Ironman Chattanooga 2022 – Run

Ironman Chattanooga 2022- Swim and Bike

Once out on the course I saw JMR and my in-laws and gave them high fives as I ran by. I was still getting all of my gels/skratch pouches stuffed in my kit, as well as trying to get settled, so it wasn’t until the first mile that I really felt ready to roll. The first few miles are at a slight incline, so I tried to not worry too much about hitting my planned 9min pace and just get into a groove. By mile 4 I was feeling pretty crummy, really nauseous, weak and no pep in my step at all. I know I am not going to feel fresh at this point, but I felt off. I kept holding on until mile 5, hoping I’d turn a corner but instead felt worse. Maybe I was behind on hydration from not drinking enough on the bike? I had tried to take water the first few miles but due to the nausea I spit it back up, so I just had small sips from my handheld which was filled with skratch. Then. I started walking. Not even a strong planned power walk that some were doing around me, it was a slow-I-don’t-know-what’s-wrong kind of walk. I felt slight panic also knowing that every step I walked, would push me further down the list of finishers in my age group and I was really trying to fight for top 10. But given how I was feeling, I wasn’t sure if I was even going to finish the race. I could walk the remaining 20.5 miles, but… that sounded awful.

I kept walking and finally moved to a slow jog / walk combination by mile 6ish. I hit the short but steep hill around mile 8 and walked and and walked through the aid station. I jogged the downhill and saw JMR and his dad right before I crossed the bridge and said “I am feeling terrible’. Which I guess they could tell by my paces on the tracker. I vowed to not walk on the bridge because it was sunny and hot and I needed to get back to shade, but once I crossed and started back up the big hill on Barton, I walked. I walked the whole thing. The downhill I slow-jogged but then once we turned left for the little loop, I had to walk again because my entire back was cramping up and it hurt to breath. So, at this point I started to cry. I was frustrated and my body seemed to be pulling the plug on any effort more than a slow walk. I kept walking and decided to take some BASE salt and sipped my handheld and slowly my back improved. At the next aid station I took more water and coke (I started drinking coke at mile 5, I was already that desperate that early in) and on a whim grabbed some potato chips. I have never taken any food from an aid station, but anything goes at this point.

While I was munching on my chips, I started walking alongside another Team Zoot member and we started chatting. He had said he usually finishes around 12 hours but the run is not his strong suit so he was hoping for 4:40. That was a good time in my head (4 hours was out the window) and though maybe I could stick with him. Just chatting in general lifted my mood and when we started to jog again I felt a little more spring in my step that wasn’t there earlier, so I ran with with it (literally) and went ahead at a pace closer to 10ish. I wasn’t even going to try and push my body for 9’s given how horrible I had felt and was scared it would rebound and go back to feeling worse.

On I went and soon I was crossing the bridge to start my second loop. I was in MUCH better shape, I was going to finish this and hopefully run the rest of the way! The incline on the second loop was tough, but I was able to keep running until about mile 16 when my stomach decided it was time to hit the porta potty. Not an angry stomach, but I hadn’t gone that morning and well, now it was time, lol. I hit the porta potty as quickly as I could and was back out and back on track. My stomach was getting a little angry as I had been drinking way more coke that it is used to since I started so early, so I backed off the coke and stuck with water and skratch.

This time at mile 20ish I ran up that darn steep hill and saw JMR! He was like ‘you’re the first person I’ve seen run up this hill!’ and I replied ‘That’s because I ran so much of the first loop, I gotta get moving!’ On I went, knowing I had 5 miles to go. I could do five miles. I ran up Barton and up the next hill, it was starting to get dark, but I knew I was so close. I kept pushing until about 2 miles to go when a guy and girl were running by at a good pace and I decided to try and keep up. I hung on until I hit the bridge… just about a mile to go!! I pushed the pace and moved. I was so focused I didn’t even realize I still had my sunglasses on (I probably should have taken them off several miles ago), and when I made the turn to go left, I thought it was awfully dark in the last .2 miles. But I could see the lights and hear the cheering, so I knew I hadn’t made a wrong turn (I was really concerned for a minute) as usual I got teary eyed and emotional, reflecting on all of the hard work that had gotten me to these final seconds before I crossed the finish. And there it was, the lights the cheering, holy shit, number 7. I did it.

Once I crossed the finish, a volunteer congratulated me and said ‘Hey! You finished 12:00:59!’ Oh man, I had NO idea I was so close to sub 12, I was fearful checking the total time would just frustrate me and bring down my spirits (they were pretty low for a while and didn’t want to go back there again). Who knows if it would have helped or not, I was just happy to have finished and still managed a small 5 minute PR 🙂 and so close to top 10, as I was 14th pace in my AG.

Ironman #7 done!

Quick backstory. Ironman has a program called ‘Women for Tri’ to try to promote more women in the sport. As part of this initiative it added 100 extra Kona spots just for women at 3 races in North America, and Chattanooga was one of them. After the race while at dinner with JMR and his parents, I saw there were 18 spots for my age group out of the additional 100 Women for Tri slots. I about fell out of my seat, I guess the math I had done earlier was wrong and I assumed that it would maybe top 10 in my Age Group would get slots but I didn’t realize how large my age group was so we got a lot of slots (it’s based on # of starters). Which meant…. I WAS GOING TO KONA! OMG! I was still a little skeptical and wouldn’t believe it until it actually happened at the awards ceremony the next day, but I was not sleeping that night for sure!

The next morning we went to the awards ceremony and sure enough, my name was called for the 8th Women for Tri Kona slot in the women’s 40-44 age group and I jumped up and claimed the slot. It was unreal. I didn’t know if I wanted to scream for joy or cry, instead I was shaky like a leaf and could not stop shaking. JMR took a photo of me and then we headed back to the hotel to check out and hit the road. He drove because I will in shock and not in good shape to drive, lol.

I was in shock! Unreal.
Ironman 2022 World Championship Coin

It’s been over a week since the race and I still feel like I’m in a dream! When I signed up for Chattanooga the additional slots hadn’t even been announced and all summer I trained hard to just try for my planned goals of: super A goal of trying to podium, B goal of AG top 10, and the final goal of finishing. I wasn’t sure where/if Kona would even fit it, so I didn’t even try to think much about it as I had really gotten my hopes up at CDA last year when it was announced there were a total of 150 slots (men and women), and I got smoked by my age group on top of just having a bad race.

I still have some races planned before Ironman World Champs in Kona 10/12/2023, but that one is on my calendar circled in RED!

