Last Sunday I completed my first 70.3 of the year at Ironman 70.3 CT. This was the first year Ironman took over the race from Rev3 and reviews were mixed. I agree with the critique that it was a lot of people for the venue. The road conditions were not great, which is not ideal for a congested course with some very technical descents. That being said, none of that had any real impact on my performance so I’m not here to complain. 🙂
Truthfully, I’m a big fan of race reports, probably because Monday night quarterbacking is one of my favorite pasttimes. But life is pretty freaking busy right now so I don’t have time to write the full, stage by stage breakdown of this most recent race.
I know, I know. the three people reading this (Hi, Mom!) must just be devastated! 😉
The summary is: I had a decent day, especially for a season opener and not my “A-Race” for the season. I went into the day with a nagging achilles injury and knowing I hadn’t put a ton of time on the bike yet. I had limited expectations for myself other than to see what I could do…which is actually a very freeing way to go into any race!
That being said, on IRACELIKEAGIRL, we have this tradition of writing down our reflections in the format outlined in Craig Manning’s The Fearless Mind. He says to write (everyday actually) 3 things you did well and 3 things to work on. I think that is still a cool approach so here’s my 3:3 from 70.3 CT.
Here are three things I did well on race day:
Fueled decently. In the sense that I didn’t bonk, get sick, or think I was going to s**t myself. It’s all relative folks! I had my standard breakfast of Fieldwork & applesauce on race morning. When the swim start was delayed, I ate a few Clif Bloks and drink some more sports drink. On the bike, I had a little less than 3 Honey Stinger waffles (roughly one half every 30 minutes) and 1 packet of Clif Bloks. Around mile 30, when I needed a little boost, I had another gel. I drank around 1 bottle of sports drink per hour and peed once on the bike so must have hydrated okay. On the run, I had a Clif Blok every other mile and Gatorade Endurance & Coke at every aid station. That was pretty darn close to my fueling plan with some improvs that worked out pretty well.
Trusted my bike handling skills: The descents were crazy but I knew I was decent bike handler so stayed tucked in aero as much as was safe. I passed many people on the downhill and carried some good momentum into the climbs this way. Believe me, I needed every ounce of free speed I could get on that course.
Stayed (mostly) positive: After a shitty swim (see below) I went to a dark place mentally for a minute. Once I got on the bike I reminded myself “You’re here to have fun, Kay. Smile. Enjoy this.” And for the most part I did – the bike course, as tough as it was, was actually pretty fun and went by relatively quickly. On the run, my achilles & calf started hurting around miles 2-3. Negative thoughts started creeping in like “F@*!! I still have over 10 miles to go.. I can’t do this.” But I was able to shut that down and focus on just getting to the next mile marker… and then the next, and so on. Most of the day, I tried keeping a smile on my face. I gave high fives to any spectator that had their hand out (most of them were adorable little kids). Half of long course triathlon is mental so reminding myself that I do this for fun (which I do), helped me stay in the right mental space.
Here are three things I need to do better for next time:
Get more OWS practice. Due to fog, Ironman dropped the swim distance to 750 meters (I think it was a little more looking at the times of everyone but maybe not). The shortened swim turned out to be a blessing because I had a pretty bad panic attack in the water. I’ve heard of it happening to others but it’s never *really* happened to me. Once I collected myself, I still had to breast stroke a bunch… so it wasn’t a great swim for me. I tribute this in part to the fog but also the fact that race day was the very first time putting on my wetsuit this season and my first true open water swim (OWS) of the year. I’ve been swimming pretty strong in the pool so this just goes to show that pool swimming doesn’t always translate.
