As promised, here’s the ironman Q & A. Note that I titled it “First ironman Q & A” not because I’m raring to do a second one, but because as a first timer this was just what worked for me. I’m no expert so consult with a coach and do what works best for you.
Q. Did you end up wearing your tri shorts on the bike? If so, what brand/type?
A. I actually wore cycling shorts on the bike. I wore the Pearl Izumi shorts that I wore for all of my century rides. They bothered me the least but let’s be real, a 100+ mile ride is never going to be comfortable. I did change clothes for each leg of the race and am very happy that I did. It was worth the extra time.
Q. How did the Hoka’s hold up?
A. The Hoka’s held up great. I knew that was the last time I would wear them though and they stayed behind in Chattanooga. They smelled awful and after a long, sweaty training cycle plus a rainy marathon they were done. I bought a pair of Asics Gel Exalt 2’s over the weekend and while I did enjoy the Hoka’s I can’t say they were THE shoe for me.
Q. What was your base mileage going into starting in May?
A. Going into May I had been swimming 10-13 miles per month since January. I had a 70.3 in March so I was focused on getting the mileage up for that race also starting in January. I’d say about 200-250 cycling miles per month leading up to May. As for running, I think I lagged the most here because of that December marathon. I didn’t get back up to 100 mile months until June. I felt the most confident in my run so I took my time building there. I was told when I first began triathlon to do the thing you are weakest in most, so I tried early on to focus on cycling.
Q. How can you not make training destroy all your relationships? How can I still maintain balance in my life on the weekends? Or is that even an option? Also, when you had to travel on the weekends, what did you do about your long bike?
A. Balancing an ironman with relationships is tricky. I tried to do household chores early and stay on top of that stuff so that I had free time for family and friends, but even then I was really tired and missed more than a few social functions. Fortunately, everyone was very supportive and I worked in a lot of lunch dates to  make up for all the night time stuff I missed. The one vacation I took in July forced me to get in a sort of long ride during the week. I know when I had anything I really wanted to do on the weekend, I’d get my long run or ride in during the week. Sometimes that meant running at ungodly hours or suffering through a very long and boring trainer session.
Q. Nutrition plan please! I’m trying to figure out what to do on the bike. I use Osmo, and am debating stopping at special needs and swapping all bottles or using the powder and grabbing bottles at aide stations- but that sounds complicated to do while moving. But I’ve also been told not to rely on getting my special needs bag. Hm.
A. I’ve always used Herbalife Prolong on the bike. I started with it way back in 2012, on Jason’s recommendation, and it’s the only Herbalife product I buy. (I don’t sell Herbalife, it’s actually pretty random that I use this product.) I have used it for every 70.3 and long bike ride. It has 250 calories per serving, with 5 grams of protein and 58 grams of carbs. I typically only used one bottle of it though and it was in my first aero-bottle.
For additional calories I stuck with Gu brand gels, Margarita Clif Bar Shot Bloks (this flavor has extra sodium), Bonk Breakers, and PowerBar Energy Wafers. I tried to take in at least 200-250 calories per hour on the bike. I took my nutrition based on time. I used my bike computer to make sure I was eating enough every hour.
After the first aero-bottle of Herbalife was gone I had Gatorade in my back two bottles. So, I started the race with my aero-bottle and two back bottles. As I continued I took water from aid stations and one bottle of Perform, even though it was gross.
I did put a half of a bottle of pre-mixed Herbalife in my special needs bag and dumped that into my aero-bottle that I had Gatorade in at that point. It was disgusting. I meant to drink all that Gatorade before I got to Special Needs but seriously goofed there. I drank it anyway. I also had Goldfish crackers in my special needs bag and I REALLY enjoyed those.  
Q. How long was your swim warm up?
A. There was no swim warm up. It was fine though because my adrenaline was so high.
Q. What gear do you start off the bike out of T1?
A. EDITED: I read this question wrong earlier. I put my bike in an easy gear to head out of T1 because there was a slight incline.
Q. Have you been fitted for your bike?
A. Yes, it’s a must before you start the really long rides. You should get a fitting when you first buy your bike and then a second fitting a month or so later.