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Ironman Chattanooga 2022 – Swim and Bike

Ironman Chattanooga 2022 – Pre-Race

Once I started swimming I knew I was in for a short, fast swim with how much the current was pulling me along. Because of the time trial start I had plenty of space around me and never felt crowded (also I think I didn’t do super great at staying close to the buoys which might have also been why). Regardless I felt like I was in a good rhythm, never felt any panic and just kept swimming. Swimming down the river and having sights to see made the swim go by much faster as well as swimming under bridges. I was excited when I hit the orange buoys which meant we were halfway done, and kept plugging away. Finally I could see the red buoy and tried to swim hard to make the final turn to the finish. I could hear the announcer and got so excited! The swim towards the exit was getting a little crowded and I felt a guy next to me hitting my hand and the next thing I knew, he had somehow knocked off my silicone wedding ring 😦 Not that it was expensive or fancy, but I’ve had it forever and was sad to lose it to the Tenneessee river. However seeing the finish so close, I pushed that aside and was ready to get out of the water! I either really need to get faster or stick with current assisted swims (lol) because my 53 minute swim felt like the perfect amount of time in the water. My previous 1:20 or so swims felt SO LONG and AWFUL. So I guess I need to get back in the pool and get some lessons since current assisted swims aren’t the norm!

I was SO HAPPY to get out of the water, they had wetsuit strippers which was helpful as I really struggled at Wisconsin. Then I jogged to the transition tent to get my shoes, helmet, glasses and some sprays of sunscreen on, and headed back out towards my bike. I grabbed my bike, turned on my Garmin and once past the mount line, I hopped on and was off! I saw JMR on my way out and gave him a huge wave and smile!

The day before the race I was chatting with a man about good areas to do a pre-race ride and he mentioned that the first 11 miles out of town were pretty crummy roads. I had no memory of this the last time I did this race, so either they got worse, or I forgot, but boy am I glad he mentioned it because they were crummy but at least I was mentally prepared and knew they would get better. Along with the roads there was another element adding a challenge, maybe five miles in, it started to POUR. The skies were gray and it looked like it was going to be like this all day (spoiler: on the bike, it was). Ugh. Once I hit the smoother roads I was able to get into planned pace/watts and just get into a groove and try to ignore the rain. At least it wasn’t storming, now that would be a problem. I was also THRILLED my Garmin computer was working this time, it had power! Given the conditions it was so much safer to look at those numbers mounted on my water bottle vs. having to look to the left on my wrist and on the small screen.

Two hours in, with the rain still steadily going, I just thought…’After this I’m sticking with 70.3’s’. This is just way too long a of a day…. I STILL HAVE FOUR + MORE HOURS ON THE BIKE (I was screaming this thought in my head). Fortunately there was a smoother and flatter section of road during the third hour and I was able to settle into a good pace until I reach special needs which was almost half way. I grabbed my extra bottle of Skratch and pouch of Skratch chews and was back on the course pretty quickly. I had planned to refill water but due to the pouring rain and cooler temps (I did grab a bottle around the 30mi aid station) I just wasn’t thirsty and didn’t need to refill. In my mind I knew I should probably try to drink more water, and made a mental note to do so, but never followed through. I was sticking with my nutrition plan though, so at least I was sticking to that.

At mile 53 of the bike

Once I made the turn for the second loop, the skies cleared up a little and my mood changed to very happy and feeling great! Until about 30 minutes later the skies opened up again while I was on the hillier part of the loop and the headwinds had also showed up. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I knew I just had to keep moving forward, but thinking about running a marathon after this sounded.. awful. Also, I had been sticking with my power and not going crazy but my legs were feeling tired and I also felt more worn out (riding in the rain and wind is stressful and tiring!), so I was worried.

When I passed through where special needs again (we can only stop once), I had a third wind and put the pedal to the metal. The headwinds were now tailwinds and the roads were smooth. I was going to finish this bike strong! The rain came and went but not as bad as it was earlier, and didn’t put a damper on my once-again lifted spirits. Soon we were going over the bumpy railroad tracks and I knew I was close! I looked down and saw I had a 112 mile PR by a lot, wow I think I was going to PR the bike despite the extra four miles, I was thrilled!

I pulled into the the bike finish, with tears in my eyes – a combination of sheer excitement of a bike PR as well as being done with that wet, windy and hillier than I remembered bike – and hopped off the bike and handed it to a wonderful volunteer. I took my shoes off, ran and picked up my bike bag and headed into the the change tent.

I was greeted by a kind volunteer to who helped me get my gear out and I swapped socks, put on my run shoes, threw on my race belt, run hat and was on my way… with a quick stop in a porta potty as I had to pee pretty badly. Then I was off!

Ironman Chattanooga 2022 – Run

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Ironman Chattanooga 2022 – Pre-Race

Just like that, Ironman #7 is done! I guess that’s a spoiler that I finished, but I have more exciting details that I’ll hold off on 🙂

JMR and I headed down to Chattanooga the Thursday before the race around noon, and were supposed to arrive around 7:45p but hit terrible traffic and got in closer to 9:15. We were exhausted. Due to stressful travel (those mountainous roads the last 1.5 hours had me sweating), I didn’t eat or drink much at all while driving, so I grabbed a salad from the hotel restaurant, chugged at least one bottle of water, and was in bed by 11p.

Friday I was up and ready to go… because I was stressing about my front brake. When I put the front wheel back on (I take it off so it fits in the car with our luggage), it was rubbing. I know nothing about disc brakes, so I was planning on heading to the QR tent at Ironman Village when it opened at 10a. However, due to my nerves, I was up much earlier so I got coffee, did some reading, hung out in the room and ate breakfast (I brought SO much food, lol) and then headed to IM Village around 9:30a.

It turns out I hadn’t tightened the thru-axel enough, which is why it was rubbing. Lordy, this fancy bike, I’m afraid I’m going to break it, lesson learned! After that, I did athlete check-in, headed back to the hotel to get helmet/shoes/garmin computer so I could do a quick test ride to make sure everything was working ok, and then attended the athlete briefing at 11a. Phew, it was a busy 2 hours. Afterwards I headed back to the hotel to pick up JMR so we could head to Community Pie for lunch.

The Little Debbie Zebra we got in our Little Debbie Gift Bag!

After lunch (and after our food digested and I did a little resting), we drove 10 miles up the river to a local park so I could check out the water. The temp felt great without a wetsuit, and as much as they help make for a fast swim, I was secretly hoping it wasn’t wetsuit legal so I didn’t have to deal with wrestling into my wetsuit race day morning. I think I’m in between sizes, my old wetsuit feels ‘loose’ but my new one, holy moly, it takes some effort to get on, much longer than it seems to take others! The swimming area was protected from the current, so I didn’t get a feel for how strong it was, but from afar it looked fast! After the swim we headed back to the hotel to shower and then went to Public House for dinner. This was my third time eating there and once again the food was amazing and did not disappoint!

