I am truly a Half Ironman!
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The Timberman Half Ironman (Ironman70.3) was my second Half Ironman. Last summer I completed this race as my first Half Ironman which was a huge first for me! Doing it again this summer took new courage because once you have already completed a race distance (and the race course) your mind does not forget the challenges that you must face yet again. I was so pumped to do this race again this summer and now that it is over I can say that I am truly hooked on triathlon! I am ready to get a real TRI bike (look out for the added speed with a more aerodynamic bike!) and have already signed up for the Mont Tremblant Ironman 70.3 and and (the new) Lake Placid Ironman 70.3 for next summer (Thank you Team SmashFest Queen for the early entry!!!).
But now before I get too excited about future races (and pointy bike helmets . . . haha) let’s get down to the nitty gritty of the race. This year just like last I went to the race with my awesome friend Olivia, a fierce competitor who inspires me with her grit and determination to go for her triathlon goals! Last year we both had our families in tow for the weekend but this year decided to make it a ladies weekend of racing, hanging out, and recovering with tales of our race day. While having our families along was awesome it was nice to be able to fully relax and put our feet up before and after the race to stay rest and then to recover without little humans climbing all over us with chants of, “Mom, Mom, Mom . . .Mommy, Mommy!”
The Expo and a Course Preview
Olivia and I joined a few other triathletes in the hotel breakfast room the day before the race to watch a little bit of the women’s Olympic triathlon that was on TV (Go Gwen Jorgenson) to get a little extra inspired. Then we headed to the expo at Gunstock Mountain resort and it was hot and airless. We had to stand in a long line to pick up our bibs and then did a little fun pre-race expo shopping which included getting new tribike water bottles that attach onto the aerobars (even though you should never try something new on race day this was actually a great choice and was a definite help for added hydration on race day). After hitting the expo we headed down to Ellacoya State Park on Lake Winnepesaukee to go for a little ride to make sure everything was in working order with our bikes and then to check out the swim course and rack our bikes for the night. We both added our new water bottle systems to our bikes, took a little ride to test out the straw length on the new bottle and shared some funny giggles during our mini-ride). The pre-race swim was great! The water was amazingly warm and still wetsuit legal (wetsuits are great for the swim because they give you added buoyancy). I was feeling confident about the swim. I felt relaxed in the water and was feeling stronger than last year. Olivia looked strong and powerful in the water. I will definitely need some swimming tips from Olivia for next year! We swam out a few buoys and then headed back in feeling sufficiently ready for race morning.
Race Day Nutrition
We had a filling dinner and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for race morning which always arrives earlier than you wish. I prepped my race day clothes and transition bag for the race to ensure that I had everything that I would need (check out my triathlon checklist). I also prepped my race food– a Justin’s Nut Butter and Jelly sandwich cut into cubes, Clif Nut Butter Filled Bars (a new obsession) cut into cubes for my bike bento box, Skratch Labs Fruit Drops Energy Chews also for my bento box, and GU Refillable Pouches filled with GU Roctane, and CLIF Organic Energy Fuel in Banana Mango Coconut and CLIF Organic Energy Fuel Oatmeal. For Hydration on the bike I carried water and Skratch Labs Hydration Mix and then planned to take in whatever other fluids were offered on the course. Knowing that It was going to be hot on race day I also packed some Salt Stick Caps in case I needed extra salt. This may sound like a lot of food and hydration but with my fast metabolism I burn through a lot in longer races and so need every calorie I can get! I always practice my nutrition and hydration plan during my training and have a found a good balance of what works for me in terms of adequate nutrition and hydration. I am sure that I can still do more tweaking but so far the results with this plan have been good and have not resulted in tummy issues which is key!
The Race Kit
This year I am excited to be representing TEAM SMASHFEST Queen on the Triathlon course. I was psyched to be sporting my brilliant new race tri-kit for TEAM SFQ this year. SmashFest Queen was started by two inspiring triathletes, World Champion Triathlete Hillary Biscay and my amazing friend, triathlete, mom and designer Michele Landry. I was proud to wear their gear on race day to represent so many strong women who are now competing in triathlon!