Perform better equipment checks. This is like racing 101 but clearly I need this reminder as I had a few substantial equipment malfunctions on Sunday. Firstly, while I had done a ride/run dress rehearsal with one my kit, I’d never tried it on with my wetsuit in the water. Race morning I found that my kit sleeves rolled up on themselves under my wetsuit and pinched my arms in annoying/painful way during the swim. The second fairly major malfunction was that my front hydration system essentially blew apart on the on the course (the roads were very, very rough but I also don’t think I had it assembled properly). This meant it was impossible for me to drink from it and also that Gaterade Endurance was splashing all over me for a good chunk of the ride. I ended up dropping my normal bottle from my frame at an Aid Station and throwing a bottle of G.E. in there instead to drink from. It worked out, but not ideal. Finally, my HR monitor strap was spun around backwards so the reading chip was on my back. I have no idea how this happened but that meant I didn’t have solid HR data other than what was being read from my wrist (i.e. not nearly as accurate). I used power on the bike for the most part but on the run, I could have used the HR assist for the early mile pacing.
Practice more hills and gain durability on the bike: I felt pretty strong on the ride for the first 40-45 miles, but on the last 10 I felt like just getting dropped by everyone. Like I said, I think I fueled pretty well so my best guess it that my legs were just fatigue from not enough strength and endurance built up YET for that type type of climbing. Now that it iss nice out, it will be easier for me to get on my bike and get some real hill work in. I’m also doing the Trek Across Maine in a few weeks which has plenty of elevation over the 3 day course.
I think that about summarizes it! All things considered… not a terrible race day. I would have liked to have been a little bit faster given the short course but I think was my pretty close best effort given where I’m at health/fitness wise. All in all a fun day and a good fitness builder for what’s next! Onwards!
It’s been a little over week since I officially became an Iron(wo)man in Lake Placid. I’ve spent this past week reliving each moment of the race, dreaming about what’s next, and riding the bittersweet highs and lows that the day I trained nearly a year for is behind me.
Before I start thinking too much about what’s next: it felt important to give Ironman Lake Placid the reflection it was due with a proper race report. Warning: this post is way longer than it should be. I totally got caught up in recounting every detail of the day. But, alas, here it is!
Leading up to the race…
The weeks leading up Lake Placid were… should we say… a little stressful. As some of you may recall, my bike was stolen about 6 weeks out from race day. I was able to get an awesome new bike (a hand-me-down frame from pro-triathlete Angela Naeth with brand new components… no big deal) with money from my insurance company, just in time for taper.
While I was thrilled to have a bike at all, getting it when I did didn’t leave
much time to get many long rides in on it. I spent the final weeks tweaking the bike fit so it could get me through 112 miles comfortably. Spoiler alert: the Scott Plasma ended up working out great! Big thanks to Fast Splits, Grey Ghost and Velofix Albany for building the bike, dialing in my fit and making a last minute repair (respectively) leading up to
There were a few things I did leading up to July 22nd that I think helped me avoid any major catastrophes on race day.
I took taper seriously. As in I tapered hard…Harder than most probably. I did relatively little during race week — focused on getting to bed early and sleeping in late. I limited my alcohol consumption to no more than one drink a night. As my blog title indicates, I’m not going to cut it out all together (not even Ironman-Eve)… I love it and it relaxes me, okay?!
I got my gut ready EARLY for the world of terror I was about to throw at it.That meant cutting out fiber basically altogether starting 4-5 days before, having my biggest meal at breakfast the day before the race and winding down from there. Big shout out to Field Work Nutrition Co for making a delicious, race-prep-friendly protein powder that got me through that week.
Finally my Mom (a certified Reiki Master), offered to give me Reiki before my race. I’m not sure what your beliefs are around this but, personally…I take all the help I can get! I have to say: it 100% helped me feel calm and ready in a noticeable difference sort of way.
The only things I might have done differently were pack up my special needs bags and prep my bike several days before the race. That was a stressful last minute to-do that I could have done without. Otherwise, pre-race things went well.
I got up at 3:45 race morning and immediately made myself my rehearsed, QT2 race day breakfast of a cut-up banana mixed with applesauce and Primo protein powder. I did not skip coffee because (much like beer) it’s something I love too much. My mom braided my hair (just like when I was a little kid) as I ran through in my mind once more everything I would need for the day. After using the bathroom at the house (i.e. not in the portapotties – YAY!!!) I grabbed my pre-packed morning bags and headed out.
