I have so much to say about this race! It was SO MUCH FUN! There was alot of success, pain, frustration and more.
First though, I want to say thank you to my hubby, Brad, for being super awesome and supportive throughout the training and the BEST SPECTATOR! He was my sherpa, chauffer, cheerleader and motivator. I also can’t thank all my training crew enough including Jenny, Phil, Brad E., Char, Jesse, Nancy, Cheryl and others. They all gave me great advice and good coaching, especially my amazingly great friend Char, who I can’t thank enough for being there on race day and inspiring me to start this crazy sport as well as sign up for this race.
As you can probably already tell, I have alot to say so please prepare for a wordy report!
We had a leisurely morning of sleeping in and eating breakfast, then finished packing, dropped the dogs off and drove down to Augusta. We arrived around 1 pm and Brad dropped me off at the Marriott for athlete check-in and went to check-in at our hotel. The line for registration was SUPER long, but it went pretty fast and I was able to get through in time to attend the optional 2 p.m. pre-race briefing. I am glad I did, because it explained some of the logistics and gave us good advice for what to expect on race day.
I grabbed a super late lunch at Quizno’s before heading back to the hotel to relax for the rest of the afternoon. We watched football and I played on my phone until it was time for dinner. I intentionally did not nap, with hopes of falling asleep easily that night. We had dinner at the Garlic Clove, which was actually a cute little place near our hotel. The food was pretty good, but service was kind of slow. We drove around a little after and Brad got Dairy Queen (I passed with visions of 32 degrees AFTER the race…little did I know). Once we got back to the hotel, I filled water bottles and put them on ice and was in bed by 9. I did have a minor freak out since it started raining and I knew my bike was getting wet. A little texting back and forth with Char and Jesse, I was comforted and finally fell asleep around 10.
The alarm went of a 5:35 and I popped right up! I couldn’t believe the day was finally here! We both quickly got ready and were out the door before 6. I ate a Bonk Bar on the way over to transition set-up, but I was nervous so I really wasn’t hungry at all. It only took us about 20 minutes to get down to transition and I had plenty of time to make sure everything was set-up just like I wanted. But the transition area was a ZOO! I wish I would have brought my camera down with me! It was kind of crazy, with people nervous and rushing around. I talked to a few girls in my age group around me and as usual, some were really nice and some seemed to be “sizing up the competition”. After I got set up and put air in my tires, etc. I headed back to where Brad was waiting for me at the car. We drove down near the start and looked for a place for him to get some breakfast and hang out for a little while. Unfortunately everything was closed so we found a parking spot and went over to the swim start.
I waited in line for nearly 30 minutes for a disgusting porta potty and then ate half a bagel with peanut butter and a banana with peanut butter. I really did not want to eat, but knew I needed to.
Brad said this was the “worst picture ever” but I actually kind of like it 🙂
After I ate, I was getting kind of anxious so I put on my wetsuit, said goodbye to Brad and headed down to the staging area.
When I got down to the staging area, I wasn’t sure if I was going to cry or vomit! I had to seriously try hard not to cry. I was super nervous and everyone around me seemed to know each other and be talking up a storm. But as I was standing there, I heard a familiar voice behind me. I turned around and saw Brad…as in Ironman-Wisconsin-I-trained-with-him-all-summer-Brad! I didn’t even know he was coming down. I said hello to Brad and his wife Melissa and he assured me that I was ready and would do great. I felt SO much better after that. Then SURPRISE #2…Char comes running toward me! I knew she was on her way, but definitely did not know she had arrived! It was EXACTLY what I needed at that moment! She gave me a huge hug and we talked and it took my mind off of the race and reassured me that I was going to have a great day!
Surprise! That’s me being excited!
Brad was with her too so we all chatted and of course I admired her super cute cow spotted Ironman Wisconsin visor! Before I knew it, my wave was being staged and it was almost time to swim!
Once the sign for wave #22, white caps, showed up, it wasn’t long until we were “on deck”. I helped a few girls zip up their wetsuits and everyone was chatting nervously. At that piont, I was just excited to start! We moved through the arches and into the waiting area and 3 minutes later, the wave before us took off and we moved onto the floating dock.
See the white caps on the dock?! That’s us!
They told us that we could jump in and some people were waiting, but I jumped in and moved to the front right away. The water was cool and felt super refreshing. I “christened” my new wetsuit, got my watch ready and started to tread water until it was time to go. One girl commented that in the 30 seconds or so that we were waiting, the current had already carried us 10 ft. in front of the buoys!
Then I heard the horn and took off! I went out hard to get out away from the group and tried to settle into a good pace. As expected, my arms took a solid 400 m to warm up, but I kept reminding myself that was normal and not to worry.
Brad swears that is me on the left. He was on the bridge above us as we swam under. I do remember that there was someone on my heels for the first part of the swim, so there is a good chance it was!