Timberman Half Ironman Race Day
Once we were prepped we turned of the lights and set our alarms for the crack of dawn so as to get to the transition early enough. I am not sure what happened but this year we barely gave ourselves enough time to get parked, to get race marked, to get set up, wetsuit ready, porta-pottied and in the water at the start. We thought we had plenty of time in the morning but time evaporated and we were just able to steal one of the very last parking spots at a lake viewing point about a 3/4 of a mile walk from the race start (this would prove to be an awful walk with all of our gear and bikes post race!). We breathed a sigh of relief when we snagged the spot and grabbed our bags and quickly walked to the race marking area. This year the race number sharpied on my body would read 39 but with a crazy realization the night before I knew this would mean that I was to be newly indoctrinated into the most-awesome 40-44 age group since I will be 40 during the race year! Even though I was aging up the competition was still fierce. It is so inspiring to see so many fit, healthy, badass 40 year old women competing in this kind of race! 40 will be awesome and is definitely only a state of mind!
After race marking and a quick photo, Olivia and I wished each other good luck and went to get set up. The clock was ticking down to the time the transition area would close so I quickly applied Aquaphor to all of the places that might chafe during the swim and ride (don’t forget the neck or you might get a wetsuit hickey! eek!), put on my wetsuit, arranged my gear and abandoned the transition area to head to the swim start to get in line for the porta-potty before the swim. There was a line of people leading from the transition area to the swim area and you could feel the nervous energy. My nerves were rattled. I got in the next line and then had to beg to go ahead of other racers as it was almost time for my age group to start the swim. So much for the swim warm-up. I joined the fluorescent pink swim capped group of women in my group, asked for help in zipping my wetsuit, spit in my goggles so they wouldn’t fog and tried to calm my breathing (it wasn’t working, my nerves had fully kicked in, where was the calm from yesterday?).
The Swim–1.2 Miles
The swim start had been moved over from the previous year. The footing underneath was rocky. Oh well, time to be tough and get in the water. They called our group in and I position myself towards the outside edge near the middle of the group. The countdown was fast and before I knew it we were in the water and swimming. I was nervous as all get out! I started to swim but felt like my heart was beating in my throat. My breathing felt quick and I wanted to get the hell out of the water. Obviously I need to do some work on this before next year (if you have any tips I would LOVE to hear them). I swam as best I could in a freestyle and when I felt an opening between swimmers I took some strokes of breast stroke. It felt like an eternity before I was able to get my breathing under control. I kept telling myself that no matter how scared or nervous I was that I just needed to keep moving forward. I kept my focus on moving from one buoy to the next and after awhile felt more calm and able to swim. At that point however I noticed different color caps beginning to pass me. This year I did not get kicked in the face but had several people grab my ankles to move by or to push me out of the way?!? but obviously this is normal when you are moving through a sea of flailing bodies. I tried to not let this deter me and just tried to focus on my forward motion. After what seemed like eons we finally rounded the last buoy and I could see the shoreline. I swam and new that my time was not going to be fast. I was hoping to improve on the swim but sadly matched my time from last year. Oh well, I guess I need to get back to work in the pool and in the open water!
SWIM TIME: 44:41
The Bike–56 Miles
When I got out of the water I was thankful for the strippers (haha! the wetsuit strippers help you to quickly take off your wetsuit!). After getting out of my wetsuit I ran into the transition counting the racks until I found my bike. I tried not to focus on how many bikes were already out of the racks. I lubed up my feet and my unmentionable area because well you know, 56 miles on a bike in a wet tri-suit, grabbed some sandwich squares and my fuel pouches, grabbed my helmet my glasses and my bike shoes and headed out of the transition area. My transition from the swim to the bike was much faster than last year although there is still room for improvement. I haven’t gotten to the point yet of being able to get on my bike with my shoes already clipped on. I was relieved to be on the bike feeling more comfortable than I ever have in my biking. At the start of the bike there was still some cloud cover which was a welcome surprise as it kept it a little cooler which sadly burned off by the end of the ride.
