Ironman Texas recap: BEST DAY EVER!

26 Apr
That comes with an asterisk. Because, above all I am a wife and mom, so aside from wedding day and birthing days, this was a day that will go down in history. A day that is hard to explain or put into words. A day that I am so proud of because it represents a goal, a commitment and months and months of hard work and preparation…sacrifice and dedication (from not just myself)…all ending with a glorious 14 hour celebration on race day.

I FREAKIN DID IT

PRE-RACE:

The 3 days in Houston before the race were packed full of emotion! I was so very anxious, nervous, excited, and scared. But more than anything, just ready to get it started. I have worked so hard for this, I just wanted the wait to be over and to know the outcome. I wasn’t scared that I couldn’t do it. I knew I was prepared. I knew I was ready. I’d done the training and I was confident in my fitness. It was all the other uncontrollable stuff that I was worried about….the unknown. What an emotional few days it was! Cecilia and I (both first timers) cried a bunch of times, but there were also so many laughs, and general goofiness from our group. Nobody was taking anything too seriously, and we had so much fun together. I’m so glad the 4 of us did this race together. Being there with them and our amazing sherpa husbands was just….perfect!

#adorkable

Nobody knows what’s going on here

We know how to have fun

Cheese!

Pre race laughs and practice swim

RACE DAY, FINALLY!

2.4 mile swim (1:14:20)

In summation? It sucked! Like really, really sucked. We got there late, started way far back, there were no pace signs as they had said there would be. But really I don’t think it would’ve changed the outcome much. Everyone got beat up on the swim and it was a cluster for everyone. Not sure why, but I started to feel a little nauseous in the second half. This all came as a big surprise to me because while I expected to go through some dark times that day, I didn’t expect them so soon. Not in the water, where I feel the most confident. But man, I was just….wishing the time away to be done and out of the water.

Very end of the swim, in the tiny canal

I had mini panic attacks a few times and would come up and do a few breast strokes. One time I tried backstroke, but that was a mistake. Just made me more dizzy. I was hurting, uncomfortable, people were swimming into me, pushing me underwater, grabbing my legs, hitting my face. But as soon as I stepped out of the water, I seemed to have forgotten all about how horrible I felt, and when I heard the volunteers shouting out my race number over their megaphones (this is new to me, the 140.6 is a well oiled machine and the volunteers are incredible, and totally makes me want to go volunteer at one) a smile came over my face that didn’t go away for the next 13 hours. I was ready to tackle the bike.

Blurry. Accurate.

112 mile bike (6:47:36)

I loved every second! Even when we had to ride 40 miles directly into a killer headwind, I was like (fist pump) THIS IS AWESOME!!

Bike love!

It was a two loop out-and-back course on the Hardy Toll Road. I took it really easy at first, keeping in mind of how long the day ahead of me was going to be. I’ve never biked for 6.5 hours and then ran a marathon, so I wanted to be conservative. If I could’ve predicted what happened next, I maybe would’ve pushed a little harder on the out, because when we turned around to head back in, we were directly into a head wind. It sucked, but I just kept pedaling. Did the turn to go back out, and got an amazing tailwind. Miles 70-80 on the bike I was literally high. Biggest smile of the day, so happy to be out there having fun. I kept reflecting back on my training, how I’d worked so hard for this very moment….so that I could sit back and enjoy the day. I WAS DOING IT and I was enjoying it (just like everyone advised me to do for my first time)!! I kept reminding myself of all the fun times and not-so-fun times over the last 8 months of training. I kept thinking about people’s advice….telling me that the day would be filled with highs and lows. Neither of which would stick around long. I knew it was a fleeting high, so I soaked it in as much as I could, and was thankful that it hung around as long as it did.

Still smiling

After the next turnaround, back into the head wind for another 20 miles was not as fun. The winds really picked up, and a front was blowing in. It rained briefly and brought some strong gusts. I kept my spirits up and thought about all those rides we had in the wind, in the rain, in the cold. I was doing just fine. I was still riding conservatively, reminding myself that someone once told me that the Ironman doesn’t really start until mile 80.

Pffft. 112 miles? I GOT THIS!