The theme of the pre-race activities were mostly ‘resting’ and ‘eating’, so Saturday wasn’t much different. I ate my big ‘day before the race breakfast’, got my gear bags packed up, headed to check them in around 10:30, followed by a Team Zoot photo at 11a. While I was busy doing pre-race stuff, JMR went to the Aquarium with my in-laws, who had come to spectate. I was bummed to miss out, but I had already spent too much time on my feet, so instead I snacked and rested in the hotel room until we met up for dinner at 5:30. After dinner I prepped my gear/bottles and was in bed by 8p.

Team Zoot Group Photo
Bike Racked…..
…Ready to Roll!

3:30a I was up and had my usual feeling of pre-race anxiety/slight dread of the long-ass day that lay ahead of me. I love racing, but beforehand I struggle with these feelings. So to keep myself distracted, I went through my usual routine of eating my pre-race breakfast, getting my bags ready for transition and getting dressed. When I checked my weather app around 4am I saw it was raining, I thought, well, at least it isn’t freezing out (still scarred by IMLOU ’18)! I put on my rain jacket and headed to transition around 4:20, pumped tires, put nutrition and sunscreen in gear bags (I had only brought one bottle and was fearful I would need one for my run bag and also bike special needs, so I bought 2 more Saturday afternoon), and then since my hotel was just a 5 minute walk, I headed back to the room to hangout/rest/stay warm until 5:50a when I headed back to catch the bus to the start line, 2.4 miles upstream.

Once I got the swim start, I hit the porta potties and then did the long walk to the swim start. When I found my planned swim time group, I plopped down in an empty patch of grass and took a nap. I was so tired. Usually I’m all hyped up and anxious, but today, I was tired. I also felt tired before Chattanooga 70.3, so maybe there’s something in the water here, lol. However after my 10? 15? minute nap, and the sun started to peek out, I also started to wake up. A lady next to me in a Team Zoot kit started chatting with me and my energy did a 180 and I was getting excited!

Before I knew it, it was 7:30 and the gun? Cannon? I can’t remember what the boom was, but something went off and the people started to slowly shuffle to the front. It took about 20 minutes (it felt faster than that) and we were on the dock. I decided to not jump in, in case my goggles would move, so I plopped on my butt and scooted in when in was my turn. Here we go!

Ironman Chattanooga 2022 – Swim and Bike

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Get Your Butt Kicked @ Route 66 – 6 Hour Race Report

After the Muddy River Half Marathon, which I didn’t really race, I decided I wanted to do another running race before IM Chattanooga, and was leaning towards more of an ultra distance. After perusing Ultrasignup, I saw a local ultra club was putting on a 6 hour timed event nearby in early July. Perfect! No travel, it would be right after Steelhead 70.3 and then after this race I would start to build up for Chattanooga.

Training for Steelhead went well, and since this was a ‘fun’ race, my coach didn’t have me do anything extra in training regarding running to prepare for this race (or really to avoid risking injury before Steelhead as that was a more important race to me). So the focus after Steelhead was to recover the week after and then be ready to get some big miles in for this race.

This was my first time racing a timed ultra running event. I thought it would be similar to the Queeny Backyard Ultra, but it was so very different! The format is to run a 2.4 mile loop as many times as you can, until 5.5 hours when you will be switched to running a .3 mile loop. The winner (male and female) are the ones who have ran the most miles in the timed six hours. This was going to be interesting! I went into it with a goal of at least 30 miles but was hoping to get in a few more, but never having done this format (or distance this far in such warm temps) I wasn’t sure how things would go.

Packet pickup started at 4p (the race started at 6p), so I arrived a little after 4 to try to get a good parking spot as the run course goes through the parking lot and you can set up an aid station next to your car. I lucked out and got a decent spot and then just hung out for an hour or so. I was a little nervous, but having a few ultras under my belt helped with my confidence and the fact that this was a ‘fun’ race for me along with the atmosphere being 100% chill helped too. And really, I was competing against myself, and any distance I finish would be a PR since I’ve never run a timed 6 hour race before 🙂

Aid station all set up and ready to go by my car
View from my camping chair, we run through this parking lot which is the start of each big loop.

Soon we lined up to the start area for a few pre-race rules/information and promptly at 6p we were off! I had debated wearing music since I hardly needed it at Queeny, but I saw many people with headphones at the start and decided I would have them in but could turn them off. It was a good plan because once we were off, everyone was very quiet, no chit chat, just off and running. After a couple of miles I could tell that the vibe of this much different than a backyard ultra in that we were racing the clock, and there was no forced rest period between loops, so people were focused, just like a road race (which most of the race was on the road or a gravel path).

My first couple of splits were high 8’s, low 9’s, which I knew was too fast, so finally around mile 5 I slowed it down. I also was just taking sips of water during each mile, and had planned to refill my water after three loops, but since my bottle felt pretty full still after 3 loops, I skipped stopping to ‘save’ time. By the time I rolled in after the 4th loop I still had water in my bottle but decided to refill. I tried to be as fast and efficient as possible and was out of there in 30 seconds or so.

I was keeping a good pace until around mile 14.5 when I stopped to refill for a second time (this time only after two loops, I was SO thirsty) taking a little longer and then was off, but I could feel my pace start to slow. I think the heat and being behind on hydration had caught up to me, as taking small sips of water every mile in the beginning was not a good plan and I should have definitely stopped after three loops to refill. At mile 15 I did my first walk break and started questioning why I was doing this, and also around this time my left hamstring started to speak up (which has given me issues on and off since Queeny). I ran/walked, looking at my watch and realized it hadn’t even been 3 hours yet, oh lord. How was I going to do this for another 3 hours? At this point I was wondering if I could just stop at 3 hours and head out. However since I was parked on the run course I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to get out. I knew this was my last chance to race until Chattanooga and I had mentally been ready to go into the pain cave for this race, I guess I just hadn’t expected to enter it so soon (and being honest, after 2 hours I was already suffering). So after thinking about it a little more while walking/shuffling, I knew in the end, despite how I was feeling already, this would be good experience – another ‘dig deep’ mental toughness building experience, so… despite my brain screaming ‘This is ridiculous, we are running 2.4 mile loops in the heat of July… for fun…solo.. in silence (other than headphones)!!’, I kept going. I decided I would really try to do at least 30 miles.

Around 9p the sun started to set (or maybe it was closer to 8:30ish) and I grabbed my headlamp, and was looking forward to the cooler temps with the sun being down. It was around this time that I also stopped feeling SO thirsty too. What a relief. At one refill stop before the sun had set I picked up my entire jug of water and started chugging. Yeah, lesson learned on my early hydration fail. Since I had run in the dark during Queeny, I felt a little more prepared/less scared and once my headlamp went on, it still seemed a little creepy but also peaceful. There was so much moisture in the air, the grass and trees had a weird shine to them, almost looking 4d which was quite trippy. I saw deer, a possum, a chunky raccoon as well as heard several coyote, which made me run faster! There was some walking during the last three hours, but much less than the first half where I was having my mini-mental-meltdown, however my pace had settled closer to a 10/11 pace.

