Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Q & A with 2 superstars - Part 1

the blogosphere is truly a beautiful place. like i've said many times before and i have to say it again, i have met so many wonderful people, not even in real life, yet you feel like you've known them forever. you click with them almost instantly and you know, if and when you were to ever meet in real life, it would be like old friends. old friends that could sit and chat for hours and hours. 2 of these people happen to have just completed their first ever IM at CDA. i especially"click" with these 2 IRONWOMEN because we all happen to be the same age. i thought it would be fun to pose 10 questions to both of them about the race and they both agreed graciously to play along. i thought it would also be helpful for me and for a lot of those who read my blog who are either getting ready to do a 140.6 or are planning on it for next year. this is for you! i hope you enjoy it and find it enlightening. i sure did and i want to thank Angie and Paula (Adventure Junkie Mom) for taking the time to answer all of the questions in detail. today i will post the first 5 questions and answers and tomorrow will be the last 5.

1. What made you decide that you wanted to do 140.6 miles in one day?

Paula : I have always loved a great challenge. I remember watching Kona on TV as a young kid/teen. Watching and hearing about Julie Moss clawing her way to the finish of Ironman was so motivating, and inspiring, and just plain crazy, planted that seed for me. From then on, I knew at one point in my life, I would compete in an Ironman. I love seeing how far I can push my body.
Paula Nilges, you are an Ironman!
Angie: I think since seeing the Ironman televised since the 80's, it's always been in the back of my mind that doing it would be amazing. I did not know other Ironman races besides Kona existed until a few years back when I met some people who were always going to Coeur d'Alene to do Ironman. I had done my first multi-sport event in 1991; run/bike/run, moved on to marathons in 1997 when I also did my first sprint triathlon in April. The appropriately named Beaver Freezer. I was hooked! I soon added the Olympic distance, took a couple years off tri's, keeping w/the marathoning, then in 2006 jumped back into the tris w/my first Half Iron...Pacific Crest in Central Oregon. We had been to this weekend of endurance events twice where I did the half marathon and the next year, the marathon...and I remember thinking "half ironman"...THAT would be cool and I know I could do THAT. So, that's what I did in 2006 on my first road bike! I did all my other tris on a commuter/hybrid thingy. I knew an Ironman was in my future, but probably not until working part time would be ok for us (me and Thomas). Obviously, the "need" to do an Ironman came sooner than the working part time. My friend, Alice, asked if I'd training for IM w/her and I said...uh...YEAH!!! She'd rocked the half irons and was ready for the next step. We found out about how and when to register, but when last year's registration date rolled around, Alice was unable to do it...but I was mentally there...I was going to GO FOR IT!!!!! I talked to my husband about it, explaining this would be my priority unless there was a life and death situation over the next year. As always, he completely supported what I chose to do. The rest is history!

Angie Gerber, you are an Ironman!
2. What does it feel like to complete an IM?

Paula: It is one of the most euphoric but agonizing experiences I have ever had. The mental and physical aspect is unbelievable. Your body feels great, but then will try and play tricks on you, and that is where your mental fortitude has to kick in and be your strength. It takes everything you have physically, and then some. Nothing can compare to crossing that finish line. Hearing your name called, and knowing the training, time, pain, and everything you gave up to get there ALL paid off, is priceless. It is all worth it in the end to hear you are an Ironman!!!

Angie: Even just over two weeks after the Ironman, I think about the whole adventure every day. It feels like you are part of an "elite club" that few people will join, or even want to join. Sometimes I felt like it was all a very selfish thing to do...I didn't raise money for a charity, it wasn't a war for freedom or was all about ME. I paid money to put myself through months of training, and on race day..all the people who give their time to volunteer, all the spectators who watch and wait and tell you you're awesome. Some moments I felt like it was just so selfish, but I simply crave the endurance and energy from events and since I'll never participate in the Olympics or Tour de France, I think the Ironman will always be the biggest, most exciting thing I'll be a part of as far as this sort of thing goes.

3. Did you ever have any moments while you were racing, when you felt like you just couldn't keep going? If so, how did you push through it?

Paula: I am a runner, and going into IM, although I knew the run would not be easy, it was what I looked forward to the most. My swim and bike went great, and about 2 miles into the run, my stomach started cramping up. The pain was so intense I didn't think I could go on. Looking at the mile markers, and thinking at that point I still had 24 miles to go was crazy. At about 13 miles, I saw my husband, and I got very teary-eyed and told him I was "so done" He said, "no you are not, keep going." I knew right then that could not give up. I have taken an entire year to train for this race. The time away from my family and friends was hard, and I knew I could not give up on them. My family and a lot of friends were there for me from the start, and were there at the finish. To give up was not an option when I thought about that. Everyone sacrificed so much. AND I could not give up on myself. This was a dream of mine that I was not going to let go of. I just kept thinking, "Keep moving forward" It was so hard, but would have been so much harder for me to give up and quit. I talked a lot to myself on those last few miles. Chanting in my head, "don't give up, keep going" "Make your dream come true."

