The Carrot and the Stick

Things not to do before a half Ironman:

  1. Start a new job the same week
  2. Take your bike apart the night before you leave
  3. Forget your aero bottle hydration system at home
  4. Bring new tires to put on your bike that you haven’t used before
  5. Put on your aero bar arm pads on backwards
  6. Forget to bring your Garmin watch on race morning

Things you should do during a half Ironman:

  1. PR bike split
  2. Hold on for dear life as your headset becomes loose from all the bumps in the road
  3. PR run split
  4. Never ever, ever give up no matter how much it hurts

Basically that sums up Ironman Racine for me.

Before the race.

The week leading up to the race was highly stressful for me as I started my new job. There were a number of times I wanted to cry in frustration, give up on everything, not race and just throw myself down on the ground and scream. This culminated the night before leaving when I was catching the 6 am flight out to Chicago the next morning. I decided this was the perfect time to take my new bike apart by myself for the very first time (don’t do this at home, folks). I kept telling myself I couldn’t possibly do this. I wanted to give up so badly because there was SO much on my plate and I didn’t want to deal with it all.

Somehow with the help of Matt, we were able to take my bike apart enough to shove it into my bigger bike box. I was up at 3:30 am, off to the airport, onto my flight and landed in Chicago around 8:30 am. After the short trip up to Racine, I was there before 10:00 am with 4 hours before I could check into my hotel or check into the race.

After checking in to my hotel, I managed to put my bike back together about 95% of the way. This is when I realized I forgot my aero bottle hydration system (face palm). I decided to take my bike down to the bike mechanic at the expo to have them look it over and make sure it was good to go.

The mechanic said my headset was loose (foreshadowing for later) and I hadn’t put my front brake back together properly. I let him fix things up as I went to go check in. He said I was all set and sent me off with my fully assembled bike.

The next day when I went out to ride my bike for a shake out, I realized that I had put on my arm pads backwards, which is a really weird feeling. Kind of a silly mistake but harmless. The back wheel was also rubbing against the bike and making a funky noise. I took it back to the mechanic again. Turned out my back tire was a little too big for my bike so I had to buy a new one. Again, the mechanic set me off and I really thought I was good to go this time.

Race Morning.

Woke up, got ready and did my thing. My coach Craig came up the night before the race to sherpa and be my support crew. We headed over to the race at 5ish and got to transition around 5:30.

As I was setting up, I heard them announce that the swim had been cancelled. Ugh. For some people this might have been a blessing, but for me, swimming gives me an advantage. So to not have the swim, was unfavorable for me. But Craig pumped me up, told me it was going to be ok. To just do my race and my thing, and whatever happened would happen. It was out of my control at this point.

Since the swim was cancelled, they did a time trial start on the bike. Since I had registered late for the race, my bib was 1415 and I had to wait while 1,414 people went ahead of me…….I had some time to hang around.

As the pros started their race, I decided to start warming up. I looked through my bag and realized that I had left my Garmin BACK AT THE HOTEL!!!!!! After sitting around for 2 1/2 hours now I realize this?????? Craig ran back to the hotel as quickly as he could to retrieve my Garmin. Luckily he was able to hand it off to me so I could have some numbers to go by while racing and not be completely blind. Still another fun stress test to add to the mix if I didn’t already have enough.

Race time.

As I set off on the bike, a couple girls took off right away. But I stayed in my own race and plugged away at the top of my goal watts. It was actually a little hard at times to hold back. Since we didn’t have the swim, I had more energy than I was used to, but at the same time I still knew there was still a lot of the race left to go.

The wind was unforgiving. It was a head wind/cross wind for most of the race. There were only a few times it was a tail wind and I tried to use those to my advantage as much as possible. Around mile 25, we did a section right by the highway where we were very exposed and it was an unrelenting head wind. This was mentally probably the toughest part of the bike. Then, if you have done Racine or heard anything about it, the roads are not in the…ahem…best conditions. Every 2 feet or so it was “thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk.” It was almost numbing at points. But right around the halfway point, I started feeling my headset come loose from the rest of my bike…..

Every bump I hit, every turn I took, I just held onto my bike for dear life and prayed it wouldn’t go flying off. The handlebars were floating around the turns and I was hoping that I wouldn’t lose control. Also, I have never seen soooooo many people on the side of the road with flats and mechanicals. It was not a good situation.

Somehow, everything on my bike held together. As I came into transition, I saw Craig and he told me to take it in hot.

Transition, I was in and out as quickly as possible. One of the girls who had taken off early in the beginning of the race was sitting down in transition. I told her to keep going and ran out.

Coming out of transition there is a nice little bump. I was trying to book it up there. Craig told me I was 6th overall and I need to run 7:00 pace. I saw another girl ahead of me who had passed me around halfway on the bike as well. I set my eyes on her and tried to work my way up to her.

We were running into the wind on the way out. It’s a double out and back for the run. Nobody was really running my pace and I was trying to get any break from the wind possible but there was nowhere to go. Around mile 3 I started hitting my groove and I was on pace at the turn around.

The second loop was not quite so easy. I saw Craig again and he told me if I hung on to my pace that I would be top 3. The wind was finally catching up to me and I felt like I was spinning my legs but not going anywhere. I had caught up slightly to the girl ahead of me but had not closed the gap enough. I thought to myself she was the carrot I was chasing. My pace dropped to the 7:20’s. Around mile 10 I hit the wall. As much as I felt like I was pushing faster, I just felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. Mile 12 a guy passed me and I told him to finish strong. With a mile left, Craig told me to dig down and give it everything I had. I was grunting in pain as I sprinted towards the finish. I never passed that other girl ahead of me and imagined my pro card just literally running away from me. Going into the chute, I was THAT person that sprinted down the chute and ruined someone else’s finishing pics as I came across with them. Sorry to be THAT triathlete. Shame on me.

Results.

  1. Best bike split by 6 minutes
  2. Best run split by 5 minutes
  3. 2nd age group (missed first by :22 seconds)
  4. 6th amateur female overall (missed top 3 by 1:10)
  5. 2nd fastest amateur female run split of the day!
  6. 15th overall female with pros

If you had asked me at the beginning of this week what my expectations were for this race, I would probably wouldn’t have given you the best response. For everything that happened before and during the race, I am really happy with how things turned out. Do I wish there was a swim? Yes. Do I wish I got top 3? Yes. But I executed a really great day in not the most ideal conditions. So yes, I am happy. But still hungry for more.

Thanks again to Craig for driving up to be there at the race. You dream up all these crazy work outs for me and are helping make my goals a reality. Sometimes I hate you but it is all worth it on days like this.

Thanks Matt for dealing with my pre race crazies and helping me get my bike in the box. I couldn’t do what I do without all your love and support.

The sponsors: Coeur, TYR, Argon, Normatec. Coeur has the most glorious and comfortable kit. There was literally a guy during the race that said “I could chase that kit around all day long!” Even though I didn’t get to swim, Bryan Barge at TYR sent me a brand spanking new wetsuit to wear. It will just have to wait for next time. Argon 18. Even though the road conditions weren’t ideal, I still improved 6 minutes from my time at Eagleman just a month ago. Lil’ Sebastian used his wings to fly! Normatec is something that I use weekly after tough sessions to recover faster and get back to training sooner. It has also played a huge role in getting my legs ready to go for races. Thank you all!

To my tribe, there are so many supporters out there. I cherish all your enCOEURagement ;). I couldn’t do this without you guys either!

What’s next……….there might be another 70.3 on the horizon. Stay tuned.

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