When I finally made it back to transition, I was pretty happy to get off the bike. I saw Justin as I was coming in, gave him a kiss, and then he walked along beside me encouraging me, telling me how I killed it on the swim and bike. I told him I was going out for a short little run and that I’d see him soon. Kissed him goodbye and was on my way!

My biggest cheerleader

And if you’re wondering what Justin did the whole day, when he wasn’t cheering or taking pictures on the course….

Sherpa duties

26.2 mile run (5:49:48)
I told everyone out there (regardless if they listened or not) that I was a first timer. I still couldn’t stop smiling, and felt especially good the first 13 miles. I kept wondering when the SUCK was going to set in, but it never did. I was enjoying the day, just as everyone had told me to do. I got a lot of cheers and high fives from the crowd, and so many comments about my smile. It was obvious to everyone that I was having fun out there. And while the winds on the bike were rough, I was thankful on the run, because the front had moved in and the temperature was perfect. I was trucking along…on point with my nutrition, able to get down 3 gels the first half. At 13.1 miles my time was about 2:36 which I thought was pretty great.
But the next 13 miles didn’t feel as physically great. I was struggling to take in any nutrition, but was able to take salt, coke and water still. So I did that as long as I could, but kept debating whether it would be better to puke and rally or continue trying to keep it down.

By mile 18 I no longer had a choice, my stomach was not happy. I squatted in the grass and puked 5-6 times. Other athletes came by to check on me, make sure I was okay, offer me salt. Everyone was so nice! So much liquid came out, and I felt way better afterwards. And then I was fine until about mile 25 when I puked again (but this time it was more of a dry heave than anything else). I was glad to get it (literally) out of my system before heading into the finisher’s chute. And although I was elated to see the mile 25 sign, the last 1.2 miles felt like the longest I’ve ever ran (it was definitely the slowest). I honestly don’t remember the last quarter mile or so. I was so energized by the crowd. I could hear Mike Reilly and the music at the finish line. It was all uphill, but didn’t feel it at all. It was the highest of highs and I was so excited to be in the chute, finally on the red carpet at the finish line, that I totally forgot to stop and kiss Justin as I ran by him. I high-fived, shouted, and smiled at him…but kept running forward so that I could hear the words I’ve been working so hard to hear….

I did it!

“Trista Mennen YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” Best finish line ever! So proud of this accomplishment.

Mic drop

Overall time 14 hours, 8 minutes and 51 seconds.

Trista pose, of course

Post race celebration

Miller Lite, bacon, chips

Ironfriends

A great welcome home and celebration with Val and the kids…
I’m still on the adrenaline high, giddy about the day, and proudly sporting my mdot gear, baby!

Still can’t believe I did it 🙂

Advertisements

Galveston 70.3 Race Report

6 Apr

Another race weekend back in the Lone Star State!

TEXAS! FOOD! TEXAS FOOD!

It’s confusing to some that Ironman branded races can either be half (70.3 miles) or full distance (140.6 miles), and many of my friends thought this was “THE” race I’ve been training for. And let me just say, for all of you that sent encouraging notes or congratulatory Facebook comments….man, I LOVE YOU GUYS! Seriously, your encouragement means far more than you know. But. I still have 16 days until my first FULL Ironman (so keep cheering)! The race in Galveston last weekend was just….the warm-up; an opportunity to go through the motions and hone in on my race-day strategies in preparation for the BIG day.

If you remember, I traveled to Austin last October in hopes of getting this race-day practice and confidence boost. However, the swim at Austin 70.3 was cancelled due to fog so it wasn’t really the swim/bike/run experience I had been hoping for. So I talked to my coach about a last ditch effort to get in another 70.3 before April, in hopes it would give me the reassurance I needed to know that I was ready to tackle Ironman Texas. My coach was planning to do Galveston 70.3, so I signed up too. And then our other 2 teammates, Amy and Cecilia registered and BAM! we had ourselves a nice little girls trip in the making….

The day before the race we attempted a practice ride, but didn’t even make it 1 mile before we stopped and turned back. Winds were too gusty and it was just too dangerous to be out there in traffic.

The weather forecast wasn’t looking good. 90% chance of thunderstorms with 20+ mph winds. I thought for sure parts of the race were going to be cancelled or shortened. We kept an eye on the weather app, not that we needed it really….you could just step outside to see that it was bad.

