Sunday, August 9, 2015

Race Report for Ironman 70.3 Steelhead: A Perfect Day

Approximately three years ago, I watched my husband complete Ironman Wisconsin.  I had always been enamored with the Ironman.  I'd watched the race on television and read a book or two on people who have tackled the monster of endurance races.  Ben did an incredible job, finishing in less than 10 hours.  Watching this race was really the moment I decided I wanted to become a triathlete.  I couldn't swim one lap in the pool, I didn't own a bike and I wasn't a very good runner.  I had completed a number of running races but at the end of the two marathons that I completed, I didn't really feel good about them.  I felt like I just "got through it."  Today was the longest endurance event I have ever experienced and it was by far one of the most amazing feelings I've had in a race.  With that said, on to the race report...

My Finisher Medal
FRIDAY - I left Omaha on Friday morning at 6:45am.  It was a LONG drive.  I arrived at the race site at 6:02p and they had just closed athlete check-in.  Grrr.  Headed to the hotel, checked in, found a Qdoba and settled in for the night.  I really like to stick with food that I know pre-race and Qdoba, Chipotle and Panera are basically my favorites.
SATURDAY - Headed out to the Ironman Village around 9:30.  After check-in, my plan was to attend the athlete meeting and then get a quick swim in Lake Michigan.  It looks really intimidating at first but it was a lovely swim.  The forecast predicted pretty outstanding race conditions.
Swim finish chute
I met with parents-in-law around 6p to show them the race start and have dinner.  It was really nice to have them around for the race and to know someone would be there in case the day did not go as planned (translation:  in case I ended up in the medical tent).  We had a nice dinner and I was in bed by 9:30p. 

I didn't sleep very well, waking up at 2:30a and tossing and turning until I had to get out of bed at 4:30a.  Gulped down some Gatorade, coffee and oatmeal and I was at the race site around 5:30a.  Set up my transition and connected with my in-laws.  Ran into Paul, a Team Nebraska Triathlon member, and we had a nice chat.  We both commented on how AWESOME the race conditions were compared to what we're used to in the Plains states tris.  Susan, Richard and I walked down to the swim start and I got in the water for about 10 minutes of warm-up.  My shoulder had been bothering me a bit since my bike accident so I was a little nervous about that.  My plan was to just swim the hell out of this race with the thought that I won't need my shoulder again for a while :-)

My wave went off at 7:12a and it was right on schedule.  There were A LOT of woman in this wave as it included age groups 40-44 and 25-29.  I've never been in a wave with so many people and it was a bit rough to start.  I was super calm and started swimming right away.  The conditions were outstanding.  Water temp was 72.8 degrees, winds were calm and there was really no chop at all.  The water was crystal clear and lovely.  I must admit that it's a little disconcerting to look out and see a sea of nothing but water ahead of you but I stayed surprisingly calm.  When I got to the alleged half way point, I was at 25ish minutes and I was like, huh? I started cranking a little faster and made the final turn around 35 minutes. The course was busy pretty much the entire swim.  I was blowing past some folks, though.  My swim coach Jim has been working with me on picking up cadence for these instances where you need to get out of a clump of people.  Definitely paid off today.  On the beach and although it wasn't my best, I was happy with the result.  My GPS read 1.57 miles so I would say I did pretty damn well.    SWIM SPLIT:  47:58

TRANSITION 1:  I took my time here.  Didn't run through the sand for fear of turning my ankle.  Made my way down the long aisle to my bike and was out of there pretty quickly.  T1:  5:50

Have I mentioned that race conditions were near perfect?  Overcast all day, hardly any wind.  Temps in the low to mid 70s.  This bike course is FAST.  I wasn't event killing myself, trying to make sure I was functional for the run, and I rode my fastest miles-per-hour average ever for this distance.  Actually, it may be the best EVER ever.  I swear this course felt like it was all downhill.  There were two little hills but nothing like I've experienced in other races.  One new thing for me was the bottle toss/bottle pick up.  I was terrified I would crash.  I lost two bottles during the course of the bike but I was able to maintain my nutrition schedule really well.  Excellent bike split overall.  BIKE SPLIT:  3:40:11

TRANSITION 2:  A lot slower.  By this point, I REALLY needed to use the bathroom.  No point in going into the nasty details, but I was in there for a little bit.  Still, no real stomach distress.  T2:  8:31

Although I had a good bike, I was glad to be off of that damn thing.  the run kicks off with a nice little uphill which many people were walking (including myself).  I struggled through mile 6 and then actually picked up the pace a bit for about 3 miles.  Coca Cola - WOW.  This is like a miracle drug at this point.  Other than the coke, I stuck to my normal Powerbar energy blends, which is essentially pureed fruit  - kind of like baby food.  I had absolutely no gastro distress or dehydration.  I drank every stop and was fine.  The last 2 miles were rough but funny enough, I ran this bad boy slightly faster than I ran my disastrous Lincoln Half Marathon.  RUN SPLIT:  2:45:31

I cannot describe the joy I felt to cross the finish line.  I could never have imagined that I would be able to do this.  I'm by no means fast or competitive, but what I have personally accomplished with this training was really pretty incredible for me.  This is the first race plan that I actually stuck with the entire 20 weeks.  Even through a nasty bike accident.  One thing I realized is how I am no where near ready to finish an Ironman but I also said the same thing about the half Iron 3 years ago.  We'll see what the future brings.  For now,  I look forward to rocking my M dot and I even want to do this again.  Thanks to all of you who have supported me this year and I'll come back to the blog when my new season starts in January.  Until then!

Race Finish