Four days after race day and my feelings are very mixed about the race. The memories of the pain are starting to fade and my mind starts to churn deciding whether I want to be a tri-athlete or not. Many people thought I was crazy to start off with a 1/2 Ironman, but I am happy I did for a whole host of reasons not the least of which is that a sprint or olympic distance tri will feel like a piece of cake now 🙂
This is a shot of my transition station the morning of the race (minus my bike which is hanging above). The amount of stuff you need for a triathlon is a bit overwhelming and then you have to hope that all of these things will cooperate… no ripped cap, foggy goggles or flat tires. Luckily I finished the race with no technical difficulties in terms of equipment!
We were in swim wave 18 of 21, we had to be out of the transition area by 6:15am, but our wave didn’t go off until 7:36am so we had a little time to kill. Ultimately I think having this time helped me to relax before the start. We had time to eat, digest and wait in the long porta potty lines… twice, haha.
We had an in water start with the 91 girls in our age group. I was one of few that did not have a wetsuit on. The water was around 73 degrees and I was perfectly comfortable in my tri-suit. There was a pretty strong current and it was way more crowded than I was anticipating. They were only starting the waves 3 minutes apart so it was easy to catch up to the group in front of us. I was a little disappointed in my swim because I felt like I could never really get going, there seemed to always be a foot in my face or someone swimming into me horizontally. But I guess that is just open water swimming for you – I am so used to having my own little lap lane where no one bothers me 🙂 I finished the 1.2 mile swim in 31:52, slightly off my goal time of under 30.
My transition to the bike felt fast, but it really was pretty slow at 5:06 – I have no clue what took me so long, haha! The first photo above is right as I was setting out on the bike, it’s really funny because the girl behind me is actually someone I went to college with and we were in the same sorority! This was right before she passed me for good and crushed the rest of the race!
For the first 10 miles of the bike ride I felt very anxious. This was my first bike race ever and all the rules were flying through my mind as people were literally flying past me. I would feel like I was going pretty fast and then someone would come zooming by! I was also anticipating mile 10 where everyone kept talking about a massive hill. Well, the hill was pretty long and steep, but I don’t know that it deserves all the hype that it got. Everyone acts like if you make it up that hill the rest of the race will be easy… That is definitely not the case as there are plenty more hills on the back end. But… after mile 10 I calmed down a lot and was able to settle into my own race. Before I knew it I was to the halfway point and was still feeling fresh. Miles 40-56 were definitely the hardest as that is when my legs really started feeling fatigued and there were a bunch of tough hills. I remember getting to mile 40 and feeling as if I had made it, then I saw a guy on the side of the road changing a flat which was a good reminder that things like that can happen at any point along the course. Luckily I made it to the finish line of the bike course without any issues and I felt so happy and relieved when I saw my family at the finish line! The best part about the bike portion was how quickly the time passed, I must have been completely zoned out because the 3.5 hours felt like 45 minutes. I finished in 3:32:55. Then I got off my bike…
My legs basically did not work at that point and I realized what I had feared on the second 1/2 of the bike course – I was super dehydrated. I do not have an effective hydration system set up on my bike and I felt too afraid of falling to grab for my water bottle on my bike frame, so I started relying only on the aid stations that were set up every 15 miles. I really struggled to ride through the aid stations and grab nutrition and water/gatorade. So over the course of 3.5 hours I only had a few sips of water and gatorade along with 1 Honey Stinger Waffle and a few Cliff Bar Shots… not nearly enough to turn around and run a 1/2 marathon.
The first lap of the 2 lap run course was rough. My first mile was fast, but I felt like I could not feel my legs. After that it turned into a walk/run pattern between aid stations. There were SO many aid stations on the course which was great, but also distracting because every time there was an aid station I felt like I could walk. I drank something at basically every aid station, but I was still feeling terrible by the time I came to the end of lap 1. I stopped when I saw my family and complained about how dehydrated I was and took a pitiful moment (see above) to whine. This was the bottom of my mental game – something about seeing the finish line and having to set out on another lap is torturous when you are 5+ hours into a race. Also knowing that you have to do the same exact thing you just did is a hurdle you have to get over in you mind.
I did set back out and finish the race – my run time was 2:20:23 which was way off my goal time of under 2 hours. My total race finisher time was 6:36:21, again far from my goal of under 6 hours. But at that point I was so happy just to have made it that I cannot be unhappy with my time.
People keep asking me if this was harder than the marathon I ran and I have decided that they are just not comparable. If you asked me that question on Sunday I said without a doubt the 1/2 Ironman was tougher, but I think that is just because I was ill prepared so the run was hellish. After the marathon my body was total wrecked, I could barely walk for days and it was weeks before I could run again. Today, 4 days after the 1/2 Ironman I feel back to normal, my legs are a touch sore, but honestly no worse than a normal week. So that begs the question will I ever do another one?
On Sunday I said no way, no how… but the truth is that I probably will. I don’t know when, but I do know that I felt defeated by this race. My dehydration struggles paired with not having had the time to really train properly makes me want to try again.
Don’t get me wrong though, it was great experience and I had so much fun reuniting with Heather and her family! Heather totally crushed the race in a time of 5:47:40! She also said she will never do it again, but something tells me she’ll probably change her mind 🙂
Thank you to my amazing support team who stood for hours on end waiting to cheer me on for just a few moments as I came in and out of transitions! Extra special thanks to Walter who woke up very early to drop Heather and I off at the start and drove me all the way up and back from DC to NH!
(Photo Credit: Mike Kluk)