Q. How often did you change your training shoes this past year?
A. I think I had new shoes in January and then I bought the Hoka’s in June.
Q. Did you do very many brick sets this past summer?
A. I feel as though I could/should have done more bricks. I tried to run after every other long run. Some days I couldn’t force myself to a full mile and other days, with the help of Meghan, I slogged through four miles. I think my biggest brick was a 42 mile ride and a five mile run. I believe this is a lot shorter than what most people do but again, the rides kicked my butt so I definitely slacked on bricks.
Q. Do you feel that your bike training was ‘enough’ for a hilly course?
A. I absolutely feel that I trained on hills enough for this course. It may not appear that I did since I was not knocking an 18 MPH average ride, but for me, I felt good. There were no hills that I couldn’t climb and I rode exactly what I had estimated pre-race. Being a flat lander and choosing a hilly course may not have been the smartest move but I think I did pretty well in training for it the best I could.
Q. Did you incorporate 2-A-Days into your training to fit everything in?
A. Yes. You have to. It’s nearly impossible to fit it all in without them.
Q. How do you convince yourself to do that race? It is on my
bucket list but with two children, I am not sure how I would be able to train
for something that intense!
A. I think it’s the natural progression once you start doing 70.3’s. Meghan and I really helped convince each other we could do hills and having many friends who had completed one or two already, it wasn’t a big push. I can only imagine how hard it would be to fit in with children. It’s a balancing act and you really have to have the support of your family and friends.
Q. I’ve seen a lot of people on the slowtwitch forum complaining about the swim current. Do you feel like the extra four miles on the bike course and the hills on the run more than made up for an “easy” swim?
A. I knew this would come up and it’s one of the reasons I stay off the forums. I think my swim would have been about 15 minutes slower and my bike would have been about 15 minutes faster. However, when you factor in the mental anguish of four more miles you wonder if that 15 minutes is really accurate. Would have been able to ride 112 just a little fast if I wasn’t mentally preparing for the extra four? I’m not sure. I think the run was A LOT harder than everyone expected and that hilly ride plus that hilly run could have definitely made up for a bit of that current.
The bottom line is that every single ironman distance course is different. You can’t compare them. You take what you can from each one. I still did the distance, plus some, and I don’t feel like anything should be taken away from those of us who raced Chattanooga. We all showed up ready to swim 2.4 miles regardless of what the current wound up being.
Q. What would you change in your training plan when you do your next ironman? What would you do more of? What would you do less of?
A. Let’s start by saying this is IF I ever do another one. I’m not quite sold on doing this again. I would definitely do more bricks and do longer ones. I skipped more of these than I should have. I would also do more interval training on the bike. I think that’s key in getting faster and I could have used more bike speed. I don’t think I would have done anything less. I listened to my body and took rest days as I needed them.
Q. What was the best piece of advice you received prior to the event (both training and racing advice)? What was the absolutely worthless advice you were given? 
A. Best piece of advice prior to the race with regards to training was to enjoy the journey. I know there were times I got so wrapped up in the physical that I had to remind myself to enjoy the time I was spending outdoors with friends and ignore the Garmin. The best race advice I got was to stay positive and smile. I worked on this all day and it really helped. I had fun out there. I also liked the advice to keep it simple and not pack everything you own. I had exactly what I needed and didn’t forget a single thing.
For bad advice, I wasn’t given this advice directly, but I did read to skip bike special needs. I am not a strong cyclist and I think for the mental (and booty) break of stopping at special needs it was worth the extra few minutes. I could see how moving forward on your second or third ironman this wouldn’t be necessary but I truly feel it was worth it.
Q. Should I do one? 
A. No idea. Haha. The only person who knows, is you.
Q. And for today, how is your head space?
A. I feel good today. I am ready to get back into a routine of sorts because I do feel a little scatterbrained. I had some post ironman blues on Sunday but I am chalking that up to too much wine on Saturday night. Those blues weren’t really that I was sad about it being over but more about how I would have like to go a bit faster on the bike and a lot faster on the run. This is totally normal for me after most races because I’m a maniac. Heh. However, that passed just as soon as I ate a donut, bought new running shoes, and reminded myself that I’m a freakin’ ironman.
Have a great Monday and thanks for all of the awesome questions!