What a day!! This week I checked another race distance off my bucket list and finished my first 70.3 triathlon!! I knew it was going to be hard, but it was harder than I had anticipated. But, I finished!
It’s always a shock when your alarm goes off at 3:30am, but I had gone to sleep early and had a good full night of sleep so I felt good when I woke up. I was able to get all of my stretching in and eat breakfast, an Ensure plus and a peanut butter and jelly English muffin. I was only able to eat half of the English muffin though, as nerves started to settle in. I did not feel rushed and felt like I had plenty of time, until we were all ready to go and I looked at my watch and we were leaving 6 minutes later than I had wanted. We listened to “Don’t Worry Be Happy” on the way to the race, it always helps put my mind at ease. We also saw a GIANT shooting star (thank you meteor shower and dark sky city) on the way to the race and I took that as a good sign. Along with the texts and comments from the day before from friends and family, I had even more coming in this morning. It was so nice to receive the encouragement from all over-thank you! We got to the race with plenty of time and although it was chilly, it was not bad at all. There were
Ready to go and feeling good!
none of the storm clouds that were predicted, but it was very foggy. I got my transition area set up, aired up my tires, lathered on the sunscreen, used the restroom, got my timing chip, got numbers written on me and I was feeling calm. My wetsuit went on with ease that morning and I walked with Cindy to the swim start. I was able to eat a few Gu chews on the way. I was feeling good and although I was nervous, I wasn’t even close to as nervous as previous races. I hugged family and got in the water.
The water felt good, and I was surprised when there was such a small amount of women in the water for the start of the race. I was also slightly concerned because it was so foggy, there was no way to see the buoy that we were aiming for. I decided I would follow the people around me and hope for the best. When the race started, I was again surprised at how calm I was. It was a little hectic at first and I kept bumping into people, but I moved to the outside and was fine. I kept trying to sight to make sure I was not going way off course, but I
The men’s half start, 6 minutes before my start
couldn’t see anything so it was pointless. I ran into someone else and when I looked up, it was a gray cap, which the men who started 6 minutes ahead of us were wearing. I was happy that I had caught up to them, but it was clear this guy was struggling. I made it to the first turn and headed for the long straight away. By this point, the fog had lifted enough that I could see my destination. Also, this part of the swim was along the lake shore, so it was really easy to keep a straight line. I spotted another gray cap and felt like I was doing well. I was feeling very calm, not tired, and confident. At one point I took in a little water so I stopped my stroke to cough and my feet hit mud. Apparently we were that close to shore. I was not a fan of that though because I couldn’t see anything, so I quickly picked up my stroke again. I hit the final turn and headed for the finish. Unfortunately, the finish was directly in the sun. Even stopping and trying to shield the sun, I still couldn’t see the end. I kept going and used the people around me to guide me in, hoping that they were going the right direction. At one point myself and a girl next to me both stopped and asked each other if we were going the right way. We had no idea, so we just kept going. Finally, my hand hit the boat ramp and I was there. I jumped onto the carpet and a stripper ripped off my wetsuit quickly and I was off. I took a quick glance at my watch to check my time and realized my watch had not started so I didn’t know how I had done. I was really bummed about this, but no time to dwell.
There were so many family and friends in transition cheering me on. It was so nice! I moved through transition as quickly as I could, grabbed my bike and I was off.
I realized almost instantly after getting on the course that I forgot to drink my Ensure, part of my nutrition plan, while I was in transition. I knew that wasn’t great, but I had put extra nutrition in my pockets as a “just in case” so I figured I would be fine. It always amazes me how strong and fast people can be on the bike, and on the climb out of Lake Mary, as I was working my butt off, people continued to fly past me so fast that it was hard to believe they didn’t have a motor on those bikes. I was also blown away by people speeding back down towards the lake, clearly at the end of their Olympic bike portion while I was just 5 miles into my ride. I did pass one man on the climb, and he had a large Ironman tattoo on his calf, so I felt strong to be passing him. Pretty sure he passed me again a short time later and I don’t think I passed anyone else again the whole race.