Transition area was buzzing when my brother and I arrived around 5:15 am. It was an amazing amount of energy. If you haven’t been there, try to imagine 2,500+ athletes in the Olympic oval, hyped up on race day nerves as they begin one of the most physically grueling days of their lives. Pretty awesome. After putting our water bottles on our bikes and our wetsuits on, my brother and I headed together out of transition and over to the swim start.
We got to the Mirror Lake almost an hour before we were set to start and were lucky have a place to crash at the T3 tent before the race. Before we knew it, it was time to start lining up. At around 6:20, we started making our way down to the beach and were shocked by how many people were already packed in. I gave my brother a good luck hug as we parted ways and then spent several minutes shuffling to get to my right seeding area.
After warming up, I ran into my friend and teammate, Ben Cohen. It was awesome to have someone to talk with to settle my nerves in the final minutes before the gun. We both seeded ourselves around 1:15 and walked into the water together. As we crossed the timing chip mat, Ben looked at me and said, “This is it… Like we start our watches now!” And then shouted “Peace be the journey!” before diving in. I smiled at Ben’s fun spirit, took a deep breath and started my own watch. And the day began.
I’m not going to lie: The swim was nuts. Mirror Lake has this amazing underwater cable that you can use to stay on course… on any day but Ironman. Due to the congestion near the cable on race day, I ended up swimming 2-3 bodies away from the cable most of the first lap. Other than the pure chaos in the water, I felt pretty good. I didn’t freak out when the bodies of much larger men came clamoring over me in the water. I found 1-2 decent swimmers and tried staying on their feet as much as possible. When I started to feel a little panicked by the sheer amount of people around me, I just focused on one of my favorite swim mantras: Bubble, bubble, breathe. This worked pretty well and I was actually surprised at how quickly the first lap went by. I did start to get a little bit of calf cramp on the swim, which had me nervous. I focused on relaxing my feet and was able to keep it in check. I came out of the water on my first lap in 37 minutes and stayed pretty consistent on lap two – where I think I may have actually enjoyed myself (!!!) for a total swim time of 1:14:42. Swimming is my weakest of the disciplines and my goal time was 1:15 so I was happy with the time and to get the swim done with.
So… I’ve never used wetsuit strippers before. I’ve also never worn a two piece bathing suit for a race. I was very nervous about these two things combined. Thankfully, I was able to hold my bathing suit in place while my wetsuit was ripped off of me. The only downside was getting a bunch of sand all over my bum in the process… but strippers were totally great otherwise! Wetsuit in hand, I started slowing jogging the quarter mile to the transition area and got to pass my friends and family along the way. Given the fact that I was half naked and still a little dazed from my swim, I didn’t stop and talk to them but I think shouted something like “Yay! I didn’t drown!!”
After seeing the transition set up at Lake Placid (where you basically have to go into the changing tents) I decided it would be crazy not to change completely at transitions. The weather forecast for the day (rain) solidified that. I swam in a swimsuit bottom and my sports bra so I could change into my cycling kit (thicker chamois than my tri kit) for the bike. Because I had sand all over me, I took awhile in the changing tent. Enormous thank you to the nice volunteer who literally helped me get my bike shorts on and handed me everything I needed to set out on the bike. You rock!
Total time in transition: 00:09:16
I rolled out of transition with a huge smile on my face. I’d just had a pretty good swim so the hardest part of the day was over! (HA!). I rode very cautiously out of town as my coach and many others had warned me about going out way too hard initially. The bike loops starts with about a 10-12 mile climb out of town. By race day, I had done the climb several times so was was prepared for the elevation…
What I was not prepared for was the wind.
Oh, and the rain.
It may or may not have hailed at one point.
There was 10-15 mph steady winds with 30 mph gusts. I was riding at single digits speed for a good portion of those initial climbs in order to stay in the right power targets.
