IRONMAN RALEIGH 70.3 Recap
As you know, I kind of left you hanging in the last post. But, it was getting a little too long and I wanted to be able to dedicate a full post to the actual race leaving all the setup, nerves and anxiousness elsewhere (where they belong)!
Anywho, the day started early… REALLY EARLY! I peeled myself from my bed, got dressed, triple checked that I had everything where I needed it and the hubs and I checked out of the hotel and drove over to T2 where there were buses waiting to take us 40 minutes down the road to Jordan Lake.
At the lake, there was a minor freak-out about not having enough water, but that was quickly resolved and I set about readying my bike and other T1 supplies, getting body marked and waiting in line for the ever-lovely port-a-johns.
The transition area closed at 6:45am and the race officially started at 7, though I was in the final wave, so I got to wait around until 8:18 – note to self, bring cards and/or headphones next time! Even without the headphones, I did a few personal pre-race things. I’ve been reading Chrissie Wellington’s book and took a few tips from her. I listened to Eminmen’s “Lose Yourself” (which was already my FAVORITE motivational song as you know) and read Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If.” As I’ve read the book, I’ve been amazed at how much Chrissie and I have in common (not that I expect to be a world champion Ironman), but we were both very competitive academically growing up, had some body image issues, etc. Anyway, I decided that I wanted to try to smile like Chrissie too and did so throughout the race.
Before I knew it, the time passed and I was in line with the rest of the green cap ladies (and a few gentlemen). My group was all women 18-29 and relay swimmers. I was a little worried about the water temperature as it had cooled overnight to become “wetsuit legal” (at or below 76.1 degrees), but it wasn’t too bad.
The start of any open water swim can be very disconcerting, lots of splashing, kicking, slapping, etc. and to make things just a little more uncomfortable for me the buoys were on the right (I breath to the left but *bonus* the buoys will be on the left the Lousiville!). Regardless, I did as Dory says and “just kept swimmin’!” After the first turn buoy, I started to see more yellow caps (started 4 minutes before my wave) around me and things calmed down a bit. I positioned myself towards the outside, but not the farthest out, and just let myself relax and swim. Before I knew it I was seeing some blue caps (started 8 minutes before my wave). At the second (and final) turn, things got a little crowded again and we started to experience some boat wake waves (really nauseating!). Looking around now, you wouldn’t know that people started in color-coded waves, I saw green, yellow, blue, red, silver… Before I knew it I was back at the boat ramp and headed for T1.
My “strategy” is always to just relax and work through the swim calmly. As someone who swam growing up, I know that even my relaxed swimming is plenty good enough to put me in the top half of the field and given all that’s left to accomplish for the day, there’s no need to waste extra energy.
T1 went smoothly and I headed out on the bike course with a smile.
That’s when it got really fun! The bike course was awesome… and FAST! It was not too hilly (total gain of just over 1000ft over 56 miles) and most of those hills were long and not too steep. The downhills allowed me to get fast (I think my max speed was just shy of 35mph) without feeling out of control and most of the uphills were slight enough to maintain 17+mph. There were markers every 5 miles and they seemed to pass quickly. I said “hello” to mile 30 knowing that I was more than halfway, smiled and waved at the families who came out to watch, passed several riders both up and down hills, and surprised my in-laws by coming by earlier than expected.
Now, in a race this long (and longer) it is very important to eat and drink and the bike is the easiest place to do that. When I started, I got right to work drinking water and Gatorade from my aerobar water bottle and refilling from the bottles that I carried with me as needed. For food, first I had bacon which was quite tasty and made me smile to myself thinking “where else can you find yourself going 20mph down a highway on your bike, eating bacon. The only downside to bacon is the grease! From that point, I decided to eat something from my bike bag ever 10 miles. At 15, I had a GU. At 25, I had a CLIF Bar. At 35 and 45, I had more GUs. By the end, I’d finished with all of the water and Gatorade that I’d packed in addition to some water that I grabbed at one of the last aid stations.
When the bike came to an end, I’d averaged just over 18.5mph (my fastest bike leg EVER, regardless of race distance) and was a little sad to have to get off, but I did and I headed into T2.
My T2 rack was just about as far as possible from the bike dismount line and I “clopped” my way there with my bike (sometimes using it for support). I racked my bike, and set about getting ready for the run. Here I took a few extra pain pills, had some Gatorade, slipped on my calf sleeves and FiveFingers, and sprayed on a little more sunscreen (I kind of feel as though I’m describing a NASCAR pit stop)…
The run is always the toughest leg for me. I do enjoy running, but after swimming and biking, my legs are less than motivated to pick up a jog and keep moving. But that’s exactly what I did… for the first mile! During that first mile, I could tell that my left foot was going to be giving me trouble. On occasion, my left arch decides to “pull” and feel as though it’s being stabbed with every step. I can still run, but it has to be on my left tip-toe (no heel touch). It’s a pain I’ve dealt with before, so I just kept moving. I jogged when I felt that I could and walked when the pain was too much (trying to limit my walking to 30 seconds at a time). Around mile 5, I wised up a decided to try putting some ice down my shoe, under my arch – RELIEF! This at least numbed the pain and as the ice melted I was able to run again. I continued to stop for foot ice at every aid station and put the left over ice down my back. It was extremely hot, near 90, and I took full advantage of all cooling mechanisms on the course – hoses, ice, water, cold sponges, etc. This is why I’m glad I chose the FiveFingers – when they get wet, it’s no different than when they are dry.
The course was pretty flat and took us out and back from downtown Raleigh, past NC State, and into Meredith College . It wasn’t too long before I was at mile 8 and knew that I’d make it to the finish line one way or another. At mile 10 it was around 2pm and I decided that it would be really nice to finish before 2:40 (thinking, dang if my foot didn’t hurt, I might be done around 2:30). I crossed the finish around 2:37 with my arms raise and a smile on my face. Total time: 6:19:23.
It was emotional, though may not quite as emotional as the marathon. This is still something I never fathomed doing, but am so glad I did because, despite the “foot issues”, I had SO MUCH FUN!
With this race and the marathon under my belt, I started a little personal, motivational mantra –
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
To my Ironman Louisville Race for a Cause to benefit the
Virginia Tech Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention
to honor the 32 Hokies who lost their lives on April 16, 2007.
Learn more here!