I started doing math to figure out how many more ‘big’ loops I could do before I would need to start the .3 mile loop. The race director said they start redirecting to the little loop at 5.5 hours, and based on my math I should be able to get in 13 big loops which would get me to 31ish miles, knowing that I would still have 20+ minutes for the little loops, I decided that 33 miles would be my next goal. Once I headed in to finish the last big loop, something happened, I am not sure if it was being around other runners again (most of the race I was running solo) or the excitement of only having 20ish minutes left or what, but my legs found new energy and I felt like I was flying. In reality I was running 10ish minute miles, but it sure felt fast! I managed to get in 6 little loops bringing my total to 33.523 miles. I did it!

We got medals before the start, since you just needed to complete 1 loop to be a finisher, I guess they had confidence we would all finish 2.4 miles 🙂

We all hung out at the finish during the final few minutes as the last of the runners came in at the midnight cutoff, and we all cheered once it hit midnight, which was really cool to experience the comradery since the race itself felt very solo. They did awards quickly after, and I managed to come in 3rd female, however they only gave awards to first female and first female masters, which by the way, I am now in the masters category! I cannot believe 40+ is considered masters! I was only a mile behind her, and then the wheels started going in my head ‘if only I had been better about hydration and pacing in the beginning if only’… so now I’m hooked and definitely want to sign up for another to see if I can improve, and also because it was fun, just a different type of fun that I had initially expected. However, the focus is now on IM Chattanooga, so I will have my head down the rest of what is left of the summer training. However I already have some more ultra races I want to do next year 🙂

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Ironman Steelhead 70.3 Pre-Race

I raced Ironman Steelhead 70.3 back in 2016, and crashed and burned on the run, so I have had this race on my list for a rematch. This time around I definitely had some expectations (beating my time in 2016, if anything at least the run time), but also to just have fun since my last 70.3 was in 2019 and I was a little rusty!

I drove up Friday evening after work and arrived at 11p (darn the hour time change and two stops along the way), and was pretty tired so after unpacking I was asleep by 12:15. I figured I would sleep in due to getting to bed that late, but of course my body woke up at 6a as usual (well 5a my time), so I got up in search of a good local coffee place and then would eat my big pre-race breakfast back in the room. I ended up in downtown St. Joseph at a local coffee and breakfast place and was so surprised at how nice and charming the downtown area was. In 2016 we only ventured to the race venue and a restaurant near our hotel closer to Benton Harbor so I had never been to St. Joseph. If I ever do this race again staying in St. Joseph will be the plan!

After breakfast I took the bike for a short spin around the road near my hotel and then headed to the expo/athlete check-in at St. Joseph High School. This was a change from 2016 where check-in was at the park where the race was. Check in was fast, I only bought a water bottle (ha) and then hung out for the athlete briefing at 11a. After the briefing I headed back to downtown St Joseph to walk around the farmers market (not too much walking though!) and grabbed a Jimmy Johns sandwich to eat for lunch.

The fun welcome packet Maytag, the race sponsor, gave participants!

I hung out in the room for a bit and then at 1:30 I was on the move again to head to transition to drop off my bike. I’ve never racked my new bike before and was shocked when I noticed the front tire didn’t even slightly touch the ground when racked by the seat! I’m not that short!? After much debating I decided I would rack my bike overnight by the handlebars so I wouldn’t risk it falling if it got windy at night (storms were predicted), and then would switch back to the seat in the morning.

When I got back to the hotel I did a little bit of my needlepoint (It’s a fun Halloween scene!), got chicken to go from Applebees to eat with my microwave rice for dinner (my bland, light pre-race meal), and then worked on getting my gear/nutrition set up for the next day. Once I was done with pre-race prep, I headed to bed at 8p with an alarm set for 3a. Sooo early, but I wanted to leave by 4a to get good parking and then get to transition when it opened at 4:30. The less rushed I am, the lower my stress stays!

Was working on the orange sky

I actually slept pretty well and when the alarm went off I was awake and ready. I ate, got dressed, packed everything up and was headed to my car a little after 4. The drive to the parking area was only about ten minutes away, super easy to get to, and I got great parking! Once parked, I grabbed all of my gear and headed to transition. As usual I spent way too long fussing with my tire pressure and triple checking everything, however I didn’t have anything else to do for an hour so I gave into my obsession of checking things way too many times. Finally at about 6a I headed to the beach to get my wetsuit on and line up with my swim pace group.

At the swim start I heard my name and saw a local coach from STL with some of her athletes, and she came up to say hi. It was so nice to see a familiar friendly face after being solo all weekend! We chatted for a bit until it got close to 6:30 and then we got into our swim waves (I wish I was as fast as they are!).

The nerves starting setting in a little as my line inched forward to the start. I made sure my goggles were extra tight, my turn was coming up and my stomach was in knots. I waited for the beep to signal it was my turn to go, then I hopped/ran into the lake until it was deep enough to start swimming. ‘Here we go!’ I said to myself.

Ironman Steelhead 70.3 Race Report

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Ironman Steelhead 70.3 Race Report

Ironman Steelhead 70.3 Pre-Race

As soon as I started swimming I thought ‘oh crap’, the water that appeared to be slightly choppy from the beach was much more than slightly choppy, and I was having trouble timing my breathing without having my head collide with a wave each time. Once I sort of got that figured out, I realized I also had trouble sighting because the waves would crest over my head and I couldn’t see ahead of me. Oh boy. Mentally I immediately switched into survival mode instead of race mode. I was worried I would feel panicky in my wetsuit with already feeling a little claustrophobic with the waves and sighting issue, so I wanted to take the pressure off and just focus on getting to the next buoy. So for the rest of the swim those were my short term goals.

I felt like I was making really slow progress and also kept getting pushed way left of the buoys on the way out, so I also felt like I was swimming horrible tangents too. Despite those frustrations I just kept focusing on moving forward and was SO VERY grateful this was just a half. A 2.4 mile swim sounded pretty awful. Soon I was turning past the final buoy for the last stretch back towards the shore. One of the athletes from STL I talked to before the swim mentioned that we should have a little current helping us back into shore and I definitely thought I could feel it as that stretch seemed to go by much faster than the way out. Finally I was close enough that I could touch the sand so I stood up and hobbled to the arches. I looked at my watch and saw 41 and though ‘Eh, that’s not as bad as I expected at all’.