About 30 minutes into the ride, I decided it didn’t make sense to think about any type of time goal. I knew I’d kill myself on the bike trying to get close to the 6 hours split necessary to stay in the running for a 12 hour day. So I just let go of any time-related expectations and said to myself, “Just have fun out here, Kay. This is your day”.
And it worked. I totally did have so much fun out there! I talked to almost every person I passed or was passed by on the bike. I got to see a few of my iracelikeagirl teammates out there and feed off their energy.
The whole ride was pretty awesome but there was nothing like riding back into town. As I climbed Three Little Bears (the final climbs on the loop) and made my way back into the village, I literally got a little choked up. It’s hard to describe the emotional experience of these moments. My dad did Ironman Lake Placid in 2010 and I remember him passing us on the bike saying, “I’m having so much fun!” – and that’s exactly how I felt. I couldn’t stop smiling. I just felt so damn lucky to be experiencing the entire day. I rode along the spectator wall and gave my family and friends high fives before setting out on loop #2. I stopped at Special Needs to get my second bag of fuel and got to see another friend Ben who was volunteering. I told him the wind was tough out there but I was feeling pretty good. Some brief high fives and I was off on lap #2.
I was reallllllllly hoping the wind would die down on the second lap…. but it didn’t. Still my spirits stayed pretty high. There are a few flat, longer segments on the course where I was able to stay in aero for a bit and really test out the speed of my new Plasma. I have to say, men really don’t like getting passed by a girl in a pink kit. Unfortunately for them, there were a few of us out there that day. Booyahhh iracelikeagirl team!!
I focused A LOT on fueling on the bike as one of my biggest concerns for the day was bonking. I made sure to grab Gatorade Endurance at every aid station for my speed bottle. Every 15 minutes, I reached into what I called my “magic bag of snacks”, which had cut up Honey Stinger, Clif Bloks and Rx bars in bite-sized pieces that I could swallow without too much chewing. I also had an espresso flavored Gu every hour. The last 15-20 miles were where it got really rough. The Wilmington Notch with the addition of the Whiteface Mountain out-and-back is a little soul crushing. From the faces of the other riders, I know it wasn’t just me that went to a dark place on that part of the course.
The rain had finally stopped and the sun was making it’s way out, which really heated everything up. Elements aside, it’s also just a really tough point on the course, both mentally and physically. I honestly felt like I was riding backwards at one point. Worried that I might have under-fueled, instead of getting off my bike like I wanted to, I had an extra gel, stuffed some more food in my mouth and pressed forward to Three Little Bears where the energy from the spectators brought me home. Total bike time was 06:50:42 … about 35 minutes slower than I was hoping for but reasonable given the conditions.
So…I actually managed to go through the entire bike leg without ever getting off my bike. I rolled through the aid stations, peed on my bike (3 times, it wasn’t easy and I’m still a little grossed out by it). I share this to emphasize that finally dismounting at T2 was a moment I’d been really looking forward to. But my first few steps off the bike looked like a cowboy that rode cross-country on horseback (at least I’m assuming that’s what it looks like) and thought to myself “Oh shit – there’s no way I can run a marathon.” My calf cramp was also still nagging me, which made me really nervous about starting the run. I sat down in the women’s changing tent for a minute as I started pulling off my soaking wet clothes and said to the volunteer “I’m not sure I can do this”.
She looked at me and replied, “you don’t have to”.
Shocked, I stared at her for a minute until the Volunteer Captain came over and said, “What was that? Yes, you sure do have to do this. You’ve come all this way to call yourself an Ironman – you can’t stop now! Now what do you need? Got your fresh socks? Need water? Red Bull?” Ah yes, ma’am. All of the above please and thank you!
Clean, dry clothes and a littttttle bit of Red Bull turned out to be just what I needed to get going. I thanked the volunteers and trotted out of transition, down the hill through town where spectators lined the streets. I saw my family and ran over to give hugs and a quick kiss to my husband. I shouted to my mom– “Send Reiki to my right calf please!” She replied, “You got it!”