Angie: Yes, I had those dark moments when I thought I wouldn't be able to finish, but it would not be because I chose not to go on, but because at my worst point, I felt like I was going to be face down on the pavement. I have never had this horrible nausea while running before and the way I felt was kind of scary...I felt frustrated and out of control of what was happening to my body. When the nausea got BAD between miles 18-22, I couldn't even raise my head to speak to the AMAZING volunteers who tried still to get more food/drink in you...I even considered ditching my stupid hand held water bottle because I was using energy to hold it....but I didn't want to do that because my sunglasses were in the little pocket and I didn't want to lose those! I could put them on my head, but I didn't want them on when I crossed the finish. These were just some of the random thoughts running through my head during those very dark miles. I knew I would make the cut off if I didn't pass out...then...I threw up and I felt a little less foggy. Still no running, but the finish was MINE!

4. What was a typical week's worth of workouts like when you were in the thick of your IM training?

Paula: I trained 6 days a week, for 30 weeks. The peak training at the end was where things got long. Every day I trained in 2 disciplines, swimming/biking, swimming/running, and biking/running. 4 days a week were shorter days, with Friday being a long bike day, and Saturday being a long run day. Mon-Thur workouts would last anywhere from 2-3 hours, and Friday/Sat workouts 71/2-9 hours.

Angie:  In the thick of it all, I loved the heaviest of the felt right. My plan was for FIRST time IM, just to finish, so mind you, there was no strength training and it seemed too light at times. For example, weekdays would be,  2hr bike followed by 60-90 min run; 3500-4000 swim followed by 45 minute run; 2500m swim followed by 2hr bike; 2500m swim followed by 180 min run. The big weekends were 6hr bike followed by 1hr run. I did my rides by mileage though, not time...I needed to know I was getting in the MILES because I didn't know what the plan expected me to be covering in 6hrs. Lots of bricks, and almost every workout was a double, unless it was an easy week.

5. With 1 IM under your belt, what one piece of advice would you share with someone who is training for their first 140.6?

Paula: Be consistent in your training, including nailing down your nutrition. Trust that training on race day, and DO NOT deviate from your plan.

Angie:  Follow YOUR training plan and TRUST the training plan! This is the first event I have trained for following a structured plan (really!) and I followed it almost to a "T". Tweaking it only a few times so the long rides were on a weekend and not weekday, but I can count on one hand the workouts I actually missed and most of those were the last week...when it really wasn't going to help/hinder anyway. Another HUGE thing for me is not comparing to others plans or ability level of the 3 events. I have two friends who are doing Lake Placid in less than two weeks and we did a lot of rides together before my IM. They are so much stronger on the bike than me and I got really discouraged. It was good for me, but mentally, I felt so inadequate and wondered what I was thinking signing up for this IM! Their 100 milers would take them 5.5 and I was out there for 7hrs...but now, looking back...none of it mattered! I put in the time, I did improve and everyone's abilities and experience is different. There are so many different plans out there, but each one is right for each person. I could have handled a heavier training load, but I am so glad I followed my training plan. I will still train w/my LP friends because I see now that it will only make me stronger and they could care less if i am slower! That's what I love about "our people"....everyone has a different time goal, but everyone's ultimate goal is the same...CROSS THE FINISH LINE!!!
much love and peace out!


  1. Great motivation for those of us planning on doing an IM sometime in the future - thanks!

  2. the three of you are so incredible to me. THe THOUGHT of riding a bike and swimming with a marathon makes me want to throw up [literally, I think I {KNOW I] would].

    Completely amazing.

  3. Great post, very motivating. I'm looking forward to the next installment!

  4. I love this post. Thanks so much for conducting the interviews! And thanks to Angie and Paula for sharing their thoughts!

  5. Thanks for this! I am volunteering this year in Madison to sign up for IMWI 11' -- this was a great read. Great questions

  6. As you know, I can't ride my bike to save my life, unless we're talking slower than I can run, so I am in awe of you guys doing these Ironman (woman!!!) races. I loved reading these answers from previous first time IMers as much as I loved to read Leslie's account. One thing I remember reading from Leslie's blog (I did send you that link, yes?? If not, holler) was that flat coke somewhere in the marathon really picked her up and gave her that boost she needed. A thought!! Anyway, thanks for your blog, I always read it and love how you are just like the rest of us are though super-human, you're still human :).

  7. Great interview KC! Hey can I put in a request to interview you after the Great Floridian? hehe ... I must warn you though my interview style is very Bill O'Rielly like ..LOL

  8. Tough reading on a blackberry at giordanos pizza in chi town. BUT I did see "nail your nutrition"
    ...... Best advice u can get

  9. Wow—this is so motivational. I better get my proverbial ass in gear with Rev 3 less than 60 days away!

    I think I have heard that everyone sees God out there on the course. Even die hard atheists will suddenly strike up a conversation with the big guy.

    Great interview. It is amazing how insightful just five questions can be.

  10. Thanks so much for this Q&A! i got teary reading some of the replies! What an amazing journey. Congrats!!!

  11. Question 3 hit me the most. I read their responses twice and out of both parts this was the one for me :)

    Great interview KC I was hoping you would post it for all of us to read!

  12. This is awesome! I am so behind on my reading this week. These women are awesome! Great questions! On to the next installment!