As I ran through transition I hit my lap button to switch to T1, and it never changed on my watch, so I hit it again. I guess I was impatient and it was just slow to change to the next screen because now it was showing I was on the bike. ARGH. I was really aiming to have a fast bike split and was sad I wouldn’t know my exact time on the bike, so I stopped my watch. However then I realized I wouldn’t know my total time while racing, so I hit start and decided I would make note of time elapsed when I headed out of T1 and just subtract from the bike time. And really, no matter what my watch is doing, the race clock is still going…

I clumsily got my wetsuit off, quickly got my helmet, sunglasses and shoes on, I headed out of T1, clipped in and was off… but my bike computer was not. It wouldn’t sync with my watch. I spent time fussing with the computer while trying to settle into the bike, which wasn’t the safest thing to do, and finally after messing with it enough and realizing I wasn’t paying attention to the course, I took the computer off and stuffed it in my back pocket. I twisted my watch so the face was on my wrist like I usually do for races and just went with using my watch…. BUT, my power wasn’t working. Oh lordy. I sync’d it with my watch that morning, so I had no idea what the deal was, but I was using new pedals on this bike and it was the first time I was racing with them so who knows. They worked ok in training, maybe the battery died? I decided that at least I had heart rate on my watch and would go by feel. I had practiced racing at HIM pace the past few long rides so I knew how it should feel. At least my watch was working 🙂

So off I went, annoyed that I wasted a few miles fussing with my computer and watch and decided it was time to get some work done on the bike. I felt really good on the bike, the course had some smooth roads and some also crappy parts, the smooth I could really drop the hammer and the crappy I just tried to not get frustrated and also prayed to not get a flat. I was surprised when my 5mile splits (I keep the splits on my watch in race mode) were 20+mph. I usually go by power and was also going by heart rate, but seeing those splits was extra encouraging to just push a litttttllle harder. I yo-yo’d back and forth with another guy on the bike, joking that we would see the other person in a bit when when would pass the other and finally exchanged names. We gave each other friendly words of encouragement or humor each time either of us would pass the other, which added a little fun to the bike.

As I made the final few turns to head back to transition, I looked at my watch and after subtracting the 4ish minutes from transition I realized I was going to ride a 2:40ish split! Woah! I knew this was a fast course, but I wasn’t expecting to ride that fast! Hooray! I headed into T2 very very excited about my bike, and feeling like I put in a good effort but not too much that would fry my legs.. at least that’s how I felt, I would really know once I got on the run course.

Before I ran out of T2 I made the executive decision to give up a couple of minutes and hit the porta potty as I realllly had to pee. I struggled to get out of my one piece (the sleeves would not come off) but finally managed and then ran out half naked (well, I had a sport bra on, so not really, but that’s how it felt!) while I tried to wrestle my arms back into my sleeves. Once situated I tried to settle into a comfy running pace, knowing it usually takes me .5-1 mile to get really settled. Everyone was flying by me, but I stuck with my pace and after a mile I was settled into a 8:20ish pace.

I know…I’m ‘borrowing’ this photo, just wanted to show the ‘felt like half naked’ look I rocked a couple times during the race 😆

We were really lucky with the weather, mid 70’s and a slight breeze, I told myself ‘you have to run hard today because you won’t probably ever get conditions like this again! No excuses today!’ And tried to keep sticking with that 8:20ish pace. I was a little scared to push to that little extra gear I thought I had because my stomach had been off since the bike. I wondered if it was from some of the lake water I drank accidentally during the swim, or was just from race nerves. Regardless, I really didn’t want to hit a porta potty for an emergency (apparently the sleeves on this kit are tough to get out of when soaking wet!) so I stuck with a pace that felt like a good effort for the day. However, at mile 9, my stomach was rumbling and I thought ‘uh-oh..maybe it will go away if I pulled the pace back a bit and running in the 9’s’

Yet even trying that my stomach was still angry and I knew I was going to have to make a stop, but I timed it horribly and the next aid station wasn’t until 1.5 miles….oh god. All I kept thinking during that time was ‘please hold on stomach, please hold on’. I finally got to the next aid station but didn’t see any porta potties and frantically asked a volunteer if the porta potties on the other side of the road for an earlier aid station were the only ones, and she said yes. So I ran off the course, down a little hill and up to the other aid station and made a mad dash for an open porta potty. Once again I struggled with the sleeves, made it as fast as a stop as possible, and dashed out half naked again.

On I trudged, annoyed that I had to stop with less than 3 miles to go (and ran a little extra to get there) but as I said before, it had to happen or something terrible would have happened mid run, lol. My pace had slowed and was in the high 8’s but when I made the turn for the 1.5 miles back to the finish, I had some extra pep in my step and ran it in as fast as I could without killing myself (which ended up only being an 8:30 pace). I ran down the finish chute, excited that I had a great bike and that I finished the run in under 2 hours (why I can’t run even remotely close or even 10 minutes slower than my half marathon times, really really annoys me) and was just very happy with how the day went, even with the rough swim.

Once I finished I found out that I had a 1ish minute PR in 5:32:12! The course I PR’d on was an easier course (a local one that had much shorter transitions and a very flat swim) so I was super happy. I went back to transition to get my bike and gear, and headed back to the car to check my phone and change clothes. I checked the official results and was 14th in my age group, I knew my time wasn’t competitive enough for top 5, but … you never know. Since I figured 70.3 Worlds slots wouldn’t roll down that far, I packed up the car and started the drive back to STL, as the six hour drive was going to be rough as is, and waiting around until 4p awards (it was 12:30 by the time I got back to my car) was going to make for way too long of a day.

I really enjoyed this race much more the second time, being fitter and having more race experience definitely added to the enjoyment, the cooler temps helped too! I am also thrilled to have knocked 40ish minutes off my time from 2016. I’m not sure what races I will do next year, but this one I will definitely come back to do again! In the meantime, I brought home enough sand that I will probably keep finding it until I race this one again, lol.

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Queeny Backyard Ultra Race Report

The idea of doing this race started last November when I was looking at races to add along with Ironman Chattanooga and Steelhead 70.3. I was wanting to do another ultra, but since ultra training and IM training don’t go very well together, I would need to either build up running mileage early in the season and do a spring ultra, or take a week off after IM and then have a month or so running build and aim for a late fall/early winter ultra. I finally settled on doing a spring ultra since who knows what condition I’ll be in after IM, and committed to the Queeny Backyard Ultra in early March. What really drew me to the race was that it was a non-technical course, it was 10 minutes from my house and I was really familiar with the course having running it many times for cross-country practice in highschool. Ah memories. However the format, last man standing, I was definitely not familiar with but figured it would be something fun and new to try and would just go into it without too many expectations. Since this wasn’t my A race and I didn’t want to burn out too early in the season, the plan was to get in enough run volume to have fun and go far but nothing crazy. Training included some back to back days with 10/16 mile runs and practicing doing 4 or 5 mile loops with a 10 minute break, as I figured I would finish each loop in 45-50 minutes, so practicing the ‘hanging around’ time in between loops would be helpful.

