The night before a big race usually includes lots of tossing & turning, constantly staring at the clock, and constant fear running through my head. Since this was the biggest race of my life, saturday night was no different. I slept on and off, but thankfully woke up refreshed, but with a nervous pit in my stomach. Pumpkinman 70.3.
Gathered my gear together that I had laid out the night before. I had my usual organic wheat, organic peanut butter and banana, and some water. I thought a million times about climbing back into bed, "pretending" that I slept through the race start.
We packed the car, and made the short drive from Dover,NH to South Berwick, ME. Unloading the car, I felt even more unprepared and sick to my stomach. There were badass bikes everywhere. Aerodynamic helmets, and a sea of faces that screamed "We are pros at this, what are you doing here?" I told Kevin maybe we should leave, but he did what he's best at, reassuring me that I would be just fine.
I racked my bike, and laid out my gear.
I panicked a little more.
I saw my friend Kirsten from PT school who is a badass triathlete. I told her I was ready to throw up and she said I'd be fine. She was actually one number off of me, so she introduced me to all her friends on our rack. All of them were on the Cyclonauts team, remember that cycling group I said I would go to and then didn't?
Soon, it was time to wiggle into my wetsuit. I felt my Tape at my knee come loose, darn! I nibbled on a Larabar and tried not to vomit. Kevin cheered me on.
There was a beautiful ceremony on the beach for the Blazeman ALS foundation. I raised funds not for race entry, but just to help the cause of ALS. The foundation is after John Blazeman, a triathlete who passed away due to complications from ALS, and his dad was there to spread some of his ashes in the pond. It was tough not to get emotional.
After that, I focused on the start of the race. I knew if I could get into the water I would finish the swim and get onto my bike. I wasn't confident that I could make it through the bike, but knew if I did, I would finish the race. I would walk the whole 13.1 miles if I had to at the end.
|nice small swim wave|
I was the 4th swim wave to go off, with blue caps. We had a 2 loop counter clockwise swim lasting 1.2 miles total. We took off at 7:08, and I had trouble finding a good pace. My breathing was labored, I was anxious, and I couldn't get a good rhythm. After the first turn, it all started to come together. I swam with decent sighting, only bumped into a few people, and took easy, smooth strokes. The difficulty began when other swim waves caught up to us, and when the elites lapped us. I managed to pee once in the swim, since I really wanted to avoid going on the bike at all costs.
|Off on the swim|
|coming out of the water|
1.2 mile swim = 47:08
|Spring Hill Challenge|
A nice cushion from the hour goal time I had set for myself. Next up was the Spring Hill Challenge to transition. A steep ski slope replica, I walked up most of it. Ripped off the wetsuit and everything but my IT band tape came off. Had trouble with my helmet sitting right, but I just wanted to get going!
|In the back of transition with my Tough Chik gear|
T1 = 5:05
|Off on the bike|
Headed out on the bike with an overall goal of under 4 hours. It was an out, loop x 2, then back course. I had made Kevin drive me through the course the night before so I had a little bit of an idea of what was to come. I knew that I hadn't done a lot of outdoor cycling in my training. My race plan was to go steady, not push too hard, and take advantage of the downhills. I promised myself that I would not get upset over being passed, and would race my own race.
I had taped 4 honey stinger honey packs to my bike, and stashed a waffle in my tri top. I had 2 water bottles. It was an overcast day, which thankfully kept the temperature down, which meant I wasn't sweating buckets. The scenery was beautiful. Farms, golf courses, gorgeous homes (some not so nice ones too). I pedaled along, smiling the entire time, not even believing I was racing 70.3. I knew if I could make it to the end of the bike, I would finish the race.
My first lap was a little lonely, minus the passing. I got passed. a lot.
The amazing thing is how awesome triathletes are. Every single time I got passed it was "Great job! Keep up the good work!" or some other type of encouragement. Triathletes are just so incredibly friendly.
I started to get lapped. Who lapped me? Well, a lot of badass looking age groupers, but also the amazing elites in their Team USA Olympic Tri suits (Ethan Brown & Matt Russell). Each time I was lapped by someone with a super sleek bike and aero helmet, I was almost comforted. I knew I was so far away from their ability, I was just appreciating being in their presence and watching them race.
The miles clicked by, and only 2 things bothered me. My helmet was not on right. I was constantly trying to adjust it and keep it from bopping around. And then there was my back, which was KILLING me. My back was so stiff, but I was so happy as I sped along, happy to see the mile markers or glance at my Garmin and see a good mile time.