Me, depicting what it felt like to have your bike flying away from you

So we showed up on race morning, hoping for the best! Per usual Texas weather, the forecast had cleared some. Winds and humidity were still high, but looked like the storms would hold off until later that evening. Ok, so this is happening!

Pre-race prep in transition. GO TEAM!

I felt surprisingly non-nervous before the race – possibly because I kept thinking it wasn’t going to happen? In fact, I even told Amy to brace herself for the onset of my nerves before the swim (because man, in Austin they were ridiculous!!) but they never really came. Amy and I were in the same swim wave so we kinda goofed around and talked with other athletes until it was our turn to jump into the water.

1.2 mile swim

And here’s where I made my first mistake. In my last couple of swims I’ve always lined up near the front of the swim wave. I thought surely there couldn’t be that much difference between the first and third row. Well there is, and I was having to fight people for position, something I’ve never had to deal with before. Even though it didn’t last longer than a couple minutes….it was still annoying and uncomfortable. My second mistake was not really familiarizing myself with the swim course. It was rumored the officials had removed a turn buoy but I wasn’t exactly sure where, and well…I was just flailing around out there with no real plan. The water was choppy due to the wind and there was a weird side current thing, and there were people swimming on either sides of the buoys…some stopping to hang on them so it was just kind of a cluster. As the swim normally is, I guess. After the first turn I think I finally chilled out some and tried to slow my pace to find a comfortable rhythm as I headed to the next turn buoy. By the time I rounded that buoy, the swim was almost over. I could see the swim exit, a straight shot in front of me, so I settled in and practiced my 6 stroke sighting technique until it was my turn to walk up the rickety exit ramp. Yay, swim complete…in (almost) the exact 35 minutes I had hoped to finish it in.

Next time, remind me to take my cap and goggles off for the photo

Official swim time: 34:54 (1:48/100m)

T1: 4:07

56 mile bike

We knew the wind would be bad. We knew it would be gusty…which means unpredictable…which means we had to think extra hard to be careful and remain upright. Coach and I had talked about eating something right out of transition, before getting out to the Sea Wall where the buildings wouldn’t be sheltering us from the wind any longer. So that’s what I did. I ate a few bites of my PBO bars and drank what I could. And also I was trying to calm my breathing here. HELLO humidity acclimation!! Humidity was high and I was having a hard time adjusting. But about 5 minutes in, I caught my breath and all was fine for the rest of the day.

The course was a straight out and back, and it was obvious we had a cross wind. But on the way out, it almost felt like a cross-tail-wind at times. This made me nervous for the return trip, thinking it was going to be a cross-head-wind coming back. So I rode a little conservatively…just like coach and I had talked about. Due to the wind, I didn’t really have any hard and fast clock based goals. The main goal for me was to not push too hard, and save some gas in the tank for the run, just another opportunity to practice nutrition. I’ll admit I didn’t eat as much or consistently as I would’ve liked to. Sometimes it was just too scary to take one hand off the handlebars. But I drank almost all 3 of my Tailwind bottles, so that’s a win!

It felt like forever before we got to the turnaround. There was a bumpy bridge and some tiny hills, and some beach cows. But other than that, it was just flat and windy. And because of the wind I was out of aero more than I would have liked, so I was just more uncomfortable than normal. Ugh, are we done yet?

Yes, we’re done! Official bike time: 3:15:45 (17.16 mph)

T2: 5:23

13.1 mile run

The run was a 3 loop course so at least I got to see my peeps over and over. That was fun. It was humid, but bearable. And remember all that wind we had on the bike? It completely went away on the run. It was stagnate. We ran by the swim course and even the water had completely chilled out. It was almost flat compared to the choppy conditions earlier. (Providing further evidence that a reverse triathlon would be so much better!)

You know the run is not my favorite. But I just kept things moving. Walking when I “needed” to walk and kept ticking away the miles. I know it’s all in my head, and one day I’ll try to really conquer this mental game. But I gave it the ole “good is good enough”, and just kept things moving forward, as I plan to do in a couple weeks for the full.

The finishers chute!