Training wasn’t off to the best start in January as I got COVID, so I was out for the count for a few days and fatigued for several more. I eventually got some of my longer planned runs in as well as some decent elevation/vert (for me) which was important since the course had about 410ft elevation gain per loop. At the end of my training cycle I felt prepared for a 50k, however in races with this format the strategy is to walk the uphills to save the legs since you have plenty of time to complete each loop, so maybe my legs were capable of 50 miles? Or would the 10-15 minute break between loops make my legs more stiff? I really had no idea what to expect, so I was hoping to run at least 30 miles and anything over 50 would be awesome. Although just in case I packed enough nutrition for 100 miles… because you never know?

Race day arrived and boy was I so excited! It felt like a mini adventure since this was all new to me, and I was certainly packed for an adventure: a canopy tent, a camping chair, a tub of gear (forecast was looking to be warm, but you never know how chilly temps can feel running in the dark), a tub of nutrition, a cooler… just to list some of the things, lol. The race started at noon on Friday, so I was able to get up at my normal time, eat a big pre race breakfast, and then head to the race at 10:30a to set up my tent and gear.

Once I arrived and got everything set up, I picked up my packet and just hung out, feeling a little nervous but surprisingly calm. I think knowing the loop was only 4.2 miles and every loop I could hit the bathroom and hang out at my tent was reassuring. Soon it was time to line up and I headed to the start, but made a fast dash for the bathrooms again, and then was off!

My little setup under my tent
Tent setup from afar 🙂
Pre-Race Photo with Bib, I was really excited but my face apparently didn’t show it! Photo credit: Marcus Janzow

I had my headphones in (just in one ear) and planned to get into a zone and just tick off the laps. However the energy of everyone chatting along the way was so contagious that I wasn’t ready to go into a ‘zone’ quite yet. Many of the runners were happily chatting away and making new friends, so I just listened to everyone talking and enjoyed being outside and the sunny nice weather. Before I knew it, I was done with the first loop, a little faster than planned, so I had 15 minutes to hang out at my tent. I texted JMR to let him know one loop was done and since I might be back with some time to spare each loop, I was just going to text him every loop 🙂 Soon the three minute whistle was blown so I headed to the start, and then as the minutes counted down we were off for loop two. I had decided to put my headphones away and just ran this loop the same way as the first, enjoying the weather and just being around other chatty happy runners.

I think this was loop 2 or 3. Photo credit: Marcus Janzow

On the third loop, after the first 1/2 mile I ended up with a group of three guys chatting away and somehow ended up in their conversation. After chatting for a while, I learned that they had a similar goal of at least midnight (50 miles) and we were running a similar pace, so I planned to tag along with the three of them for as long as I could. Joining their group was the best decision of the race, we became fast friends, chatting about all kinds of random things and the loops just flew by. We even made up a team name!

Mid Loop (4 or 5?), and feeling good. Photo credit: Marcus Janzow
Running in line with my new friends!

I grabbed my headlamp at the start of loop 6, and was excited (and scared) to turn it on when the sun started setting and run in the dark. Running the loop in the dark definitely felt different, not super scary, but I was happy to have the company of my little group with several headlamps lighting the way. However on loop 9 I fell back from my little group as the first 1/4th mile is a steep downhill and my quads were starting to kill me, so I took it extra extra slow as the pounding was pretty painful. I tried to catch up without success, and then reminded myself that the end the goal was the finish the loop, not keep up with a group, so I carried on at my own pace. That’s how it went for the next two loops, however fortunately I still kept making new friends along the way so I wasn’t alone in the dark for very long stretches at time, which I was very relieved about!

I think this was the end of loop 7 or 8. Photo credit: Marcus Janzow

I finished loop 11 feeling down and out, hating the downhills (my quads!), feeling like my pace was just really starting to slow, and questioning if I would finish the next loop in time. I told JMR I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to start the next loop (he came to support me starting at loop 10 as I was worried that as the loops went on, I would get loopy, ha). He said ‘Come on, you are almost at 50, you’ve got to do one more’. I debated going out again and then told him that I was going back out but I was going to wear my headphones. So off I went with my headphones, hoping they would carry me through my final planned loop. I have no idea why I cared about the headphones, I guess I felt like I was using my last tool to carry me through, so if the headphones didn’t help, this was it… but this was it, the last planned loop. Like I said, I was getting a little loopy.

Our Team gave first bumps at the start (we had been doing this each time) and if we all finished this loop, we were going to make it to midnight! The whistle was blown and off we went, or well, for me, more of a shuffle. I slowly waddled down the big hill, and then something happened about .75 miles in, my legs felt good, I was feeing the music and…I felt good! I chatted with a few people but was mostly just focusing on finishing my last planned loop. As I was about a half mile away from the end of the loop, I thought, ‘why not just do one more loop’ and the idea sounded ok. The decision was made, I was doing another loop. I finished in about 50 minutes, headed back to my tent and told JMR, ‘I’m doing one more loop!’.

Once the three minute whistle blew I headed to the start, and when the final whistle blew I shuffled along. This time the big downhill had me doing loud, huffing, deep breathing techniques to fight the pain as I tried to hobble/walk down it. Once I got to the flatter parts of the loop I noticed I still couldn’t seem to hold a decent pace. I was in a another low and the thought of this being my final loop was the only thing pushing me to get through it. I think I had a few tears during the last .75 miles just wanting to be done since my quads were so angry, right about the same spot where I had decided on the previous loop that I was doing another. It wasn’t in the cards, my brain wasn’t even considering another loop this time. I came in around 51 minutes and told JMR I was done. I started to disassemble our tent and then heard the three minute whistle and remembered I needed to tell the volunteers at the start that I was done.

I headed to the start to withdraw form the race and the two volunteers said ‘What? You are?! You are doing so good! Just do one more loop!’ I hadn’t expected that response and I was like ‘My toenails feel like they are falling off, my husband won’t know if I leave for another loop since I told him we were leaving’. In my head I was like, do I even have enough time to run back and tell JMR before the last whistle blows?!? Should I go for it?! They tried to get me to go, saying there were only two other females left, which gave me more pause, but then I insisted I was done. I reminded myself that the furthest I had trained was 16ish miles and I was already asking a lot of my body, and had some other big races coming up. I hit my goal of at least 50, so I felt like it was time to walk away. I headed back to the tent and we packed up and headed home. That decision haunted me though as soon as I got in the car, however it had been made and there was no going back.

When I got home I left all the stuff in the car (2a isn’t the time for unpacking), showered, cooked and ate an entire frozen pizza and attempted to sleep for a few hours. Once the sun came up I spent the rest of the day in a post-race-hungover-feeling and eating my way through the day, ha.

