Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beach2Battleship half-iron race report...(it's long so be warned)

The basics according to my watch...

Swim - 31:44
T1 - 11:18 (I think)
Bike - 3:40:43
T2 - 4 minutes (not sure)
Run - 3:04:52
Total - 7:30:24

The results according to the official timing (which didn't work for everybody):

Swim - n/a
T1 - n/a
Bike - n/a
T2 - 5:37
Run - 3:04:18
Total - 7:29:53

My overall rank - 137 out of 156 (that finished) or 137 out of 163 (that started). In either case, about 85% of those the women in the race are better than me. (I view this as information to help me get better in the future not criticisim for now.)

The day...

We started the day at about 4:00 am (possibly 4:30 - not sure - it was too early for me to track). I had a bagel and a Coke. Believe it or not, I spent a LOT of time trying to figure out what to eat that morning and, yes, what I decided upon was a bagel and a Coke. I have a lot of work to do on nutrition. I know.

I took a shower, got dressed in the warmest stuff I had brought and we headed over to T1. (John our fabulous sherpa toted us over to the start, toted our bike pump back to the car and hung out with us until there was no reason to stay. I think we got there around 6:00 am and the temperature was about 36 degrees - yes, 36 degrees, which SUCKS for this Florida girl. Fortunately, I had some warm clothes.

We parked and headed over to the bikes to pump up the tires and fiddle with stuff for the first transition. Then, headed over to body-marking which I like a LOT. I know - I'm weird. It's okay. I know it. And, we had a little fun getting cheesy for the camera.

By this time, it was about 7:00 am. And, we didn't start until around 8:50. Dude. That's an hour and 50 minutes. To do nothing. Except think about stuff. Torture. For. Me. Meredith headed over to swim start. I walked around more, checked out the swim exit and then finally hopped on the trolley to head over to the swim start.

The swim:
The swim start was at a pier that I think rented kayaks or something. When I arrived there were already lots of people hanging around. And, it was actually more fun and much less stressful than I thought. There were a couple of very cool people there like Carolina John , Missy and SWTrigal . We saw some of the full-iron distance folks swimming by so we cheered them on. Right before our start, we saw Sage (she's a coach, yogini, athlete - all kind of fabulousness wrapped into one person and someday we'll be able to afford to have her coach us). Then, we had to enter the water down a boat ramp and over a mat (to the swim start we go). The mat beeped when we crossed but it was just to indicate that we had entered the water. Our swim start was at 8:50 - that's how our time was noted. We got in the water and I felt incredible. EVERY other time I have gotten in the water for a swim I have had some immediate panic (can't breathe - panting even). I've learned that the panic passes and I can eventually swim. I did NOT have that AT ALL this time. It was amazing and magical. I felt at home - like this was my water - like I had been doing this my whole life. Totally weird. Totally awesome. Meredith looked great. She was getting settled in the water, finding her spot. The horn sounded and off we went. I felt great. I was bilateral breathing; I had smooth strokes; and, in almost no time it seemed, I was at the boat with the wiggly man (one of those human shaped things usually at car lots that has air blowing through it - and it's wiggling). This was pretty cool because it was at the wiggly man that we turn left. I lifted up out of the water and yelled "I love the wiggly man" - I was giddy-stupid at that point. The swim was going really well. I did keep getting pulled off to the right after the turn (with the current). So, I ended up swimming more than those who stayed in the 'fast lane'. But, I don't have any complaints - it felt incredible to swim that much with less effort than I imagined and in less time than I had planned. I realize that I had the current and I loved every minute of it (all 15 fewer minutes than I had hoped).

*Something to note for the future - when I have been swimming for a bunch of laps without stopping, I get a cramp (or that tightening feeling that you get right before you get a cramp) in my left calf. This seems weird to me because I don't use my legs very much when I swim. I'm one of those people that when I kick it actually slows me down. During the swim on race day, I started feeling that pre-cramp feeling in both of my calfs. Weird. I had to focus a LOT on keeping my legs relaxed for the last 10 minutes or so to try to prevent the cramping.

Transition 1:
We had to climb up ladders onto a pier, then walk a few meters, get our wetsuit shucked off (which was wonderful), then walk through a freshwater shower, then I got my shoes on and jogged (sloshy belly full of salt water and all) about 400 miles, I mean 400 yards to the transition area. I always feel a little strange when I get out of the water so this was a bit of an adventure. Finally got to my bike, Meredith was just about to head out of the transition area. She looked GREAT! There were others coming and going and there was this guy a couple of bikes down the row who draped a towel around himself to change - only it didn't really do the job. Reminded me of Carolina John's bike race in SC with the cocks-a-flopping. Anyhoo...

I got changed, got on my bike, and headed to the exit. I got to the mount line, mounted my bike and took off.

