Monday, June 9, 2014

I'm a half Ironman! Eagleman 2014 Race Report

I truly can not believe that I am writing a race report for a half ironman, a 70.3 mile triathlon that I completed.  This is going to be LONG so I apologize ahead of time!!

The week pre-race was filled with small freak outs over many small little things, nutrition, weather, packing, stuff, pretty much everything.  I did manage to keep it together for the most part though and the excitement was definitely out weighing the nerves.  I was feeling pretty confident after our training weekend but the confidence was nerve wrecking actually.  My goal was just to finish but I had a goal I hadn't really said which was to finish in 7 hours and 30 minutes, it was my first one though and I knew I had no idea what the weather or distance would have in store for me.

I went out to Jersey Friday night so I spent much of Thursday night cross checking SIX yes SIX different lists of "what to pack" that I found on the internet, compiled from LaDawn and the Athlete guide.  Type A to the max ladies and gentlemen.  I packed multiples of almost everything in case it got lost and read the Athlete guide every night that whole week before bed.  Friday, Jamie came to pick me up and off I went to my second to last sleep before the race!

Saturday morning we got up early, packed the car, headed to Maryland and once we arrived it was a whirlwind of activity.  We tried to wait in line for packet pick up but the line was HUGE so we had to drop out to go to the mandatory athlete talk.  We met up with the other girls and sat in the shade to rest our legs and stay out of the sun.  The head referee ( i am not sure that is the right word) was really good, I loved when she told the men "Women WILL pass you don't try and race them to get back in front".  I, however being a rule follower was petrified of littering or drafting already and her talk did not help those nerves!

After the talk we decided to ride our bikes over to transition to check them in and also give us a chance to ride them one last time to ensure they were working properly after the 4 hour drive.  We brought our wet suits and swim stuff so we could get in a practice swim as well.  At the Athlete talk they announced the water temperature was 74.2 degrees and it would more than likely be a wet suit swim.  The swim went ok, I felt more tired then I would have liked but we did realize it was pretty shallow all the way out to the number 6 buoy.

When we got back to the festival area we waited in line to show our USAT cards, sign our lives away and then pick up packets, shirts, backpacks and trackers.  Excitement was definitely out weighing the nerves at this point and I went CRAZY purchasing swag.  Siobhan and Jared arrived with O and we decided to head to the hotel to check in and find food.  I had been hydrating all day but I was starving, luckily the hotel had food so we could just eat and then head to bed.
Definitely still wearing the wrist band.

I actually slept pretty well that night before but I was pretty achy so I went to sleep covered in BioFreeze.  We woke up nice and early to get ready and head over on the shuttle.  As we were waiting for the shuttle, Dionne texted to say they were announcing it wasn't a wetsuit legal swim then my parents texted to say they were late leaving their house.  I may have almost cried on the shuttle.

At transition taken by Dionne.  The sunrise was AMAZING.
I headed to start setting up transition, all the while freaking out about the wetsuit change.  The finally made an official announcement and said they would add a wet suit wave at 8:40am and that you couldn't win any awards.  Now I knew that you couldn't win an award and was NOT concerned with that but I had no idea they moved your start time later.  I was already concerned about being so close to the time cut offs so it became a choice between using the wet suit which made me feel more comfortable and being the absolute last group up against the 8 and a half hour time limit.  It was a tough decision and there were definite tears in making that decision.  I sat down and took off my calf sleeves and with that the decision was made. Ladawn couldn't decide on her lava pants and eventually decided if I wasn't she wasn't so we could stick together.  I'm glad I did that because being last is not a great feeling, although I did manage to keep myself from having a mental meltdown about it.  Actually mentally this was a great race for me, well after the wetsuit/ swim meltdown I was mentally prepared and kept my cool even with the issues I faced.

All READY for no wetsuit swim!
I did my generation Ucan 45 minutes before the start and I was excited but the nerves were kicking in, however I DIDN'T throw up!  Success!  It was an in water start so we stood down there in the water holding hands when the start went off we hung back a little and then got started.  Things were going fine but I had a complete and utter freak out.  I hadn't been in open water with no wet suit and this was only my third time in open water.  I rolled to my back and I was saying I can't do this and Ladawn swam by and said "YES YOU CAN."  I rolled back over and got back to it.  I swear swimming is the worst, the whole time I never feel that I'm getting anywhere and it is frustrating.  The other age groups behind us started catching up to me and swimming over top of me.  In fact one guy actually swam over top of me to the point I was completely under him and couldn't come up or move my arms.  Before I even had a chance to freak out that I was drowning he grabbed my tri suit and pulled me back up.  He said, "You ok?" I said yeah and he was off, I have to admit that was so nice of him generally people just swim over top of you and don't even stop!

