IRONMAN Florida, November 5, 2016

IMFL 2016 Race Report

This may be the mother of long race reports!  There are so many people to thank, I tried to cover everyone in my pre-race comments, my husband Bill, my fabulous son and coach, Patrick, his wife, Jeanne, and my grandchildren Paige and Ian, and Marc, who came from Belgium, and to all of my friends who came to the race, and those who cheered and followed from afar. 

Seeing familiar faces on the racecourse was absolutely the BEST!  I think I was more anxious than I thought, but I really thought I felt calm.  I have to admit my patience was a bit thin.   My thoughts always came back to “Pat has always gotten me ready, and this is no different.”  I completely trust his coaching.  

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Gini Fellows Lookin' Good and About To Be an Ironman

Originally published in Huffington Post on November 4, 2016

I checked in with Gini Thursday evening, and she seemed remarkably calm. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation.

Carolee Belkin Walker: So, wow, the race is on Saturday! How are you feeling?

Gini Fellows: Physically I feel great, and I know I’m prepared. I didn’t think I was nervous until last night so I thought, oh, you better go to bed. There’s a lot going on at the Ironman Village. We’ve had a Facebook group this past year so there is a get together.

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Almost There

The countdown has really begun, 11 days until Ironman Florida.  It is almost unbelievable that it is finally more than just a date.  I have learned so much about myself throughout this journey.  I think the most important thing I learned is, “you can do anything if you are willing to do whatever it takes.”

At least that is what I am hoping on Saturday, November 5.  My goal is to finish within the 17-hour time limit.

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Long Distance Training

This week held the longest ride and my longest training run. We headed back to Canada for their Thanksgiving, and I was able to run/walk 15 miles in three hours. The ride was the Southern Magnolia 100 last Sunday, October 2.  

For the Southern Magnolia, it was a beautiful morning with comfortable temperatures. One of my friends decided to ride with me, and we headed out for the country roads where there was very little vehicle traffic.  A few dogs, none of which seemed vicious, and only wanted to run, had chased us.  We were riding along when two dogs were in the middle of the road.  They turned and saw us, and came ambling up wagging their tails.  The large chocolate lab was extremely friendly, so friendly that he walked up to me, and while I was trying to get to the side of the road he walked into my front wheel.

We both went down!

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IMFL Triathlon Camp

Who doesn’t wait until she's 70 to go to camp for the first time?

Well I did and it was a unique experience.

No tents, bond fires, or s'mores.  It was a lot of work, but I think I got a lot of experience and information to remove some of the terror of the swim away.  I am sure I will be a nervous wreck prior to the start, but at least I feel I can handle the swim.  We rehearsed a short version of the swim, getting out of the water and running back in. Our coach gave us pointers on sighting.

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I am invincible?

Last week I had two rest days in my training plan.  Well, if you call rest driving 1100 miles over those two days.  I am back home in the real heat and humidity.

It takes a few days to switch back from the metric system. I no longer have to check to see if I am driving kilometers or miles, swimming meters vs yards. There have been some changes since I have been gone. The gym where I worked out closed due to bankruptcy. It was a great place because it had a pool, weight rooms, and exercise classes. This week I spent time looking for another place to swim and a new gym. There are only three indoor pools on the Coast but numerous gyms. I found the pool, and today signed up for another gym.

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Sport in perspective

This week has been “what were you thinking when you signed up for an Ironman?”  I know I am obsessing about the swim, mostly.  Will I be able to complete it in the time limit?  Can I get through the breakers?  Why didn’t I sign up for IM Chattanooga, with a down river swim?   Will I be able to keep up the cadence during the bike?  The run will be about survival.  The list goes on and on.  

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Journey versus adventure

This week was a little easier as far as the runs were concerned.  My knees have been sore and stiff, and my legs were cramping.  The longest run I did this week was one hour and fifteen minutes.  Fortunately it was a little cooler so it went well.  After the run I did some yoga and all was well.  At least until Saturday night when we had a party at the yacht club and I danced for a couple of hours, in sandals.  Sunday morning my legs felt pretty sore.


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Gaining confidence with harder workouts

My swims are changing. My coach says my stroke “turnover” needs to get faster. There are so many things to think about.

I have more drills and fast 50s and 100s. I have mentioned the pool in town where I do most of my swim workouts. It is a community pool and I think every minute is scheduled from early morning until it closes. Generally I go early during one of the adult swim times, and another time is at noon when there is adult and senior swim.

I have started calling it a “fossil fest” where I am the only fossil swimming.

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Longer rides, longer runs, fast swims

Part of the Irish Blessing states, “May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back.”

For my past two long rides the wind has not been at my back for long. I must be building strength because it seems as though the wind has been head on for the majority of my rides. On one morning the wind was a crosswind at 18 mph and gusting up to 24 mph. Tough rides!

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Biggest Fears Doing an Ironman

Since signing up for Ironman Florida I periodically think about some of the fears I have about competing in this race.  I am worried about finishing the race in the 17-hour time limit.  My biggest fear has been about the swim.  Can I get through the breakers, can I finish the swim in the time limit that is set, which is 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Until last weekend I never considered that I could die in the swim.  

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Indian Creek Triathlon, June 12, 2016

After last Sunday’s very windy, two-hour ride with a friend, who is 26 years younger, I was ready for a fairly easy week for training.  Fortunately all of my training days were just that, easy!  

Monday was another mostly straight 60 minute swim and weights. Tuesday was 45 minutes of running, one minute fast, one walk, which was nice. I rode for a little more than an hour, on Wednesday, with another friend. I don’t know where all the wind is coming from, but it was brutal. I guess that will prepare me for the November winds in Florida.

Thursday was a short swim and a short run, which I did on the elliptical. My thoughts were to do some weights, but another friend and I stretched and did a couple of abdominal exercises, and mostly talked for an hour.

Sometimes it is a good idea to let go of the rigidity of training that I place on myself.

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Grandman Triathlon, June 4, 2016

As of Saturday it is five months until Ironman Florida 2016.

I have lots of work to do and am fortunate to rely on some really great triathletes. I love the community of triathletes and find the majority of athletes to be supportive. I belong to two groups: Freshjunkie Racing, based in Louisiana, and the Ticking Time Bombs, the local tri club on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.  Both groups consistently encourage each other prior to, during, and after the races.

I am lucky to be able to have a group of friends that are close to my age, as well as, the same age as our son, and younger. I have been included as one of the athletes, despite our age differences. A few don’t know what to make of this old woman in what is mostly a young person's sport. They include me in post-race parties, and dinners and treat me as an equal. Some are comfortable enough to tease me about my age, especially when it comes to the music that is played at races.

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The Breakers

I am thinking this week is the beginning of some of the roller coaster emotions, and workouts.

On Tuesday I was finally able to do the Bike Heart Rate test. All I have to see is the word "test," and I begin to think I should get an A. I learned that I can ride very hard for an extended period of time and my heart rate does go above 138.

Is that good or bad? Actually it is what it is.

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Crawfishman Triathlon, May 22, 2016

It was a busy week leading up to the Crawfishman Triathlon in Bush, Louisiana, on Sunday, May 22. I love training, however, there are other responsibilities that I love doing and also need to do. Grandparents’ Day was the most important day last week. And because of Sunday’s tri I had to revamp my regular training schedule. The Crawfishman Tri had been on my radar for a few years, but changing my regular training routine is somewhat hard for me since I am so focused on six months from now and the Ironman. Did I mention I am pretty OCD about things?

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