My goal was to run about a 2:30 half marathon. As I got closer to the finish I could see that I was close to that. So I gave it what I had left, and crossed the finish line, happy with my day’s work.

I did it!!

Official run time: 2:30:01 (11:27/mile)

Dang, over my goal time by ONE SECOND, lol. But I’m pretty happy with the run overall. I mean, I’d like to be faster….but that run was 7.5 minutes faster than my run at Austin 70.3, which had no swim. So yay!

Happy Trista!

Overall race time: 6:30:10

My awesome squad, post-race

And now…my favorite part! Time to celebrate…

Drinks, and then food!

After the race, I feel more confident than ever that I am ready for Ironman Texas. I’m so close to my goal of becoming an ironman before I turn 40. Exciting stuff!

Because my birthday falls before the end of the year, Ironman already considers me to be in the 40-44 age group. Look how happy 40 looks!

After the race, we talked about seeing an 80 year old man out there on the course. Well, as luck would have it, guess who I ran into at the airport! Meet Wayne Mehl, an 80 year old from California who finished the course in a little over 8 hours, and took 1st place in his age group (um, he was THE ONLY guy in his age group). He has at least 4 more races on his schedule this year, and eventually hopes to be the first man over 83 to complete the full Ironman distance.

What an inspiration!

If he can do it, I can do it. So now all I can do is hope that I’ve done enough in training, and that I’m prepared for whatever race day holds. I’m excited and nervous, and ready more than ever to finally hear those words “Trista Mennen, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”!

SEVEN

5 Apr

My sweet sweet boy, watching the time pass so quickly is cracking my heart wide open

One day in February, out of the blue, Pierce declared it was “National Pierce Day”. It included ice cream and ipad time. It went over so well he quickly decided that March would be “National Pierce Month” in honor of his birthday. Sure, kid. We can make that happen.

So we kicked off his birthday celebration a couple weeks early with a party at Sports Connection for laser tag and arcade games with friends. The kids love it here!

Pierce could play laser tag for hours

 

He wanted a Minecraft cake, so a Minecraft cake he got!

That’s the Ender Dragon on top. Try as I may, I cannot escape his daily Minecraft tutelage. He’ll make a gamer of me yet!

Just before officially turning 7, our little ninja had his first belt test at his new Tae Kwon Do school.  I’m so proud of him! He did great

National Pierce Month wouldn’t be complete without a cookie cake!

…and a day of golf with dad

Just recently Pierce has been really into basketball.

Huge Hornets fan!

So our big gift to him this year was a basketball hoop, which he LOVES. He’s out there shooting hoops every day, and he can’t wait to draw the court, with the free throw and 3 point lines.

Working on his jump shot

He was super excited to go to school on his birthday, to see his name on the rock, and hear his name on the announcements.

Minecraft rock

And of course, we celebrated with cake for breakfast and presents before sending him off to school! Because, ya know…National Month of Pierce.

And then dad really made his day when he surprised him at lunch with a milkshake, and cookies for his whole class!

Some of his buddies

Happy birthday my sweet boy! We love you “bigger than the universe”.

The facts: this year brought about new obsessions like Minecraft, YouTube Kids, Expedition Unknown, Star Wars, Magic Tree House Books, and most recently a love for basketball. And also golf….but it’s yet to be determined if he actually likes playing golf or if he just wants to drive the golf cart.

Eating the Elephant

16 Mar

My dad has an expression for everything. So when I think about my goal of completing an Ironman before turning 40, it’s no surprise I can hear his voice telling me the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing for the last 7 months…just chewing away on a big ass elephant, which used to represent a lofty goal in a seemingly never-going-to-get-here-far-off date. But suddenly, the elephant is in my face reminding me that my Ironman race is now just a little over a month away. And there is still plenty of him left to eat.

For the most part, I’d say the training has been going well. I don’t really have anything to compare it to, since I’ve never done this before. But I’m healthy (knock on wood), injury free (knock on wood) and making progress where progress needs to be made. But I’m pretty sure if you asked my family how the training is going, they would ask if you’ve seen me lately because they’ve forgotten what I look like.

