Two years ago I did the Racine 70.3 as my first half ironman. Yesterday I went back to see how I’ve improved on the course.
Spoiler alert: everything fell in place for me yesterday. While there were some snafus, I nailed ALL of my goals, and surprised myself! A half hour PR in the books!
We got up to Racine around lunch time on Saturday, grabbed my packets (and a pair of socks – I thought I’d forgotten to pack mine!). After some lunch, we then headed to bike check in. There was a severe storm warning in effect, so we brought the bungee we use when driving long distances with the bikes to help secure the bike to the bike rack. When we left transition the tornado sirens were starting to go off! So glad I tied the bike up. We then drove into the storm on our way to the hotel. the storm was ridiculous – horizontal rain, lightening and thunder, all through these country roads. I did NOT need the hotel front desk staff asking “What happens if it storms again during your race?”. I heard later that the Racine 70.3 staff planned out tornado shelters along the bike and run courses. I never saw them, but if they did, glad they planned ahead!
Race morning I definitely had some “what if” scenarios involving the bike having banged into other bikes on the rack from the storm, and how I’d handle those, what if I couldn’t race, etc. Luckily all was good!
Sunday morning pre-race was uneventful. I’m getting better at prepping all of my stuff, and also on handling the forgotten/mistakes. This race’s “oops” was that I realized as we were parking, that I’d left my torpedo, the special bottle for my aero bars, sitting at home in the kitchen drying rack. Oops! All I could do was plan that my normal sports bottles would go into the bottle cage there, and I’d hope for the best. (Overall it was fine). Got the rest of my stuff ready to go, and then headed out of transition.
More pre-race fun with at the Wellfit Tent with my training buddies. I really get good energy off of them– love the group! Our Ironman group has such good cohesion.
My goal for the swim was a sub 40 swim. I’ve been chipping away slowly & steadily at the swim times since 2013, but wanted to be conservative. This turned out to be a crazy fast improvement — 37 minutes for a 1:55 swim! I still need to work on staying on people’s feet. I was good for the first 300 meters when I followed Megan’s feet right off the start, but then was pretty much on my own.
My goal for the bike was two things: first, bike smart and keep it consistent. Second, hopefully to hit a 3:17 bike time. I accomplished both of those things – a variability index of 1.06 (1.05 was my goal- and lower is better) and a 3:13 total bike time! That’s way faster than I’d expected! My bike was fine. There were some highlights:
- I couldn’t drink as I’d trained out of my aero bottle, so I was getting out of aero to drink, so a little less frequently but bigger gulps.
- The Racine course has a lot of turns – more times to ease up, and then power on that I thought would affect my consistency in pedaling.
- SOMEONE HIT ME!! No joke. Maybe an hour and a half in, I hear someone yell “F***” and then hit me from behind (hard). I kept on my bike and then pulled off to stop, sure he’d crashed. Two people ride by – first guy mutters “You did nothing wrong” and then the second guy: “Sorry!” WTF?!!! I got back on my bike to ride again, but was pretty shook up and started having some panicky breathing/sobbing for a few minutes.
- Nutrition notes: 2.5 bottles of HEED (third bottle flew out of my aero bars), two salty balls, a few honey stinger chews, and a few sips of gatorade (to replace the HEED). Probably 2.5 bottles of water for drinking. I had grabbed more, but used them for cooling myself.
- I stopped a second time for good karma after cursing that f**er who crashed into me for about 10 minutes. I stopped to help a guy who was 4 miles from the finish with a flat tire. I gave him a CO2 cartridge and then carried on!
- As we approached the finish, I slowed down to get my feet out of the shoes. I should practice this a bit more, as I had to slow down excessively to do this (probably didn’t save me any time in actually running in transition), and also scope out how far the bike finish is so I have a visual cue versus going off of how long the course is supposed to be. #bikeskillz
After my crazy fast bike ride and swim, I figured I wouldn’t be able to hit the faster of my two run goals. My fastest run in a half ironman has been 2:35, with my running-only PR being 2:04. So I was hoping to hit 2:20 on a perfect day (10:41 pace), and otherwise 2:30 (11:26 pace). I figured I’d get the 2:30 today, and set me up for hitting my overall time goal of 6:30.
Well, I went out on the run and started out being pretty fast! I usually have my first mile be fast, so I figured I’d settle into the 11’s sometime soon. Well my “easy for the first 3 miles” stayed in the 10:30 average pace, and then so did my next 3-4 miles until I got to the turnaround. So I figured I should keep it pretty easy/steady in preparation for the blow up I was going to have soon. Which never came. I slowed down a bit, as I was walking the aid stations and also stopped at a port-a-potty along the way (always a good choice when you have more than 2 miles to go). But at my highest, the average overall pace was 10:43. I sped up my last two miles and pulled into the finish with a 2:20 on my watch! I didn’t think it could happen, and never imagined that I’d get a 6:19 overall finish time yesterday! That was an amazing surprise!!
Things did get hard on the run, but no “Blow Up” like I’d imagined. I’d prepared for this, and had planned out in my race plan. Based on reading on mental toughness, and advice from Coach Liz, I’d planned – and did say to myself: “Hello pain, I’ve been waiting for you.” I talked to the pain and named it (primarily a touch of ITB coming out), and it really helped! I couldn’t make it go away, and I thought about it. “I’m having some OK rough breathing. A little knee strain.” It helped also because I remember saying these things to myself and can now work on strengthening those areas. But it also made it so I didn’t have to pretend it didn’t exist, or to try and avoid the pain. #mentaltricks
When I finished, I almost didn’t believe I could have done it! A 6:19 meant that everything had gone perfectly… more than perfectly. I hit every time I hoped to do, and better than expected.
I started my recovery immediately by having a half bottle of water, then grabbing a sandwich and banana from the post-race food area. I picked up my bike & transition bag, and then Mike & I headed over to the Well-Fit tent to relax and recover. Down goes one recovery protein drink, then some carbs, then another recovery protein drink and more carbs. I cheered on some more teammates into the finish, and we took photos! Tony & I cooled our legs off in the lake to get an immediate ice bath. It was painful how cold it was, but so good.
I’m pretty darn proud of this effort! It’s the first time in a while where I feel like I gave it my all, and didn’t give in when the going got tough. I can’t wait for September!!