The bike:
A few seconds later, I noticed my bike computer was NOT working so I pulled off to the side to fiddle with it. Then started biking again. Still not working. Pulled off again to fiddle with it differently. Then started biking again. Still NOT working. Pulled off again to fiddle with it. Then started biking again. STILL NOT WORKING. So, I pulled it off my bike, chucked it into my pocket and biked on. I still didn't feel right. Usually the bike is comfortable and easy. Not this time though. I felt uncomfortable, unsteady and, well, icky. My tummy didn't feel good and I couldn't do anything to make it better. That's about how I felt for the first 5 or 6 miles - just not quite right. Then, the course took us up on I-140. We had a whole lane to ourselves for the length of I-140. AWESOME! There were police officers at each exit ramp and on ramp stopping traffic for us. Dude. I could get used to that. I felt better and better. I started eating Shot Bloks and drinking some water and I was just pumping away. I did decide to pull over somewhere on the interstate in order to take some ibuprofen because it usually does me a LOT of good during rides and runs. I got passed a lot which was kind of weird because I'm definitely a back-of-the-pack kinda girl. By the time we got to the end of the I-140, I had caught up to Meredith, which was tons of fun for me because I got to talk to her a little bit. Not much 'cause you are NOT allowed to ride next to each other or draft. By this time, we were riding north on 421 where the course is VERY VERY flat. I had a good pace I thought - focusing more on turn-over than powering through. Turned onto Blueberry which was where the first of the courses aid stations was located. Took a moment to pee, get some water and headed on. The next few miles was pretty good. Saw a lot of riders coming back (it was an out and back course), Carolina John was kicking some boo-tay at this point. Got to the turn-around point and, well, turned around. (From the end of I-140 on, the course was familiar to me - Meredith and I had come out a few weeks prior for a test ride.) This is where I started feeling not so great. It took a few miles but gradually pedaling became harder, then there was a head-wind and finally, my stomach just felt like there were rocks in it. I stopped at the last aid station before the end. Used the restroom again (didn't help), got some water and went on. I was able to get a good pace going, but every pedal stroke sucked a little more energy out. And, all the stuff that I had put into my stomach was not getting to my muscles. I did okay up until the last 2 bridges. By the time I grinded all the way to the top of that last bridge, I was empty. And, I was crying. And, I could not see any possible way that I was going to be able to do the run. I had hit bottom.

Transition 2:
I pulled into transition just behind Meredith. I had finally caught back up with her. I think she asked me how I was doing and I think I just busted into tears. I don't think I could even talk for a couple of minutes. I needed nutrition. Nothing I had taken in felt like it had hit my system and the bagel and coke were long gone. I sat on the ground for a bit, got on my shoes, and tried to imagine how the hell I was going to keep going. Meredith headed out. Another guy was headed into transition and, while I know he wasn't talking to me (I think he was talking to one of the volunteers), it seemed like it he said to me "I just feel like crying". I already was. Okay. So, I said to myself "get up and get going and, if you have to, you can walk it." Also, I really needed to take a gel but I didn't have any water so I decided I would at least get to the first of the aid stations on the run course so I could get some water and take the gel. As I reflect, I did have water on my bike, which wasn't with me at the beginning of transition but was magically there by the end (fantastic volunteers who took our bikes as we entered transition and brought them to our positions). My head was so foggy that I couldn't adjust to the water on my bike when my bike got to me.

The run:
Anyway, weeping and walking and running was how I exited transition 2. I tried very hard to run past all of the wonderful people who were cheering me on. I saw Sage again. Right past her, I stopped running, started walking and weeping. I got out of the parking lot and past the access road and saw the big bridge ahead of me and what did I see? Meredith up a ways and other people walking too! I was still in a deep dark hole but this gave me just a little bit of energy to keep going. I got to the aid station, got some water, took 2 gels this time 'cause I was in bad shape and off I went. Walking and running. I could see Meredith up ahead and I thought "gosh, I hope I can catch up to her at some point - I sure could use some Meredith energy right now". I slowly began to feel better - I was still crying every now and then but not as often and not for as long. And, I was able to run a little bit farther each time. I could still see Meredith up ahead and now she was running with someone else. I thought with a bit of a chuckle "Meredith made a new friend" (she makes friends wherever she goes). But, I found out later, that this person actually befriended her! How fun!
Anyway, I caught up and we ran the last 9.1 miles together. We saw the lead man and lead woman for the full iron distance -that was totally cool. But, dude, they were on the last lap of the run for the full (the last 13 miles of 140.6) while we were on the last lap of the run for the half (the last 13 miles of 70.3). Wow! They were amazing. We saw signs that said "be here" and "believe in your training". All of those helped. I felt better and better mentally - I guess my body finally started to absorb some of the nutrition. I felt more and more physically tired at the same time. The balls of my feet were hurting. My head was a little fuzzy. The bricks and the cobblestones on Water Street as well as the drawbridge were a little difficult to navigate. And then, we finished. Our peeps were at the end waiting for us, high-fiving us and ringing some serious cow-bell. It was awesome!

Post-race thoughts:
*I have got to learn more about nutrition.
*I have to have a stronger run base.
*Holy shit - I just did an half-iron distance triathlon.
*I do trust the training we did. There are certainly some things we/I will adjust next time around but it worked.
*While we were at the expo, surrounded by all kinds of 'serious' athletes, I thought "what right do I have to be here with all of these athletes with all of their wicked cool gear?" By the end of the race, I what right I have: I trained for this and I did it.

We rock!
We went for a run today - in the icky cold rainy weather. Last spring, I ran in the cold and rain and was absolutely MISERABLE. Today, I was a little stiff and sore but other than that, I was okay. I was definitely NOT miserable. Mentally, it was easy. That's progress.


  1. Great recap!!! sounds like you did an awesome completed 70.3, no one can ever take that away!!!

  2. Way to get it together and finish strong!

  3. yea you guys rocked it. Well done. i'll be happy to go over any nutrition with you that you might want to know about. i've got all the formula's you will need. and it's all stuff that other triathletes told me.

    but you did good and should be proud! I'm proud for you. Anytime anyone gets to the bottom and comes back up it takes more strength than most people realize. that's one reason we do this stupid sport, to gain strength and confidence for everything else we have to do.

  4. Incredible achievement!
    Incredible determination! Especially getting through that low.
    Deciding to do a half-iron, creating a training plan, following the training plan, and completing the event is a lot to be proud of!
    You have earned your bragging rights!