Let’s talk about the swim first….I feel so lucky to have found a home at MSA – my masters swimming program. There’s such a sense of community here which I was desperately lacking in New York. It’s nice to look forward to practice not just because I can get stronger in the pool, but because I can also have fun with my swimming peeps! They even convinced me to register for a swim meet – my first one in 20 years – and so glad I did. It was a fun distraction from the usual weekend activities. I swam 5 events at the Sunbelt Regional Meet, and never did an official “race” report like I usually do, so here are the results:

50 free (200 medley relay) = 27:8
100 free (400 free relay) = 1:07:3
100 free (400 free relay mixed) = 1:07:8
200 free (800 free relay) = 2:15:2
1650 (the mile) = 23:55:56

I continue to put the work in at the pool, and just hope and pray that some of it will translate into open water swimming on race day. Even though I’m pretty comfortable in the water, I’ve only done Half Ironman races which I’m told does not compare to the “washing machine” that is Ironman.

One of my awesome relay teams

Our team took home first place overall, woot woot!

Ok, now the bike. I’ve mentioned my wahoo bike trainer before and how much I love it. It’s a great tool for communicating with my coach. It helps refine the workouts, and it’s been key in getting me stronger on the bike. But I’m so excited to have fallen in with an awesome group of girls here who love to cycle. Upon moving here I met a wonderful friend, Tami who has since introduced me to a group of girls who are always down for a long ride. They are fun on and off the road, and love to have a good time! Luckily for me, most of them are currently training for a ridiculously long race, so they hardly even flinch when I ask if they want to go ride 100 miles with me. They’re pretty great. We’ve done some long stuff, but we’re about to hit the REALLY long stuff so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things continue to progress nicely…

When you ride across state lines, it’s a mandatory selfie

“We’re in training”

And it wouldn’t be triathlon if we didn’t talk about running. Ugh…running. My nemesis, and where I fear the most that the wheels will come off at IMTX. However, I have somewhat good news here. I’ve made progress in the last 5 months, both mentally and physically in the run. In November I ran a 2:03 half marathon almost by accident. Until then I had no idea that was even possible for me. My winter training has been going well, and I completed a marathon last month which isn’t always typical for Ironman training. I had high hopes for a great race because training was going so well, but unfortunately things didn’t really go as planned on race day. Again, no official race report, mainly because I was too upset to write one. However, my coach reminds me all the ways it was a helpful run. It gave me tools that I can pull from, showed me that I can keep going when shit gets hard AAAAAAND it was a PR. So I’ve decided I can’t be too upset about it.

Pre-marathon, showing off my cute arm warmers

Post race, contemplating taking the biggest ice bath ever

Ok so finally, my favorite part. Let’s talk about my Austin peeps. Hands down…THE BEST part about IMTX training has been my coach and my teammates in Austin. Coach Karen has been coaching, supporting, and cheering me on over the last 10 years and I’m so thankful for her. She keeps me from falling apart when things get crazy hard, and talks me off the ledge probably weekly. It’s through her that I met Amy and Cecilia, who round out our IMTX team. Our little group has no doubt been my lifesaver on so many occasions, and I’m so happy to be doing this along side them. Karen and Amy are Ironman veterans, but Cecilia and I are both attempting our firsts, so it’s a good mix.  Last weekend I got to travel to Austin for a mini training camp with them, and it was so much fun! We got an open water practice swim, a very soggy and nasty 70 mile ride with a short run after. And then a long run (can you hear me groaning).

Wetsuit swim in the quarry

An 85 mile ride, quickly reduced to 70 due to nasty weather. Yuck

Pre 16 mile long run in the almost freezing temps. What gives, Austin?

No, it’s not a Nike ad. It’s a deer selfie! Cecilia and I had to stop for a photo op

Coach has all the fun recovery toys

And no surprise….my favorite part of training camp was the end, where we celebrated with pizza and booze. Amy got these amazing swim caps for everyone. This is definitely my favorite picture from the weekend, and it makes me smile when I see it. Love these ladies!

Do Epic Shit

Can’t wait until we all meet up again in just 2 and a half weeks for Galveston 70.3. I’m looking forward to another fun weekend with this group. And it also means we’ll hit our peak training soon, then…HELLO TAPER!!

Half a year, here!

