Monday, September 9, 2013

I did it : Half-Iron Race Report

You know how you finish a race and you feel so elated and you just want to sign up for the next one?

Yea, I don't feel like that with this one.

I kinda had a feeling going into it that my training was not going to lead me down that 'elated' path.

In fact, part of my plan was having three months of single-specific focus/build cycles, culminating in a race in each discipline, and I kinda enjoyed that a little too much I think.

You could almost get me to sign up for a longer, single sport distance race at this point, but I digress.

Cuz I ain't signing up for any more of this sh** anytime soon. It's sewing season, y'all.

Quick & Dirty
  • Swim was normal, felt good [wetsuit legal but I still haven't tried one yet, heard it could shave 5 minutes off my time??]
  • Small race [about 200] so men started in 5 minute wave after women. They were not as grabby as usual; I think it was a bit older crowd.
  • Bike felt good; 2 loops and I had already biked the route in July so I knew what to expect; no hills but a lot of sun [and no bridge, yay!!]. 
  • Didn't expect the headwind though; felt like I was standing still at times. Might have to choose hills over headwinds next time?? 
  • Dropped my precious nutrition & extra water during bike!! Found an old protein bar in my bike pouch, thank goodness. Stomach was a growlin'.
  • So excited to start the Run at 4:20 and saw a sub-7 finish for a hot minute. It quickly fell out of my reach as I hit the sun. Too too hot. 
  • Bonked at mile 11 and didn't know how I was going to make it to my babies at the finish line. So disappointing. My heart was fine, my hydration was fine, and my heels were fine, but my thighs felt like tree trunks. I managed to drive it home [with maybe a few tears.]
Tri-ing and crying

Slow & Painful

Started my morning with a present from my father. He called it the 'Full' half because half doesn't describe it well ;)
Setting up my space

The Swim: 45:54

I keep saying I'm going to up my swim game one of these days and wear a wetsuit. When I heard the woman next to me say it shaved 6 minutes off her time it piqued my interest. There's always next time...

Last time I did an OWS I swam about 40 minute miles, but that was in a 5k so I was hoping for about 45 minutes total for this 1.2 mile distance. Ran out of the water at 45:55. It's not the fastest pace I could ever do but as you should know about me by now, I don't put enough hours in the pool. [Maybe I don't put enough hours into training at all, but I digress...] Swimming is something I can rely on and I take it for granted. But I run out of the pool/lake mostly feeling refreshed and ready to face the day. Today that day was going to include 56 miles of biking and a half marathon, so I was happy the swim went well.

It was not a crowded race (200 registered) so this was really advantageous on the swim. I could get out of people's way and they could get out of mine. The lake was fine, no reeds, 75-ish degrees and no current.  

Transition 1: 4:34

My plan was to wrap a towel around my waist and just change into the different pants I found myself wanting to wear during this thing. My husband/coach's attitude was, "It's going to be a long race. Why not take the extra time and be comfortable?" So I may have taken closer to 4 or 5 minutes each transition, but I definitely LOVED having my super comfy bike capris with the extra chamois and then my super light running capris. I just cannot stand a wet crotch. Yes, I actually put panties on. What can I say? Being a performer/quick-change artist actually helped me here.

I also slathered my sports bra in and out with Aquaphor ointment. Missed the back clasp, though. Ouch.

Bike: 3:28:11
And speaking of my bra, I usually stuff another Gu in there before or after the swim. I forgot. And I had already decided not to ride with my front mount pouch where I would have put another one. So, if you are better at math than me, I had one in my jersey, and one luna bar, and I prepared to grab another luna bar and an extra Gu. Ate a Gu at transition, one Luna bar on the way out of the park, and then I only had one of each for the remainder of the bike. Not enough. Especially considering I *dropped* my precious Luna bar after one bite! Wah. I managed to see it smashed up on the pavement later during the run.

I had to pee so bad during the first 20 miles I didn't care about anything else.  I kept looking for a spot in the bushes. When I finished the first loop we headed back into the small strip of a town and I spotted a port-a-potty next to an ice cream stand. I tried to bike through the gravel parking area and almost fell off my bike. I clipped out and ran in.
My precious port-a-potty [snapped pic on drive home.]
Now I could focus.

But my stomach was a growlin'. I was sooooo upset about my nutrition mishaps. I was cursing myself and kept feeling myself up for a hidden Gu in my bra. The headwind on the back half of the second loop was gonna be nasty. I may have to go for hillier rather than flat and windy on my next race.

Lesson learned: always have a backup!

Thank goodness I finally remembered I may have stashed something in my bike repair pouch, and I stopped at mile 44 at the last turn around to check and found a beautiful balance bar. I told the cop at that road barrier:
"Yesterday's lazy cures today's crazy!"
He did not laugh. He just asked if I was on my second loop. And I said yes with crazy eyes.

I *dropped* my second water bottle on the second loop. Wah wah. I was hoping they kept the water station open, which I opted out on the first half, but they didn't. My eyes darted around the water bottle graveyard for a half-drunk bottle, but I only had 8 more miles to go. I had to push through.

