I had no one to help me, and it was overwhelming. I got my dry clothes bag and my transition bags, and was sitting in the changing room by myself, texting profanities to Mary. Men kept walking through the deserted room so I had to go to the bathroom to change into my dry clothes. I then had to check my bike out of transition while carrying 3 bags, and a really nice guy helped me to get my bike out to street level.

I drove the mile to where Race Day Wheels was set up and returned my rental wheels. Then I drove to a grocery store to get some chocolate milk, because I didn't eat anything after the race. After I went through the checkout line, I got REALLY dizzy and had to sit down on the floor of the grocery store and put my head in between my knees. I sat like that for 5 minutes, no one even said a word to me! I drank some of the chocolate milk straight out of the jug and then felt ok enough to drive the 10 minutes back to the hotel. I had to enlist the help of the girl at the front desk to get my stuff up to my room (I was on the 2nd floor and there was no elevator). She also brought me an assortment of breakfast foods (what a nice girl!). However, when I went to brush the nasty post-Ironman gunk off my teeth, I started to feel sick, and I ended up throwing up a bunch of times in the hotel room toilet. Nice. At that point, I gave up on eating, took a quick shower, and went to bed where I was unable to sleep.

Quick Thoughts

Obviously, I am not thrilled with the results of my race. I can live with everything except the stupid run. AGAIN. I thought I had fixed the problems that I had in Coeur D'Alene, and this time, even with proper bike fueling and pacing, I ran EVEN SLOWER than last time. But that is another post for another day. The emotions are still there and I haven't really had a chance to talk to Mary; to tackle what went wrong. I am just glad that I am done with Ironman for not only this year, but next year as well. I need a break, for sure. I will be back, oh yes, but I need to go in a different direction for a little while.

I am very, very happy with my bike execution. I don't think it could have gone any better. I learned my lesson in June and applied it in September. I will never be a long course cycling speed demon and I know that. But now that I have figured out how to get through an Ironman bike leg properly, I can work on getting some more speed.

Also, I did love the course. I loved Madison, the swim venue was great (I saw no snakes!), I LOVED the bike course, and even the run was interesting rather than just a long, boring out and back. I would definitely a) recommend this Ironman in a heart beat and b) return to this venue to race again.

What I have to keep in mind is that the section of the course that I felt like I executed the best - the bike - is actually where I did the WORST when compared to the rest of the field. And where I felt like I did the worst - the run - I still managed to pass almost the same number of people that had passed me on the bike. Even with that super shitty, horrible, embarrassing run time. So, I guess we are all in the same boat out there.

I am not trying to be a whiny, spoiled brat. I totally understand that racing an Ironman is a privilege. I am among a very small percentage of people that can not only afford to do it, but can actually physically do it. AND I am consistently in the top 3rd of the field (and that field has a 25% female/75% male split). But it is hard.. so hard to fall short of your own expectations. Especially when those expectations are realistic. I had two main goals - they weren't time goals. One was to nail the bike nutrition. Check. The other was to have a solid run. Fail. But.. it took me three tries to get a good bike split.. so hopefully practice makes perfect!

WTF is going on here?!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Last post before IMOO! Yesterday was so crazy that I did not get a chance to post. I got up and headed into the city to pick up my wheels at 9 am. I then did a quick 30 min ride and a 20 min swim as my final workouts before the race.

the great Madison bike path that I rode on!

I then met my blog friend Kevin @ IronmanByThirty and his wife Jennie for lunch. After we parted ways, I hung around at the expo before meeting up with Laurie, who I met through Mary's Facebook page (I love the 21st century!!!), who was kind enough to take me around the bike course! We then made a late entrance into the athlete's dinner which was as per usual. By that point, I was exhausted so I went home and went to bed!

Laurie and I!

Today, I got up and ate a delicious carbo-load breakfast at IHOP. I then packed up my transition bags, got my bike stickered up and ready to go and brought my stuff down to the Terrace to drop it off. I had a quick meet up with Kevin again so I could give him my bike ticket (in case I cannot get my bike out of transition). I then met Laurie, one of her daughters, and 2 of her friends for lunch. By this point it was getting late, so I made my way back to the hotel to sit with my feet up - which is what I've been doing for the rest of the day!

3rd time's the charm!

About the bike course - it is a twisty, turny roller coaster of craziness. I think it's gonna be tricky but also a lot of fun. Definitely will NOT get bored at any point!

Tentative goals for the race tomorrow include:

swim: 1:10 +/- 5 mins
bike: 1:20 +/- 5 mins
run: ??!?!?!?!?!!

If you want to track me: www.ironmanlive.com

Search for either "Alexa Harding" or bib # 255!



Thursday, September 8, 2011


Today has been crazy! GOOD crazy!