21 Feb

img_6713

It’s been almost 6 months since the move, and we’re in that funny paradox where everything feels new and old at the same time. We’re still learning our way in Charlotte, but we’ve settled in nicely, and overall things are feeling like HOME.

It took a little longer than I had hoped, but we eventually found fun things for the kids to do that they enjoy. Pierce, is of course continuing his love of all things ninja and is enrolled in Tae Kwon Do. I am loving his new school, which is very different than the place in New York, and I’m proud of him for adapting so quickly. He is up for a belt promotion next month, and we can’t wait to be his cheerleaders at the belt test.

img_7405

You want some of this?

He also joined cub scouts. We were excited to find out his best buddy is also in the pack so he’s loving it. He’s done some community service, we have the Pine Wood Derby coming up, and the much anticipated sleepover aboard the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier in Charleston is in a couple months. He is having so much fun with it!

img_8780 img_8645

Addison is happiest when twirling and jumping, so no surprise she is LOVING her dance class. They have a spring recital which I can’t wait to see. These little girls are so adorable….and hysterical.

img_8563 img_8565

We got our hopes up last month that we may actually see some snow. And I guess technically we did, but it was just a few flakes. They didn’t stick. And we were disappointed. But the towns north of us got like 8 inches!! So we hold out hope. Pierce, more than anyone is really missing the New York winters.

img_8165

Catching snowflakes in January

Both kids continue to practice their swim skills….

img_7657 img_7665

Which is more important than ever because WE’RE GETTING A POOL SOON!!!

Me, in the shallow end. Check out that form!

Me, swimming in the shallow end. Check out that form!

This was the end of dig day 1. If we’re lucky, we’ll be swimming in 8-10 weeks.

img_9242

Justin has been hard at work in his new CIO role. He’s enjoying it, but like any new gig it’s taking a lot of time and effort. He’s been traveling, but not as much internationally so that’s been nice to have him around more. And as for me….I’ve been steadily sweating away the days, training for my first full Ironman. I knew it was going to be a challenge, with the move and all, but I think I’ve done pretty well keeping consistent with the training. But it is so much a group effort. Justin and Justin’s mom have really picked up my slack, and help out with the kids when I’m away for hours on end. With only 8 weeks to go before the big race, the long workouts are about to get REALLY long, and the family is showing their support of me and my journey to 140.6. Hmmm….I feel another post coming soon about the Ironman journey.

Threenager

14 Jan

img_8374

I’m pretty sure Addison skipped the “terrible two’s” and went straight to being a threenager. This girl is so full of….well everything. Sass, personality, love and laughter. She surprises me daily with the stuff that comes out of her mouth. She has attitude for days and a stubborn streak that puts mine to shame. But somehow she pulls it off and makes it work for her. Everyone loves her little self.

We started her 3rd birthday with a celebration at school Friday afternoon. Her class sang her Happy Birthday in Mandarin (ok, probably only the Mandarin teacher sang her happy birthday in Mandarin) while she proudly wore her birthday crown and shared pink cookies with her friends.

img_8301

Because everything in her world is PINK!

When she woke up Saturday morning, a princess party was waiting downstairs for her.

Pink, pink, pink

Pink, pink, pink

img_8314

Pierce, the #bestbigbro having a princess tea party with the birthday girl

Cake for breakfast!

img_8324

And then later, cake for lunch with friends from the neighborhood

She opened presents, with a little help from Pierce

img_8343

img_8334

A full length mirror to see her princess dresses from tiara to tip toes!

From Grandma, a new vanity with her very own makeup kit

img_8351

Is she a girly girl or what? She may get her attitude from me, but definitely did not inherit the girly gene from me

Addi’s stats:

Still not a great eater, but she’s starting to venture out. The other night she ate her entire plate of lasagna! Loves pricesses, dressup, tutus, jewelry, accessories, and everything else “girly”. She still sucks her thumb. Potty trained before 3, and y’all this is a big one. I swear, for a while there I thought she was going to be starting kindergarten in diapers. She just didn’t care. Still Frozen obsessed, loves all things Elsa and Ana. Big talker, so easy for her to communicate her wishes (ahem, demands), which still surprises me at times, because Pierce was never this vocal. Girl can talk! Addi loves to dance, sing and listen to stories. Likes to copy big brother, especially his Tae Kwon Do moves. She recently discovered jumping jacks, pushups and the splits and loves showing off her new skills. I hear “momma, watch this” like 3000 times per day. Loves a good tickle-scratch and cuddling sesh.

img_8361

Addi, my heart is full. You test my patience and make me giggle every day. We will survive THREE together and make so many memories in the process. Love you baby girl, keep being you.