Around mile 30, a girl in front of my popped a tire, and she went flying. If I were any good at fixing a flat I would have stopped to help, but I made sure she was ok, and told her I'd tell the next volunteer I saw. Almost 10 miles later, I saw someone and spread the news. The 2nd loop was very lonely. Only us back of the pack were out there.
I hit a bottle pick up and almost took out a few volunteers and barely managed to stay on my bike without crashing. I avoided the one after that, heading back toward transition thirsty and hungry. There were a few good hills, but nothing I couldn't handle, just panted a lot.
I knew I was killing it on time...
56 mile bike = 3:41:46
I was beyond excited as I hopped off the bike and toward transition. If you remember my Olympic Tri, I was done after the bike, but somehow managed to slug on to the run (Race Report HERE). At this race, my first 70.3, I was all smiles. I had made it off the bike. I knew I would finish this race, one way or another. Besides feeling hungry, I felt great. I ate a waffle, had some lukewarm Nuun, and changed into my running shoes. My toes were numb, but I knew they'd thaw out on the run. I put on my hydrapak, and headed out for the run. I told Kevin I was feeling amazing. I was so excited to run!!
T2 = 3:22
|Heading out on the run|
I started off on the run a little quick. I always have a tough time judging my pace when my legs are loosening up after the bike. I passed a couple people and thanked the volunteers leading the way. My plan originally was 3 hours or less in order to finish under my 8 hour time goal. Plus I had over a 50 min cushion from my time saved on the swim & bike. I knew I could run when I could, walk when I needed, and still meet my goal.
I didn't take a walk break until almost mile 3. I didn't need it, so I kept plugging along, working toward the next mile. Soon after, I came up on a girl who had passed me on the bike. We were going about the same pace, so we decided to stick together until one of us needed to drop back. We spent the next 6 miles or so talking about running, races, our work, men, and anything we could to keep our mind from focusing on what we were doing.
The course was 2 loops, so the first loop was filled with the fast people finishing their race, the 2nd loop was a little more lonely. The aid stations were awesome. The volunteers always had cups of water, gatorade, flat coke and pretzels. There were several stations with ice cold wet sponges which felt amazing. No huge hills, everything was manageable. I barely walked, only when needed for a minute or so, just made it a slow, steady jog.
My garmin died around mile 9.5, so I could only guess my mileage from there, waiting to see the last few mile markers. I lost my race friend around then as we were heading into the final turn to head back to the finish. I texted Kevin when I got to 11, to let him know I didn't have much longer to go.
I saw mile 12, and started tearing up. I wanted to remember this moment forever. I only had 1 mile left of my first half ironman.
At the very last aid station, they asked if I wanted water, I said I couldn't wait for a f*#$ing beer! They told me up the hill, around the corner and a downhill finish. Every athlete who had already finished, or families that were leaving were cheering me in with words of encouragement. Soon I was at the flag lined finishing chute.
|Coming down the chute|
In my typical fashion, I picked up the pace, and passed someone (from my age group!), in the chute.
|Crossing the finish|
I folded in half, crying from happiness. I went from trying to turn around and go home in the morning from feeling incredible after finishing my first 70.3.
I was so unbelievably proud of myself. And I knew right at that moment, the happiest moment of my life, that I couldn't wait to do another.
13.1 Run = 2:53:00
Kevin met me at the finish and helped me open my gatorade bottle, and tell me how proud of me he was. How proud he was that I was a half ironman finisher.
|Finisher shirt and medal|
70.3 Pumpkinman Maine 2012 : 7:30:24
My post race beer obviously.
Shipyard Pumpkin, one of my absolute favorites.
Next came the feast, an early Thanksgiving.
I wasn't wicked hungry after 7 1/2 hours of activity, but I knew I would be later. We packed up the car with all my gear, and headed back to the hotel for a shower, hot tub, and later an amazing Lobster dinner.
Would I do this race again?
Unfortunately I have a conflict for next year, but its a good one, I promise.
Gorgeous race venue
The course level of difficulty = perfect!
The amazing Volunteers!!!
The race shirts, medals, etc
Post race finishing meal & beer
Friendly badass triathletes
Calm lake swim
The hill out of the swim into transition
The water bottle handups on the bike... or maybe I just need practice
If you live near Maine, or want to travel to an amazing race, I definitely recommend it.
And now I can call myself a half ironman!
I am totally in love with 70.3