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

Soldier Field 10-Miler Recap

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I loathe winter. There is nothing pleasant about snow, cold, ice, or my attitude during those silly months. When summer days roll around, one would think I’ve never seen the sun. I can barely contain my excitement when temps are above 70 degrees.

The Soldier Field 10-miler just happened to be on one of the first glorious days of summer. I’d never done the race, but I signed up thanks to the recommendation of friends. I was planning to run 10 miles for my half Ironman training this weekend, so it was perfect timing. It’s always more fun to run with friends (and have a beer waiting for you at the end).

My two cents on the race…

The Good

Umm…Everything? Seriously, this was a great race.

  • Parking was free and close to the race start. I exited the parking garage and there was my corral! Magic.
  • There was a nice tribute prior to race start honoring the fallen men and women that have served our country.
  • We were in Corral 8, but we only waited about 15 mins before go time. For the numbers of runners, I was impressed by the short wait time.
  • For the first 4.5 miles, we headed south on Lakeshore Drive. There’s something cool about running on this always-busy highway.
  • Heading to the finish line on Soldier Field felt awesome. I was smiling from ear to ear when I ran under the tunnel and onto the field.
  • Military personal were giving out the medals after the race. Many finishers were shaking their hands and thanking them for their service. It was moving, and one of the best race finishes of my life.
  • Post race beverage was 312. ‘Nuff said.
The finish line! Geesh I am really a sad photographer (but you get the point). It's ON Soldier Field, and that is neat.

The finish line! Geesh I am really a sad photographer. But you get the point. It’s ON Soldier Field, and that is neat.

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Two of my favorite people! Only a few more weeks until summer marathon training begins. Looking forward to spending every Saturday morning with them!

The Bad

As we were heading south on Lakeshore Drive, I noticed a few runners heading north on the Lakefront path. I told my friends that it didn’t look too congested…then I realized those speedsters were the elite pack. Ahh, someday. Maybe. Probably not. For the other 99% of the runners, the path was tight. I was dodging people the final 4 miles. One path and 10,000+ people. Yeah. Tight squeeze. I realize it would be difficult to keep LSD closed for the whole race, but I would love to see an alternative, more spacious route in future years.

The Ugly – Nothing at all!

Overall, I was impressed with this race and will certainly run it again. My average pace per mile was 10:16. Not my fastest race ever, but I finished strong and felt great.

Hope you all had a great weekend! Happy Memorial Day. XO

On the Bandwagon: Shamrock Shuffle Recap

You’ve probably read 30,000 Shamrock Shuffle race recaps, but I couldn’t resist making it 30,001. I’ll start from the beginning, but I’ll attempt to keep it short and sweet.

There are two things that get me out of bed in the morning:  Black Friday shopping with my cousin and running. Our alarms went off at 6am, and I was out of bed and dressed, with brushed teeth and braided hair, by 6:10. This gave me plenty of time to give Daniel the “you better hurry up” glare, pace downstairs, and shout the ten minute warning (twice). I may be late for some of life’s activities, but I will never miss a race. We arrived in the city 45 minutes before we were supposed to meet my CARA friends. Whoops.

Now, onto my Shuffle thoughts…

The Good  

Shamrock Shuffle will forever be one of my favorite races. It means we’ve survived the frigid winter and have lived to see another race season. Plus, Bank of America knows how to put on a fabulous, organized race. No lines for porta potties or gear check is nothing short of a race miracle. There was also minimal waiting once in our corrals. These closed at 9am, and we were off shortly after the 9:15 wave start.

This is one of the only races Daniel and I run together, and his slow jog is faster than my sprint. I tried to keep up (while muttering a few choice words under my breath), and it paid off. I was shocked to discover that we finished with a PR. My comfortable pace is 10:20/mile, so it felt like we were flying!

Boom!

Boom!

The Bad

Daniel declared, “I’ve never liked city traffic!” during the first few minutes of the race, and I had to agree. The first mile was so crowded, so we bobbed and weaved the entire mile. We had to work extra hard to get that PR, which is a bit frustrating.

The Ugly

30 degrees and windy. SO WINDY. I think I jinxed all 35,000 of us by commenting on how lovely the weather usually is on race day. Sorry, guys.

The wind was manageable until we reached the corner of Franklin and Van Buren where wind gusts of 20+ mph took us by surprise. I actually blew into a man. I apologized, had a little laughing fit, then got my sh*t together before I became really out of breath. Here’s to hoping it’s warmer and far less windy next year!

After the race, we treated ourselves to a yummy lunch and adult beverages. The end.

 

Fun fact:  this is the fifth year in a row we’ve run this race. Clearly, we have a signature pose:

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Babies! Shamrock Shuffle circa 2011

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2012

 

2013

2013

 

2014

2014

2015! Showing off our medals.

2015! Showing off our medals.

Thanks for reading! Have a great week!