Despite all of the energy leaving town, the first few miles of the run were super tough. My legs felt like complete garbage. I had a mild stitch in my side, my calf felt closer to seizing up in a cramp with every step. I took some time at the first few aid stations to drink extra Gatorade, take in extra salt, and stretch a bit. Around mile 4-5, I caught my friend, training buddy and teammate, Colleen. We caught up a bit on the day, I told her I was starting to really struggle. We decided to just take it one mile at a time. My plan for the beginning was the walk every aid station and so was Colleen’s. The hardest part about walking the aid stations is getting started running again so we were able to keep each other honest with that.
Around mile 10, I started having cola in addition to Gatorade. Like some magic elixir, that seemed to make things start feeling better. Every single aid station I had the same routine: ice down my shorts and sports bra, water over my head, Gatorade and/or Coke in my mouth and a little bit of water to wash it all down. Together with Colleen, we climbed our way back up into town to finish the first lap. That’s when I started to get a second wind. For one, the crowds LOVED our kits and that we were running together. Spectators commented, “That’s it, girls! Work together! Looking strong!” I thought about picking it up a bit towards the end of the first lap but knew there was a long race ahead
of me still. Colleen and I stayed together until about mile 17, which was pretty amazing.
After I made the turn around on River Road to head back to town for the final time… I knew I could really do it. Passing through 20 miles, I thought to myself just a 10K left and found myself smiling again. My calf wasn’t bothering me at all (it’s the reiki… I’m telling you!) and I felt stronger than I did on the first 10K.
As I came into town one final time I couldn’t believe how close I was to finishing. I didn’t allow myself to get choked up on Mirror Lake Drive (but came pretty close on that last mile) As I entered the Oval, I slowed down a bit to fully take it all in. My eyes filled with tears so much that I couldn’t even see my husband shouting for me as I rounded the turn towards the finish line.
And then, I heard it. The words I’d imagined in so many of my toughest workouts over the past year. Mike Reilly’s voice over the microphone:
“Kalyn Weber from Roslindale, Massachusetts… A first timer! Kalyn Weber, YOU are an Ironman!”
My final finishing time for Ironman Lake Placid was 12:33:27. I placed 6th in my age group and was the 82nd woman to cross the finish line. Going into the race, I so badly wanted to finish sub 12 hours…but the best decision I made out there was to let go of that time goal and try to just enjoy every minute of the race. Completing those 140.6 miles after nearly a year of training is one of my proudest life accomplishments. It’s made me feel like I’m up for any challenge this world wants to throw at me. At the risk of sounding like I really drank the Kool-Aid, Ironman might actually be life changing.
The most enormous, heart-felt thank you to everyone – my husband, family, friends, coaches, teammates, volunteers, spectators and race organizers, that helped make Ironman Lake Placid what it was. I’m excited for what’s next!
I’m probably of the 1 in 1000 people (including non-triathlon folks) that enjoys reading the lengthy race reports that triathletes like to write…which is why if I write them, I usually try to keep it short and sweet. BUT I’m currently stuck traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike on a 13+ hour car ride home to Boston so figured why not have at it! This report is neither short nor especially sweet, but neither was the race itself! To the 0.1% of social media followers that may read this, here’s to you!
Ironman 70.3 was my first official 70.3 and my first ever Ironman race. When I signed up for it, people kept saying “Ooohh! North Carolina in June?? Good luck with that!” but I never really took their warnings seriously… until I arrived down there a few days before the race: 88 degrees, 70% humidity, water temps IN THE 80S! Eeeeps! This northerner was not prepared. I stopped thinking about a goal time for my race and started focusing more about my fueling/hydration plan.