Ironman Austin 70.3 race report

5 Nov

After racing Eagelman 70.3 earlier this year, I almost immediately signed up for (what will be my first FULL) Ironman Texas next April. The driving reason for wanting to do Austin 70.3 was to get another half under my belt to build confidence for the full. The last two halves didn’t really go as planned…so I needed a redemption race and I was determined to be successful in Austin!! I was so excited to be back there for the race, it’s been far too long since I’ve been “home”. I was excited not only because I was able to stay with and meet up with my girlfriends while there, but also because I was able to hang out with my coach who lives in Austin. She decided kinda last minute not to race, so lucky for me she made herself available to play sherpa, and did a fantastic job of it all weekend!

14650272_10210166651139435_5033146726844324415_n

Me and coach, pre-race

There was a lot of fog that morning, and the start of the race was delayed. Which at first I was somewhat ok with because the traffic getting to the expo center, and the shuttle buses to T1 were backed up and everything was running behind. I was worried I wasn’t going to have enough time to get everything done in T1.

So much fog!

So much fog!

But as the morning progressed, the fog didn’t budge. So we waited. And waited. And waited for it to clear. What do YOU do while sitting around waiting for the weather to change? Cuz my coach makes me do ridiculous poses and duck face…

14954374_10210849246971677_1113553529_o

What? Doesn’t everyone look sexy in a wetsuit and goggles?

My swim wave was supposed to start at 8:15am, which was already later than I had hoped. It was forecasted to be a hot day (surprise, surprise…it’s Austin) so I was anxious to get started to limit exposure to the heat. But ultimately, the fog wasn’t going anywhere and with the minutes ticking away, the race director had to make a call…and they decided to cancel the swim. This was met by some athletes with audible sighs of relief. For me, I was really bummed. Like REALLY bummed. I was hoping to get a good practice race in, and was really looking forward to swimming in Decker Lake. This is where it all began for me….where I was “hooked” by the triathlon bug back in 2006 with the Danskin (shout out to Dawn for making me sign up woot woot, and to Pam and Tamara for jumping on the crazy train. This was also how I met coach Karen, thru the Iron Chicks training program…and then later convinced to join her Rogue Running group for marathon training. I digress). But swimming with all that fog would be just too dangerous, so after the swim was cancelled we all went to T1 and got ready for a time trial bike start.

This meant we sat around in transition for hours. They let the pros go first, one by one 3o seconds in between each athlete. And then finally us age groupers got to go, 2×2 with 5 seconds apart. I didn’t get started on the bike until almost lunchtime and I was starving before the race even began. Luckily for me, a girl next to me gave me a granola bar. (lesson learned…plan ahead and prepare/pack for anything!) I also peed like 4 times while waiting. TMI? Well at least I was hydrated! :))

While waiting around in T1, I kept seeing this guy. An amazing volunteer, in the Halloween spirit!

img_7037

Captain Jack Sparrow helped us get across the mount line!

img_7092

And I can’t talk about volunteers without mentioning this guy. So much energy from purple-speedo-cowboy-dude on the run!

Finally our race numbers were called, and I was happily on my way. The bike course was fun, with lots of rolling hills. The road quality was not ideal, it’s been a long time since I’ve ridden on these Texas roads and I’d forgotten all about chip seal. Most of the bike course was spent dodging water bottles, flat kits, and cages that had flown off the bikes ahead of me. And sadly enough, I saw a lot of drafting…hello, totally illegal in triathlon! Anyway, the miles ticked by pretty quickly, and after crossing the half way point, I did a quick calculation and realized I should probably reel it in a bit and slow down. I was trying to follow coach’s advice to “stay within myself” and not overdo it on the bike so that I had something left for the run. Wait, did I forget to mention my new bike!?! I did! So…I got a new bike…a Cervelo P3. It’s awesome and I love it. I pooled my birthday money from my parents and in-laws and asked for an advance Christmas present from Justin…and VOILA! Here she is…Di2 shifters and everything.