I would be lying though if I didn’t second guess my decision to quit at 54.6 miles as the second girl quit after loop 13 and the winner won doing 63 miles (14 loops)… could I have done two more loops? Should I have run back to JMR and told him ‘one more loop?’ I woke up early Monday morning in a panic about it! As the days passed and I was further away from that moment I realized that I had made the right call, my goal was just to do a 50k, 50 miles was awesome and anything more was fabulous, and I did that. My recovery hasn’t been terrible, my legs took a week to come around but I’m back to training for the Go! Half Marathon and if I had kept going for more loops that might not be the case today 🙂

Overall I would highly recommend this race. The backyard/loop style format just makes for a really fun race to hang out/run with other competitors, and the 1 hour loop takes the speed ‘factor’ out of it so it feels less competitive. Also Terrain Trail Runners does an awesome job at putting on races, it was incredibly well run and organized. If I can fit it in next year, I will do it, because it was THAT much fun 🙂

I’ll leave you with a picture of Penelope, which is how I felt that Saturday after the race.

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2022, Let’s Try This Again…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted! I had a nice break after IMWI, followed by easy training with a few ‘fun’ races mixed in October and December, and finally started to ramp up training at the end of December. However I came down with some kind of bug (tested negative several times for COVID) that took me out NYE and that weekend. Just when I was feeling better and was ready to put things in full swing with a big swim block in January, I started feeling sick again, this time with a cough and sore throat, and tested positive for COVID on the 5th. It’s 1/24 and I have STILL not been back to the pool. The fatigue from COVID really knocked me out and I could only manage one workout a day, so I picked running or biking since I could do them both from home (I was that tired). I plan to finally make my debut back into the pool on Wednesday though.

It was slow going coming back to training after being sick, but by mid-week last week (two and a half weeks after first symptoms of being sick), I finally felt more like myself. I have a semi-big running race planned for early March, but it’s been up in the air with how my running has felt (not good). This past weekend of training was kind of my go/no-go for that race as it was my first big build for the race. If I could get it done, then the race was still on, if I struggled, then I was ready to just call it and get back to a more balanced swim/bike/run training for my 70.3 in June. Spoiler alert, I got it done!

The original plan was to race/run the Frostbite Series Half-Marathon on Saturday, and then run an easy 12 miles on Sunday, doing loops similar to the race format. I had really wanted to be in racing shape for the half-marathon and see if I could PR, but obviously after getting sick and taking off time/recovery, my body wasn’t there. I had only run 4 times in the past 2.5 weeks since testing positive, two 5-milers, one painful treadmill 10-miler (and that was more for me to ‘prove’ I was better, but it put me on the couch the rest of the day) and a so-so 3-miler the Thursday before the planned race, and pretty much all of them felt terrible.

As I was getting ready for the race Saturday morning, I was thinking about trying to run a conservative pace in 15 degrees temps, IN A RACE (darn my overly-competitive nature), knowing those last three miles were going to hurt because 10 the week before were terrible, and then running 12 the next day… I decided I just wasn’t up for that kind of type 2 fun. I’ve been injured plenty in the past, and felt like this was walking a thin-line as I knew I would probably run the darn race too fast, running a pace I thought wasn’t fast but one my body wasn’t ready for. So, I decided to stay home and run 10 (with some marathon pace miles) on the treadmill. I think I pled my case fairly strongly for missing the half-marathon, but it still stings a little. I did end up running one extra mile (extra easy) just to be a little closer to the planned 13.

Sunday I was up and ready to go, maybe fueled a little by the guilt of skipping the half-marathon. I was on-call for work so I had to be creative and did loops near my house so I wasn’t any further than 15 minutes away (the time we had to respond after getting a call). The pace for this run was just ‘easy’ and focusing on getting in the miles, so that made it easier despite the mental challenge of doing 3 x 4 mile loops. Even though my legs were sore, it wasn’t to terrible and I got the run done just fine. I did get one call, but I was .8 miles from the house (and the end of my run) so I was able to end my run and get to work. I was pretty happy with how both runs went!

So with the race still on (as of now, as long as running continues to feel better), and swimming getting added back into the mix, things are starting to feel a little more normal to me now. I appreciated the required down-time needed to rest and recover (I read SO many books!), but now that my energy is back to normal, I’m more than ready to get back to my usual training routine.

Happy Monday!

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IMWI ’21 – Pre-Race

Man, I can’t believe another IM is over and done… it’s been three weeks since I was standing at the start line, slightly dreading racing knowing how long of a day it was going to be and that there was going to be some suffering…. but then once I crossed the finish line I forget ALL of that, and just wanted to do it again! This race went almost exactly as I had hoped and trained for – we got lucky with perfect racing weather and I came pretty close to all of my goals. Even though I’m sad it’s over, I’m also pretty content and don’t have that feeling of wanting to race right away for redemption like I did at CDA where I shuffled during most of the run.

I originally was going to make this race ‘not a big deal’ since IMCDA was quite the event between flying, renting a car, AirBnB, shipping my bike via TriBike transport and trying to make it a little vacation (I have realized that just doesn’t work with big races, too much pre-race anxiety/stresses to really relax). So we were going to leave Friday morning, do race stuff/hang out Saturday, race Sunday and drive home Monday morning. However I started to get anxious not arriving until Friday afternoon, and then having to do athlete check-in, fit in a short bike ride, check into hotel and also try to squeeze in a swim in the lake. Too much. So I convinced Jimmy to leave Thursday after work so we had a little more time to settle in once we got there and it would be less rushed. It would be a late arrival though, we did it in 2015 and it was rough, but it seemed like a better option. Then my parents realized they were free that weekend and decided to come too, so this race ended up turning into more of an ‘event’ than planned, but I was ok with that!

We got an early start Thursday evening thanks to Jimmy for surprising me and leaving work early, and hit the road about 5:15. We had rush hour traffic, but other than stopping once for gas (I brought sandwiches to eat in the car for dinner) it was a pretty uneventful drive and we arrived about 11:15p. Check in was much easier than 2015, they had our key ready, we got use one of the bellhop carts to bring everything upstairs and then I went to park our car. Wow, easy peasy. Once settled in, I did a little unpacking (I had SO much STUFF…everywhere!) and then was in bed around midnight.

Along with gear, I packed a TON of snacks for Jimmy and I!

Friday I was up early to get breakfast, headed to athlete check-in, and then met my friend Mike who was also racing (we met several years ago through my former triathlon team) for a short spin to check out our bikes/gears to make sure they were working ok. Later I met up with Mike, my coach and his wife (who was also racing) for a quick swim in Lake Monona. It was a good test run because my wetsuit was rubbing like crazy and my goggles were leaking like crazy. I got my wetsuit straightened out and my goggles situated so they would be ready for race day. After the swim we grabbed dinner at The Great Dane.