The bike course is 56 miles and somewhat of an out and back loop with a total elevation gain of 2021 feet. The biggest hill in the course actually reminds me of the long killer hill that I do almost every time that I ride on the way back home to my house. I felt strong on my bike although I am not really sure that I know how to truly push myself on the bike yet. There are some amazingly badass cyclists in this sport! Thankfully my only issue on the bike this year was a minor snafu with my refillable pouch of Clif Organic Energy Food, the banana kind. It was actually pretty laughable. The whole cap came off when I tried to open it with my teeth and banana slime exploded everywhere. talk about a sticky mess! Last year my bike chain slipped off so I was happy that this was my only issue. I had also seen a ton of people having issues on the bike course so I was happy that I was not one of them. I had a solid bike ride and felt confident on the hills and gained a few place standings. The final miles of the ride felt harder as the sun had gotten hot.
BIKE TIME: 3:24:23
The Run–13.1 Miles
I was very thankful to finally get back to the transition to get on to the run. I ran through with my bike, racked it and quickly switched to my running shoes, grabbed my visor, more of my sandwich and headed through to the run start. Annoyingly, I had left my race number belt back at my bike, not know if this would cause me a penalty, I had to turn around and go back to get it which cost me some time at the transition. On the way out I happily accepted some sunscreen from the volunteers which I sloppily slapped on and got on to the run. My legs felt surprisingly light as I got off my bike. They were happy to be on the run. I slipped into a running pace that felt strong quickly realizing that I would need a porta-potty pit stop as I had done a super job hydrating on the bike. Thankfully there was an empty one about a mile in. After that I felt even more ready to run.
With a little still left in the tank I new if I stayed focused that this is where I could make up some time because obviously the run is my strongest discipline. I made sure to run through hoses spraying cool water, to grab ice to stick down my tri top and took in plenty of gatorade and grabbed bananas along the run because by this point in time it was in the 80’s and I didn’t want to bonk. My run pace was even and I began passing runners which gave me a confidence boost. I had the Calvin Harris and Rhianna song “This is What You Came For” in my head for much of the run. I just tried to keep my body relaxed because that is how I run best. With the course being an out and back I was on the lookout for Olivia. She was ahead of my and I was glad to see her as she made her way back in for the first loop. The run takes you out with a turn around a cone to bring you back in for the first 6-ish miles. The first loop can be mentally tough knowing that you have to pass the finish area as you head back out for your second lap. This year I was in better shape at this point and mentally geared myself up to pick up the pace for the last 3.5. I wanted to finish strong and with some negative splits. On the way back to the finish I was still in a mentally strong pace although I was a little thrown off as I swear I saw mile marker 12 twice! Coming into the finish I gave my run everything and was able to cross the line with a sprint.
RUN TIME: 2:01.34 (Next year my goal is sub 2 hours!)
I was so thrilled to be finished and ecstatic with my time improvement of 19 minutes from last year! I was definitely sad to not have my family greeting me with big hugs and smiles at the finish but I knew they would be proud of me! I was eager to find Olivia to hear all about her race! She too had shaved 20 minutes or so off her time from last year! We were both psyched to have done better but both have bigger goals now eating away at us! I think we will be racing again together soon! After we met up happily refueled with some post-race chicken, chips, watermelon, and homemade blackberry ice cream yum! Then it was time for one last dip in Winnepesaukee to wash off all of the sweat and race grime.
This swim was truly rewarding! My only wish was that I had another triathlon planned for this year . . . Olivia and I rewarded ourselves with more food later–salty and sweet and perhaps not-so good for you and then a night of quiet sleep before returning to the chaos of our kids and real life the next day.
What an absolute blast. Thank you Timberman Half Ironman for showing me how strong I am. I survived this race even despite my nerves in the swim.
OVERALL FINISH TIME: 6:17.26
OVERALL PLACE: 47th out of 95 in the 40-44 age group
Next up The Leaf Peepers Half Marathon and be on the look out for my JAY PEAK 25 Race recap coming soon!
Share your latest and greatest accomplishments with me! What challenged you the most this summer? What goals did you crush?