Spotting was a little difficult because there wasn’t really anything to look for. In a point-to-point swim, there are no buoys as midpoints to guage how much further you have. I just tried to keep myself aligned with the yellow buoys on the left and tried to swim as straight as I could. There was another white cap right in front of me and I kind of played yo-yo with her as she got out ahead, then I would pull back close. I tried to draft her a little, but she was kicking hard and very sporadic in her pace. There were some weeds and stuff that kept getting on me that I had to rip off at times, but for the most part, I felt great! I was SUPER happy to be finally racing!
About halfway (or so it seemed) I started swimming over blue caps, but I just had to keep my eye out as I came up on them and go around them. It wasn’t too bad. Eventually we came up on the houseboats that I remember seeing as I walked up to the transition area and about that time, that I started swimming over TONS of people. It was kind of chaotic, but I just stayed focused and swam. As we came up to the swim-out, people were standing up and walking, but I put my head in and swam in as far as I could. There were TONS of spectators at the swim out and it was really cool! I almost forgot to look at my watch and was ELATED when I did!
Swim – 1.2 miles, 23:09, 1:13/100 m, 4th age group, 92 overall
There was a little run down the street back to transition, then as soon as I went in, there were wetsuit strippers right there! My girl was awesome (and I told her so)! She ripped the thing right off and I was on my way to get to my bike. I didn’t have too much trouble finding my bike but I knew the transition was slow because #1 I had some trouble getting the helmet/glasses/headband adjusted and #2 my rack was at the back corner of the transition area and there was a LONG run with the bike to the bike out.
T1 – 4:14
From the minute I got on the bike, I felt great. I weaved in and out of people trying to get out of the narrow road that lead out of transition and was looking for Brad and everyone right away. I saw Brad’s blue shirt as I came around the first corner and waved so they would know I was coming. As I passed, I yelled to them that my swim time was 23 minutes!! They were all cheering and telling me that I smoked the swim!
I settled into aero position right away and just tried to stay out of the crowds. It was very difficult to not be in groups since it was so crowded and I was very paranoid about getting a drafting penalty. As I had heard, the first 15 miles were very flat. I settled into a fast pace (for me) and knew I was way ahead of my goal pace of 17 mph. I kept asking myself, how do I feel, am I pushing too hard? And everytime, I determined that I felt good and that I knew this was a pace that I could maintain. After the first water stop, things opened up quite a bit and there was alot more room on the roads. I passed alot of people and got passed alot. When I saw girls in my age group pass, I kept reminding myself that I was having a good race and to only worry about myself.
Everytime I seemed to be feeling even a little bit of fatigue, it was time to take in whatever the next step of nutrution was. Then I would feel great again pretty quickly after. I definitely did not drink enough Gatorade…which would become a factor later. I stayed in aero so much and the water I was getting from the water stops and refilling my aero bottle with was so cold that it just was easier to drink from that the whole time. Anytime I sat up to climb a bit, I would try to drink Gatorade, but it just was much more work to do it than to sip the straw right in front of my face!
I thanked ALL the volunteers and police officers and talked to some people as they came by or I went by. There was one girl, in a Team in Training kit, that passed back and forth with me at least 10 times. We eventually began joking about it, but for about 20 miles in the middle I didn’t see her again. If I remember right, she started riding with a “group” that were pretty much drafting throughout the whole race. I was surprised by their blatant drafting, but I figured that if they wanted to risk a penalty, then they could go for it.
My Garmin was way off of the mile marker signs the whole time. Early on it was off by about 2 miles and then the distance grew and grew, so I couldn’t totally rely on that for my splits, but I knew I passed the halfway point, under 1:30, so I knew I was setup for a sub-3:00 bike! I was ecstatic!
Dun, dun, dun…then, what seemed like shortly after the last water stop (49 miles) and the 50 mile marker, I was easing out of a group of people where it got super crowded and heard THE MOST AWFUL NOISE IN THE WORLD. Sssssssshhhhhhhh. No! Please no! Don’t let that be me! But I knew it was. And it was the back tire. I was devastated. I panicked. Freaked out and cussed alot. I waved down a volunteer that was just down the way and she came and called for help. But about the same time, an angel came. A guy was out on his bike looking for his wife to cheer her on. And he CHANGED MY TIRE. I had flipped the bike over and started working on getting the tire off and he said, STOP! I have gloves, don’t get all greasy! And as he told me he didn’t really know what he was doing, he proceeded to change the tire without pulling the wheel off. How? I don’t know. I don’t care. I was watching for his wife, still freaking out and thanking him and being heartbroken all at the same time. We had a little trouble getting his CO2 cartridge to work and he realized it was in upside down. I had already blown mine out too early (um, that’s what she said?) so thank the bike Gods that he was there. Eventually we got it and I was off, yelling my undying devotion to a man I didn’t know. At the time I estimated that I had lost about 10 minutes. Now looking back and comparing the official bike time to my Garmin, I estimate that I lost 9 minutes.
As I rode in, I realized just. how. close. I was to the finish when that happened. I found out afterwards that it was only 0.8 miles, which I think was about a wash for running the bike in or taking 9 minutes to get the tire changed.