Saturday the only real plans were to check in my bike/gear, meet Team Zoot for a group photo and meet my parents for an early dinner, but somehow it was much busier than planned and I walked way too much! I decided to head over to the athlete briefing at 10a to make sure there wasn’t any important information covered that wasn’t in the athlete guide. A few hours later I was back to Ironman Village around 2p to drop off bike/gear and holy cow, the transitions were HUGE. My transitions were going to be way longer than the times I anticipated. Sigh. I know everyone else racing had to do it too, but it made me sad my time goals would have to be adjusted. After walking what felt like 3 miles through transition, I met up with my parents near the Capitol to say hi and hear how their drive up was, and then at 3 I met up with Team Zoot for a group photo. By 4p I was finally headed back to the hotel. My feet needed to be up and resting!

Lola racked and ready to roll.

We met my parents at 5:30p for an early dinner and then afterwards I cooked my oatmeal for breakfast (easier/faster to eat when cold, so I cook night before and keep in fridge), prepped my bike bottles, and got the rest of my gear/nutrition ready that I would drop off in my bike/run bags in the morning. I was in bed by 9p and slept pretty well until about 3:40a and laid in bed until my alarm went off at 3:50a.

Then I was up! I did my morning pre-race routine and we were out the door at 5a to meet Mike in the lobby to head to transition. I tried to not fuss too much in transition, just set up bottles, put nutrition in bento box, pump tires, calibrate powermeter and LEAVE! Then I went to my bike/run gear bags to add gear/nutrition, and finally sat with Jimmy along the helix while I squeezed into my wetsuit and people watched. Around 6:30a we headed to the swim start, once we had to separate I gave him a final kiss goodbye and headed to the swim corral to find my 1:11-1:20 seeded start group. Whoo I was nervous. I remembered how long the swim at CDA felt and knew this was going to be a long one too. Having 3 of my IM swims current assisted, I realized how long a real legit IM swim is, and I was going to do it again. Soon I was nearing the start, got my goggles ready and when it was my turn, waded in and started swimming, here we go!

IMWI ’21 The Swim and Bike

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IMWI ’21 The Swim and Bike

IMWI ’21 – Pre-Race

It took me a few minutes to get into a rhythm, I was grateful to be in my sleeveless wetsuit, I felt like I had better mobility and less of a claustrophobic feeling, so I was able to focus on sighting/strokes and not worry about fighting back any panic. I turned right past the first buoy and realized how crowded it was, and as I kept swimming it felt like EVERYONE was passing me. Maybe everyone in my corral was really a 1:11 swimmer and there were no 1:20’s, because once again it felt like EVERYONE was passing me. I approached the timing arch we swam under during the second turn and was attacked by lake plants – wrapping around my arms, legs and even over my head/face. Several times I had to pull them off my head so I could see and many strokes I felt them dragging along.

Finally I was past the lake plants and almost to the third turn, which was also crowded and everyone was passing me. At this point I was pretty frustrated, I wasn’t even halfway done and was just over the slow I seemed to be going, and feeling like the entire race was passing me by. On I went, finally getting to the turn buoy for the second loop, having the world pass me by on the back stretch, through the timing arch while lake plants were trying to attack me, stopping to adjust my goggles because water had leaked into them, then making the last right turn for the final stretch. I could hear announcer and could see the swim exit, finally! I kept pushing until I could stand up and wobbled out of the water to cross the timing mat. I checked my watch and saw 1:20:xx and thought, crap and welp, that’s how long it felt, lol.

I ran up the helix while pulling down my wetsuit, feeling like it took forever since we were going up four parking garage levels. I finally reached the top and got my bike gear bag and plopped down on the concrete to put on my bike shoes/socks, helmet and finally sunscreen on arms/neck/hands. I stuffed my swim gear in the bag, dropped it off with a volunteer and then make the long trek across the parking garage lot to my bike.

I grabbed my bike, hustled to the mount line and was off, slowly winding back down the helix. The first several miles were through bike/pedestrian paths and really crummy roads so I took it easy to get settled in. So many bottles were littered around the ground near this part from the rough roads, and I wasn’t looking forward to coming back through at all. Good thing it would be at least five hours from now..ha. Finally we hit open roads with a little better pavement and I settled in and pushed the pace into my planned IM pace. With the course having some flat parts but mostly hills it certainly kept me busy and focused, and sort of made the time go by quickly. We were so lucky that the weather was in the 70’s and cloudy, absolutely perfect weather! I reminded myself this several times when I was feeling blah or ready to be done riding, remembering how hot CDA was and to get to ride in this weather was LUCKY for sure. I am also glad I previewed the course in August since I had forgotten most of the course from when I last rode it in 2015, as it helped me remember what bigger hills and turns to expect.

Around mile 80 I was starting get a little crabby and tired of riding, wondering why I sign up for these long ass races when my favorite part, the run, was 8+ hours into the darn race. Then I thought, man how was I going to run a marathon after this? That sounds soooo long. I think due to the heat at CDA deep down I just had the goal of having a strong bike time (within reason given the heat) and no pressure to run fast on the run, since it would be more about surviving. This time, I had no excuses on the run, it was going to be perfect weather. But deep down I love the challenge of putting the three sports together, the strategies and problem solving throughout the day and that feeling after finishing an IM for me is just a different feeling than finishing a running race, so that’s why I was at mile 80 of the bike, questioning my life choices. However at mile 90 I had a second wind (so funny how things can change back to the positive, you just have to hang on during the lows) and realized that I was going to be close to 6:15 if I kept up this pace, and it was reassurance that since I had kept the pace/effort for 90 miles, I was pretty sure I would for the remaining 22. Knowing I was on pace or a little faster than the planned goal, I was recharged and ready to finish this bike.

It was around the 100 mile marker that I realized either my watch was off or the course was long because my watch had 102 miles… ugggh, of course, the course would be long when I was going to PR my bike time. I kept pedaling away, knowing everyone else had those extra two miles too and I still needed to finish strong. Soon I was nearing the finish, pedaling on that crappy pavement, wondering what would or could fall off my bike from the horrible bumps and finally seeing the helix (past mile 112 by the way…that irritated me). I climbed up the helix and dismounted, hitting my watch and seeing 6:20, hooray! still a bike PR and 17.9mph, I will take it! I actually rode the bike well! Now let’s see how the legs do..

I dismounted my bike, waddled to drop it back off at my rack, took off my shoes, ran through transition (quick stop in the porta potty, still cannot pee on the bike), grabbed my run gear back and sat in an open chair this time to get ready for the run. A wonderful volunteer helped me get my gear situated, I quickly put on socks, shoes, hat, grabbed handheld and my baggie of gels I would stuff into my kit while running. I was off!

IMWI ’21 The Run

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