On August 29th finished my first half Ironman, Maine 70.3. It was truly an experience I’ll remember forever.
Since it’s taken me almost three months to write this, let’s get right into it!
I started the race with two very specific goals:
Goal #1—finish between 7-7:30
Goal #2—make all the cutoffs-(most worried about the swim)
I’ll just say it: 58 degree water is fucking cold, thank goodness for wetsuits and earplugs. The swim start was to be a rolling start and you were supposed to line up based on pace, faster in the front, slower in the back, letting 2-3 swimmers go in the water every few seconds. I don’t think it worked out the way the race directors expected it to because it seemed like everyone just lined up on a first come first serve basis.
I planned to start in the back and ended up waiting 20+ minutes to get into the water. To be fair, I didn’t know what to expect since I had never done a triathlon of this size, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Then, with about a quarter of the field to go they just started letting everyone run into the water at the same time which made for a pretty rough start at least to the first turn buoy then the crowd thinned out. I had three swim goals: 1. make it out before the cutoff and 2. don’t hang onto any buoys or kayaks unless I 100% knew I had to. 3. Don’t swim too far off course. Check, check and kind of check (I swam an extra 300 yards per my Garmin). I made it out of the water, feeling alive and ready for what’s next, I knew I was going to become a half Ironman that day.
The great thing about a super long walk/run to from the swim finish to transition is that it gives you time to reorient yourself, get your legs moving and in my case warm up after a 58 degree swim! Because I wasn’t rushing, I was able to go through my T1 actions in my head before getting there, meaning I wasn’t a nervous mess trying to get ready for the bike portion of the race. Once I got to my transition area, I rinsed my mouth out with water, rinsed off/dried my face and feet, put on my bike gear and off I went…
I’ll be honest, the first 22 miles of the bike went by so slow for me. In hindsight, I know I was looking at my Garmin a bit too much and worrying about not being able to warm up, as the air temperature was much cooler than I had expected it to be. I was also decided to be a bit conservative with effort as I still had a half marathon to run after 56 miles on the bike. Feeling good about midway through, I gradually picked up the pace and started catching people who finished the swim before me at the same time the roads got a bit rough. There were SO MANY athletes riding way to the center of the road, making it unsafe to pass on the left, so I did it: I did an illegal pass on the right (but not before making sure there was no one behind me). Asshole move on my part? Of course and I totally deserve time in the penalty tent but at the same time, so do all the other riders who were blocking people trying to pass. I get it, I really do, the road to the right was bumpy, so the blocking was likely totally unintentional. I wasn’t going to risk going to the left of someone into oncoming traffic to pass. That was my only problem with the bike portion, otherwise it was lovely. I finished over 20 minutes faster than my goal bike split time. At that point, knew I was going to hit my overall goal time.
T2 was uneventful. I hopped off my bike, put on my Hokas, bib and hat and hit up the porta pot to pee. OMG I had actually hydrated well on the bike! I never have to pee during a race, but then again, I had never raced this distance.
Admittedly, I should have read the course description a little better–most of the run was on a dirt/gravel multipurpose path and I trained on all pavement. My feet and calves were working harder than they were used to but it wasn’t too bad.
I ran the first six miles at a slower than normal pace before I started to walk-run. Doing a walk-run at some point was always part of the plan, it was just a matter of when. I was also STARVING by mile three, so I had pretzels…then I was super thirsty. This went on..and on…and on at each aid station. The run course was relatively flat with the exception of a couple of hills toward the end. Halfway through the run, I knew I was going to BEAT my goal time, but by how much? I kept up the walk-run thing until the last mile then ran the rest of the way in across the finish line.
That finish line. Turning onto 1st street and hearing the sounds of the finish line, I knew I was there. I had done it. I tried to hold back the tears but they just streamed down my face as soon as I saw that red carpet and Tyler.
I crossed the finish line in 6:48:40, with my signature “looking at/stopping my Garmin” pose.
Now that I got my “just finish” 70.3 done, it’s time to get back to work and improve…. because the next one will be here before I know it!
HUGE thank you to my husband, Tyler, for putting up with my crazies during training and the days leading up to race day and being the best sherpa on race day. Thank you to Jill, my Oiselle teammate, who found me on the run–you calmed my nerves more than you know–also, way to go out there, rockstar! And finally, thank you to my 2017 Coeur teammates-it was nice to meet up with you ladies in Maine.