I departed from my hotel room in South Bend at 9 am to try to avoid Chicago traffic. Didn't work as well as I'd hoped but I managed to get through Chicago without any problems other than some slow traffic. I determined that my time of arrival in Madison would be about 12:30, which was wayyy too early to check into my hotel, so I headed straight down to Monona Terrace, found a parking garage, and registered for Ironman #3! Monona Terrace is really cool.. it's a HUGE convention center right on the lake, across from the capitol building!

Then, I figured I should do my workouts while I was in the area, so I went back to my car to get my stuff. Unfortunately, my swimsuit, wetsuit, sneakers, and running clothes were buried in my suitcase, so I got my HUGE suitcase out of my car, set it on the ground and dug through it in the middle of the parking garage. After getting everything, I headed down to the beachfront and hopped in the water. The water temperature was good but it was pretty choppy, and there was a lot of seaweed. I started swimming towards a buoy, but once I got out a ways, I couldn't see the buoy anymore. I turned around and swam to another buoy, but then I started panicking a bit because it was choppy, I couldn't see where to swim, there was barely anyone else swimming, and I kept imagining that one of the alleged giant black snakes of Lake Monona was swimming around me. I ended up swimming back to the shore and getting out.. after 6 minutes and 47 seconds. After calming myself down, I went back out for round 2. For some reason, the lake really creeped me out. I think I swam 15 minutes total. Not great, but at least it was something. Then I went for a 30 min easy run.

So, the freakout wasn't great, but I powered through it.

I also got a glimpse of.. THE HELIX!!!

Now I'm at my hotel room, ordered some food, and am watching bad TV with my compression socks on and my legs up. Also I am trying to get some of my stuff organized for the next few days. Tomorrow, I am heading into town in the morning to pick up my race wheels, do a quick ride on my bike and a quick dip in the lake. Then I am meeting a creepy internet friend, Laurie, at 3:30 to drive the course and then hit the athlete dinner!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hit the Road, Jack

I'm going to try to do what I did during Ironman Coeur D'Alene race week.. blog every day. This is going to be quick because I am exhausted and already in bed, but at least it's something!

I hit the road at 8:30 this morning after finishing up my packing and dropping Fiona off at the vet where she is kenneled while I am out of town. I drove 512 miles - through Buffalo, Erie, Cleveland, Toledo, and finally ending in South Bend, Indiana at about 5:30 for an overnight stop.

Apparently, South Bend, Indiana is the home of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish! I did not know this - actually, I did not even know that Notre Dame was in Indiana! I drove into town wearing my Penn State hoodie that my dad got me a few years ago. I was filled with trepidation about being heckled, harassed, beat up, murdered, but turns out, folks here are open-minded towards rival football teams!

It's a pretty cute town. I got a hotel room for $61 and then wandered downtown to an Irish restaurant that I found via google - Fiddler's Hearth. It got good reviews, had a good menu, and had an open mic night tonight! I had veggie stuffed potato pancakes, a hefeweisen, and flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Yes, I know, I shouldn't be eating stuff like this before Ironman, I should be watching my weight and whatnot, but I was hungry and chatting with the bartender and various other local patrons. It just happened. Tomorrow, it ends!

Now I am off to sleep, and heading off on the final leg of my trip out tomorrow morning. I can't wait to drive through Chicago! I am hoping to time it so that I don't get stuck in rush hour traffic.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Taper is the Devil

You heard me.

Taper can take any mild mannered person (not that I am claiming to be that person) and turn them into a raging lunatic. As someone who is used to working out for at LEAST 1-2 hours per day, I am now expected to sit on my couch for hours at a time. This is boring. My back and ass are sore from freaking sitting. I have pent up energy out the wazoo and I can only imagine what I am like to be around right now.

On Saturday, I had a meltdown. I slept in, did my recover ride in the morning, showered and put actual real clothes on with the plan of running Ironman-related errands during the afternoon. I hopped in my car to drive to Triple A so I could pick up some maps of Wisconsin for my upcoming road trip. Triple A is less than 1 mile from my house. I pulled into a parking spot behind a Triple A driver's ed car, and my car would not go into park. It also wouldn't go into reverse. I was stuck. I ended up putting my car in neutral, engaging the emergency brake, and left it running to go inside.

Is it irony that this happened at Triple A, or is it the universe mocking me?

A Triple A guy was there in 15 minutes and he showed me how to "unstick" the shifter using a small button located next to it. I had to stick a key or another long, skinny object into the hole (that's what she said?) and push down on this button in order to move the shifter. While the Triple A guy was fiddling with my car, I started crying. Of course. I am leaving for Ironman Wisconsin on Wed. morning, which I am driving to. It was Saturday afternoon on Labor Day weekend. Most garages were closed until Tuesday. I drove home, crying, while the Triple A guy followed me in his truck to make sure I didn't get stuck. Worst case scenarios were flashing through my mind. Having to forgo my errands and wait for a tow truck to take the car to the garage. Having to pay for an SUV-sized rental car for a week. Having to ask my parents to drive their Honda-CRV up to Rochester so I could borrow it. Having my car die on the way to Wisconsin.