I ate my first pack of Gu chews when I had planned and made sure to drink a little. Jade came up behind me on the way to the turn around and we gave each other some encouragement before she took off ahead. It was nice to see a familiar face and she would go on to get second place in her age group! Shortly after the overlook, I noticed Trevor off to the side off his bike. I yelled if he needed anything and he asked if I had an extra CO2 cartridge. I just happened to pack 3 because they fit, and so I stopped and gave him one, wished him luck and continued on. I had a near miss of squirrel while flying down the hill and then I was on to Mormon Lake road. The ride was going pretty smooth. I started to eat the first half of my peanut butter and honey sandwich I had packed and after one bite, I dropped it. There went some more nutrition. Then, shortly after, while changing gears, I hit a pothole or large crack in the road and lost control of my bike. I honestly don’t know how I did not wipe out. I tried to correct, but overcorrected, almost sending my bike off the road completely, finally able to get control back again. I was grateful I was still upright, but the surge of adrenaline that pulsed through me during that left me feeling a little depleted. So I ate the second half of my sandwich and drank some more. Then, a short time later while changing gears my chain came off. I jumped off my bike and got it back on within a few seconds, making a mental note to pay attention when I’m changing gears, so it wouldn’t happen again. At this point, I was hoping my second lap was less eventful!! I was on the lookout for the aide station because I needed a restroom. I finally came upon it, much later than they said it would be on the course, and didn’t see a restroom in sight, so I kept going.
I was focused a lot on my time, trying to make sure I would make the bike cut off. I knew I needed to hit 28 miles by 2 hours and I did so, but only by a couple minutes. Because I wasn’t sure of my swim time, I wanted to leave some room for error and knew my second lap was probably going to be slower, so I knew I had to keep pushing hard. Before getting to the Mormon Lake turnoff again, I needed a pee very bad and I knew there was no other restroom around. There really weren’t great places to hide in the woods, I knew my legs were not going to be up to squat, and I knew that I was fighting the clock, so I decided to “let it ride” while on the bike. When you’re going downhill, everything just flies off the back of the bike, so when I was finished I had a “that was easy” thought.
Right after that, I saw someone else up ahead off the road fixing their bike. It was a coworker from the Police Department and as I passed he yelled that it was his 3rd flat! I knew he was fast, so if he got it fixed he would be fine, so I kept going. He caught up with me a short time later and shared his frustration over the 3 flats then went on ahead. The second loop around Mormon Lake felt slower for me. I was tired. My legs were sore, my back hurt everywhere and my shoulders were tight. And I could tell by the time that I was still really close and I could not let up. It was getting windier too and I was frustrated with that. I grabbed a water bottle at the aid station and almost crashed into a guy changing his tire right in front of it. I narrowly missed a chipmunk a short time later as well. By this point I realized I had not eaten anything else, so I ate another package of Gu chews and tried to finish my electrolyte drink. I was already starting to feel nauseous and eating did not help. I had planned to consume about 1100 calories on the bike leg that day and I only took in about 450. On top of that, I only drank about 40 oz of liquid the whole race. It was a definite fail in that arena. I made it back to the final push before the turn around and started trying to do all kinds of calculations in my head. This is hard to do when you’re tired and not thinking straight. I saw my coworker before the turn around, who knew I was going to be cutting it close and he yelled some encouraging words and told me to “push it, push it!”
I stopped doing calculations at this point and realized that if I had to make the 4 hour and 50 minute cut off I had to be back by 10:56am. I had the time on my GPS device but I didn’t know if it was right, so when I hit the turnaround I asked what time it was. They said, “do you really want to know?” and then told me it was 10:19. My clock was right, so now I just needed to make sure to be back by 10:56. At that point, I figured I had it, because there was a lot of really steep downhill to go. The wind was still strong though and it felt like it was coming straight at me, so that was slowing me down some. On the downhill I only hit 35mph, which is slower than I have before, so it made me nervous (especially since I was riding with much wheels this time). I hit the 4 miles to go mark and I knew it was going to be tight. My legs were SO done at that point. I wanted to stop so bad, but I knew I could not coast or slow down, I needed to make that cutoff. I was also extremely nauseous here and felt like I was going to lose it at any point. I hit the 2 miles to go mark and was so thankful that the end was near. I started to think of all of the people that were waiting at transition for me and I did not want to show up having missed the cut off. I gave it my all. I pedaled as hard as my tired legs could go, hoping that I did not throw up before I got there. I saw the parking lot and knew I had it. According to my clock I had made it with just under 2 minutes to spare. That was still the first question I asked though when I hit the dismount line, “did I make the cutoff?” “Yes, with time to spare!” a volunteer yelled. I was so grateful and so tired, my very next thought was “how the hell am I going to run a half marathon right now?!”
