2015 was the year of recreational running. Last year from July to December I ran in 13 different states on a mission to run a half marathon in all 50 by my 50th birthday (#50×50). Within 6 months I completed 12 half marathons and 1 full, all mostly for fun…not really working on speed or fitness. I wanted to change that in 2016, so just after Thanksgiving I started talking with my coach and we decided to start training after the holidays. For Christmas, Santa brought me a new bike trainer. And this thing is AWESOME! It gives accurate and real time feedback on power levels and allows me to share training session information with my coach to better adjust my workouts. I really believe in a very short time it improved my bike fitness tremendously. So happy with this purchase!
So we started training in mid-January with a goal of a half ironman on May 1st. Well…training didn’t really go as planned. My family was plagued this winter by sickness after sickness. I just couldn’t catch a break. We had multiple cases of strep, stomach bugs, bronchitis…we got hit hard. And then in April I got the flu and was coughing so hard that I cracked a rib. And it was all too obvious that a 70.3 in May wasn’t gonna happen. So we adjusted the plan, and settled on Eagleman 70.3 in Cambridge, Maryland on June 12th.
We loaded up the family and drove the 6+ hours to Cambridge after school on Friday afternoon. Went to sleep as soon as we got to the hotel. Saturday I spent the day at the athlete check-in and expo, and checking out the course. My crew were busy back at the hotel making signs. So cute!
I got a good night’s sleep that night and woke up feeling nervous, but excited…and ready for the day!
Setting up at transition. Ready. Set. GO time!
1.2 mile SWIM:
It was a pretty basic, and non-eventful swim…just how I’d like it to be! The only mention-able here is that the elastic nose piece on my goggles came loose just before the start and that caused my left eye to fill with water the whole swim…but the water was murky, and I suck at sighting anyway, so it didn’t really have a big impact. I didn’t push too hard…just tried to relax and enjoy the swim since I knew it would be the most comfortable I’d be all day.
Official swim time: 34:00 (seriously?? 34 flat…weird right?) That’s 1:37/100yd. 16th in my division
T1: the only surprise was when, upon exiting the water, there were no wetsuit strippers as there were supposed to be. It ended up being no big deal…was able to get it off myself within a minute or two. Didn’t hussle through transition, just relaxed and caught my breath, preparing myself for the next 56 miles. Official T1 time: 5:10
56 mile BIKE:
Who ordered the head wind??!!? From mile 4 on, the wind was relentless. Each time we made a turn on the course we thought…alright, here’s our break…but somehow it was a head wind (or at minimum a cross wind) at every turn. Say whaaaaat? And although the day was heating up quickly, we caught a break and got some nice cloud cover. For me…it was at least the first 2 hours on the bike. It was amazing, and certainly made conditions much more pleasant!! The sun wasn’t beating down on us the entire time. And although I would’ve preferred less wind, it wasn’t unbearable. I just stayed in a low gear and high cadence and tried to not push too hard. Honestly, I thought I was being really smart here by not pushing too hard. I was taking in all my nutrition as planned. I even ate a GU and half an energy bar. Side note: a lot of my non tri-athlete friends have asked what we do about food so I thought I would add here that most of us drink our nutrition and supplement with bars, bananas, gels, snacks, etc. For me, I carried 3 bottles (of Tailwind mixed with Skratch) that were approx. 280 calories each. A bar at 200 calories, and a GU with 100. So over the next 3.5 hours, I took in roughly 1,140 calories. Based on that…and because I was able to maintain my average goal speed even into the wind, I felt like I was setting myself up for a really decent run and possibly even a sub 7hr finish. Well, spoiler alert!! Things don’t always go as planned….
Official bike time: 3:23:44 (16.5 mph). 54th in my division
T2: this is where things went wrong. As soon as I got off my bike I felt nauseous. I felt light-headed and suddenly really hot. It was 92 and 73% humidity. And frankly…I was a little bit scared about what my body was doing. I spent probably at least 5 minutes trying to get the hair tie out of my hair. Thankfully the 11 year old volunteer finally just ripped it out of my head and sent me on my way. Official T2 time: 12:44. A sign that things were getting off course
13.1 mile RUN:
I tried my best to get on with it and run out. Still nauseous and still a little concerned about how I was feeling, not really able to do much more than a shuffle. I kept thinking to myself “Don’t puke! I can’t afford to lose the nutrients I drank on the bike” (is that a realistic concern?? I don’t know…) But my stomach wouldn’t calm and the cramping got worse and worse. Eventually everything came up and out. Then dry heaves. And I was MAYBE 400 ft into the run. Aye aye aye….not a good way to start. Feeling hotter than ever, I saw an adirondack chair in a sprinkler by the side of the road (the neighborhood was so awesome!! They had water hoses, misters, sprinklers set up along the course for the runners to run through. It literally saved us all) and I sat down in that chair for at least 2 minutes. For a second, I wasn’t sure if I could even hold my own self up. But I eventually put one foot in front of the other and tried to make forward progress. I would feel okay and start to run for 50 steps – yes I was counting them – and then the cramps would return and I would walk. This continued for the entire 13.1 mile run. YUCK!! It’s not fun to essentially walk a half marathon. I just wanted it to be over.
The heat was oppressive, specifically because I haven’t felt these temps in forever. My hottest training run in NY was only in the 70s. It’s been unseasonably cool this spring and I just haven’t had a lot of (recent) training in the heat. Oh well. You can’t control everything. Eventually…the end was near and I saw my family. I figured Justin would be worried about me, especially after a good swim and a good bike time. Those thoughts were confirmed when running into the finisher’s chute. The kids came running over, holding their adorable signs and giving me high fives. Aw, they’re so cute…cheering on their mom. What good kids. And then, my son says “Geez momma, what took you so long? We’ve been waiting FOOOOOOREVER”. I know right….I feel the same way kiddo! lol
And off I went, to the finish line…
Official run time: 3:38:37 (16:41/mi). 84th in my division
Official overall time 7:54:15, and the obligatory Trista pose at the finish…
The race was awesome! The course was perfect. The experience was one I won’t forget. And here’s the cool part. Everything is a learning experience, and after talking with my coach we already have ideas on how to improve nutrition and training for the next event. I’m excited!!
So what’s next? A couple days of recovery…and then I’m back in water this week to train for a (stupidly long) 10k open water swim at Fire Island in July. Just keep swimming…just keep swimming….