I started hydrating extra the week before and basically cut out fiber all together the days leading up to the race as I am prone to GI issues, particularly when it’s hot out. I use a great smoothie mix made by Field Work Nutrition Company that allows me to still get the important nutrients even while cutting out vegetables (too much fiber) during race week. My race day breakfast included a smoothie made from Primo mixed with 1 banana, cinnamon applesauce, water (though normally I would do almond milk) and ice, plus half a bagel on the side for a few more grams of carbs and some solid food in my stomach.
I basically had one goal for race day: respect the heat and stick to my race plan. Shout out to my Coach Karen Allen Turner for giving me some great guidelines to adhere to for race day. I stuck to them the best I could. Here’s how it went:
So, because I’m from New England, I didn’t have a chance to open-water-swim before the race (aside from a quick dress rehearsal the day before). However, I kept telling myself on my pool days “yeah, but on race day you’ll be in a wetsuit”. Of course with 81 degree water, Raleigh was not wetsuit legal. I did have a friend lend me her Blue Seventy Swim Skin the day before the race. While swimskins don’t offer the buoyancy (read: security) of a wetsuit, they do keep your kit sucked in nice and tight to you, which cuts down on drag. The swimskin worked great and I was lucky to have it!
The Raleigh swim starts in Jordan Lake, about 40 miles outside of downtown. We boarded the buses from Raleigh around 5:00 am. Transition closed at 6:45 which gave me PLENTY (maybe too much) time to get in the water and warm up before my wave went off at 8:15
Jordan Lake was much nicer than I was expecting. There were a lot of nay-sayers on the Internet talking trash about the water quality but the lake (other than being like bath water) was fine. My swim wave ended up combining 3 age groups, so it was pretty large. As instructed by my coach, I seeded myself closer to the front of my wave so I could hopefully find a faster swimmers feet to hang onto. I may have been a little overzealous in this as when the horn went off, I found myself hanging on for my life in a cluster of swimmers WAYY faster than me. About 200 yards out, I started panicking that I had gone out too fast and felt myself start to hyperventilate. I’ve never had a panic attack in the water before but felt it coming on this time. I started breaststroking to calm myself down and eventually, after a few moments, I passed the first turn buoy and got back into my rhythm. Just as I thought I was in the clear, the men from the Relay wave caught me. As they crawled over me in the water, I wanted to shout at them, “YEAH, BUT YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO DO ANYTHING AFTER THIS”. But instead I waited until someone who seemed closer to my ability swam near and tried hanging on. This time I was much more successful. The last 1000 yards or so yards went by without any more drama… but I was still more than happy to finally get out of the water. Averaged 1:59/100 yard, which is slow for me, but considering my few hundred yards of breaststroking, I was okay with it.
Aside realizing I couldn’t take off the swimskin by myself, T1 went pretty smoothly. The only unique thing about Raleigh is you had to pack your swim gear into a bag so it could get transported back to the finish for you (since it’s a point to point bike ride). That wasn’t a big deal and only took a few seconds to do. As I ran to “BIKE OUT” I saw two, younger boy volunteers holding enormous sunscreen bottles and shouted “YES! Get at me, boys!” They thought that was funny and did a great job throwing massive amounts of sunscreen lotion on me. Time in T1 was 4:50.
My heart rate was a little high from the anxiety of the swim so I took the first 5 miles of the bike to get my heart rate down. I drank the first half of my speed bottle right away to catch up on fuel and hydration. I got on the bike around 9:00 am and it was smoking hot out already. About 15-20 minutes into my ride, I settled in aero and basically stayed in that position most of the course. My new Shimano Dura-Ace wheels had me feeling like I was flyyying on the flats and downhills. The course was basically rolling hills the entire way, which kept things interesting. I rode fairly conservatively – spun up most of the hills, tried keeping watts below ~220, even on the hills. I had a power target in mind to average but focused more on my heart rate than power. More than anything, I knew I had to be super smart about hydration during the bike. Because it was SO DAMN HOT, I just kept drinking. I started with 3 bottles of First Endurance EFS. I refilled my speed bottle with Gatorade Endurance at every aid station. After the first one, I managed to refill “on the fly”, which I was pretty pleased with myself for. I also had 2 energy gels and a protein bar (broken up to have about 1 portion per hour). Since it was so freaking hot, I also dumped a water bottle over my helmet and into my bike shorts at every aid station to try and stay cool. Volunteers didn’t seem too weirded out by it.