51:59 later I was so happy to see my parents as I got out of the water!

Transition went pretty well, I remembered everything I needed to remember but as I was walking out the guy goes watch your water bottle and at that point I realized the throw away water bottles I purchased were too slim for my cages!  Of course I started freaking about them falling out and getting me a littering call so I pulled over to wedge one into the metal and then held the other one in my hand for 5 MLES chugging it until I got to a trash drop zone that was technically for the run but I used it to toss both water bottles.  That of course meant no water until the next bike stop at 20 miles, oh man and it was HOT.  I got two water bottles at that stop only to realize the event bottles were too small too.  I didn't freak out, I just put the one down in the trash drop zone and then kept the other one in the back cage where it seemed to not fall.  Turned out the power aide bottles did fit so I got one of those but I can't do power aide so my stomach was very upset after one bottle.  Luckily I ran into Ladawn who told me that I should just dump out the power aide and fill it with water.  Thank goodness because my brain was NOT working.  The bike course is very flat which is good and bad, the headwind is AWFUL at points you feel you are going backwards. At times it was very lonely, probably because I was in the back. 

Things I learned on the bike: It is possible for men's armpit hair to blow in the wind, generation ucan did not work very well in the bottles I picked for it, I need to hydrate better, I need to put the salt pills in a more accessible area, wearing the bike shirt worked really well, bike seats and lady bits are NOT friends and the wind is NEVER at your back.

After an expected 3:49:54 on the bike I came in for T2, I am actually surprised to see my splits look so consistent for the bike.  I felt I wasn't very consistent, at times spinning up to 20 mph when the wind wasn't so awful and at times jamming it at 12 mph into the headwind.  My handling skills have improved but I need to get better and passing and not hanging behind people that I should just pass. 

Oh the Run, in my opinion this is where my particular race fell apart completely the sun was beating down on you and you could feel the heat off the asphalt.  I actually looked at the water and said wait can I just do the swim again.  I don't think I actually bonked but perhaps that is what happened because looking back I didn't take in NEARLY enough calories or water on the bike.  Starting off on the run my right calf was KILLING me for some reason and after a near ankle twist near mile 2 I decided it would be smarter to do a run walk method to finish.  My stomach was questionable, my legs were on fire and it was HOT.  I hadn't trained in the heat hardly at all due to the weather and my body was NOT prepared for it.  About mile 3 I realized that all the water I was dumping on myself, the sponges and water I was running through were causing a blister but the heat was unbearable.  At this point I met a girl who said she was going to throw up and as you know I am an expert at that sort of thing so I talked her through eating  banana and we started doing a run/walk together.  We stuck it out until the end with our plan and crossed the finish line together.  I never felt like I hit a wall but I do feel that I sucked at nutrition and I need to be better at it for the next one.  Again though my splits are super consistent so I guess I wasn't as back and forth as I thought.
Definitely bought a finisher shirt the day before and then hoped I didn't jinx myself

My parents were on the sideline cheer for me and my mom was crying and I felt so proud of the accomplishment as I crossed that finish line.  They said my name and I headed to get my hat, shirt and medal!  The girl needed to get my timing chip off and I of course told her there was no way I could bend down to do it, she laughed!  I went to get my picture with my new pal and also alone with my medal and then went around to find my family.  My dad told me I finished in 7:44!  So I killed my original goal of just beat 8:30 but a bit off my 7:30 goal.  My run was AWFUL but I am proud because not once on that run did I think about quitting or giving up.  The entire time I just knew I was going to finish it and needed to beat the cut off time. 

Tastes good!

This whole experience has given me so much more than just the horrible sunburn lines.  I have learned so much about myself and how much I can accomplish and push through pain both mentally and physically. I set a goal and I put in the time needed to get myself there and I fought past many, many freak out moments where I didn't think I had anymore left to give.  I learned there is always more to give and just because things don't go to plan doesn't mean that I will fall apart it means I will find a way to power through.  I've made some amazing friends that I feel I have known for years, we've been through an experience together that has cemented a life long friendship. I know when I falter they will be there to push me and I will always do the same for them.  I was so proud of myself when I crossed that finish line and now on to goal setting for Barrelman in September and more contemplation of a full iron next year. 

1 comment:

  1. I know I'm super late, but thank you for posting this recap, now I kinda know what to look forward to!!