Cue:  emotional Alexa pre-Ironman car-triggered freakout.

An hour of sobbing later, I started calling garages and couldn't get ahold of anyone. I then figured that my car was drivable, just annoying, and I wasn't sure if this problem was serious, but I had things to do (bike shop, running store, etc.) so I set out. I got to the bike shop and my car fixed itself in the parking lot. It was fine for the rest of the day and all of Sunday. On Monday, it was sticking again, on and off throughout the day.

I think my car is possessed.

Apologies to the people who had to deal with me while I was crying - those include the Triple A guy, my dad, and my friend Ari. To those of you who didn't answer your phones, consider yourselves lucky! Thanks for the advice from the Train-This teammates!

I have the WORST car karma when it comes to freaking Ironman. I also almost got rear-ended by a truck today after going over my race plan with Mary. If I make it to and from IMOO in one piece, consider me happy!

On a positive note, besides my car being crazy, I am basically prepared for my trip! I only had to work 1 overnight this week. My race wheels are reserved. My car's oil has been changed. My nutrition has been purchased. The majority of my suitcase is packed (the rest of the clothes need to be washed first). I have obtained some audio books from Kim. I have gone over my race plan with Mary. My bike has been cleaned and new decals have been applied (I will have a separate post on this soon). Four good luck hugs have been obtained.



Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Ironman Face-Off

On September 11, two athletes, Alexa Harding and Mark Olivieri, will go head to head at two separate Ironman events. Alexa at Ironman Wisconsin vs. Mark at REV3 Cedar Point. High stakes have been wagered on the outcome of this contest.

These two athletes have some similarities. Both have been doing triathlons for about the same amount of time (less than 5 years). Both are loud and love to talk. Both dislike clothes (Mark has rarely been sighted with a shirt on and Alexa hates pants). Both love it when people look at their abs and therefore have slightly inflated egos. (Mark's is bigger - his ego, NOT his abs).

In an attempt to create some controversy for this contest, I have made a list of criteria that will determine the odds for these two athletes. There are 8 categories in which the contestants will be evaluated. This assessment is not at all biased and was NOT written by one of the athletes who is participating in this contest. TOTALLY UNBIASED, PEOPLE!

Alexa: XX chromosomes
Mark: XY chromosomes
Advantage: Mark. No matter how fast Chrissie Wellington may be (or how much of a freak of nature she is), she will always be beaten by her male counterparts: Macca, Chris Lieto, the Raelerts, etc.

Alexa: Mary Eggers
Mark: Mary Eggers
Advantage: Neither. It's a tie.

Alexa: 2008 Cervelo P2C, Zipp 404s
Mark: 2011 Kestral, Zipp 808s
Advantage: Mark. Newer bike, faster wheels, 'nuff said.

Alexa: works 41 hours a week, rotates through days, evenings, nights, is single and lives alone.
Mark: college professor (tenure-track) with summers off, has a wife and 5 young children.
Advantage: Alexa. Five kids is insane.

Mental Stability
Alexa: reasonably emotionally unstable in most aspects of her life, somehow manages to pull it together for race day (except during IMLP where she cried on the run).
Mark: he's a man. men don't have a soul, do they?
Advantage: Mark. Reason? He doesn't menstruate. Game over.

Race Experience
Mark: 1 Ironman, unknown # of other races.
Alexa: 2 Ironmans, 3 HIMs, and Alexa continues to kick Mark's ass in races at all distances (running races, IM, half-IM, Olympic distance tris, etc).
Advantage: Alexa. Proven to be faster (sorry Mark!).

Race Venue
Alexa: has never even BEEN to Wisconsin.
Mark: returning to REV3 Cedar Point which he raced last year.
Advantage: Mark.

The Badass Factor
Alexa: has an attitude, 4 tattoos, curses like a sailor, has totaled 2 cars in less than 10 years.
Mark: watches Twilight with his wife, has to talk to his kids about "the birds and the bees," plays the piano, has crashed his bike going 40 mph.
Advantage: Alexa. Clearly. Would have been an even easier win if Mark hadn't crashed his bike.

Now I don't actually know how to calculate odds, but PLEASE leave a comment and let me know who you are rooting for! The fun part of this is - we are not racing at the same venue, so we will have NO IDEA who wins until we are finished and can check in with Mary!

*Disclaimer: I can do this to Mark because we are buddies and he knows I am teasing him. Also, he dishes it out just as bad!