1602_002066

Borrowing coach’s aero helmet

1602_013655

I’m too cheap to buy the official race photos

Official bike split: 3:11:05, (18.27mph for the first half, 17.05mph the second half) 40th in my division, and 13 minutes faster than my last race. Yay for progress!

T2 was non-eventful at 5:02

By the time I got to the run it was almost 2pm (I think…going all from memory here, so ya know…it’s give or take) but started off pretty well. I wasn’t walking, so that was so-far-so-good. And let me tell ya, if anyone ever tries to say this run course is nice they are LYING. It’s hilly, there is no shade, no crowds, and most of it is a dirt path with rocks, or loose pavement. And it’s 3 loops of this nonsense. There was a lot of competitors walking, and many laying on the ground complaining of cramps (guess they didn’t “stay within themselves” on the bike). For me…I was feeling ok. I ran the first 5k, and then started taking walking breaks as needed. But by the 3rd loop what I realized was that my run pace was actually pretty good (for me), staying around a 10:30 pace. I lost a lot of time at the aid stations which were about every mile. Each one went like this: grab 2 cups of ice fill one with coke and drink it. Pour leftover ice down into the back of my sports bra. Second cup of ice went in my water bottle after opening the lid and forcing the cubes in one by one. Grab 2 waters. Pour one in water bottle, pour other over head. Grab one last cup of ice, pour into front of bra. I did this at every aid station, so a bit overkill yeah, but I was afraid of the alternative. And it worked…it kept me running, just ate into my time. Which I’m totally ok with. Obviously not trying to win, just trying to learn things as I go.

1602_030884

Are we there yet?

With about a mile to go, as I could see the expo center that held the finish line, my coach jumped out of nowhere on the course. Thank god I was running. She was happy to see me smiling and enjoying myself, and then we raced to the finish (she beat me) to collect my medal and do my pose.

1602_037300

Official run time 2:37:11 (11:59/mi and 45th in my division)

Official overall race time was 5:53:28. And if the damn swim hadn’t been cancelled I’m positive I would’ve been less than 36 minutes for swim and T1, putting me at 6:30 for this 70.3 which I would have been completely proud of. I know it’s not a HUGE deal that the swim was cancelled, and while it’s arguably the least liked leg of the triathlon by most athletes, it’s such a bummer that we didn’t get to do it. Not only because it messed with my head, threw timing and nutrition way off, and just sucked in general…but because DAMN these races are expensive. And while I 100% agree with the RD’s decision to cancel the swim for the safety of the athletes, not being able to do the whole thing as planned just really sucks. Let me break it down for you what a race like this can cost. And keep in mind…this is just a half.

Race entry: $310; Hotel: $380; Airfare: ok I used points, but STILL! Rental car: $160; Bike transport to/from race: $420. That’s already over $1200 and we’re just getting started. That doesn’t even take into consideration the prep one does for these things….pool membership/swimteam fees, coaching fees, running and biking shoes, bike maintenance (and in my case, a whole new bike!), and all the triathlon accessories (my new aero bottle cost $149.99) etc. etc. etc. As you can see, we are deeply invested and so when things don’t go your way it kinda just sucks. But as I’m learning…everything is a learning experience and it comes with the territory. And although it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m still happy with the race and the work I put in. I’ve gotten faster and stronger on the bike and in the pool over the last few months, but the most impactful improvement has been on the run. One of my first workouts with coach this year was in January. It was a 6 mile run which I did at a 12 min pace. The last 6 mile run I just did was a 9:34 pace. Progress!

So anywho…after the race we had a fun celebration with some other badass women at Karen’s house. There was lots of food, drinks, a soak in the pool and the hot tub, and a lot of entertaining conversation. So happy to have the support of these amazing athletes as we begin training for Ironman Texas, and to know these wonderful people!

img_7039

You’re lookin at the IMTX 2017 dream team :))

And so I’ll leave you with just one last picture. Triathlon can be such a humbling experience. Especially so when having to walk through the airport the day after your race, with your age sunburned into your leg!!

img_7033

The walk of shame…