Bike – 56 miles, Official time – 2:59:44, 18.69 mph, 35 Age Group, 1213 overall (Unofficial time: 2:50:13, 19.7 mph)
Once again, I had to run my bike all the way to the back of transition to get it racked. After the flat, my adrenaline was sky high and I was pushing through people walking their bikes to run mine back. I took off my helmet/gloves/glasses/headband, changed my shoes and socks, almost accidentally grabbed the wrong stack of Gu/Stingers, switched it out, then grabbed my watch, handheld water and visor and took off again. This was slower than my goal as well, but I definitely felt more efficient in T2 than T1.
T2 – 2:28 seconds
Almost immediately after heading out of transition, I saw Brad and Char. They were sitting under a little shade tree because it was so HOT. Char came running toward me and I screamed at them that I had a flat, but still rocked the bike. They just all were saying how fast my bike was and that it was ok. As Char ran next to me, she kept yelling at me to watch my Garmin. She knew I was running too fast and needed to slow down. When I looked down, I saw 7:50 on my Garmin and tried to make a concerted effort to slow down. As I passed them, she kept yelling to keep my pace in check. I eventually got that first mile down to 8:26 and then focused on getting it to 9:00 for the second mile. In that heat, it didn’t take long to make it easy to keep it above 9:00 though. I settled in to about 9:15 for a couple of miles and then around mile 5, started walking the water stops to refill and get what I needed, which also slowed the pace down quite a bit. When I was running, I was trying to keep it around 9:20ish though. I saw them again around mile 3 and then again at 6. At that point, I was feeling just okay. It was hot and I felt slow, but I was running and wasn’t dying. I crossed the halfway point at 58:19 (8:54/mile) which was right on target. I did bad math at the time and thought I was way off pace (I thought I was on target for a 2:12 because my watch started a little late and it said 56:xx. Somehow I added 10 minutes to my calculation), but didn’t care too much. I just wanted to keep running and not have to walk.
There was a long stretch soon after that got lonely and hot and was heading toward the beginning of the second loop. I think this was probably the worst point for me. I just felt like I still had a LONG way to go. But again, other than the water stops I was still running at an okay pace. About mile 8 is where I knew things weren’t going super well. My calves started twitching and threatening to cramp. I saw Char running toward me and when she asked how I felt, she knew I was having a “moment” because I said um, just okay and I told her about my calves. She asked if I had any salt tablets and I told her I took them already at the beginning of the run so she told me to get pretzels at the next stop and suck the salt off of them. I did that but it didn’t help much at that point. She told me I was doing awesome, still had a good pace and to. just. keep. going.
By mile 10 when I saw them again, the twitching of my calves was getting WAY worse. I stopped to stretch them by Brad but that didn’t help at all. In fact, I think it made it worse. He looked worried but told me to just stay strong. Soon after that, I was in a walk/run, then went to full-on walking and just trying to run a little bit. Every time I started to run, they would cramp. I stopped again to stretch and my left calf seized. It clinched up and wouldn’t let go. It was the toes-curled, won’t move kinda cramp. I howled and screamed and people asked me if I was okay. Eventually it let go and I took off walking again. I may have tried to run again once or twice, but realized that it wasn’t going to happen. I convinced myself that power walking was all I had and that it was okay. And man did I power walk! I kept a 12:30 pace!! And since I wasn’t struggling to run, I HAD FUN! I had energy and I talked to people and pushed on. When I saw Char and Brad again around mile 11.5, she came up the street and tried to walk alongside me and told me I was a REEEAAALLY fast walker 🙂 I could tell she was concerned and probably knew I was disappointed that I couldn’t keep running, but she told me to do what I could and that I was almost there. Then I saw Brad and he asked why I was walking and I told him about my calves and he just told me to finish as best I could.
It was a little frustrating because I knew I was SO close and I had the energy to finish relatively strong, but my calves just wouldn’t have it. Finally I rounded the last corner and inched my way to the finish. When I entered the finish chute, I saw Char and IMWI Brad cheering for me. Then I heard the announcer say my name and I tried to run, but my calves just wouldn’t have it. About that time I saw Brad right at the end of the chute video taping. I smiled big as I power walked my way across that finish line where a volunteer grabbed me and held me up so I wouldn’t fall because of the cramps. I was smiling and happy! I barely made it out of the finishers chute with my medal before Brad and Char were right there to great me! I had tears in my eyes when I saw Brad and Char walking toward me and they were so excited to tell me how awesome I did! Unforunately we didn’t get any pictures at that point because the skies were about to open up and pour and we wanted to get somewhere dry to hang out. Go figure it cooled off with and got cloudy right as I was finishing huh?!
Run – 13.1 miles, 2:17:55 (10:31/mile), 46 Age Group, 1087 overall
Augusta 70.3: 5:47:30, 46 Age Group, 1087 Overall!
Overall it was an amazing experience that I will definitely do again. I learned a ton and definitely think there are some things I will do differently in all of my longer races (marathons included) to try to prevent this calf cramping that I am plagued with. I am happy with my training, as I think I was well prepared for the distance and I am most proud of the bike because of the improvement from the beginning of the summer until now. I am a little sad that it is over and definitely have the post-race blues, but for now:
I am a “half” Ironman 🙂