I ended up averaging a little low for normalized power but was SPOT ON for my heart rate target. My bike split was almost exactly 3 hours (3:01) which was faster than I was planning for actually! Averaged closer to 19 mph, which was solid for 2800 feet of elevation. Felt good and was even happier to finally pee as I came into transition (yes, in my chamois), which was my goal indicator of hydrating okay on the bike. YAY!
So, the distance between the bike dismount zone and the entrance to the actual transition area was ridiculously long. There’s almost nothing more awkward than running in bike cleats while pushing your bike along on pavement so I was not impressed with this aspect of the race. Other than that, T2 went fine. I practiced in my head during the bike what I was going to do during transition. Took out my cooling towel, wet it with an extra water bottle, chugged half the emergency RedBull I had in my transition bag, grabbed my Base Salt and Clif Bloks and was off.
My coach warned me not to go out too hard on the run and to instead use the first mile to get my heart rate in check. That’s exactly what I did. My first mile was exactly on target at 8:14 min/mile pace and heart rate low Zone 2. The run course was two loops and contained (without exaggeration) at least 6 out and back U-turns. So… it was pretty congested out there. The tight turns made it difficult to get into a rhythm and, of course, that mother f**king heat. I knew from feeling the strength of the sun on the bike that the run would be brutal but there was no way to really prepare for it. I took a salt lick every mile or so, had an energy chew every 2 miles, drank Gatorade at every aid station. Around mile 3-4 I got an incredible stitch out of nowhere. You know the kind where it’s hard to even stand up? Yeah, like that. I ended up walking the next aid station and drinking extra Gatorade and water this time. I forced myself to start running again and was surprised to start feeling better.
By the second lap I actually felt pretty good so tried to start picking up the pace, but as soon as I did the stitch would start to come back. So instead of pushing it, from then on I just took it from one aid station to the next. The heat had me a little nauseous so I ditched trying to eat anything solid and went straight liquid calories. I started drinking cola in addition to water and Gatorade around mile 7 and the caffeine seemed to really help. I also followed a cooling protocol given to me by a friend (thanks Sam!) which included water over my head, plus handfuls of ice in my sports bra and chamois at each aid station and that (plus the cooling towel) really saved me. Running in nearly 90 degree heat is no joke! At mile 10 I thought to myself “Just a 5K left. Anyone can do a 5K” (a mantra given to me by a friend) and decided to actually pick it up. This was the first time my heart rate went out of Zone 2 all day. Mile 10-12 was a long steady climb back into town so my final splits were not anything special but I was able to get back down into the 8s and finished the run course in 1:57.
Raleigh 70.3 was a tough battle that tested both my mental and physical fitness in a way that it hasn’t been before. The course was mostly well designed and very well supported. The volunteers were INCREDIBLE. But by far my favorite part of the day was seeing my brother, who also raced, on the course and my husband cheering me on.
My goal for this race was sub 5:30 and/or top 10 in my age group. I ended up finishing in 5:48 and 14th in my age group. For my first official 70.3 and the race day conditions, I think I executed it nearly as best as I could have. I’ve been going back and forth like “Man, should I have ridden a little harder on the bike? I probably could have pushed harder on the run.” but then I remind myself that this was just the warm up: I’m still gearing up for the Big Dance in Lake Placid on July 22nd. This was the last year Ironman Raleigh 70.3 will be held so I was happy to help send it off… but will probably stick to racing above the Mason Dixon line from now on. Bring on IMLP!
Some rides are not meant to be raced. Your first 100 miler is probably one of them. At least that was my takeaway from this weekend. I rode the Sea Gull Century ride in Salisbury, Maryland and had the most fun checking off my first 100 miler on the bike.