As I was walking (there was no jogging in transition that day) my bike back to the rack I saw such a huge group of people cheering my name waiting for me. It never ceases to
Slowly making my way to my stuff
amaze me the support that my friends and family give me. As I was changing out things in transition even more people started running down, calling my name. I honestly don’t even remember everyone I saw because I was a little light headed and exhausted. I didn’t realize until after the race when talking with my husband how confused I was at the time. He mentioned a few people that were next to me at that point and a few things that were said and I didn’t remember any of it. He also informed me that I said a handful of curse words, which is not totally unlike me, but not usually to that degree in front of the company that was present. I let out an “I’m done.” What I really meant by that was that my body was done and I didn’t know how it was going to go on, but I was going to try. When Kali heard me say that she said, “no you aren’t! You said you were going to do 70.3 today no matter what. You are doing this today!” She
I was surprised when I saw this picture, because I don’t remember smiling at all at this point of the race. But happy to see that I did!
was right and I needed to hear that. I thought about reapplying sunscreen and opted against it (stupid decision) because I didn’t want to spend the energy putting it on. Then I started to walk away. “Your race number!” everyone was yelling to me. Whew! Thank you all for making sure I didn’t forget that. I grabbed that and was on my way. I jogged out of transition where there was an aid station right away and I stopped already and drank some water, thankful to use the water so soon as an excuse to stop. I saw Maria here, and I wanted to stop and talk but I was on the verge of tears and knew that would put me over the edge. Then I jogged up the hill to get to the road. I saw John here and I told him I was exhausted and he said, “No you’re not, keep going, you’ve got this” and gave he a huge high five and smile. One thing is fact, there is no way I would do all this if it wasn’t for the people and support in my life.
I made it probably about 3/10 of a mile before I had to walk again. When I was jogging, I was actually keeping a decent pace, but after a couple minutes, my stomach couldn’t take it anymore, so I would walk. My thought was that if I threw up at this point, I would be losing the very little nutrition that was in me, and that would not be good. I knew there was a long and steep hill coming up and decided I was going to walk the whole thing, give my body some time to calm down and hope that my stomach feels better and then start jogging. I stopped for a quick bathroom break and water at the bottom of the hill and then headed up. I tried to eat a cracker, that was not happening, it felt like sand in
Leaving T2. So much going on in my head at this moment. Someone was going to have to pull me off the course before I was going to quit, but I wasn’t sure how my body was going to get to the finish line.
my mouth. So then I tried a few cashews. At this point, I saw my coworker again on his way down the hill. He asked how I was and I said “really not good, I feel like I’m going to throw up.” He pulled out a bag of pills and gave me a salt pill and a pepto. I thanked him and he went on his way. I was nervous about taking something I have not taken in a race before, but I didn’t think I could feel much worse, so I took the salt pill and stuck the pepto in my pocket for later. I walked all the way up the hill. Two people passed me at this point and with how closely I made the bike cutoff time, I figured that meant I was the last on the course. Still, everyone at every aid station and every passerby was so positive. Claps and cheers and giving me encouragement. Along with all the racers coming down the hill. They were all so positive and helpful. When I hit the turnaround at the top, I started to jog. I made sure to look out at the scenery that the race director talked about the day before. It was a beautiful view! My stomach was starting to feel a little better, but I was realizing at this pace, how long this half marathon was going to take me. Just then, I see my husband driving up the hill and I lost it. I started crying. I was so grateful that he came out to find me. It is a lonely course spectator wise, so it was nice to see a familiar face. I told him this was way harder than I thought it was going to be and I’m going to take a long time to finish. He was very positive and encouraging and told me to just keep moving, I’ve got this. At this point, I told him I thought it might be 4 hours before I finish the race and he told me I was fine, I have time, just keep going. So I jogged the rest of the way down the hill. Towards the bottom, I saw Cindy and Hallie who were running up and I started to cry again. I was grateful to see them and knew how hard Cindy had been working and they were both so encouraging and gave me great big hugs. I stopped for water again and had the woman at the aid station helped me fish the pepto out of my pocket and took that. Then I was off again.
