Ironman 70.3 Racine Recap

I’m officially a half IRON(wo)MAN! What?!

Crossing the finish line of the IRONMAN 70.3 Racine was such a happy moment.

I usually try to keep recaps short and sweet, but this puppy is going to be lengthy. My apologies in advance to the few people (ahem, Mom) that feel obligated to read my entire post.

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Pre-race

I was a ball of nerves last Saturday, so I was up and on my bike at the crack of dawn. After a quick cruise around the neighborhood, I impatiently waited for Daniel to get ready. (Sorry, Daniel.)

Once in Racine, we went to IRONMAN Village for packet pickup and the course talk. Everything was well organized and we were in and out in no time! We then headed to transition to drop off Lady Bug the bike.

With pre-race prep out of the way, we headed out to drive the bike course. Once in the middle of nowhere Racine, WI, our phones buzzed with emergency alerts. There was a tornado warning in the area, and we were advised to take cover immediately. I nearly lost my mind in my already fragile state. Thankfully Daniel was able to find the closest gas station. I was able to breathe again and he was able to stop listening to me panic. Win, win.

The night ended with a yummy sushi dinner with Daniel’s step sister and brother-in-law. (Veggie sushi is my must have pre-race meal.)

Race Day

I woke up to a sunny, still day. Thank you IRONMAN gods! We arrived to transition for body marking and final set up around 5:30, and I was content with my transition set up by 6. The following hour felt like a year; the anticipation was getting the best of me. Daniel listened to me ramble and continued to assure me everything would be fine. (Thanks, Daniel.)

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Pre-race photo op.

About 45 minutes before my wave start, we ventured down to the beach for a warm up swim. And by ‘warm up’, I mean try not to freeze your a** off and get used to the 60 degree water. I wasn’t a bit worried about this temp until I spoke to a fellow racer that told me the scariest tale of getting hypothermia during last year’s race. Um, what? I know she didn’t mean any harm, and I give her credit for returning. But this was questionably the worst thing you could say to a nervous newbie! Fortunately, my wetsuit kept me nice and toasty, and I had no problem with the chilly water.

Beautiful day for a 6 hour race. Gulp.

Beautiful day for a 6+ hour race. Gulp.

Swim – 1.2 miles 

As we waited in our wave, I engaged in some small talk to keep me from throwing up/passing out/dying. However, once we got into the water, all 106 of us were silent. We waited in waist-deep water for about 1 minuted before we heard the ’60 second’ countdown. I put my head in my hands and contemplated crying, but I pulled it together when the horn signified it was go time.

And we’re off!

It took me about 10 strokes to get in my groove. I choked on some water, treaded water, and tried to get the hang of the waves. The sun’s reflection off the water was extremely bright the first 300 meters, so that didn’t help matters either! I intentionally stayed to the outside left of the pack, as I decided it would save me the stress of getting kicked and punched. (I highly recommend this if you are a newbie!) Buoys were placed along the course, and I used these as my focal point. I repeated to myself over and over, “one buoy at a time.” Finally, I saw the red buoy signifying it was time to make a turn towards shore. I swam until I was about waist deep, and began to run towards the swim exit. I had survived the first hurdle. Yeah! Swim time:  40 minutes

As I ran to transition, there was a line of lovely volunteer wetsuit strippers. They advised me to sit on the ground and yanked my wetsuit off in seconds. This process would have taken me much longer, and I was so appreciative of their help!

After a quick drink and change of shoes, I headed out on the bike.

Bike – 56 miles

The bike course started with a fairly steep hill. Lady Bug was set in her easy gear and ready to tackle this first step. We made it to the top without a wipeout (whew!) and headed on our way.

Let me start by saying Racine’s roadways are not in the best condition. IRONMAN staff did a great job of calling attention to potential hazards with orange paint, but sometimes the entire road was orange! This made for an extremely bumpy ride. My training had consisted of smooth country roads, so it took me a few miles to get used to the constant bumps. Between the road conditions and bike congestion, I was moving painfully slow the first 10 miles. I gave myself a pep talk, forcing myself to be more aggressive, and began passing when it was safe.

My goal was to finish the bike in 3 hours and 30 minutes, but I finished in 3:01. I stuck to my nutrition plan and felt great as I headed for the run.

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Run – 13.1 miles

The run consisted of two loops throughout Racine’s neighborhoods. It began with an intimidating hill (womp!). My grand plan  was to walk through the aid stations (1 per mile), and run the rest of the course. It was a scorcher by this point in the day, so I made sure to hydrate and take-in my fuel every. single. mile. I kept my spirits up until mile 8 when I was feeling a bit down. My legs were so tired and I was running out of gas. Thankfully, a little running angel showed up to push me through. (Shoutout to Mary from Chattanooga!) She’s competing in her first full IRONMAN in a few months, so we geeked out about triathlon for a couple miles. Before we knew it we were a half mile from the finish.