Going into the ride, I was in decent cycling shape coming off training for a 70.3 in September. Still, making the jump from 60 mile long-rides to the full century was intimidating, even on a flat course. I had never fueled for a ride that long and it was more hours than I’d ever put in the saddle. In my over-anxious mind… there was much to go wrong!
Turns out, I need not have worried. The day was perfect. I rode with my entire family and, despite coming into the ride with different levels of fitness, the group of us decided to stick together and ride socially. We built our own pace line and slowed down anytime someone came close to falling off. In addition to spending a lovely day together as a family, this was also great pacing mechanism, forcing me to quell my [overly] competitive nature, focus on fueling and hydrating correctly, and truly just enjoy the day.
As an event, the Sea Gull Century is a perfect course to ride for pure fun. Over 5,000 cyclists turn out for this fundraiser for Salisbury University. It is well-organized and supported by volunteers and draws cyclist from all different abilities. In addition to the 100 mile course, there is also 62 mile “metric century”. There are rest stations every ~20-25 miles (even one that serves beer 10 miles before the finish), the terrain is incredibly flat, and the 99% of the roads are in perfect conditions.
We only stopped at two out of the five rest stations but did spend a solid 20-25 minutes at each one, using the restrooms, fueling up, filling our water bottles and stretching a bit. I did find that starting up again after stopping was one of the toughest parts of the day so will keep that mind in the future… and maybe be a little quicker at the rest stops.
Other than that, I’m going to be arrogant and give myself an “A for execution” on my first Century. Here are some things that went well:
Pacing – riding several mph slower than I would have normally allowed me to finish the ride with some gas in the tank… i.e. great practice for Ironman when I’ll be starting a marathon (versus cracking a beer) off the bike. My legs felt fantastic (almost fresh even!) on my 5-mile recovery run the next day, which gave me some confidence about my fitness base going into the “off season”.
Fueling and Hydration – I ate some sort of solid carb every 20 miles or so (I like having something solid in my stomach) and kept my water bottles filled at the rest stations. I ran out of Infinit powder but filled up one bottle of water and the other with Gatorade and that seemed to work okay. The shots of pickle juice at mile 65 on Assateague Island were a game changer… I felt awesome afterwards.
Note: Had it been a hotter day, my casual approach to fueling may not have worked so well (I have a pretty high sweat rate). Planning to get more precise and dial in nutrition in prepping for IMLP.
Equipment – I hadn’t spent much time on my road bike since starting triathlon race season so decided to give it some love with a proper tune up before the race. Shout out to Mystic Cycle Centre – my old roadie rode great! My one blunder was forgetting to transfer my tube repair kit from my tri bike to my road bike, meaning I nothing to change a flat with. Luckily, we had just one flat in our group (and it wasn’t me), so we were covered in terms of tubes and CO2… still not a great move.
Fun – I had fun from start to finish of this ride – took in the scenery, caught up with the family, and visualized cracking open the 16 oz can of Citra Session Pale Ale we each carried in our jersey pocket the full 100 miles. Slightly warm and shook up… It was as delicious as I imagined it being.
Summary: The Seagull Century was a fantastic experience. We will be back again next year to do it all again.
With my first 100 miler under my belt, signing up for the next one won’t be so intimidating. Any good race (or ride) suggestions? Currently accepting recommendations for my next century!
By now, everyone who would be reading this has heard of the terrible tragedy that took place at the Boston Marathon. You probably have been watching the nonstop coverage on the news. You have seen the gruesome pictures and have heard the eyewitness accounts. You’re still trying to understand why someone would do something so terrible and your heart has not stopped aching for those directly affected.
I was one of the 23,000+ runners in yesterday’s race. If yesterday went as planned for me, my family and I would have been at the finish line around the time when the bombs went off. Instead, I was one of the thousands pulled off the course when the race was shut down. This is a story I wanted to tell… mostly for myself. I guess I am still having a hard time believing it all happened. Continue reading “My (unfinished) Boston Marathon”→