I was actually very excited to learn I had previously biked this entire course on my training ride [no bridge, yay!.] Although I didn't have my phone to take photos on race-day, you can see more photos of the course on my previous post here.

Transition 2: 5:24

Speaking of my phone, when setting up my transition area I took out my headphones and someone started hushing me like I had contraband. Apparently at the pre-race meeting they said iPods and the like were an automatic DQ. I assured them that USAT regulation states it is just a time penalty, which I am always more than willing to accept in exchange for my precious music, but they were adamant. So I gave it up. No love messages from my friends or Justin Timberlake. Wah Wah Wah. I texted my hubby and bestie at transition that I was 4:20 in and starting the run. I was just starting to fantasize about a sub-7 finish. Hubby was going to start the process of getting himself and the kiddos ready to meet me at the finish line. I downed a coconut water, another Gu, and changed into my running pants and shoes and was off.

The Run: 2:58:06

But it was not to be. It was hot hot HAWT hot. My best (and only) half marathon time was 2:18, so I really didn't expect better than 2:30 but I was not wishing for a three hour half marathon. Not good. This run course is an out-and-back starting with the trail, to the road, to the marina, down along the river between two bridges, then back to the marina, back down the road, and back on the trail to the finish line. The river and road areas were very exposed and, for my race, it was around high noon. I started out on the road piece after the trail and the competitive racers were coming back in walking. This was not going to be pretty.

I managed to set my sights on running 2 miles, walking a half mile, and repeat. I found some company along the way which helped. I shuffled my way through and saw my sub-7 finish drifting away. Then I started thinking about 7:20 for some reason, probably because it would mean less than a three hour half marathon. I really missed my music, so I started going through my playlist in my mind. I even played one of my new songs I've written for an upcoming project in my mind, oddly enough. I thought: 
"pain is temporary", one of the last things my bestie said.
"It doesn't have to be pretty", my hubby/coach's motto.
"The faster I get through this, the faster I will be done";
"Walking hurts just as bad as running right now", and
"every mile I run will be one less mile I walk."
I thought of my fave endurance bloggers & racing friends, and shuffled through some more.

When I got to mile 11, right before the trail running starts again, I bonked. I entered the trail and it first opens up onto a huge field of soft soft foliage that just begged for me to lay down on it and sleep. And then, of course, I started to cry. Because I knew my family was waiting for me and I just couldn't lift up my tree trunks of legs and will them to do the last two miles. Two more measly miles. There was someone about a tenth of a mile in front of me and another racer about a tenth of a mile behind me. We were not alone. But we felt alone. It was so hard to see everyone else walking and struggling with the heat. And I just wanted to be done. I wish that I could hear the finish line. I wish that I knew exactly how much longer there was to go. I had two more aid stations to go, but I didn't know it at the time. When I saw the 1 mile mark I started to run again. I knew I couldn't let my kids see me walking. Little did all us racers know, they had accidentally tacked on an extra .6 to the course. Seems so insignificant now...

Official Finish Time: 7:22:11 

I saw my sweet boy and ran to the finish line holding his hand. My sweet girl had waited since the 7-hour mark to go potty and couldn't wait so she missed it. So funny. I cried and laughed and started making bad decisions. I thought we should go out to eat but then realized as I almost stripped naked in the middle of everyone that I should probably get changed in the bathroom and drive home. I made my husband lead the way so I didn't have to make any decisions and as it was I still made a wrong turn and took an extra ten minutes to get home.

The Recovery

I requested nothing more than 'some type of burger' and hubby decided to try the new SmashBurger near us. It was completely delicious, of course, even though it took me an hour to eat. Some coconut water, iced tea, water, and half of an ice bath helped a lot. I say half because I was, of course, accompanied by children so I put on my bathing suit and as my daughter was dropping in ice cubes she was eating half of them. I also slept in my compression socks half of the night [I got hot] which made a good bit of difference too. Oh, also the roof of my mouth feels burnt? Like, I was breathing so hard through my mouth I dried it all out?? So I didn't manage to have a celebratory adult drink, yet, but I'm sure I'll make up for it some time this week ;).

Present from my bestie
And then I'm sure I'll sign up for something else stupid.

Thanks again for following this adventure with me, and for all of your advice and good thoughts along the way.  I really enjoyed sharing it with you.


  1. Great read. Awesome accomplishment. Talking about eating afterwards, true story: after my first long island marathon, I stopped at dunkin donuts which was about 15 minutes from apartment, and I ate 9 in the car and other 3 when I got inside. Carbo loading lol.

  2. You are awesome. I'm so impressed that you did this! Pretty or not, it took a lot of work, and you did it!

  3. Again, you are amazing!! Such an accomplishment that you will have with you forever!!!!

  4. Congrats on finishing 70.3, it's a tough race distance and you did it!!! I knew you could, and was so happy to read this. And you wanna know something that will make you beat my bike time! So you calling ME and inspiration have a whole other thing coming! You are awesome!


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