I did a bit of walk-jogging the rest of the way. I tried a 5 minute jog, 1 minute walk, but even that was difficult. My stomach was feeling significantly better, I think the salt pill saved me, but I still couldn’t eat much managing only to get a few more Gu chews in. I saw my coworker again and thanked him for the pills. Then I saw another teammate, Bill, and he clapped for me as he passed. Then, about mile 7 I ran into my coach. He had come out on his bike to find me and said he was going to ride with me the rest of the
Thankful to have had my coach there for support!!
way. This was such a huge help. It was someone to talk to and distract me from the pain. He told me how everyone else had done in their races and talked to me about the importance of this race in preparation and practice for the Ironman. He encouraged me and told me I was doing good the whole time. He encouraged me to eat, but that wasn’t happening much. One of the aid stations had fruit snacks, which I love and figured I could eat, but I was only able to get down about 5. The next aid station had skittles and I was thrilled! They were delicious, but again, I was only able to get down a handful. Ryan drove up again around this time and gave me some more encouragement and told me he would see me at the finish line.
Then, around mile 9.5 or 10, Cindy and Hallie showed up again. They were incredibly positive and said they were going to run with me the rest of the way. They helped me focus on short bursts. “Run to the next sign,” “start running again when we hit that tree.” They were so positive and helpful. Since the aid stations were gone at this point, someone they knew drove up and offered us water. It was almost overwhelming how generous and supportive everyone was. I cried again. I told the girls my goal was to
Grateful for these girls on this day and everyday for the inspiration and positivity!!
finish in under 8 hours and they told me they were going to get me there. Maria and Sarah showed up a little bit later as well. It was so nice to see them! Again, more encouragement and positive words. The end was getting near, I could see the cones down the road that led to the finish.
I started to jog again, knowing I would be jogging until I hit the finish line. I was so grateful for that sight. Ryan and Brenda were at the corner cheering me on along with Sarah and Maria. I hit the turn to the finish line and Cindy and Hallie told me to go! They pushed me to pick up the pace a little while they, along with Anthony, Sarah and Maria ran me in. And then I did it! I crossed the finish line and completed my first 70.3!
I love this picture. You can clearly see how Cindy is screaming to me to “Go!”
Coming into the finish
My family was there waiting and cheering, the race employees and volunteers were
Just after crossing the finish line
cheering me on, it was such a great feeling. So many hugs and more tears at this point. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone that was there and had stayed so long to support me and watch me cross the finish. I thought of the people that were still out there running, some who had missed the bike cutoff but were finishing their 70.3 anyway. I had so much admiration and respect for them to keep pushing. They were a huge inspiration to me!
Sarah, Coach, Maria, and Carolyn
Cooling off in the lake
I went and sat in the lake for a minute to cool off and it was then that I could feel that I was really burnt. I had finished so late, transition area was all closed down, so Ryan had my bike and everything already loaded and ready to go. I said goodbyes and headed home. I felt so accomplished and tired and happy and exhausted all at one. Amazingly, I really wasn’t that hungry, but I was able to drink a chocolate milk. Once back at the house I could see the full effects of my burn. The backs and my hands, and the back of my neck got the worst of it, but my shoulders and the backs of my knees are pretty painful as well. My glutes were a little sore the next day, but they really weren’t bad and by the second day post race I felt completely normal again (minus the burn). I was over the moon pleased that I had no pain in my shins or knee during or after the race!
48 hours later and still as red as a lobster
I had so many text messages of congratulations when I was finished, which was just another reminder of how many amazing people I am lucky enough to have in my life. I am so grateful for the people who helped me get through this race and I’m grateful for what I have learned and need to change for Ironman in November, a short 3 months away. I have a lot of work and practice to do with my nutrition and hydration, and that will happen every ride from now on. For now, I am basking in the excitement of this very hard earned medal!!