As I headed towards the chute, I couldn’t stop smiling! It was one of the best feelings to hear my name as I crossed that finish line. All of those months of hard work were worth it in that moment. Run time:  2:20

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Overall time:  6:13:45. My goal was 7 hours, so I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I loved everything about this race. Part of me was hoping to be content with finishing one IRONMAN 70.3, but it’s only left me hungry for more. I’m afraid there’s only one place to go from here… 🙂 (Sorry, Daniel.)

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*A huge THANK YOU to my fiance for all of your support and encouragement, to the amazing volunteers and IRONMAN staff that made the day possible and to the residents of Racine that cheered us on and shared their sprinklers!

What a great day!

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Obligatory beer and medal photo.

If you made it all the way down here, thanks for reading! XO

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It’s Race Weekend!

…And just like that, I’m one day away from diving into Lake Michigan for a casual 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.

Seven months ago, I began my half Ironman journey when I made the irrational decision to hit the submit button on Active.com. I had survived two triathlons the previous summer and figured it made perfect sense to race double the distance. (Warning:  Ironman 70.3 races seem more appealing in the dead of winter, whilst one dreams of summer days, than when the race is staring you in the face.) Maybe, maybe not kidding. 

The day after securing my spot, I jumped into the pool for my first swim in months. I struggled through 50 meters and was out of breath. I questioned my endurance.

I joined CompuTrainer classes to help my cycling game. An hour felt like a year, and I was certain my booty couldn’t sit on that rock of a seat any longer. I questioned my strength.

As spring (read:  above freezing temps) started to roll in, I began my long runs outside. The cold hurt my ears and lungs, and I felt like quitting more times than one. I questioned my drive.

But I never gave up.

I read this quote from Chrissie Wellington (4 time Ironman World Champion) and thought it was fitting for everyone focused on a big race:

Everyone gets nervous before a race–it’s human. I would be worried about any athlete that didn’t. It’s a sign of how much we care. The key is to trust in your preparation. You have done all you can, so focus on that fact. You will remain the same person before, during, and after the race, so the result, however important, will not define you. The journey is what matters.

And what a journey it has been. A whole lot of early mornings, rainy rides and runs, three flats and two wipeouts have led me to this weekend.

I’m so excited to see what this Ironman 70.3 thing is all about. It might not be pretty, but I’m determined to cross that finish line with a smile (crawling counts).

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend! I hope to have a recap (filled with happy memories!) up next week.

Have a great weekend!

Meredith

The Struggle is Real

Why hello. Hope everyone enjoyed the beautiful weather this weekend! Isn’t it wonderful to be riding and running outside?

Saturday morning, I had just about finished my 30-mile ride when I got flat tire. A teeny, tiny shard of metal pierced it, and within seconds, it was completely flat. Womp.

Sitting on the edge of the road, I started to think about all of the unexpected things that happen when training for a half Ironman. Although my fellow triathletes have been amazing resources in answering my questions, there are some things that you have to learn on your own. Unless, of course, you read my below list of tri training struggles (and some tips)…

*You will feel exhausted all the time. This is mostly true for me during the week. After a long workday, I accidentally fell asleep after my run and swim. Daniel had to wake me for dinner at 9pm!

*You will be hungry every second of the day. Just typing the word hungry made me hungry.

*Wipeouts happen more than you expect. No matter how many times I ride my bike, every so often I forget to unclip my shoes. In my most recent wipeout news, I made a wrong turn and was heading straight for a lake. Instead of calmly unclipping my shoes, I FREAKED THE F OUT and fell right on over. As an added bonus, a large group of canoers witnessed the whole fiasco!

*Assume that no one sees you when biking or running. Be particularly defensive when training around busy roads, but also be aware of others on a trail. You’ll be shocked at the amount of people that have no idea you are behind them until you scare the sh*t out of them by announcing yourself. 

*Ladies- You will have a love, hate relationship with your bike. Somedays, your saddle will seem like the devil himself. You will have bruises in places you don’t ever want bruises. What happened to the good ole’ beach cruiser seats?

*The foam roller will be your new BFF. Your body will be in a constant state of sore, so rolling around on foam is necessary.

*Buy these products- you will thank me later:

  • Swim- Speedo Ergo Ear Plugs and anti-fog solution for goggles
  • Bike- Anti Chafe Chamois Butt’r (Chafing is zero fun, chafing caused by your bike seat is hell.)
  • Run- Body Glide (I shower in this stuff! It is great for preventing wetsuit rash as well.)

Hope you’ve learned a thing or two at my expense. Consider yourself warned, my friend.

Have a great week! XO